The truth is, it's hard to find many films about gay rights that aren't in the documentary genre, or don't revolve around the AIDS fight.
While more and more films depicting gay couples undergoing typical anxieties that could be encountered by any type of couple, we first take a look back at a handful of films that articulated different stages of the gay rights movement.
The best part about period films is seeing what similarities still persist today. Now over forty years after the assassination of Harvey Milk, a lot has changed in the conversation for gay rights — and a lot hasn’t.
This documentary follows the movement of AIDS activists beginning when the disease first struck fear into the hearts of many, to the point that the Reagan administration tried to quarantine off those who were infected. Though not solely about gay rights, the film depicts a time when AIDS was thought only to be a “gay disease,” and the further prejudice gay communities faced.
Paris is Burning addresses many disenfranchised communities in early 90s New York, focusing on gay black and Latino men who compete in drag balls. Beyond the struggles of gays in the U.S., the documentary is about the inadequacies of wealth or belonging that come with identity.
Adapted from Tony Kushner’s epic play from 1993, HBO’s miniseries based on the text was a star-studded event openly addressing the lives and struggles of people in different relationships. Foiled with story lines about Mormonism, the piece most centrally focuses on AIDS-inflicted Prior Walter and his partner Louis Ironson.
The film follows James Franco’s Alan Ginsberg as his famous poem Howl faces an obscenity trial for its “vulgar” language because of its descriptions of both heterosexual and homosexual sex.
Howl was Ginsberg’s first published poem, written autobiographically about his own relationships and life as a homosexual man in the 1950s.