LGBTQ Films to Watch for Pride

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
June 26 2014 3:45 PM

Celebrate Pride With a Little Queer Cinema

Nathan Lane inThe Nance.
Nathan Lane inThe Nance.

Screenvision

I have a theory about Pride weekend: Like New Year’s Eve, it’s the kind of party-centric holiday where there is so much cultural pressure to have “the perfect night”—in this case, a cinematic montage of queer community, expressive freedom, and probably dancing—that anything you actually do will almost certainly fall short of the Platonic ideal. Entry fees will be expensive, bars will be crowded, transportation in parade-addled metropolises will be a nightmare, and unpleasantly drunk, if pleasingly shirtless, zombies will vomit on your rainbow beads while you’re just trying to get home. The introvert in me considers all this and quietly pleads: Just stay there!

Even as I recognize all this, I will undoubtedly ignore my own advice and brave the spontaneous glitter storms of New York at least once this weekend. But the rest of the time, I’ve resolved to celebrate Pride in a far less stressful—and probably more meaningful—way: By sipping an un-watered down drink and watching some LGBTQ cinema, whether in content or sensibility, on my big gay couch.

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My personal docket already includes Auntie Mame, The Queen, and The Birdcage for reasons of loyalty, but luckily, we’re no longer limited to the old-standby DVDs we already own or the obvious streaming titles we have to scour Netflix to track down. Fandor, a curated streaming service, has launched a truly impressive LGBTQ spotlight collection in celebration of Pride month that adds 22 relatively hard-to-find titles to their existing collection of 100+ LGBTQ films. The newcomers include critically acclaimed cannon entries like Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied (1989), which offers a bracing portrait of the black gay male experience, and lesser known films, including Su Friedrich’s Hide and Seek (1996), billed as “a daring exploration into wild, uncharted territory, lesbian adolescence in the 1960s.”

And if, after checking out Fandor’s offerings, you do feel like getting out of the house for a bit, duck into a theater near you that’s participating in the film broadcast of The Nance, Nathan Lane’s heart-breaking, gut-busting Broadway turn as a gay Vaudeville performer in 1930s New York. The stage version—which was one of my favorite art experiences of the last few years—offered a fascinating portrait of gay life before Stonewall, and the opportunity to experience the show beyond New York is really a public good.

While Pride should be about celebrating the current state of liberation, it should also encompass some time meditating on the history of how we got here—spending a little of the weekend with any of these films would be a fine way of paying respects.

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.