Pride Month Viewing: Read This Article Now for the Best LGBTQ Documentaries of All Time
Best LGBTQ Documentaries
Documentaries are a great way to be entertained and informed about a rich and interesting topic while sitting in front of the television. Documentaries, in fact, are some people’s favorite way to stay informed, to learn about history, science, philosophy and social happenings in the world. The month of June is pride month, so it is only fitting that we share a list of the best LGBT documentaries for your ease of viewing some masterpieces about LGBTQ+ issues, histories and personalities.
Paris is Burning
As far as queer documentaries go, Paris is Burning is an essential documentary for your watch list this June. If you haven’t seen it already, you must head over to Netflix and stream this movie as soon as possible. The documentary which came out in 1991 and was directed by Jennie Livingston follows the lives of multiple drag queens and queer individuals living in New York City in the late 1980s. Their stories and experiences in house culture and as participants or spectators of drag balls show off the incredibly rich community that the interviewees have made for themselves despite a heartbreaking and difficult set of cards that has been dealt to them. Many of the characters interviewed and followed in the documentary have been estranged from their families and forced to live in unsafe and or impoverished conditions. The families that they have created through house culture are what get them through and give them the nurturing environment they need to overcome hardships. Many LGBTQ+ youth at this time, even those in the film, are unable to overcome these hardships in the end.
Executive produced by prominent trans celebrity Laverne Cox, and directed by queer filmmaker Sam Feder, the 2020 LGBTQ+ documentary Disclosure is queer inside and out. The film exposes and discusses the historical depiction of transgender people in Hollywood and in the public eye. Many trans and queer celebrities are interviewed about their experiences with both consuming media depicting harmful stereotypes or images of the trans identity and their experiences acting and being part of the Hollywood world. As another LGBTQ+ documentary that is available to stream on Netflix, it should be easy to cross Disclosure off of your top LGBTQ+ documentary watch list.
Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community
If you are interested in learning about the history of the LGBTQ+ community prior to the Stonewall Inn uprising, Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community is one of the best gay documentaries to watch. This documentary explores and summarizes the events that lead to the Stonewall Uprising and recounts a lessor told history about the LGBTQ+ community and activism before what many people call the beginning of the gay liberation movement: the events that took place on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
This 2017 gay rights documentary produced by David France is a biography of the legendary gay liberation figure head, Marsha P. Johnson. Marsha P. Johnson was a black, self-proclaimed drag queen who led the uprising at stonewall and lived a life on her own terms. The documentary interviews many who knew and loved Marsha and gathers information on her life and mysterious disappearance. The film also informs the viewer about another prominent figure of the gay liberation movement: Sylvia Rivera. Sylvia Rivera was a friend of Marsha P. Johnson and a transwoman who fought for the rights of all LGBTQ+ people even in the face of discrimination by those who she was fighting for. A documentary that explores and discusses gender, sexuality, race and their intersections in the gay liberation movement, this film is certainly a thought-provoking piece of art that you can easily stream on Netflix this month.
How to Survive a Plague
This 2012 gay history documentary directed by David France is a film about the 1980s aids epidemic and how it devastated the gay community. The documentary follows organizations that aim to gain support, visibility and funding in the effort to find treatments and cures for HIV and AIDS from a public that is either prejudiced or indifferent. It recounts the stories of those in the gay community in the 1980s and how the disease impacted their lives whether they were infected or not. Perhaps watching this film in June 2021 will give clarity to the differences in the handling of the AIDS epidemic then versus the current Covid-19 pandemic that we are all currently living through.
Are You Proud?
Are You Proud, directed by Ashley Joiner, should definitely be one of the gay and lesbian documentaries on your must-watch list for this pride month. This documentary was meaningfully released in 2019, the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising, and the film recounts this fifty-year history of the gay liberation movement up until the point that the film was released. The film covers Stonewall and its aftermath, pride parades, the AIDS epidemic, hate crimes and intersectionality and diversity in the LGBTQ+ community. For a thorough historical recount of the past fifty years of LGBTQ+ issues, check out Are You Proud?
Do I Sound Gay?
You might have seen a lot of documentaries on this list or elsewhere about gay history, but what about documentaries about gay voices? This documentary isn’t about what gay men have to say, but rather how they say it. Do I Sound Gay, which came out in 2014, is one of the more fascinating social science documentaries about homosexuality to add to your pride month LGBTQ+ documentary watch list? The film follows documentary director David Thorpe on a mission to understand the common trope of the “gay voice” and bring light to it’s roots, meanings and how it has influenced the lives of gay men. With fascinating and heartfelt interviews with LGBTQ+ figureheads and celebrities, Do I Sound Gay shares many perspectives and experiences on the vocal tendencies in the gay community.
While this list covers some top LGBTQ+ documentaries to watch to celebrate pride month, there are countless other documentaries and informative films that we encourage you to find and share to celebrate and learn about the LGBTQ+ community.
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