LGBTQ+ Stories and Cinema in Kanopy

Ever since I learned that faculty and staff also have access to the library’s streaming service, Kanopy, from one of our blog posts back in March (thanks, Ed!), I’ve been exploring titles and adding lots of films to my watchlist.

Many of these have included videos from their mental health and mindfulness section as well as their titles on Social and Systemic Injustice.

This month I have been looking at selections from their LGBTQ categories to celebrate Pride Month and to learn more about history, issues, and LGBTQ experiences. Their LGBT category under Social Sciences contains over 430 videos and is organized by sections such as Cinema, History, Transgender Studies, Media Representation, and Activism.

Although I encourage you to browse these sections yourself, I also thought it would be fun to share some of the titles that I currently have saved to my watchlist, along with their Kanopy descriptions:

Contemporary Documentaries

A Self-Made Man (2013) ∙ 57 mins

At a crucial turning point in his life, Tony Ferriaolo’s inner voice said, “Create yourself.” This credo once saved his life and now serves as a guiding principle as he educates gender non-conforming youth, as well as their parents. Lori Petchers’ moving A Self-Made Man interweaves the poignant story of Ferraiolo’s personal transition with his life work as a transgender youth advocate. We watch Tony guide kids as young as eight through the confusing journey of defining themselves when challenged by a physical appearance that conflicts with their gender identity.

Call Her Ganda: Fighting for Justice After the Murder of a Filipina Transgender Woman (2018) ∙ 98 mins

When Jennifer Laude, a Filipina transwoman, is brutally murdered by a U.S. Marine, three women intimately invested in the case; an activist attorney, a transgender journalist, and Jennifer’s mother, galvanize a political uprising, pursuing justice and taking on hardened histories of U.S. imperialism.

Gaming in Color: The Queer Side of Gaming (2014) ∙ 62 mins

Almost every gamer will relate to the concept of seeking solace in a video game. Hope for sanctuary guides their escape into a virtual universe where they can be anything they want to be. For many, however, choosing to be true to themselves becomes an open invitation for hatred. This multiplies for those who are marginalized people, including people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community.

Gen Silent: Discrimination Against LGBT Seniors (2012) ∙ 64 mins

The generation that fought hardest to come out of the closet is going back in to survive. What would you do if you were old, disabled or ill –  and the person feeding you put down the spoon and said that you are going to hell unless you change your sexual preference? Sound absurd? Social workers around the world say it is happening every day. Gen Silent is the critically acclaimed documentary from filmmaker Stu Maddux that asks six LGBT seniors if they will hide their friends, their spouses – their entire lives –  in order to survive in the care system.

Passing: Profiling the Lives of Young Transmen of Color (2015) ∙ 23 mins

Profiling the lives of three young transmen of color, this short doc explores what life is like living as a black man, when no one knows you are transgender, and how each man perceives his own journey with gender after many years of being presumed as a cisgender man.

The Year We Thought About Love: Behind the Scenes of Queer Youth Theater (2014) ∙ 69 mins

What happens when LGBTQ youth decide to create a play about queer love to tour to area high schools? The theater troupe explores love – familial, romantic, and spiritual – with wit, candor, and a bit of attitude.

Why Can’t I Be Me? Around You (2019) ∙ 94 mins

Albuquerque’s Rusty Tidenberg, auto mechanic and drag-racing aficionado, shocked friends and family by coming out as trans. Followed for eight years by filmmaker Harrod Blank (son of Les Blank), Rusty guides us through the aftermath of her transition, as growing acceptance among her straight-talking Southwest community still doesn’t ease her romantic and professional woes. Interwoven with lively tales of gender non-conforming individuals on the art-car circuit, Blank’s film – a hit at South by Southwest – is a sensitive and unpredictable love letter to people who fight to be unapologetically themselves.

Historical Documentaries

Coming Out: A 50 Year History (2017) ∙ 57 mins

These inspiring talks give insight into the political and personal changes that shaped the modern LGBTQ movement. The young interviewers get an opportunity to compare their “coming out” experience with people who came out during McCarthy, Civil Rights, post-Stonewall, and AIDS eras. In the end, they learn that every generation of activists stands on the shoulders of those who came before and that activism needs to continue even in the light of great social strides.

Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989) ∙ 80 mins

An Olympic athlete; a gay activist; a boy with hemophilia; a recovering heroin addict; a closeted Navy commander: five lives that shared a common fate. Their lives – along with thousands of others – are woven together in a giant memorial patchwork quilt, that is solemnly unfolded in the US capitol to protest the government’s refusal to respond to a growing epidemic. Common Threads tells the powerful story of the first decade of the AIDS epidemic in the US.

United in Anger: A History of ACT UP (2012) ∙ 94 mins

An inspiring documentary about the birth and life of the AIDS activist movement from the perspective of the people in the trenches fighting the epidemic. Utilizing oral histories of members of ACT UP, as well as rare archival footage, the film depicts the efforts of ACT UP as it battles corporate greed, social indifference, and government neglect.

Films & Cinema

Moonlight (2016) ∙ 111 mins

Oscar-winner for Best Picture, Moonlight is a moving and transcendent look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young man growing up in Miami. His epic journey to adulthood, as a shy outsider dealing with difficult circumstances, is guided by support, empathy, and love from the most unexpected places.

Rafiki (2018) ∙ 83 mins

Despite a political rivalry between their families, Kena and Ziki resist and remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.

The Early Works of Cheryl Dunye (1994) ∙ 72 mins

Cheryl Dunye practically invented a new form of cinema – call it the ‘Dunyementary.’ “Dunye’s delightful early short films fuse humor, intelligence and drama in the world of urban, young black lesbians as they make their way through the murky waters of love, friendship and dating.” – OutFest Los Angeles

Additional Media & Resources

Other than Kanopy films, I’ve also been watching shows on Netflix such as She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts! I have really appreciated their LGBTQ+ representation, amazing animation, and they are also great to watch with the whole family. (As a side note: if anyone watches these, feel free to reach out and we can geek out together!)

Also, if you’re interested in following LGBTQ+ representation in media, GLAAD is an organization that is devoted to countering discrimination and amplifying LGBTQ+ voices.

Happy watching (and Happy Pride!),

Emma Drumright

Library Specialist II, User Engagement and Assessment

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