10 Must Watch Films on LGBTQIA+ History
LGBTQ History Month each October offers an important opportunity to expand our knowledge of LGBTQIA+ histories and ensure that they are being addressed in the classroom. One great way to tackle the task of expanding our own knowledge as educators is to turn to the medium of film. Below is a list of 10 documentary films and television series that we are diving into here at Facing History and that we invite you to explore alongside us.
In addition to sweeping overviews of LGBTQIA+ movements and representations in media, this list of films covers a number of subjects: the first public lesbian organization in the U.S.; the little-known-yet-historic 1966 San Francisco uprising that preceded Stonewall; the life and times of Black gay civil rights leader Bayard Rustin; the forces that drive underrepresentation of LGBTQIA+ people in historical archives and the rich stories that can be unearthed when these forces are challenged; a landmark court case that forever altered perceptions of LGBTQIA+ families in the U.S.; the LGBTQIA+ community’s powerful story of resistance during and after the AIDS epidemic; and the pathbreaking activism of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
Below, each studio describes what to expect when you watch each of these films or docuseries:
No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon (2003)
Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria (2005)
“PRIDE [is] a six-part documentary series chronicling the struggle for LGBTQ+ civil rights in America from the 1950s through the 2000s. Seven renowned LGBTQ+ directors explore heroic and heartbreaking stories that define us as a nation. The limited series spans the FBI surveillance of homosexuals during the 1950s Lavender Scare to the ‘Culture Wars’ of the 1990s and beyond, exploring the queer legacy of the Civil Rights movement and the battle over marriage equality.
Featuring little-known characters such as Madeleine Tress or 1980s videographer Nelson Sullivan who chronicled a vanishing downtown New York City during the AIDS epidemic, the series also features international figures such as Civil Rights pioneer Bayard Rustin, writer Audre Lorde and Senators Tammy Baldwin and Lester Hunt. The evolution of trans rights and identities through the decades is charted through interviews and archival footage of pioneers including Christine Jorgensen, Flawless Sabrina, Ceyenne Doroshow, Susan Stryker, Kate Bornstein, Dean Spade and Raquel Willis.”
Visible: Out on Television (2020)