Written by GOOD DOCS intern Emma Kuli
This LGBT Pride month, celebrate queer stories and intersectional identities with these powerful documentaries. Whether you are coming together this June or planning for next year’s curriculum, consider bringing these stunning films to your community group or campus.
All of these films are available in a variety of streaming and purchase options through GOOD DOCS for events, library collections, or smaller group screenings!
BEING BEBE is the story of Marshall Ngwa, a Cameroonian artist whose identity hinges on the complicated success of his drag persona, BeBe Zahara Benet. Grounded by Marshall’s own present-day narration, the film features 15 years of vérité, interviews, and performances. Viewers follow Marshall’s remarkable immigrant journey from the earliest days of his amateur drag performance career in Minneapolis, circa 2006, to becoming the first winner of the now-iconic reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2009. As Marshall fights to maintain the trajectory of his career despite a series of difficult setbacks, the film reveals what it means to celebrate and advance Queer Black Excellence during the 2020s. Alongside Marshall's story, viewers are introduced to LGBTQ+ youth and activists in Cameroon, where Queer identity is criminalized.
After having to hide their relationship while making the Hajj, Imam El-Farouk and his husband Troy co-founded Unity Mosque in Toronto, one of the world's first Queer-affirming and gender-equal mosques. Though the mosque (and filmmaker) receive threats and hate speech, the mosque forges on, playing a life-saving role in the lives of its members.
MANY LOVES, ONE HEART tells the story of the nascent LGBTQ movement in Jamaica by highlighting courageous members of the community and their allies, who have committed their lives to the Jamaican struggle for LGBTQ rights. Jamaica has frequently been cited for egregious homophobic violence by international press and human rights organizations. Challenging this often one-sided depiction, MANY LOVES, ONE HEART presents brave Jamaicans who are seeking to transform their island into a space of inclusivity where they can love freely. The documentary includes Spice, a gay, homeless youth with dreams; Mo, one of the first openly trans individuals in the Jamaica police force, who hopes one day to marry his partner; Dane, the Executive Director of J-FLAG, the leading LGBTQ human rights organization in Jamaica; and Father Sean Major-Campbell, who broke with much of the religious establishment to preach love, inclusion, and allyship with conviction and courage. Scenes of Jamaica’s second-ever PRIDE week depict the safe spaces carved out by the movement’s proponents, interspersed with provocative commentary by scholars and activists linking the movement for LGBTQ rights to the fight for emancipation from slavery. MANY LOVES, ONE HEART shares this homegrown Jamaican movement, celebrates their emerging victories, and is an important resource for building global awareness of transnational human rights.
Combining a wealth of recently discovered home movies, video, and written documents with artfully shot contemporary interviews and vérité footage, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a documentary that cracks open a Pandora’s box of unresolved family drama. The intimate lens of the film refracts on a wider cultural context: the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, and in particular, how families treat their LGBT members in a Latin American cultural and religious context. A story about the mistakes of the past and the second chances of the present, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a cautionary tale about the unresolved conflicts wrought by AIDS and a nuanced exploration of how faith is used and abused in times of crisis.
WE EXIST: BEYOND THE BINARY is one of the first films to document this growing community living life “beyond the binary” construct of gender, offering a first-hand account of what it is like to exist as other than strictly male or female. Designed with education in mind, WE EXIST features non-binary individuals, activists, and doctors who all weigh in on subjects ranging from gender binary/social constructs, pronouns, access, and safety. It also tells the riveting and deeply personal story of Lauren Lubin: a person in their mid-twenties who identifies as gender neutral. Lauren shares the emotional, physical, and mental changes and obstacles they face in order to be their authentic self. From abandoning a promising basketball career to a near-death experience in the depths of the rainforest to top surgery, Lauren’s journey is one of transformation. While their story is unique, it also echoes the stories of so many other non-binary people around the world. Featuring non-binary activists Tyler Ford, and Kristen Russo, as well as Dr. Anthony Vivasis, the Clinical Director of Medical Services at Callen Lorde Community Health Center and Dr. Charles Garramone, Board Certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon at The Garramone Center.