Nearly a decade after a group of black lesbian women were violently threatened by a man on the streets of New York City and carted off in buses to Rikers Island (a trip that was only the beginning of their journey through the prison system), the freshly released documentary Out in the Night brings their stories to light.

In the days following the women’s initial arrest, they quickly became a media sensation: ‘Gang of Killer Lesbians,’ ‘Lesbian Gang-Stab Shocker,’ ‘Attack of the Killer Lesbians,’ ‘Girls Gone Wilding.’

With other news headlines reading with things as absurd as ‘Man is Stabbed in Attack After Admiring a Stranger’ it is plainly clear that not only were the women wrongly portrayed and unjustly tried, but that they suffered the consequences of both for daring to allow race, gender identity and sexuality to meet at the intersection of being a black lesbian.

The film, which pointedly interrogates our prison system, is a moving portrayal of the life, the relationships and the stories of four women whose lives aligned with a system that was designed to keep them down.

You can watch this beautiful exposé for free online at PBS until July 23rd, and I highly recommend it. Set aside an hour this week to make it happen. If you’re not convinced yet (or even if you are) you can view the trailer here:

The official synopsis of the film reads:

“In 2006, under the neon lights of a gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a group of African-American lesbians were violently threatened by a man on the street. The women fought back and were later charged with gang assault and attempted murder. The tabloids quickly dubbed them a gang of “Killer Lesbians” and a “Wolf Pack.” Three pleaded guilty to avoid a trial, but the remaining four — Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain — maintained their innocence. The award-winning Out in the Night examines the sensational case and the women’s uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system. A co-production of ITVS. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).”


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