Film Editor | Graciela Mae Chico
Two years after the abolition of Section 28, an act which stated that local authorities “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” in February 2003, the month was declared LGBT+ History Month. The awareness month, led by Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick (Schools OUT UK Project), continues to this day. While it is undeniable that the community has made significant progress since, from the Gender Recognition Act to the legalisation of same-sex marriage (in England, Wales, and Scotland), there is still a long way to go for true equality. Currently, there are still 73 countries where homosexuality remains illegal.
It has only been three years since the mass shooting in the Orlando gay night club, Pulse – dubbed the ‘deadliest violence against LGBT people in US history’. Closer to home, divisions within the community itself are revealed by the trans-exclusionary protestors of the group ‘Get the L out’ invaded the Pride in London march last July. And even more recently, Empire actor Jussie Smollett was attacked by anti-gay Donald Trump supporters. It really raises the question, despite the proclaimed embracing of ‘fluidity’, there is still such a risk in visibly and unapologetically expressing one’s queerness.
Nevertheless, the past year also saw a significant rise in LGBT+ themed and produced films hitting the mainstream. Along with the various changes taking place within the film industry, stories from queer voices are slowly being given their rightful platform. No longer are queer stories restricted to various reinterpretations of the typical ‘coming out’ story, complex and innovative stories wherein one’s sexuality or gender is not the only driving force within a narrative are finally being given the chance to be made. Alongside this, stories about figures who were previously pushed at the back of history books are finally being told – finally allowing us to learn about our history that was rewritten to fit inside a heteronormative and cisgendered mould. In a world where one’s queerness can still result in unsolicited harm and danger, mainstream representation now matters even more.
From The Favourite to The Miseducation of Cameron Post, here are 10 films to watch this LGBT+ History Month, both on demand and at your local cinema:
Films Still in Cinema:
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Marielle Heller’s second feature explores the life of the late writer, Lee Israel. Due to financial struggles, the autobiography writer resorts to forging letters and documents from deceased authors and playwrights. The movie, led by Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, also showcases a beguiling and refreshing dynamic between the friendship of a lesbian and gay man in the early 90s.
This biographical drama produced by the makers of 2015’s Carol explores the life of the Parisian writer, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. The film, set in the dawn of the 20th Century sees a woman desperately fighting against the grain of societal conventions; allowing herself to explore her capabilities, sexuality, and gender, in a society wherein such things were very much unheard of. Albeit a period drama, her story undeniably still resonates to this day.
(Still showing. Out on Demand from February 12)
Yorgos Lanthimos’ absurd take on the period drama revolves around the complex dynamic between three unstoppable women. The three actors, Olivia Colman, Rachel Wiesz, and Emma Stone are a tour de force; their undeniable chemistry further enchancing Lanthimos’ quirky and fascinating take on 19th century English royalty. The film is surely going to lead this year’s awards season.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
(iTunes, Amazon, Google Play)
Winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2018, Desiree Akhavan’s second feature is an adaptation of Emily M. Danforth’s 2012 novel of the same name. It follows the life of teenager Cameron Post (Chloe Grace Moretz), as she is sent to a conversion therapy camp after being caught making out with the prom queen on prom night.
Todd Haynes’ 2015 melodrama has already solidified itself as a New Queer Cinema classic. Beloved by many, this 1950s love story starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1954 novel, The Price of Salt.
God’s own Country
This 2017 British drama stars Josh O’Connor and Alec Secăreanu. The much-acclaimed film follows a Yorkshire sheep farmer and a Romanian migrant worker who changes his life forever.
Loosely based on the life of ex Saturday Night Life co-head writer, Chris Kelly (SNL’s first openly gay head writer), the film is a well-written comedy-drama about a ‘big city boy’ who returns to his hometown to take care of his dying mother. As David (Jesse Plemons) tries to navigate life back in his small town, where he resides with his very conservative family, Kelly provides an equally hilarious and heartbreaking film.
This Academy Award winning film by Barry Jenkins follows the coming of age of a young black man from Miami. Split into three parts, the film explores his tender, and often heartbreaking, journey into adulthood; discovering his sexuality and the trials and tribulations of falling in love.
Paris is Burning
Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary chronicles the 1980s drag scene in New York City. Simultaneously painful and inspiring, this vital piece of filmmaking is an absolute watch. It proves as relevant and moving today as it was almost thirty years ago.
But I’m a Cheerleader
Before there was The Miseducation of Cameron Post, there was Jamie Babbit’s satirical romantic comedy about a high school cheerleader whose parents send her to a conversion therapy camp to ‘cure her lesbianism’. Rather than changing, however, she finds herself in love with another girl in the camp. This cult classic is arguably responsible for solidifying Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, and RuPaul as the LGBTQ+ icon they are today.
Aside from learning about about LGBTQ+ history, why not consider donating to these charities dedicated to helping the queer community.