Living in London with the thought that summer (if it ever arrived) is about to come to an end can be depressing (at least, I’ve already started feeling this way).
Here are some documentaries that can lift your spirit a little, and give a motive to those hours spent at home while outside is gloomy, wet and rainy.
Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991)
This documentary inevitably makes up a chapter in the gay book of documentaries. It was premiered at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival and it chronicles the life of American singer Madonna during her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour. The reason why this is revered as one of the first and most important gay documentaries of the last 30 years is not because of Madonna herself (well, yes – her too…), but mostly her dancers. They were (almost) all gay and the cameras showed for one of the first times in American film history, a bare and honest representation of homosexuality. The sense of freedom they expressed towards who they were helped countless other gay men come to terms with their own sexual identity – an impact further highlighted in the 2016 documentary Strike a Pose.
Paris is Burning (1990)
Now, if you identify as a homosexual man and you don’t know what Paris is Burning is, there’s a chance you might be bi… kidding (maybe not). Paris is Burning tracks the origins of the ball culture, from which the “voguing” battles flourished – a style raised and championed by the black and latino LGBT communities of New York in the late 1980’s. Among the others, we are shown footage of Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, Angie Xtravaganza and Willi Ninja… the kings and queens and founders of the real Ball Culture. After all, Reading is whaaaaat? FUNDAMENTAL DARLING!
Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine (2014)
There was a moment in American LGBT history in which something changed. Between the night of Oct 6th and Oct 7th, 1998 Matthew Shepard – a 21 years old student – was robbed, beaten, tied to a fence and left to die by two men on the sole reason that he was gay. He died six days later because of the injuries resulted from the attack. The case brought up an unprecedented attention to the lack of an effective hate crime legislation in the US and rallies were held throughout the nation in support of Shepard and the LGBT community. As the title suggests, this documentary gives an intimate and honest portrait of Matt as remembered by his family and friends.
Mala Mala (2014)
Let’s start from the beginning: in Puerto Rican, the term “mala” means something like “fierce” and Mala Mala is fierce as fuck. It is a documentary that follows the lives of 9 trans-identifying people in Puerto Rico, among whom we can find April Carrion – drag queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s a beautiful and necessary documentary that brings the limelight on a subculture which is too often overlooked or demeaned to mere funny shows or prostitution.
For the Bible Tells Me So (2007)
When it comes to homosexuality, some of us (conservative Catholics) still think there’s something to be debated (*rolls eyes*) and that we are against nature (*applies nail polish*) and For the Bible Tells me So tackles exactly this issue: the perception of the LGBT community in the eyes of Christianity, in the light of the various interpretations of what the Bible says about homosexuality. In this case, the focus is on those Christian families who raised homosexual children and how they managed to combine the love for their children with a religion who deemed them as sinners. Many of them inevitably changed their views on the subject… sometimes though, for this to happen, something tragic had to happen.