Happy Pride Month, Ya'll!
We owe so much to the brave filmmakers and entertainers of today and yesteryear for telling queer stories. They raised awareness and garnered understanding of our struggle and helped us know ourselves along the way. While some are cheesy and stereotypical, we must give them credit for increasing visibility and moving the cultural needle for the LGBT community.
Here are my top five.
The Broken Hearts Club (2000)
Before Greg Berlanti gave us Brothers & Sisters (Man, I miss that show!), he gave us The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy about a group of gay friends living in West Hollywood. It actually won the Outstanding Film (Limited Release) award at the 2001 GLAAD Media Awards. And it has Zach Braff, Timothy Olyphant, Dean Cain and the dad from Frasier in it. This was the first "gay movie" I ever watched. I had recently come out and had no idea about anything gay. While this movie is a bit camp and a bit over the top, it's heartfelt and is a must-see for gays, especially those new to the scene. Thank you for this, Mr. Berlanti!
The Danish Girl (2015)
Please tell me you all have already seen this outstanding film! It's the remarkable story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener as they navigate Lili's incredible journey as a transgender pioneer. It is simply incredible -- incredibly stunning, incredibly moving, incredibly insightful and incredibly performed. Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander are simply outstanding. And the soundtrack is stellar.
Philadelphia was one of the first mainstream, Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner, directed by Jonathan Demme and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Hanks is fired from his law firm for suspicion of being gay and takes the firm to court. Denzel declines to be his attorney until he sees how Hanks is treated by a jerk librarian as Hanks was researching law preparing to represent himself in court. It's a powerful and emotional film. The opening credits alone set to Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" alone will make you reach for the tissues.
Holiday Heart (2000)
Ving Rhames (yes, Ving Rhames) is a homosexual, black man who performs as a drag queen. He is fierce, compassionate and a devout Christian despite his sexuality. After his partner dies, he befriends a drug addicted, single mother named Wanda (played by Alfre Woodard) and her daughter. This is another tear-jerker. Kudos to Robert Townsend (remember his show The Parenthood?) for directing this.
Is it me, or are there simply not enough coming-of-age stories for African-American lesbians? I'd like to see more films sharing their stories. Pariah is a very insightful, coming-of-age story about an African American 17-year-old lesbian grasping with her identity, while dealing with her strict parents in Brooklyn. We must praise Dee Rees for sacrificing more than we will ever know to get this story told. Bravo!
Let me know what I missed in the comment section!