Gay Pride is celebrated throughout the world on different weekends during the month of June. World PRIDE, in New York City, will be celebrated June 26-30, and that should be a ball!
New Orleans PRIDE, which we celebrated June 7-9, was superb! In our great city, anyone who could view our flag flying and rainbows draped around doorways & windows in the French Quarter, as well as rainbow bunting hanging on many LGBT-owned businesses downtown, Uptown and in Metairie, had a smile on their face and hope in their heart.
As we celebrate Stonewall and PRIDE during the remainder of the month, I’ve noticed a focus in the media, especially TV and other outlets, on how the LGBT community is portrayed in films. Never before had I been aware of so many gay-themed plots and biographies; it’s quite wonderful. In my counseling practice I’ve often, especially lately, been asked for recommendations for movies that might enlighten, inform, or simply describe our past. Looking through another’s eyes is a good, albeit simple, definition of empathy. And we all could benefit from empathy leading to loving others.
I began paying attention to what was being offered that was pertinent to our history, and did what seemed logical to me which was to start making lists of films and plays that seemed important in different ways for our community. I’m dedicating this article to the very special and often brave authors of these works.
While I majored in English and American lit in college, one thing I learned about literature is that just because something is about a topic of interest, doesn’t mean that the writing is fair, or free from bias, or even truthful. The works mentioned here are supportive and not exploitative of our community. I’m sure there are many more films and plays/musicals; if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. Listed in no particular order, many of these entertainments are timeless, and should be required watching for anyone who would like to experience the history/perceptions/politics of the LGBTQ community. And while you view, please keep an open mind as to the author’s vision and the framework of the experience according to the generation and politics at the time.
Let’s start with film. We all have access to some movies; most of us have access to many through TV, YouTube, Netflix, Prime, and other options. An important note is that often plays become movies, and I’ve pointed a few of those out. It might be enjoyable to sit with a friend or two and play the “Have You Ever Seen” game. See how many you can list, make your own notes about what you want to watch next. My personal favorites are indicated with **. Movies:
The Normal Heart **
Boys Don’t Cry **
Boys in the Band **
And the Band Played On **
Milk (about Harvey Milk) **
Better than Chocolate
In the Gloaming
The Danish Girl **
Paris is Burning (documentary) **
The Matthew Shepard Story
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Aimee and Jaguar
Tipping the Velvet
Gods and Monsters
Torch Song Trilogy**
Desert Hearts **
Claire of the Moon
The Crying Game **
Angels in America **
The Laramie Project
Some of these are well-known and seen on premium channels or any classic movie channel. Most of the others are hard to find, but may be for sale On Demand, or found by chance. Of course, if really interested, many of the classics are available to pay to download. I was pleased to see that on this year’s PRIDE Saturday and Sunday, Turner Classic Movies played gay-themed films all day. They didn’t announce they were going to do that, but I was excited to hear about it so I was able to DVR movies like Maurice,