Out In The Night

A lifetime demanding self-defense. One night they fought back.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
75 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


Under the neon lights in a gay-friendly neighborhood of New York City, four young Black lesbians are violently and sexually threatened by a man on the street. They defend themselves against him and are charged and convicted in the courts and in the media as a 'Gang of Killer Lesbians'.

Featured review

This film could help influence the ongoing LGBT civil rights struggle. Everyone should see it.


Out in the Night is a documentary that tells the story of a group of young friends, African American lesbians who are out, one hot August night in 2006, in the gay friendly neighborhood of New York City. They are all in their late teens and early twenties and come from a low-income neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. Two of the women are the focus – gender non-conforming Renata Hill, a single mother with a soft heart and keen sense of humor, and petite femme Patreese Johnson, a shy and tender poet. As they and their friends walk under the hot neon lights of tattoo parlors in the West Village, an older man sexually and violently confronts them. He says to Patreese “let me get some of that” as he points below her waist. When she says that they are gay, the man becomes violent and threatens to “fuck them straight”. He spits and throws a lit cigarette. Renata and Venice defend the group and a fight begins, captured by security cameras nearby. The man yanks out hair from Venice’s head and chokes Renata. Then, Patreese pulls a knife from her purse and swings at him. Strangers jump in to defend the women and the fight escalates. As the fight comes to an end, all get up and walk away. But 911 has been called and the man involved has been stabbed. Police swarm to the scene as their radios blast out warnings of a gang attack. The women are rounded up and charged with varying degrees of gang assault, assault and attempted murder. Three of the women plead guilty. But Renata, Patreese, Venice and friend Terrain claim their innocence. They are called a “Gang of Killer Lesbians” by the media. In activist circles they become known as The New Jersey 4.


This film is necessary - it adds to a larger dialogue to the injustices of black men and women around the world
Out in the Night: New York City's racism and anti-gay bias plays out on screen
The Guardian
A Few Potential Oscar Contenders from the L.A. Film Fest
LA Magazine
Moving film that smartly makes this personal question universal
The Examiner
Out in the Night goes on to show … black bodies are at risk everywhere, especially, as the film makes clear, 'Out In The Night'.
Pop Matters
…issues of self-defense and resistance as black women, and more specifically as LGBT people of color who continually face this type of harassment, become the main focus. Who has the right to resist?
Indiewire - Shadow & Act
This impassioned social issue documentary serves as a strong indictment of tabloid journalism and a prejudicial legal system.
Hollywood Reporter
Out in the Night is not a movie; it's a movement.
The Bilerico Project
The Bilerico Project

Awards and Screenings

Director Commentary

directors statement

Immediately following the arrest of the NJ4 on August 18th, 2006, and after reading many salacious headlines, I became interested in their case. However, it was the first of many New York Times articles that really gave me pause. “Man is stabbed after admiring a stranger.” I was outraged. This was not a flirtatious interaction. It was harassment and assault.

Initially, I did not set out to document this story. As a white filmmaker, I did not think I should. Instead, I focused on advocating for their legal fees and ultimate release. Yet, as time passed, media interested wanned, and with their appellate trails looming, I wanted to keep their stories centered.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Subtitles
  • Resources for Educators

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • French
  • Spanish

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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