On Demand

Julio of Jackson Heights

by Richard Shpuntoff
The story of how a community in Queens demanded justice for the murder of Julio Rivera and the unsolved murders of gay men in Jackson Heights, launching a historic LGBTQ movement.
2016  ·  1h30m  ·  Argentina, United States
About the Film

On the night of July 2, 1990, three young men in the neighbourhood of Jackson Heights went out armed with a claw hammer, a plumber’s wrench and a kitchen knife, hunting for “a gay guy to stretch out.” After deciding not to attack a gay couple walking along the avenue because they didn’t “like the odds” of a three-on-two fight, they went to the P.S. 69 schoolyard which was well-known as a meeting place for gay men because of its shadowy nooks. There they found Julio Rivera, a 29 year old New York-born Puerto Rican originally from the Bronx.

The next day, the press didn’t report on the homicide, the police were looking to write the murder off as a drug deal gone bad, and the community wasn’t going to do anything about it: business as usual in Jackson Heights where, during the 70s and 80s, over a dozen murders of gay men had gone unsolved.

JULIO OF JACKSON HEIGHTS is the story of how all this changed. It is the story of how a handful of people – Julio’s friends and family – decided that they would not accept the official police report, and learned how to organize, ultimately bringing their case to the attention of then Mayor Dinkins. The movement has given birth to dozens of LGBTQ organizations and advocacy groups, the Queens Pride Parade which was the first LGBTQ pride parade in one of the “outer” boroughs of New York City, and ultimately it served as the platform for electing Queens’ first two openly gay candidates to the New York City Council.

Upcoming Screenings

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In the Press
About the Director

Richard Shpuntoff

Born in New York and living in Buenos Aires since 2002, Richard Shpuntoff began his career in the visual arts as a documentary photographer. His photographic works include the book God, Gold and Glory: Syracuse (1990 – 92) and Parade, a 20 year documentation of the Queens Pride Parade. As a filmmaker he has made more than a dozen short film that have participated in over 30 festivals internationally including Oberhausen, Black Maria, Torino LGBT, Mix NYC and Sans Soucci. His first feature length film Julio de Jackson Heights (2016) was about the 1990 gay bashing murder of a Puerto Rican sex worker in 1990 in New York. Everything that is forgotten in an instant*, his second film, had its international premiere in July of 2020 in the International Competition of FID Marseille.

(Image courtesy of dafilms.)



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