Pride Month Watch List

Pride month is in full swing which means it is time to engage in celebration for the continued progress of LGBTQ rights and to recognize that there is still a long way to go. Representation in any form is a tangible way to provide visibility to a community that has long been cornered in the shadows. Movies serve as a unique platform to place issues in the spotlight and connect with an audience that has long felt invisible. As a bisexual woman, I personally seek out films that display individuals with whom I identify. Stories featuring queer and transgender individuals are essential to not only advancing the continued depiction of the LGBTQ community on screen, but also to speak to those people that still feel isolated and without support. No matter how you identify, watching these films are a tremendous way to celebrate this Pride month that remind us of the journeys and trials people continually face.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, and Chloë Grace Moretz

Riddled with heartbreaking beauty and self-discovery, The Miseducation of Cameron Post tells the story of Cameron Post, an 11th-grader portrayed by Chloë Grace Moretz who gets caught to be romantically involved with her best friend Coley (Quinn Shephard). Following this revelation, Cameron is whisked away to God’s Promise, a Christian conversion camp that promises to “cure” her same sex attraction through prayer and intensive therapy. While at the camp, Cameron participates in sessions that aim to reinforce traditional gender norms and to find the root of her “sin” to transform her and the other individuals at the camp. Cameron’s transformation ultimately comes through her acceptance of her identity through her steadfast resilience against the counselor’s arguments aimed at trying to reprogram her thoughts and actions.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post takes us on a journey of finding one’s identity without illustrating an actual transformation. We see the same woman at the beginning of the film as we do at the end, except the Cameron at the conclusion is much more confident and self-assured, signifying that sexuality is not a choice but rather a part of one’s identity. It is a unique queer narrative that, despite the dark subject matter, celebrates the distinctive aspects of us all.

The Danish Girl

Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne

The Danish Girl is a story of individual struggle to understand and accept the person you were born to be. The film is a fictionalized biography of Lili Elbe (formally Einar Wegener ), one of the first people to attempt sex reassignment surgery. The central aspects of the movie focus on, not only the transformation and journey of Lili, but also the relationship between Gerda and Lili as Gerda comes to accept her husband Einar’s change. This is a story of bravery as much as human connection as the support from loved ones in trying times makes all the difference for someone undergoing a challenge.

Lili Elbe is a transgender pioneer that deserves to be celebrated. Although the film did not deeply dive into Lili’s mind and spirit through her self-realization, it still portrays the difficulty that many individuals face today. The discrimination and harassment still inflicted on the transgender community needs to be widely recognized and The Danish Girl helps illuminate the current movement for transgender rights through Lili’s courage and demand to be recognized as the woman she always was.

Call Me by Your Name

Timothèe Chalamet and Armie Hammer

Set somewhere in Northern Italy in the summer of 1983, Elio (Timothèe Chalamet), a wildly intelligent and quick witted teenager, is visiting his family’s summer home when Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American doctoral student, arrives for the internship offered by Elio’s father annually. The relationship between the two is tentative at first and we are taken on a journey with Elio as he struggles to realize his romantic feelings, coupled with Oliver’s elusive nature. Eventually, their chemistry flourishes underneath the sun-soaked skies and we watch as the two go from engaging in talks about literature and classical music to stealing kisses in Italian streets.

There are a million reasons why you should watch Call Me by Your Name, from the emotional story-line adapted from the novel by ‎André Aciman to the performances of Chalamet and Hammer. The stunning visuals in tandem with the exciting and sensual tension between Elio and Oliver offers a portrait of throwing yourself into the unknown and the beauty that can result from it. The vulnerability both Elio and Oliver have with each other shows how breaking out of your shell can give birth to wonderfully, exciting moments. This film alone should be seen for the end credits scene which features Elio staring into a fire while Sufjan Stevens “Visions of Gideon” plays in the background, leaving us as heartbroken as Elio and even more so that the film had to come to an end.

Carol

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara

You will be left with an intense feeling of melancholy shrouded with hope after seeing Carol, which tells the story of the blooming romance between mother Carol (Cate Blanchett) and aspiring photographer Therese (Rooney Mara). This 50s set drama is a tale of forbidden love in a time where being a homosexual was unheard of and widely unspoken. There are conflicting moods of tragedy and hope within the film as the relationship between the women itself is sensational and groundbreaking, but that same relationship threatens to take away Carol’s daughter due to the blackmailing by her ex-husband.

Carol’s effect as a time piece shows us the veil with which gay people in the 1950s had to cover themselves. The mystery that queer individuals had to live under is brought to light in the film and shows that even a beautiful relationship could be threatened due to outside forces. For many today, this is still the fear people live with and Carol does an excellent job in showcasing the struggle and sorrow many encounter.

Tangerine

Mya Taylor and Kiki Kitana Rodriguez

Tangerine was famously shot on an iPhone and delivers an up-close-portrait of a sex-trade subculture while speaking volumes to the importance of human connection. The film follows transitioning male-to-female prostitutes Alexandra (Mya Taylor) and her best friend, Sin-Dee Rella (Kiki Kitana Rodriguez) on a bustling Christmas Eve.

The representation of sexual minorities is a difficult feat, but Tangerine manages to offer a raw depiction drawn from the real-life experiences of several transgender prostitutes. The independent style of the film along with the enthusiastic performances of the two main leads makes Tangerine a film for and beyond the LGBTQ community.

Love, Simon

Nick Robinson in Love, Simon

Although drastically less dramatic in tone than the other films, Love, Simon is one of those feel good films that stays with you even after the credits roll. The film tells the story of 16-year-old Simon (Nick Robinson) who is not quite ready to come out yet, but after a student discovers his emails to another anonymous closeted student “Blue”, the prospect of telling others who he is comes closer than ever.

Love, Simon is the FIRST major studio film about a gay kid coming out and that is what makes this movie so important as it offers visibility and representation to a community never approached before. This is the type of movie that will have you cheering, crying, and laughing all within its duration and begs to be viewed at a deeper level. The lightheartedness of the film is weaved through all the characters, conversations, and scenes which makes it an enjoyable but also emotional experience. Let us hope this is the first step for more major studios to illustrate the stories of those not often seen on the big screen.

Boy Erased

Nicole Kidman, Lucas Hedges, and Russell Crowe

Similar to The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Boy Erased is a story about a conversion therapy camp experience with a much darker tone. Jared (Lucas Hedges) is concealing his sexuality from his highly religious parents, with his dad being a preacher himself. His secret, however, gets exposed after an ugly and traumatizing experience at college and he is carted off to a Christian anti-gay camp.

The shocking treatment inflicted upon the individuals in the camp contributes to the dark ambiance of the film and it reminds you of the hate that still exists in the world. Conversion therapy might seem far behind us, but, 29 states still do not have conversion therapy laws, meaning there are still people being subjected to this unnecessary and cruel treatment. Homophobia creates hideous individuals and Boy Erased presents to us some of these people, one of them being Lucas’ own father.

Moonlight

Moonlight Movie Poster

Possibly one of the most emotionally moving and poignant films featuring an LGBTQ character comes in the form of Moonlight. The film takes us through three stages in the life of Black, the main character in the film. We see him as a child, as an adolescent, and a fully-grown man. Within these stages, the same struggle is present, that of the acceptance of his sexuality. It is an especially significant movie because not only is the main character gay, but he is also an African American man, which brings needed visualization to the community.

There is a fundamentally human aspect that is alive in each of the stages of Moonlight. The film challenges traditional masculinity and shows that barriers are meant to be broken. Seeing the full arc of Black through important moments in his life allows you to become invested in his story. Through the film, we journey with him to his long-awaited self-realization and acceptance of his thoughts and feelings he has had long since he was a child.

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Hannah Feltz

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.