Yaaaaaaaaaaas! It’s that time of the year again. Brightly-hued flags hang over balconies, rainbows cover the street and gay clubs spill out onto the sidewalk. Pride month is about celebrating gay culture and, of course, a time to familiarise ourselves with the history of the LGBTQ+ community. But more than that, Pride month is about bringing to the forefront the everyday struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, like navigating identity, prejudice, self-acceptance and even those universal ventures like falling in love and figuring out who we are. I guess you could say being gay is much like being human… (note the sarcasm).
What better place to explore the everyday struggles of gay life than in LGBTQ+ movies. Here are my top 5 to watch this Pride month.
- Call me by your name
Just released last December, “Call me by your name” is a sensual and touching first love story. This movie takes place in an Italian villa during the summer of 1883, where Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) spends the holidays with his parents. Between parties, books, classical music and flirting with the neighbourhood girls, Elio meets Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American scholar working as an intern for Elio’s dad. The story is centred on the awakening of an intense desire shared by Elio and Oliver. “Call me by your name” shows how love breaks the barriers of sex and gender and how even the smartest of us are naïve when it comes to matters of the heart. And I must say that Armie Hammer’s legs are the real star of the show.
Exploring the theme of everyday discrimination and prejudice, Philadelphia tells the story of a young lawyer suffering from an STI. Andrew Beckett (played by Tom Hanks) is fired from his firm when one of his co-workers find out he is sick with HIV. The film follows Andrew’s fight for equal rights, against the discrimination towards people with HIV. For younger watchers, this is a helpful schooling in the gay communities historic struggles with HIV and the associated discrimination they faced.
3. Blue is the warmest color
A touching coming-of-age movie, Blue is the Warmest Colour is probably the most prominent lesbian movie, so much so that it has become an oft-referenced part of pop culture. The story takes place in Paris, as many other good love stories have, and follows Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) as she falls in love (at first sight) with the blue-haired university student Emma (Léa Seydoux).
While embodying the classic “love at first sight” trope, the movie also explores a young gay woman coming to terms with her identity and the resulting expectations set on her as a member of the gay community.
4. Love, Simon
A common theme in gay film is a pattern of tragedy that often ends in suicide or violence. But Love, Simon is not your typical gay movie. Hollywood’s first mainstream gay production, the movie tells the coming out story of a high school student that is “dragged” out of the closet by one of his fellow classmates.
Simon (Nick Robinson) starts an anonymous online romance with a gay kid from his school. Determined to find out who his prince charming is, Simon must first fight his own hypothetical dragon: embracing his sexuality. Love, Simon is a feel-good portrayal of how culture has moved forward (albeit just a bit), from that time of intolerance to one of better inclusion and acceptance.
5. Paris is Burning
If you are a Rupaul’s Drag Race fan you have probably heard some references to this movie. Paris is Burning is a documentary that tells the story of the early days of Drag. The movie takes you behind-the-scenes of the “Drag Balls” that took place in New York during the late 80’s. Creating awareness about the struggles faced by Drag Queens and the influence they have had on gay rights, the movie is an educational opportunity to understand how Drag Queens have incredible discrimination for challenging heteronormativity. Despite the struggles, Paris is Burning is also a fabulous example of love overcoming hate.