• By Jamie Stroble
  • Posted Thursday, May 28, 2020

Celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month with These Movies

Pride Month is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community, the people and achievements. Movies and documentaries have been made in recent years that highlight some significant moments in LGBTQ history. Even while at home, you can celebrate this history and achievements by watching these movies, recommended by our staff.

The Stonewall Uprising - documentary, 2010, not rated
In many ways, the police raid on the mafia-run Stonewall Inn gay bar in Greenwich Village was the event that introduced the worldwide gay rights movement. Gay men and women had been living with fear and persecution from the police and society at large for… basically, forever. What followed were the Stonewall Riots, which gave voice to a rights movement that had largely been ignored. This documentary tells the story of what happened at Stonewall from those involved on both sides of the riots. The lack of legal rights for LGBTQ people at the time was shocking, with homosexuality banned in 49 states and a litany of other “crimes” targeting the LGBTQ community. Archival footage from TV programs include “CBS Reports: The Homosexuals” and examples of public service announcements about the dangers of the homosexual lifestyle. The Stonewall Uprising is based on the book by the historian David Carter, “Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution.”

The Favourite - 2018, Rated R
Based loosely on actual events in the royal court of Queen Anne in early 17th century London, Queen Anne lives with her lover, Lady Sarah Churchill. Even though the English are fighting the French, things are looking relatively ok for the sickly and irritable Anne. Until the arrival of ex-aristocrat Abigail Masham, who humbly arrives at court as a servant, only to wreak havoc on pretty much everyone around her. And yes, drama ensues among the three women. Strong female characters, excellent acting and a plot that encompasses much more than romance make this a film worth watching for its humor, satire and depiction of women maneuvering their way through the British patriarchy.

Boy Erased - 2018, Rated R
This film tells the story of gay college teen Jared who is outed to his parents. His father, a Baptist preacher, steers him towards a “conversion camp,” which involves a program of prayer, accusatory sermons, physical and emotional abuse, and harsh lessons on how men and women should behave. Jared wants to please his parents and for his world to return to normal, and he struggles to reconcile what he’s been taught all his life with the person he is now.
This movie, based on a true story, arrived at exactly the right time. Conversion therapy had long been a widespread religious method of coercing people in the LGBTQ community, often teens, to “be straight.” When this movie came out in 2018, it brought attention to the issue of banning conversion therapy, which had started to happen in some states but still had, and has, a long way to go.

The Danish Girl - 2015, Rated R
Set in Copenhagen in 1926, this film (based loosely on real events) chronicles the story behind the first gender reassignment surgery. Einar Wegener and his wife Gerda are painters, and a happily married couple. One day Gerda asks Einar to stand in as one of her models, wearing a dress. What begins as a jest eventually leads to Einar realizing that she is in fact a woman born into a man’s body. At first they try to cure Einar (who is now called Lili), but most doctors want to institutionalize her for insanity. As Lili experiences hostility from everyone around her, she continues to fight for the right to be who she is, while Gerda grapples with what will inevitably happen after the gender reassignment surgery. It’s a fascinating piece of transgender history, with excellent performances from Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander.

Pariah - 2011, Rated R
Alike is a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents and younger sister in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. A good student who seeks solace in writing poetry, Alike is learning to embrace her identity as a lesbian. Alike has to navigate not only the experience of being a “minority within a minority,” but also the experience of being a teenager and dealing with things like fighting parents and just trying to figure out who she is. Alike tries to keep her two lives separated to avoid judgement and anger from her family, particularly from her mother, but she’s on a collision course with a reckoning that will be a turning point in her life. One of the great things about this film is that it addresses the experience of being a lesbian in a black community, and there really haven’t been enough films to do that. Another thing that sets this film apart is its stellar acting. At the time, Adepero Oduye (Alike) was a newcomer to Hollywood, and she won a number of awards for Pariah, going on to later act in “12 Years a Slave”, “The Big Short”, and the forthcoming TV series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”.

The Birdcage - 1996, Rated R
And finally, Robin Williams and Nathan Lane give amazingly hilarious performances as a gay couple who own a drag club. The premise is that Armand and Albert are elaborately trying to act straight in order to impress their son’s girlfriend’s conservative parents. Yes, this movie has a number of gay tropes that are a little ridiculous, but some real issues are touched upon too - gay marriage rights, LGBTQ parenting, and the truly developed relationship between Albert and Armand (which is over the top, like everything else in this film). It’s a remake of the 1979 French film “La Cage aux Folles”, which has a pretty robust cult following. A classic comedy of errors with lots of drag, it is absolutely worth your time if you haven’t seen it already.

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