“When I saw Sylvester, my life was altered, my life was changed for the better,” Porter attested. “As a Black queer gay man, any glimmer of seeing oneself reflected back at them, through our culture, changes lives.”

“He crossed over, he was a genderfluid Black man in mainstream music. That hasn’t happened since. There’s been a lot of us who have tried — and I’ve been trying for 30 years —nobody did it like Sylvester,” he added.

“Sylvester was always ahead of us. He did things like talk about being married to a man before gay marriage was a thought,” Gamson said. “He responded to Joan Rivers saying that he was this drag queen by saying, ‘But I’m not a drag queen, I’m Sylvester.’ He wasn’t saying there’s something wrong with being a drag queen, he was saying that’s not how gender works. It was gender fluidity and nonbinary gender before we were really there.”

In addition to interviews, the 15-minute doc shows rare archival footage of Sylvester, including performances at The Stud, the historic San Francisco gay bar that recently shuttered. It also depicts how a 1979 show at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House was a healing, joyous moment for the city in the wake of the assassination of gay politician Harvey Milk.

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