The month of June usually feels like a time for celebration: the weather is beautiful, the flowers are in full bloom, it’s finally summer vacation. But there is also an official reason to celebrate the month of June— it’s Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQIA+ members of the world.
It is a time typically filled with parades, parties, picnics, and workshops. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has complicated the planning and attendance of these events this year. Instead of marching and dancing in the streets, or hearing history lessons in school, many now have to celebrate and learn about the LGBTQIA+ community from the safety of their homes.
So, for those of you confined to your couches, here are some great LGBTQIA+ films that will not only help pass the time in quarantine, but will help evoke the spirit of Pride Month.
There are, of course, the dramas. Brokeback Mountain is a classic, a heartbreaking story of the secret relationship between two cowboys. Not only is the screenplay incredibly moving, but the cast is iconic— composed of big Hollywood names like Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Anne Hathaway, and Michelle Williams. Carol is another complicated love story based on the novel The Price of Salt (later republished as Carol) that stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Set in the 1950s, Carol is not only a tale of forbidden love and its consequences, but of oppressive societal stigmas and expectations.
Adapted from the life of Brandon Teena—a transgender young man from rural Nebraska who was savagely murdered for living as his true self—the movie Boys Don't Cry is deserving of all its critical acclaim. It is a painful and emotional watch, the truth of the story making it even more devastating, but that is precisely why it should be seen. Moonlight is another drama that received a lot of well–deserved praise upon its release, winning many awards, including Academy Award for Best Picture and Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture. It artfully follows the life of Chiron, a Black boy growing up in Miami, as he struggles to navigate his identity in a toxic environment.
If you’re looking for more of an artsy or indie film, check out the beloved and heartbreaking Call Me By Your Name, and be transported to summertime in northern Italy— a world with lush trees, rolling hills and consistently shirtless Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. And for all you foreign film aficionados, try Blue is the Warmest Color, a movie whose inherent sensuality is heightened by the fact that it is completely in French.
Although focusing on entertaining plot lines may be a plus to informative films, documentaries are a great way to learn about the plight and marginalization of the LGBTQIA+ community throughout the years. Biographies like The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson or A Secret Love are incredibly moving. In Be Like Others, transsexuals in Iran explore pursuit of gender reassignment surgery in an environment that is hostile and dangerous for transgenders to live as their true selves. To learn more about the history of LGBTQIA+ persecution and activism, try Before Stonewall.
The LGBTQIA+ community is gradually receiving more attention and representation in film, but it is nowhere near enough. The movie industry—and society—still has a long ways to go when it comes to equality for all, but making more movies like these may indicate that we are heading in the right direction.