In 1959, three Tulane frat boys “rolled” a gay man – meaning they beat him to death in an alley. They were acquitted of the murder charges. This incident caused the gay men of New Orleans to decide that the revolution would be…costumed. In an era when a man touching another man’s leg in a bar could get both arrested, the gay community began to throw drag balls under the guise of Mardi Gras celebrations. The first ball was raided by the police, but it wasn’t long before these parties became the place to be. Through modern interviews and archival footage, The Sons of Tennessee Williams explores the question, “Is it really a civil rights accomplishment for a man to wear a dress at the civic auditorium?”
Civil Rights, Violence, and Sequins
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