I don’t know how Pride Month 2020 was for the rest of you, but due to COVID-19, it was pretty difficult in the Chase Connor household. There were no parades or parties to go to, no marathons. People from the LGBTQ+ community couldn’t gather to celebrate our queerness as we do every year in June. I always really look forward to all of the rainbows and fun outfits and costumes, seeing my LGBTQ+ family taking to the streets to show how happy and proud they are to be exactly who they are.
So, June 2020 was kind of disappointing.
Keeping up social distancing to make sure everyone stays as healthy and safe as possible is important. So, I don’t want to complain too much. Everyone being able to stay alive is more important than pretty much anything else. Still…I missed celebrating Pride in the same way that I have in the past.
Regardless, I also have to acknowledge that Pride has a designated month, but it is something we should celebrate year ’round. Whether it is January, June, or even Christmas Day, queer people should be proud of their queerness. Maybe we weren’t able to celebrate en masse this month like we’re used to, but Pride can’t be stripped away that easily. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I hope you feel what you feel during June all year long.
Because it is the last day of Pride Month, I thought I would share LGBTQ+ media (movies, books, and music) that has helped shape who I am as a queer man. Things that have informed me, educated me, molded me, brought me joy, and moved me.
Of course, this isn’t a definitive list of queer media, but I think it will be a good start for anyone wanting to become more well-rounded when it comes to queer media.
Hopefully, you will find something on this list that makes you feel seen as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch – I love musicals and I love queer things. How could this rock opera about an East German trans woman looking to become a star in America not appeal to me?
Love! Valour! Compassion! – In Terrence McNally’s play, brought to the screen, 8 men gather over 3 different weekends at the country home of one of the friends. It was the first LGBTQ+ movie I saw that addressed being queer, HIV/AIDS, friendship, and relationships. Funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking, I watch this at least once a year.
Paris Is Burning – A documentary about the Harlem drag ball scene in New York City during the 80s. It is an important piece of queer history, educating the viewers about how Black and Latinx people built the foundation our culture is built upon. It also offers important glimpses into the lives of the LGBTQ+ people from the “houses” involved in drag balls. Required viewing for all LGBTQ+ people.
Laurence Anyways – Laurence, a French teacher and author, tells his fiancée, Frédérique, after his birthday that he is a trans woman and wants to live her life as the woman she is, while asking for Frédérique’s support. A gorgeous movie about a couple’s on-and-off again relationship as they try to figure out what happens when one of them is trans.
Room In Rome – Two women spend a night together in a hotel room in Rome. As they grow increasingly more comfortable with each other, they share not only their bodies, but their deepest thoughts and desires. Gorgeous with (in my opinion) a perfect ending.
The Life and Death of Marsha P. Johnson – Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans activist, Self-described “drag queen” and integral in the gay rights movements that erupted after Stonewall, her story is our story. This is another documentary that should be required viewing for all LGBTQ+ people. And it’s available exclusively on Netflix!
But I’m A Cheerleader – One of the most heartwarming and funny LGBTQ+ comedies I’ve ever seen. The jokes are many, but so are the profound moments.
Jeffrey – A gay man decides he’s had enough with the dangers that come with sex (and how unromantic safe sex can be) in New York City in the 90s. So, he writes off romance and sex altogether. Of course, that’s when the perfect guy waltzes into his life. Not all gay love stories have to be tragic–and Patrick Stewart is absolutely hilarious in this movie!
Naz & Maalik – Two gay black Muslim teens who are in the closet get swept up in the War on Terror due to how secretive they have become. A powerful, sometimes funny, movie about sexuality, religion, and bias. Absolutely adore this movie.
You can check out the LGBTQCrew Books here – but here are other recommendations:
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin – Baldwin is a phenomenal writer, we all know that. But Giovanni’s Room has always been my favorite of his. No one quite captures the complexities of the human condition, and how the human heart really works, quite like him.
The Dancing Turtle by A.J. Stiles – A fellow indie, Stiles crafted a perfect debut, in my opinion. Part travelogue, part ode to food, and part romance, this book left me speechless. I’m still stunned by how good it is months later.
ICARUS by Adam Wing – While the author is not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, this is one of the most gorgeous mythology retellings with LGBTQ+ characters. I’ve ever read. Wing took a story many people are at least vaguely familiar with and to which we know the ending. He still managed to make the story fresh and exciting, made me hopeful…and still heartbroken, even though I knew what was coming. An absolute masterpiece.
Butterfly Boy by Rigoberto Gonzalez- A stunning work about the intersectionalism of race, religion, culture, class, and sexuality.
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman – Lush prose, scenes you can hear, smell, and taste. A visiting college student has a summer-long affair with the teenage son of the professor he is studying with. Heartbreaking and stunningly gorgeous (let’s just pretend the follow up doesn’t exist).
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – The first LGBTQ+ book I read specifically about being intersex. An absolutely gorgeous book told over the span of eight decades about the intricacies of gender. I could not put this book down and felt forever changed by it.
We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation by Riemer & Brown – A powerful story told in photos about gay liberation from the early 19th century up to the present day. I often find myself pulling this book off of the shelf to pour through the photos and remind myself what it means to be queer, and how I am standing where I am today.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – The first YA Book I ever read with a character that made me feel seen. To pick up a book at such an early age and see yourself represented when you have always felt misunderstood and invisible is a powerful thing. Adore this book.
Like the other two lists, this one is obviously incomplete. However, these are some songs by queer artists that mean something to me in some way. Whether they make me want to get up and dance my little gay heart out or just sit back and ponder the deep lyrics, they’ve all meant something profound to me.
So…those are some of my favorites to watch, read, and listen to at the end of Pride Month.
But Pride never ends. And LGBTQ+ writers, auteurs, and artists should be supported every day of the year. Pride should be celebrated every day of the year. I’m proud to be LGBTQ+ and proud to call you all my family.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,