From documentaries to movies, to television shows, queer cinema demonstrates the richness and multiplicity of the queer experience.
It’s Pride Month, so companies will trick out their websites with rainbow flags and conjure extravagant floats for Pride parades across the country. Then come July . . . they’ll return to the dull old days. The commercialization of Pride month was inevitable, but it’s still disheartening.
Pride is fundamentally about celebrating people - fun people - bright people - colorful people - all people. Pride started with a spontaneous protest during the early hours of June 28, 1969. NYC’s Stonewall Inn - a popular Greenwich Village gay bar - was raided by the police, and patrons fought back. Folklore has it that the uprising was a response to Judy Garland’s funeral.
The Stonewall was a safe home to people who felt like outcasts even in the queer community. Tired of being harassed by the cops, they stood up for themselves in a now-infamous riot. Bricks were thrown, a parking meter was fashioned into a battering ram, and cop cars were turned over.
Following this now-iconic night, activist groups rose up from the community to advocate for queer rights. It was the start of a movement. One year later, the first gay pride marches started around the country to commemorate it.
This is the spirit of Pride. It’s about community, it’s about standing up and upsetting the status quo, and it’s now an ongoing global revolution. Yet, this month’s commercialized capitalist parade distracts from the origins of this powerful, unstoppable movement.
Above all, Pride is about celebrating the diversity within the queer community. Whether you’re attending Pride parades, supporting queer businesses, or starting a police riot, do it with that same celebratory spirit in mind.
A fabulous way to fully appreciate the diversity of queer stories is through film. From documentaries to movies, to television shows, queer cinema demonstrates the richness and multiplicity of the queer experience.
Some LGBTQ+ titles have become classics, others are contemporary and more whimsical, proving not all queer stories have to be tragic tales of unrequited love.
Here are some of the LGBTQ+ titles we’ll be streaming this June:
The greatest movie of all time, arguably. To get in your cinematic feels, it's always a good time for a rewatch. Haven't seen it? Where have you been? Here's a synopsis that doesn't do it justice: "A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood." Buckle up, you're in for a hearty cry.
This touching Kenyan drama follows two young women, Kena and Ziki, as they navigate their love for one another in a country where being LGBTQI+ is illegal. Rafiki was initially banned in Kenya, despite the international critical acclaim.
Paris Is Burning (1990)
This documentary focuses on drag queens living in New York City and their "house" culture, which provides a sense of community and support for the flamboyant and often socially shunned performers.
And The Band Played On (1993)
In 1981, epidemiologist Don Francis (Matthew Modine) learns of an increased death rate among gay men in urban areas. The startling information leads him to begin investigating the outbreak, which is ultimately identified as AIDS. His journey mostly finds opposition from politicians and doctors, but several join him in his cause.
Torch Song Trilogy (1987)
Arnold Beckoff (Harvey Fierstein) is looking for love and acceptance, but as a gay man working as a female impersonator in 1970s Manhattan, neither come easily. After a series of heartaches, Arnold believes he’s found the love of his life in Alan (Matthew Broderick), and the couple makes plans to adopt. But when tragedy strikes, Arnold's life is shaken to its very core, leading to a confrontation with his overbearing mother (Anne Bancroft), who has never approved of her son's lifestyle.
Fearing it would compromise his career, lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) hides his homosexuality and HIV status at a powerful Philadelphia law firm. But his secret is exposed when a colleague spots the illness's telltale lesions.
Go Fish (1994)
After leaving behind her girlfriend to attend college in Chicago, young lesbian Max West (Guinevere Turner) is introduced to Ely (V.S. Brodie), a slightly older woman with quirky habits. While Max and Ely quickly develop an attraction to each other, a poorly timed phone call from Max's long-distance girlfriend, Kate, brings things to an abrupt halt.”
Boys On The Side (1995)
After breaking up with her girlfriend, a nightclub singer, Jane (Whoopi Goldberg), answers a personal ad from Robin (Mary-Louise Parker), a real estate agent with AIDS, seeking a cross-country travel partner. On their journey from NYC to Los Angeles, the two stop by Pittsburgh to pick up Robin's friend Holly (Drew Barrymore), who is trying to escape an abusive relationship. With three distinct personalities, the women must overcome their differences to help one another.
Happy Together (1997)
Lai (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and his boyfriend, Ho (Leslie Cheung), arrive in Argentina from Hong Kong, seeking a better life. Their highly contentious relationship turns abusive and results in numerous break-ups and reconciliations. When Lai befriends another man, Chang (Chen Chang), he sees the futility of continuing with the promiscuous Ho.
North Sea Texas (2011)
This Belgian romantic drama was Bavo Defurne’s feature directorial debut. Defurne also co-wrote the script with Yves Verbraeken, based on André Sollie's Nooit gaat dit over. It's a beautifully shot coming-of-age story that will get right at your childhood nostalgia and your experiences of yearning.
Alike (Adepero Oduye) lives in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood with her parents (Charles Parnell, Kim Wayans) and younger sister (Sahra Mellesse). A lesbian, Alike quietly embraces her identity and is looking for her first lover. She wonders how much she can truly confide in her family, especially with her parents' marriage already strained.
Sex Education (2019 - Present)
The show’s new non-binary character, Cal, goes through the struggle of having to wear a uniform for girls even though they don’t identify as female. Cal shows their binders and teaches others how to wear one safely.
The Boys In the Band (1970) and (2020)
Based on a play of the same name, the storyline follows a queer friend group over the course of a dinner, exploring their friendship, the social structures around them, and their personal anxieties. The 1970 version is a classic and the recent 2020 Ryan Murphy Netflix adaptation is some of the director’s best work, including incredible performances by Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, and Zachary Quinto.
The Half of It (2020)
This Netflix adaptation of a YA novel is one of the best high school romance films out there right now. A modern-day Cyrano - a football player asks loner student Ellie Chu to write love letters to a girl he likes. Neither of them expects to end up caught in a love triangle.
This fast-paced high school comedy is a whimsical reminder of all the best parts of high school — the friends, the parties, the crushes. After a tortured artist (Rowan Blanchard) joins the track team to impress a girl she has a crush on, she ends up falling in love with someone else. It’s an optimistic and charming portrait of Gen Z’s more normalized queer dynamics.
This Netflix series is based on the graphic novel series that took the internet by storm. It’s probably the most wholesome thing you’ll ever see. That’s all there is to say.