"San Francisco is a city that is so queer it's easy to forget that, not long ago, it wasn't a safe place to be queer." So says filmmaker Heather Smith, who along with KQED producer Claudia Escobar has just put out this short, a co-production between KQED Arts and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, using footage from Smith's film That They a film which was inspired by seminal gay porn film That Boy by Peter Berlin.
In the 1970's, as Smith says, SF became the backdrop for a "Cambrian explosion of queerness" that would ultimately spread elsewhere in the country, but was epitomized in gay pornographic films like That Boy. She argues that even if this still isn't a completely safe space to be queer at all hours of any day, small gestures like "sidelong glances" on the street between queer people continue to make it more of a safe place, because of the performance of queer identity in public.
Escobar calls Berlin's work "a pornography of freedom even more than a pornography of sex," and suggests in this brief KQED essay, "Freedom may begin with the simple desire to live in a different world, but in practice it’s something that you perform, until, eventually, that’s what you are."