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The Lavender Scare

Gay Essential Opinion: The Lavender Scare

It’s telling that in any history lesson on the rising cold war tensions of the late 40’s and 1950’s, McCarthyism is strictly defined as accusations of communist sympathies. What has got lost in the history books in the intervening years is a crucial part of American LGBT history, that PBS documentary The Lavender Scare aims to bring back into the national conversation – and on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, this damning, widespread saga of prejudice can now be seen as an equally pivotal step towards equal rights.

Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin

Gay Essential Opinion: Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin

From the restless mind of master filmmaker Werner Herzog, this documentary traces the life of writer-adventurer Bruce Chatwin. The men were close friends for several years before Chatwin’s death in 1989, at which point he gave Herzog his beloved leather rucksack.

Wrangler: Anatomy Of An Icon

Gay Essential Documentaries To Watch, Wrangler: Anatomy Of An Icon

The 2008 documentary, Wrangler: Anatomy Of An Icon, is a poignant look at Jack Wrangler, a gay film star who rose to fame in the 1970’s gay porn industry, and later enjoyed similar success in straight porn. This film is compiled from first-person interviews and archive footage.

This Spring

Gay Essential Opinion: This Spring (Au printemps tu verras)

Filmmaker Wim Wenders once famously said, “The camera is a weapon against the tragedy of things, against their disappearing.” By virtue of association, filmmaking can be seen as an act of preservation. All throughout This Spring (Au printemps tu verras), there is a constant reference to the passing of time, the importance of memories and the importance of remembering.

Killing Patient Zero

Essential Opinion: Killing Patient Zero

We all are aware of the phrase “Patient Zero”, but the man who would be identified under this damning codename has become increasingly forgotten over time. Named in journalist Randy Shilts’ influential non fiction tome And the Band Played On, which finally brought the AIDS conversation into the mainstream several years after its first reported outbreak, a French-Canadian flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas was widely believed to be the first person who brought the disease to the USA and around the world.

Leitis in Waiting

Gay Essential Review: Leitis in Waiting at BFI Flare

A story that comes, quite literally, from one of the farthest corners of the globe, Leitis in Waiting is a surprising and thought-provoking documentary from co-directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson. Surrounded by vast oceans, coral cliffs, and lush rainforest, the Leiti community has lived peacefully for centuries in the small island kingdom of Tonga. Leiti (or fakaleiti) is a local term used to describe individuals who are born male, but behave as females.

Shelter: Farewell to Eden

Gay Essential Review – Shelter: Farewell to Eden at BFI Flare

The film is told through the eyes of Pepsi, a transsexual Muslim from the Philippines. Pepsi was previously a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamic political group known for their hardline separatist tactics and an unwavering conservative stance regarding homosexuality and transsexuality. As the political climate worsened, she was forced to flee her homeland.

Cassandro The Exotico

Gay Essential Review: Cassandro, The Exotico! at BFI Flare

Archive footage provides plenty of dream-like nostalgia, as a high-flying and extraordinary Cassandro takes out his opponents one-by-one. Complete with lavish dress and feathered hair, Cassandro, recognized as the “Liberace of Lucha Libre,” quickly climbed the ranks of popularity in the Mexican sport, all without smearing his eyeliner.

Silvana

Gay Essential Review: Silvana at Melbourne Queer Film Festival

Silvana, is sharply filmed with close-up camerawork that makes the most of the musician’s confrontational activism as well as her personal connections. Blonde, slim and deliberately queer, she certainly challenges the stereotype of an activist hip-hop artist.

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