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5 Films You Should Watch To Celebrate Pride 2021

Happy Pride 2021! Whether you're out or not, I hope this month brings you lots of joy and you are able to celebrate with other people in the community.

Whilst my country still seems to struggle with acknowledging trans people's rights and has also yet to ban conversion therapy, I still feel there is reason to celebrate, if not just to acknowledge the work LGBT activists of the past have done to make sure queer and trans people can be out and proud. There is a long way to go but there is always hope.

To celebrate, I thought I'd give you a small watchlist of LGBT films to check out over the month of June. I hope that this will shine a light on some queer filmmakers that you may not have heard of and that these films offer you actual, complex representation. 

Duck Butter (2018)

A film still from Duck Butter. Two women are sat in front of a keyboard.
Source: IMDb

From its ratings, this doesn't appear to be a very popular film with anyone. I, however, really like it. Written by Alia Shawkat, a bisexual actress, it follows two women who decide that they will have their entire relationship over the course of 24 hours. Offering catharsis and frustration at times for our protagonist, this is a complex exploration of the relationships women have with one another, conveying the intensity of emotions and displaying the sexual aspect without wholly centering it. I enjoy complicated characters and I enjoy angst, so that's why I enjoyed this as much as I did.

Available on Netflix UK

Splendor (1999)

A film still from Splendor. Two men and woman are lying down with their eyes closed. Both of the men have their arms around the woman. They seem to be peacefully asleep.
Source: Alchetron

Directed by Gregg Araki, Splendor follows the origins and complications of a polyamorous relationship between Veronica, Abel and Zed. It's very 90s in its dialogue and aesthetic, keeping a tight balance between irony and sincerity. The film follows our protagonist, Veronica, who must decide whether polyamory is what she truly wants, flirting more with monogamy once she becomes pregnant and wishes for a normal life for her child. This is one of my favourite Araki films, particularly in its portrayal of masculinity, where the filmmaker is always able to keep it in flux, forcing the audience to question the stability of gendered performance in general and how this functions in romantic relationships.

Gay USA (1978)

A film still of Gay USA. A man stands in front of a protest with his fist in the air. He's standing in front of a banner that reads Gay Freedom Day Committee.
Source: MUBI

This documentary follows the many Pride parades going on across America in June 1977, talking to all kinds of LGBT people with various opinions. What I was surprised by (and I'm not entirely sure why) is that not much has changed in how people interact with the community and how people chose to express themselves. What is portrayed is joy and hope, which is made all the more tragic considering this was filmed pre-AIDS crisis and this joy was not going to last long. Still, what is conveyed is what should always be asserted with Pride parades, and that is a transgression against the heteronormative and cisnormative ideologies which limit people's rights and humanity. I honestly believe that this film should be shown in history classes because of how integral this movement was to the advancement of civil rights.

Available on MUBI UK

Lesbian Avengers Eat Fire Too (1993)

A film still from Lesbian Avengers Eat Fire Too. Three lesbian women stand in a protest, seemingly shouting something.
Source: MUBI

Another important documentary that looks at the 90s activist group, The Lesbian Avengers, and the ways they were disrupting ideas of gender, womanhood and sexuality. With a refusal to cater to men, and a desire to make their ideas heard amongst the LGBT community, we see the various acts that they did to make their voices heard, including protests, readings of lesbian fiction and the storming of various buildings with the intent of disrupting the peace. Once again, an important part of LGBT history captured by lesbian filmmakers and expressing the voices of American lesbians at the time.

Nowhere (1997)

A film still from Nowhere. A man is on the phone. In the background, there is a woman on TV.
Source: IMDb

Yes, I'm putting another Araki film on this list. He's a very talented and influential filmmaker and also one of my favourites. This film follows a group of teenagers in Los Angeles as strange things start happening around them, like seemingly an alien invasion. Dripping in 90s irony and satire, this film is a scathing review of society that is surprisingly sincere in its portrayal of queerness and the complex desires of teenagers. Also, I have to mention how beautiful everyone is in this film, particularly James Duvall.

I already have a few lists on my Letterboxd, including some happy LGBT films and some documentaries that are worth watching as well. I have bestowed an abudance of queer films on you and I hope you have the chance to check some of them out.


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