Press Release back to list
05.21.2019

SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL MARKS THE 50-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE STONEWALL UPRISING IN SMITHSONIAN TIME CAPSULE: BEYOND STONEWALL

DOCUMENTARY FEATURING EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF THE RIOTS

AND TRACING OVER 150 YEARS OF GAY LIFE

PREMIERES MONDAY, JUNE 24 AT 8 PM ET/PT

 

NEW YORK – May 21, 2019 – On June 28, 1969, a routine police raid of a gay bar in New York City turned into a violent conflict that ignited protests lasting for days. The Stonewall Inn Uprising is celebrated by many as the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. But the history of gay life in America extends far before and after Stonewall.Using commentary from LGBTQ+ allies and icons (including Matthew Shepard’s parents, Stonewall eyewitness participant Mark Segal and Gene Robinson, the first openly gay priest to be consecrated a bishop by the Episcopal Church) and expert perspectives from Smithsonian curators, new documentary SMITHSONIAN TIME CAPSULE: BEYOND STONEWALL tells the story of the LGBTQ+ community in America through an exploration of rare artifacts in the Smithsonian collections, predominantly from the National Museum of American History. SMITHSONIAN TIME CAPSULE: BEYOND STONEWALL premieres Monday, June 24 at 8 PM ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.

 

Through the objects they left behind, SMITHSONIAN TIME CAPSULE: BEYOND STONEWALL vividly illustrates the multifaceted journeys of trailblazing gay pioneers. Famed 19th century stage actress Charlotte Cushman’s Cardinal Wolsey costume shows a woman unwilling to be artistically constrained by her gender. A first edition copy of poet Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” illuminates the legacy of a 19th-century gender non-conforming man. Early 20th-century society’s attempts to constrain, if not eliminate, the gay community are represented by an electro-convulsive shock device and lobotomy knives, but love letters among World War II soldiers demonstrate their determination to live authentically despite the world around them.

 

The film moves beyond the events of the Stonewall riots to trace the struggles and triumphs of modern gay life – a panel from the AIDS memorial quilt honors those who were taken too soon, but new visiblilty in pop culture embodies the hope and joy of a community finally seen, acknowledged and celebrated by the rest of America. 

  

SMITHSONIAN TIME CAPSULE: BEYOND STONEWALL is produced by Highland Pictures for Smithsonian Networks. Alan Martin and Pip Gilmour are executive producers for Highland Pictures. Linda Goldman and David Royle serve as executive producers for Smithsonian Channel.

 

The National Museum of American History will mark this 50th anniversary with a yearlong display, “Illegal to Be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall,” featuring objects from its collections that put the history of that memorable event within the broader LGBTQ+ experience in the U.S. Materials from the National Museum of American History’s LGBTQ collections date back to the 19th century. Objects in the collections include a selection of protest signs from gay civil rights activist Frank Kameny, Billie Jean King’s tennis dress, the first transgender pride flag and HIV- and AIDS-related lab equipment and medications. The archival collections are rich in ephemera, oral histories, photographs, posters and entertainment publicity materials. The museum has mounted a number of LGBTQ+ history displays over the years, including two marking the 25th and 40th anniversaries of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, and a showcase exhibit on the 30th anniversary of the emergence of the HIV and AIDS epidemic.