LGBTQIA+ Film Icons

behind the scenes of film and theatre students filming in a green room

This year’s LGBTQIA+ History Month’s theme is #BehindTheLens, which aims to celebrate LGBTQIA+ peoples’ contribution to cinema and film from behind the lens. Furthermore, at a time when LGBTQIA+ lives are in the media, we are also encouraged to look ‘Behind the Lens’ and listen to LGBTQIA+ peoples’ lived experiences. This blog will highlight various LGBTQIA+ film icons and their contributions to the film industry and give you some suggestions for LGBTQIA+ films and TV series that you should watch this LGBTQIA+ History Month.

Celebrating LGBTQIA+ Films Icons

Graham Chapman

Graham Arthur Chapman was one of the six members of the Monty Python comedy troupe. In 1972, on a television show, Chapman first disclosed his homosexuality publicly, becoming one of the first celebrities to do so. He was a vocal spokesman for gay rights, supporting the Gay Liberation Front and the newspaper Gay News.

Steven Canals

Steven Canals is an openly queer American screenwriter and producer. Canals is best known for co-creating and executive-producing the FX television show Pose. The first season of Pose centers on the black and Latinx ballroom subculture in the LGBTQIA+ community during the rise of white yuppie culture and HIV/AIDS crisis in 1987–1988. The inspiration behind the TV show is based on Canals personal experiences growing up: “Damon is absolutely teenage, early-20s Steven through and through…minus the parents kicking him out of the house,” says Canals. Blanca is inspired by his mom, while Lil Papi is a tribute to the boys who befriended him in the Bronx that were straight and couldn’t care less that he was gay. “They were just gonna be kind anyway,” (Kaplan, 2019).

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox is an American actress and activist who achieved several “firsts” as an openly transgender woman in the entertainment industry. She notably was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category in 2014 for Orange Is the New Black) and she was the first transgender person to win a Daytime Emmy as a producer in 2015. Here is a video of a speech by Cox where she discusses her own struggle, acceptance and celebration of her identities.

Ariana DeBose

Ariana DeBose is an American actress, dancer, and singer. She has received multiple accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award and a nomination for a Tony Award. DeBose appeared in the Netflix musical film The Prom (2020) and the Apple TV+ musical comedy series Schmigadoon! (2021), before gaining widespread recognition for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s musical West Side Story (2021). For her performance, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first queer woman of color to receive an Oscar in an acting category.

LGBTQIA+ Films and TV Shows you should watch this LGBTQIA+ History Month

  • Heartstopper(Netflix) – Based on the graphic novels of the same name, by series creator Alice Oseman, Heartstopper follows high school sweetie Charlie, who develops a crush on jock classmate Nick.
  • It’s a Sin(All4) – Set in London between 1981 and 1991, it depicts the lives of a group of gay men and their friends during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United Kingdom.
  • Pose(Netflix) – Pose is set in 1987–98 and looks at “the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York”: the African-American and Latino ball culture world, the downtown social and literary scene, and the rise of the yuppie milieu, and HIV.
  • Visible: Out on Television (Apple TV+) – Through interviews with prominent celebrities, including Billy Porter, Sara Ramirez, and Janet Mock, as well as television writers, producers, allies, and activists, the star-studded docuseries explores television’s role in the LGBTQIA+ rights movement over the past 50 years.
  • Out(Disney +) – The plot of this short film features a young gay man who has not yet come out to his parents, who unexpectedly has his mind magically swapped with his dog’s. It is both Disney’s and Pixar’s first short to feature a gay main character and storyline, including an on-screen same-sex kiss.

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