Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Produced by Kirk Marcolina, Thomas G. Miller
Directed by Thomas G. Miller
DVD, color, 74 min.
College - General Adult
Gay and Lesbian Liberation Movement, Civil Rights, Immigration, Aging,
Reviewed by Neil M. Frau-Cortes, University of Maryland
Date Entered: 5/19/2015
In 1975 Richard Adams, a U.S. citizen, married his Australian partner Tony Sullivan through the courageous act of a county clerk in Colorado. They were one the first gay couples ever to marry in the world. As soon as Tony filed for his American green card, the INS denied it as it did not recognize the marital relationships between same-sex partners as valid. For the next 40 years the couple faced federal lawsuits, threads of deportation, self-imposed exile, and the experience of living illegally in the U.S. Only their love for each other held them together throughout these struggles. The couple's tenacious story of love serves as a background for this documentary, which explores the fight for marriage equality and LGBT civil rights in U.S. history, always in light of the of the realities of their immigration battles.
The film is poignant, deeply moving and beautifully narrated, offering a new perspective on the equality movement from the unique viewpoint of these often-unrecognized pioneers. This is not a documentary on famous politicians or social activists: Richard and Tony are regular people who are put on the spot by a legal system that purposefully discriminates against them. The loss of the couple's initial naïveté within the course of the ensuing drama stands as a metaphor for the transition from the idealism of the 1970s to the sometimes cynical pragmatism of our own times. It is also a portrait of the evolution of the family as an institution, putting traditional definitions of “spouse” into question.
One of the additional merits of the film is its remarkable ability to chronicle our times, projecting a reflection of the social perception of homosexuality in American society from the 1970s to the present. As we journey through the narration of the couple's struggle, we witness events such as the AIDS crisis, the contention with numerous legislative changes, the Patriot Act's consequences for immigration law post 9-11, as well as the effects of DOMA, Proposition 8, and even the recent Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality. As such, this documentary can be used in the classroom in courses on contemporary American history, queer studies, sociology, or even in law schools. It is equally suitable for general adult audiences and as a conversation starter for discussion groups.