Years before the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City brought the battle for Gay Rights into the open, a similar struggle was taking place in New Orleans. While gay men had enjoyed greater freedom in New Orleans than in most American cities, homophobic violence was hardly unknown there, and police harassment at gay clubs was common, especially close to Mardi Gras, when known drag queens would often find themselves arrested on trumped-up charges that would force them to cut their hair before their public appearances. In the early 1960s, a group of gay men tired of public abuse formed their own Mardi Gras "krewe," a group that would stage parties and parades to celebrate the holiday. While several all-make krewes had staged private drag events, this group chose to make their celebrations public, and while their 1962 ball was the subject of a major police raid, within a few years the city government officially recognized the gay krewes, and four were officially sanctioned by 1969. Filmmaker Tim Wolff explores the tradition of drag balls and gay krewes in New Orleans in the documentary The Sons of Tennessee Williams, which includes extensive interviews with men who witnessed this history first hand and discuss how the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 impacted the Crescent City. The Sons of Tennessee Williams received its world premiere at the 2010 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival.
by Mark Deming synopsis