February means it’s LGBTQ history month, a time to remember and celebrate the feats achieved and the struggles faced by the LGBTQ community over the last century. So to honour the empowerment and the pain that runs through queer cuture and queer history and the irrevecoble stamp of the community on modern cinema, we’ve chosen 10 seminal and significant films and series that map moments in LGBTQ history, some you know, some you might not.
- It’s A Sin (2021)
As the Russel T. Davies’ series airs its final episode this Friday, we’re begging you to watch it if you haven’t started already. It’s A Sin tells a tragic, but empowering and comedic, story of a friendship group trying to enjoy their sexual freedom in London during the AIDS crisis, narrating the worry and denial of the gay community among other hardships faced by queer men and women in the 1980s. The established screenwriter and producer took from his own experiences and encounters, to make such a raw and profound drama, that brings up topics and discussions barely talked about anymore.
- Pride (2014)
Pride tells the true story of the friendship and union of a group of LGBTQ activists and Welsh miners during Thatcher’s Britain. The movie shows the groups, both oppressed by the press and Thatcher’s government, progressing alliance and their support for each other through solidarity, fundraisers and a decorated minibus, it’s a feel good film that highlights an important and difficult era of Britain.
- My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
A beautiful and seminal LGBTQ film, My Beautiful Laundrette tells the story of love between two men, outsiders, both victimised by the rough society of Thatcher-era London. The film discusses not only queer love, but racial tension, in this portrait of relationships and social realism in the 1980s, that launched the career of Daniel Day Lewis.
- Milk (2008)
Sean Penn and James Franco star in this dramatisation of Harvey Milk’s career. As the first openly gay elected official of California, it’s certainly a story that needs to be told as his fight for gay rights and minorities in politics was so groundbreaking and memorable. Harvey Milk is a person to be honoured and remembered this month.
- Angels In America (2003)
A star-studded adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, Angels In America is a beautifully shot discussion of sex, religion, society and love during the AIDS crisis in America. The story focuses on two couples, their struggling relationships and their intertwining of fates during a time of fear and illness, brilliantly delivered by Meryl Streep, Al Pacino and Emma Thompson to name a few, this miniseries is wonderfully delivered and thoroughly entrancing.
- Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Boys Don’t Cry is the heartbreaking true story of transgender man Brandon Teena and his journey through life and love in Nebraska, up until his brutal murder by two transphobic men in 1993. Released in 1999, this was the first mainstream film to focus on a transgender man and propelled Teena’s story into the limelight.
- Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
This film shows the AIDS crisis from a different perspective: that of a homophobic cowboy, unable to come to terms with his diagnosis. The true story of Ron Woodrof, Matthew McConaughey plays the Texan as he overcomes his own bigoted judgements and fights for himself and other’s infected with a market of banned drugs.
- Stonewall (1995)
This theatrical film addresses a key event in LGBTQ history – the Stonewall riots of 1969. The docudrama shows mostly the lives of the sex workers and their clientele at The Stonewall Inn in the Summer leading up to the riots, with the climax being that moment from which the modern American gay rights movement was born. It’s witty, irreverent at times and a great reminder of New York’s queer culture.
- Philadelphia (1993)
Philadelphia was the first major studio film to confront the AIDs crisis, telling the (factual based) story of a homosexual, AIDS-inflicted lawyer wrongfully dismissed by his firm, and the courtroom battle to see it put right. Starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, as well as over 50 people directly affected by the illness, the film rustled a lot of feathers, despite the epidemic’s effects on the film industry. The film is groundbreaking both in its story and its release.
- Bent (1997)
Adapted from the Martin Sherman play, Bent is about the treatment of homosexuality in Nazi Germany, telling the story of Max, a gay man in Berlin, who’s relatonships and situations show the persecution of gay men in the Holocaust. It’s a tragic romance and an important narrative, dazzling at times and delivered brilliantly by Sir Ian Mckellen, Mick Jagger and Clive Owen to name just a few.
Words by Daisy Grace Greetham, Graphics by Victoria Zhao