The 5 Best Documentaries To Watch During Pride Month

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It's officially June, which means Pride month is in full effect in the United States. Whether you identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community or are an active ally, this month represents a time for celebration, acceptance, and joy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and more folk who strive to fully be their actualized selves. This month is also a time to commemorate those who came generations before us and fought for the legal rights we now have and to continue to be a proponent for equity and justice.

That being said, one way to gain knowledge about LGBTQ+ history, as well as to feel seen and represented, is to consume different types of content such as music, art, literature, and — one of our personal favorites — documentaries. It's been a long road to having gay marriage legalized in the United States, which was only officially recognized in June 2015 (via NPR), but LGBTQ+ storytelling has been a decades-long pursuit in America.

To honor Pride month, here are some of our favorite LGBTQ+ documentaries you can watch from home.

1. Paris is Burning (1990)

One of the most groundbreaking and historical documentaries showcasing the LGBTQ+ community — drag culture in particular — is the 1990 documentary "Paris is Burning.The film by Jennie Livingston, which influenced the iconic "RuPaul's Drag Race," is both a beautiful and heartbreaking depiction of the 1980s underground drag ball culture in New York City where Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ members found solace from a society that rejected them.

Part of what makes the documentary so compelling is the confessionals spoken by popular ball competitors. They often speak on their experience of the intersection of race, sexuality, gender, and class in America and how they persevere in a world that doesn't fully recognize them. 

The film holds a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and can be streamed on HBO Max.

2. Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen (2020)

Representation in the media is powerful for anyone. For members of the transgender community, seeing themselves portrayed on screen can have a lasting impact. That is exactly what the film "Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen" illustrates. In it, executive producer Laverne Cox, who has been a trailblazer in Hollywood, and other integral trans people in the entertainment industry, explore how Hollywood has long-portrayed harmful stereotypes of trans folk in movies and television. 

The doc zeroes in on how these portrayals affected America's cultural perception of trans people and the continued importance of telling nuanced, progressive stories to defy inaccurate myths and caricatures in order to better represent the lives and stories of trans people in America.

"Disclosure" has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and can be streamed via Netflix.

3. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)

If you're wondering on how you can be a better LGBTQ+ ally, learning about influential members of the community is a good way to start. One of those people you should learn about is liberation activist Marsha P. Johnson, who was a notable force in the 1969 Stonewall uprising. 

Netflix's biographical documentary, "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson," examines Johnson's lively existence, astonishing accomplishments, and ill-timed, suspicious death in 1992 when she was just 46. The film also follows Victoria Cruz, a trans activist, as she attempts to seek justice for Johnson's death, which police then ruled a suicide. 

"The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson" holds a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and is streaming on Netflix.

4. Check It (2016)

"If no one was gonna stand up for us, we stood up for ourselves," an interviewee declares in the trailer for "Check It." The 2016 documentary takes the subject of gangs and turns it on its head as it centers around a crew of gay and transgender young adults in Washington D.C. Viewers should be warned that there are some disturbing images; some of the subjects depicted narrate gruesome, graphic incidents they've encountered that have resulted in violence. 

Though the "Check It gang" has been through some brutal experiences, they choose to create a life for that's rich in creativity, community, and strength in the face of adversity.

With an impressive 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, you can stream "Check It" on Tubi or Amazon Prime.

5. A Secret Love (2020)

Have some tissues handy, because this one is going to be a tearjerker. Produced by Ryan Murphy, "A Secret Love" is both historical and biographical as it chronicles the untold love of a lesbian couple spanning over 70 years before they revealed the truth of their partnership. Terry Donahue, a former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and her partner Pat Henschel recall the challenges and triumphs they faced as they dated, fearing the ostracism they would experience if they came out as lovers instead of friends. 

"A Secret Love" has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and is streaming on Netflix.