From cult classics to emotional documentaries, here are some iconic movies depicting queer lives

BY LUCAN FAIRWEATHER

Happy Pride DIVAs! Looking for something to watch this Pride month? We have something for everyone, whether you’re interested in queer history, comedy dramas, or heartwarming true stories.

Paris Is Burning (1990)

The documentary film chronicles New York’s underground drag ball culture in the 1980s, a prominent LGBTQI subculture created by young African-Americans and Latinos. Directed by Jenny Livingston, the documentary is considered to be an invaluable piece of history which explores race, class, gender and sexuality in America.

The Birdcage (1996)

This American comedy film is the English version of Franco-Italian film and musical La Cage Aux Folles. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane star as a Armand and Albert, a middle-aged gay couple who own Miami drag club The Birdcage. When Armand’s son Val announces his plans to marry the daughter of a Republican senator, the openly gay couple attempt to hide their lifestyle to make a good impression.

But I’m A Cheerleader (1999)

This satirical romantic teen comedy stars Natasha Lyonne as Megan Bloomfield, a cheerleader who is sent to a conversion therapy camp by her parents to cure her lesbianism. Instead, Megan falls in love with teen lesbian Graham, played by Clea DuVall. It explores sexuality and self acceptance as well as families’ acceptance of queer children. The iconic film has created a cult following for itself.

Rent (2005)

This rock musical drama is a film adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s 1996 Broadway musical of the same name. The story follows the lives of a friend group of “bohemians” in early 90s New York, and their struggles with sexuality, drugs and the AIDS epidemic at the time. The film also stars many of the original Broadway cast. Rent still remains a cultural phenomenon within the LGBTQI community.

Dating Amber (2020)

This Irish comedy-drama tells the story of two closeted teenagers in 1995 Ireland, who decide to fake a relationship with each other to hide their sexualities in a rural Irish town full of homophobia. The heartwarming film follows the two main characters, Eddie and Amber, on their journey towards accepting their queer selves.

Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen (2020)

This American documentary gives an in-depth look at the way transgender people, particularly trans women, are depicted in the media and the social repercussions of this. The eye-opening experience stars many transgender people who are involved in the film industry, such as Laverne Cox, Alexandra Billings, Chaz Bono and Lilly Wachowski. 

Pride (2014)

This true story follows the gay and lesbian activists who helped raise money for the families affected by the 1984 British Miners’ Strike. The film stars big names like Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine and Andrew Scott. The comedy-drama shows the solidarity between queer activists and miners at the time, and how the Labour Party incorporated gay rights into their party programme after pressure from the National Union of Mineworkers.

Moonlight (2016)

Beginning in Miami at the height of the crack epidemic in the US, this story follows main character Chiron at three different stages of his life in which he struggles with his sexuality, identity and abusive home life. The film, which has an all-Black cast, has been praised as one of the best films of the 21st Century. It also made history as the first LGBTQI film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. 

The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)

This documentary by David France tells the story of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two leading figures in the Stonewall riots of 1969. The two were heavily involved in New York City’s gay liberation and transgender rights movement, as well as the AIDS campaign ACT UP. It also looks into Marsha’s mysterious death, originally ruled as a suicide despite the suspicious circumstances.

Seahorse (2019)

This documentary follows gay transgender man Freddy McConnell on his emotional journey to start a family, and his decision to carry the baby himself. The intimate and moving story sees Freddy preparing for conception right up to giving birth. It gives a lot of insight into the experiences and emotions of transgender people, as well the backlash from society towards transgender people and the effects this has.

Rebel Dykes (2021)

This documentary is a favourite here at DIVA HQ and provides an essential serving of queerstory. Following the lives of a community of women in 1980s post-punk London who met through art, politics and sex and went on to change the world through their creative pursuits and activism.

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