The drama Pose portrays New York City’s African-American and Latino LGBTQI and gender-nonconforming ballroom culture scene from the 1980s through the 1990s.
Global Pride Day Saturday is another great opportunity to celebrate and learn more about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex community that spans all races and ages.
Pride Day caps off the 50th anniversary of LGBTQI Pride Month. The first pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970 — on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which saw the gay community protesting police brutality. The Stonewall protests became a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the US and around the world.
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With the coronavirus pandemic turning many pride parades and big gatherings virtual this year, this Pride Month will look very different than usual. But since you’ll have plenty of time to stay in and watch movies and TV shows, here are some of the best ones that celebrate stories where LGBTQI characters are the focus.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
This compelling documentary investigates the mysterious 1992 death of Marsha P. Johnson — a black, trans and gay rights activist and veteran of the Stonewall uprising of 1969. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson uses archival interviews with Johnson, as well as new interviews with Johnson’s family, friends and fellow activists. This is a must-see movie for those who want to learn more about gay, trans and black history, but also for those who believe that Johnson was murdered and want justice.
Pose, created by American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy, is a TV drama about New York City’s African-American and Latinx LGBTQI ballroom culture scene during its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s. Pose was inspired by the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning. The series also tackles the HIV/AIDS crisis. It features the largest cast of trans actors as series regulars on a scripted show including Our Lady J, MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Angelica Ross, and Hailie Sahar. Pose also stars the one and only Billy Porter as the ballroom grandfather Pray Tell. Janet Mock also writes, produces and directs Pose episodes.
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay
Neurotic gay 20-something Nicholas becomes the guardian to his two younger teenage sisters after their father passes away from cancer. One sister is on the autism spectrum and the other sister has anger issues, which often means plenty of cringe-worthy but honest socially awkward moments that make Everything’s Gonna Be Okay so much fun to watch.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Set in France in the late 18th century, the film Portrait of a Lady on Fire tells the story of a forbidden affair between a female aristocrat named Héloïse and the female painter Marianne commissioned to paint her portrait. But there’s a catch: Marianne must paint Héloïse without her knowing. She observes Héloïse by day as her companion so she can paint her portrait in secret. Eventually, a romance between the two blossoms in this breathtakingly beautiful tale.
Blue is the Warmest Color
French teenager Adele seems to be boy-crazy, but when a mysterious blue-haired university student named Emma enters her life, everything changes. The film is notorious for its graphic lesbian sex scenes, but Blue is the Warmest Color is more than that. It’s a romance between two girls with very different views on how they view their own sexual identities. Emma is out as a lesbian, whereas Adele prefers to keep her sexuality a secret.
Homecoming season 2
Season 1 of this Amazon Prime Video original series has Julia Roberts playing a conflicted counselor who falls for a soldier she’s helping to forget his painful past. But it’s season 2 of Homecoming finally shows its queer side. Janelle Monáe plays the lead as a woman who temporarily loses her memory and spends the entire season trying to remember why she woke up on a boat floating in the middle of a lake. She eventually discovers that she has a long-term relationship with another woman who may or may not be the cause of her memory loss.
Moonlight chronicles the life of Chiron, who grows up poor, black and gay in a rough neighborhood in Miami. The film shows the three defining chapters in Chiron’s life, including his neglected childhood; his ongoing struggles with his sexuality, unstable family life during adolescence and finally his ultimate fulfillment as an adult. To say this movie is emotional and moving is an understatement.
Imagine waking up one day to discover your consciousness is suddenly linked to other strangers around the world. That’s the fate of eight individuals in the sci-fi series Sense8. The characters — who span from straight, gay, lesbian, poly and trans — can see and feel each other’s thoughts, emotions and experiences. Sense8’s showrunners are also Matrix movie creators Lana and Lilly Wachowski, both trans women. It isn’t just the impressive representation of LGBTQI characters and storylines that makes this show fun to watch. Its sci-fi premise is original and unexpected.
All in My Family
US-based gay filmmaker Hao Wu documents his traditional Chinese family’s process accepting his decision to have kids via surrogates. All in My Family is an interesting glimpse into Chinese culture and how it views homosexuality. It’s also a touching look at how Wu comes to terms with his chosen life in America as opposed to the life he was born into in China.
Set in 1832’s Yorkshire, Gentleman Jack is inspired by the true story of charismatic landowner Anne Lister, who attempts to revitalize her inherited home and marry a wealthy heiress. This lesbian romance is also full of drama involving Anne’s day-to-day encounters with servants, tenants and various industrial rivals.
The teen drama Everything Sucks tells the story of Kate Messner, a high school sophomore who’s coming to terms with her sexuality as a lesbian. Way before social media and cellphones, Kate’s journey is an accurate view at how hard it was to be a lesbian teen during the mid-1990s.
Into the Dark: Midnight Kiss
When five friends meet up for New Year’s Eve in Palm Springs, booze, drugs and sex are on their minds. But as this LGBTQI thriller reveals, relationships can get tricky when friends and lovers don’t tell the truth. Midnight Kiss is a stylized horror film is full of revenge, regret and blood.
Feel Good features Canadian stand-up comedian Mae Martin reflects on life, love and sobriety in this semi-fictitious drama. We see her struggle with addiction, as well as her romance with a woman named George who has never been with another woman before.
I Am Not Okay With This
Teen girl Syd not only has to come to terms with the recent loss of her father, but also deal with her budding sexual identity. That’s not even the biggest issue in I Am Not Okay With This. Syd suddenly has superpowers and isn’t sure how to use them.
Queer Eye features lovable gay experts Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk and Karamo Brown, who travel to different US cities (and sometimes Japan) to help people get their lives together. The Fab Five provide help people from all walks of life who could use some advice about fashion, home decor, food, and life in general. But it’s not really about the makeover on the outside of people, but the transformations in people’s hearts and minds that truly make this a gem of a series.
Sex Education is about virgin Otis (the son of a sex therapist), who teams up with his friend Maeve to run a secret sex therapy business at their high school. It doesn’t matter if you’re a misfit, a popular kid or even a bully — you need sex advice. One of the more touching storylines involves Otis’ best friend Eric, who must deal with the expectations of his family about his own sexuality and gender identity. The show is painfully awkward at times, but overall pretty accurate.
The Half of It
When smart but cash-strapped teen Ellie Chu agrees to write a love letter for an inarticulate jock at her high school, she doesn’t expect to also fall for the object of his affection — another girl. The Half of It feels like a lesbian Cyrano de Bergerac tale with heart-wrenching moments and a dash of teen comedy.
After living as a man for almost 60 years (and having three kids and three marriages), Brazil’s most brilliant cartoonist Laerte Coutinho finally introduces herself to the world as a woman. The documentary Laerte-Se gives a candid look into Laerte’s everyday life, as well as her transformation.
In the thriller Last Ferry, a young, inexperienced gay lawyer travels to Fire Island in the off-season looking for romance and friendship, but instead finds himself in trouble after witnessing a murder. This intriguing thriller has plenty of twists and turns all the way to the surprising end.
This reality voguing show on new streaming service HBO Max attempts to portray modern-day LGBTQI ballroom culture, in which “houses” of dancers compete for prizes and the ultimate title of a reigning house. While New York City’s traditional ballroom scene once was primarily dominated by African-American and Latinx members, the new show also includes cisgender women, white and Asian-American voguing masters. Legendary feels more like an introduction to ballroom culture for those who have never seen voguing outside of the series Pose and Madonna’s famous Vogue music video.
Legendary hasn’t been without some controversy. When actor Jameela Jamil was announced as the show’s host and one of the judges many wondered why a cisgender woman with zero background in ballroom culture was hired over a well-known trans woman and mother of a ballroom house Trace Lysette. Controversy aside, the show is a fun introduction to the drama and excitement of ballroom. If you want learn more about ballroom history, watch the documentaries Paris is Burning and Kiki.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Drag queen royalty RuPaul makes wearing wigs, false eyelashes, sequined gowns, and high heels into an extreme sport with popular reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race. Watch new and legendary drag queens from all backgrounds battle it out for the crown as they compete in costume, acting, dancing and performing challenges, which always end in them lip syncing for their lives. The series is more than drama and dance trauma, however. It also celebrates friendship, as well as some very moving moments of self-discovery and hard work it takes to be a successful drag queen.
New movie calendar for 2020 and 2021 following coronavirus delays
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