Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Celebrating the Life of Del Martin

Celebrating the Life of Del Martin, dir. Debra Chasnoff, 2011 USA, 57 min. 
A portrait of Del Martin hanging in
SF City Hall during her memorial.
Fri. 6/17, 11:30 a.m. @ Castro

Del Martin was an incredibly important figure for San Francisco and the world, a pioneer in lesbian rights (co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis), women’s health (the Lyon-Martin clinic is named for Del and her partner Phyllis Lyon), elder rights, marriage equality, and many other issues. This film documents the memorial service that was held for her at San Francisco City Hall when she passed away just ten weeks after her lifelong relationship with Phyllis Lyon was finally legally recognized.

Of course we begin with then-Mayor Gavin Newsom enjoying the sound of his own voice, umm, I mean, paying tribute to Del and Phyllis, plus some music and poetry, but the highlight was without doubt Kendra Mon, Del and Phyllis’ daughter, who gave the most personal and most moving tribute to her mom, echoing Del’s belief that she was not an extraordinary person, she was an ordinary person who did extraordinary things. Personally, I would say Del Martin was an ordinary person who had the extra­ordinary courage and conviction and perseverence to accomplish extraordinary things. If every other “ordinary person” had her strength of character, the world would be a far better place.

A memorial service is a difficult subject for a documentary — I find them hard to sit through in person without fidgeting, even for someone I knew well in life — but this one is pretty well edited and worth seeing. Highly recommended.

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