FREE RADICALS OF NY
the invisible story of ny's queers
Written and Produced by
Petey Gibson and Aline Allegra
FREE RADICALS OF NEW YORK is a template, is a love story, is a tale of war. Is evidence. Is never-before-seen archival footage of crucial, brilliant actions from a community fighting for their lives.
For 35 years, documentary filmmaker and queer archivist Aline Allegra has sat with the work of her youth: never-before-seen footage from 5 years of ACT UP demonstrations in the heart of New York City. Pride marches and die-ins and the storming of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Grand Central Station by thousands desperate to be heard. Dyke Marches full of women reveling in their joy, pouring into the streets to make out and laugh and talk to the camera. There was Marsha P. Johnson walking by, a young Lea DeLaria on the bullhorn, Debbie Harry throwing a free concert right on Christopher Street to keep spirits high. There was, of course, police brutality. Rows and rows of men who knew they wouldn’t see the end of the epidemic and fought as long as they could anyway. From ’89-’94, to be gay was also to be a soldier, loud and out and relentless.
For Allegra, who knew from her work (at a new little channel called MTV) that being behind the camera was a great way for a shy closeted lesbian to finally talk to women, being gay also became a front line testimonial. At each demonstration, she grabbed a camera and hustled to capture every moment she could, as a way to protect her new community in the moment, and document for the future. Free Radicals of New York is a story of queer joy and queer devastation and queer power. Of the impact of one person getting involved. It is the history our youth has never been taught, and it is the evidence that we can never go back.
Pulling from video, print, and ephemera archives, as well as featuring new interviews, Free Radicals of New York is part personal narrative and part queer history of a recent past which has been all but invisible -- till now. This is the powerful, must-see documentary of our time.
arrest us, just try it, remember stonewall was a riot
the truth must not only be the truth ...
it must also be told
From the never-before-seen archives of filmmaker Allegra, FREE RADICALS OF NEW YORK follows queer activists and revelers from 1989-1994 in New York City. Pulling from video, print, and ephemera archives, as well as featuring new interviews, Free Radicals of New York offers a blueprint and heartbeat for today's continued fight for queer liberation and gender equality.
silence = death
Director/Videographer: Aline Allegra
Allegra, one word like Cher, is a Peabody Award winning director, producer, writer, shooter, and editor. Her work spans genres and categories over thirty five years. Her first job was right out of college at MTV NEWS where she travelled the country interviewing rock stars. She is a pioneer in content creation and delivery platforms winning two digital Emmys for launching Al Gore's Current TV and Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network.
A year ago Allegra, a two time cancer warrior, went back out into the queer community with her camera. At sixty, Allegra was old enough to be mom, but became a friend, mentor, and archivist. Allegra met Petey, found a kindred spirit in desire to bring queer history to life. A sister film, The Lesbian Bar Project, called and Allegra's footage was needed to illustrate NY in the eighties and ninetie. Free Radicals of NY was reborn with new intention.
As books are banned, teachers go back in the closet and kids live in constant fear, Petey Gibson and the young queers of the world need to know their queerstory and Allegra has the footage.
Here is the secret history of the war before.
Writer/Producer: Petey Gibson
Petey Gibson is a transmasc producer, writer, and actor and is thrilled to be working intergenerationally with Allegra to get these treasures from our queer history out there.
Petey's production work spans 15 years - first as a live event producer in the comedy, variety and drag spaces, and then segueing to webseries, shorts, and features. He recently produced and starred in the lesbian romcom feature The Sympathy Card, which took home three Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature on its fest run, and is now available on multiple streaming services. Other current projects include an anthology series in development with Wayfarer Studios, as well as a feature doc project on drag kings.
He currently co-produces Them Fatale, a successful long-running monthly Drag King fundraiser in downtown Los Angeles, and serves on the DEI Board of Story Pirates, a bicoastal organization celebrating children's stories and ideas.