Copyright 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Gay Sex in the 70s

            As documentaries go, GAY SEX IN THE 70S more or less
    is summed up by its title. The period between the 1969 Stonewall riots
    and the July 1981 article in
The New York Times that detailed the
    discovery of what was then called the “gay cancer,” according to this
    film, was a period of unrestricted and hedonistic pursuit of one thing
    – sex. To hear the participants interviewed by director Joseph Lovett,
    gay sex was available 24 hours a day. All it took was a glance from
    someone and ... well, you can figure out the rest.

            Okay, I know I’m sounding like a prude, but since I came of age
    during the early days of the AIDS crisis and watched as many young
    men I knew from working with them in theater succumbed to the
    dreadful effects of HIV/AIDS, I cannot help but be judgmental: it was
    precisely the kind of behavior being extolled in this film – rampant drug
    abuse, multiple, anonymous sexual encounters that led to the spread
    of the disease. A couple of the people interviewed make passing
    references to those who have passed on, but I was astounded by the
    presence of professional curmudgeon Larry Kramer. In his novel
    FAGGOTS and more so in his affecting autobiographical dramas
  THE NORMAL HEART and THE DESTINY OF ME, Kramer took
    the often unpopular stance that gay men should be less promiscuous.
    Of course, telling any man NOT to have sex is an unlikely prospect.

            Lovett’s film, which is very Manhattan-centric, includes interviews
    with men in their 50s and 60s who lived through the times, period
    photographs, mostly of the piers on the Hudson River, and clips of
    pornography made at that time. (One interviewee notes without irony
    that porn films could not live up to what one could find walking around
    the city). We are regaled with tales of sex on the Christopher Street
    piers, sex at the clubs and bathhouses, sex on Fire Island. It’s a rather
    unfortunate take on gay life as it only reinforces the stereotypes
    promulgated by the Right Wing, however much it may have been true.

            As a document of the times,
GAY SEX IN THE 70S may be of
    interest for historical purposes, but it certainly won’t help promote
    positive images of gay men to those already predisposed to hate them.



                  Rating:                                C
                  MPAA Rating:                    NONE
                  Running time:                     67 mins.
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