Rainbow Lounge panel to feature FW police chief, TABC captain, Queer LiberAction founder

An “unprecedented” panel discussion focused on the Rainbow Lounge raid and its aftermath will follow a third-anniversary screening of Robert Camina’s documentary film about the raid on Thursday in Dallas.

The panel discussion will feature Fort Worth police Chief Jeffrey Halstead, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Maj. Charlie Cloud, TABC agent and LGBT liaison Leigh Ann Wiggins, Queer LiberAction founder Blake Wilkinson, Fairness Fort Worth spokesman Jon Nelson and Camina himself. The 30-minute panel discussion will be moderated by yours truly.

“I really do think that the panel discussion is unprecedented, where all these people are getting together in one room to talk about it,” Camina said.

Tickets are still available for Thursday’s screening of Camina’s Raid of the Rainbow Lounge at the Magnolia Theater, which will precede the panel discussion. The screening is the third and last scheduled for the award-winning film in Dallas.

Doors open at 7 p.m., and the screening begins at 7:30. Those who’ve seen the film but want to attend the panel discussion should arrive by 9 p.m.

Tickets are $12 and can be purchased here. Use Coupon Code ETT87D to get a $3 discount. For more on the film, go here.

—  John Wright

‘Rainbow Lounge’ doc premieres in Fort Worth

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM THE PREMIERE

For the first half hour of Thursday night’s premiere in Fort Worth of Robert Camina’s documentary Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, the audience sat completely still and silent. Many were in tears as they relived the horror of the raid. Among those in the audience was Chad Gibson, who was injured in the raid and later settled with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the city of Fort Worth for more than $600,000.

Not until attorney Jon Nelson rebutted Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead’s assertion that it wasn’t a raid with the comment, “If it walks like a raid and quacks like a raid, it’s a raid,” did the audience break out into applause.

While Nelson was applauded the most through the film, raid witness Todd Camp got the most laughs. His first was when he described the police officers who claimed in their report that the officers were groped during the raid as having a “Village People fixation.”

Halstead is the “character” in the film that evolves most. The week of the raid, he’s seen reading from his officers’ report and defending his department. He said the comments of one woman at the first city council meeting after the raid affected him the most. She had driven from San Francisco to speak. He said he wondered what could have affected someone so much that she decided to drive halfway across the country to speak for three minutes and then turn around and drive back home. At that moment, he began to understand the frustration and anger of the community.

Mayor Mike Moncrief is the person who comes across the worst on film. He appears to have been cornered into making an apology that anyone in the city was hurt. Unlike Halstead, he did not appear in an on-camera interview in the film.

After the film, Halstead, who attended the premiere, again apologized for offending the community with his initial reaction and said that his department has changed. He said that within weeks of the raid, three male officers came out to him.

Halstead told the audience that when a similar raid happened in Atlanta 10 weeks later, he got a call from the acting chief in that city.

“Jeff, help me,” Atlanta’s chief said.

Halstead said that the atmosphere in the Fort Worth Police Department is completely different now than it was less than three years ago. When a rookie class is training, he said he enjoys introducing Sara Straten, the city’s first LGBT community liaison, by saying, “This is Sara. She’s a lesbian.” He said the reaction is always, “Did he really just say that?”

But he said that the raid has made a difference in training on a variety of issues including how officers respond to domestic violence calls.

Meredith Baxter, who narrated the film, spoke briefly at the premiere about how she became involved: A lot of nagging from Fairness Fort Worth President Tom Anable.

The film will be shown in Dallas at the Magnolia Theater on April 25. Tickets are available at RaidoftheRainbowLounge.com.

 

 

—  David Taffet

“Raid of the Rainbow Lounge” premieres tonight in Fort Worth

Anatomy of a raid

“I made the decision right away to make a short film about the raid,” director Robert Camina says.

That “short film” never materialized. Instead, as the rumors and recriminations flew, as Fort Worth’s gay community came together surprisingly quickly to voice its outrage and as facts slowly emerged, Camina realized there was something here much bigger than he could boil down into a 20-minute documentary.

Now, nearly three years later, Raid of the Rainbow Lounge — a full 100 minutes long — gets its world premiere March 15 at the Palace AMC Theatre in Sundance Square.

“I’ve worked on [this film] in some capacity almost every single day since then. I am ready to birth the baby!” says Camina with a laugh.

Read the entire interview with Camina here.

DEETS: Palace AMC 9, 220 Third St., Fort Worth. Doors open at 7 p.m. Screening at 7:30 p.m. followed by Q&A. $20. RaidoftheRainbowLounge.com

—  Rich Lopez

Camina raising funds to complete Rainbow Lounge documentary before March premiere

Filmmaker Robert Camina

Filmmaker Robert Camina said his new film Raid of the Rainbow Lounge is currently being mixed at a sound studio, and he is raising money to pay off costs incurred and post-production expenses as well as pay for distribution fees.

The 100-minute documentary details the bar raid that took place in Fort Worth on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. The Rainbow Lounge raid left two patrons of the bar injured, including one with severe head injuries.

“But I hope it has an inspiring message,” Camina said.

He said the film goes beyond documenting the raid to tell the story of the progress Fort Worth’s LGBT community made as a result of the incident. The raid, conducted by two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents and seven Fort Worth police officers, led to new transgender protections in the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, a police liaison to the LGBT community, sensitivity training for all city employees and a variety of other advances.

Before making this film, Camina’s experience was with comedies.

“I learned more about politics making this film,” he said.

The film is narrated by Meredith Baxter, and Camina hopes to premiere it in March in Fort Worth.

Contributions to expenses for the film can be made here. As a thank you, Camina Entertainment is offering mugs, T-shirts and autographed copies of Baxter’s book, Untied.

—  David Taffet

Online auction starts today to benefit Camina's documentary on the Rainbow Lounge raid

Local film director Robert Camina has been hard at work on his “Raid of the Rainbow Lounge: the Documentary.” The low-budget doc is Camina’s response to the effect the incident had on the LGBT community of Fort Worth, and even beyond.

“Below the surface of this story lies a bed of fascinating subplots guaranteeing a fascinating, multi-faceted film. I am determined to explore all sides of the issues,” he says on his Facebook page.

But to do that, he needs some more funds, and today he begins hosting an online Ebay auction as a fundraiser. The auction block includes. Carl Walter Crum prints, a framed work by photographer Debra Gloria and lots of Candid underwear. The auction runs through May 17.

—  Rich Lopez