Pride is busting out all over the Lavendernet. Even though mask mandates are being lifted, some folks are still not ready to mingle in those overstuffed bars and parades, preferring instead, the comfort of a digital celebration. Thank the Universe for a plethora of quality LBGTQ stories now streaming through the net or television. Below are some of my top picks running on the various networks, film festivals and gay platforms through June.
Frameline45 Film Festival
The San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival this year runs from June 10-27. The first week will be presenting outdoor and drive-in only events with the last 11 days streaming virtual-accessible films.
Several highlights from the festival of 50 films include the acclaimed Cold-War love story, Firebrid, and the documentaries No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics, and Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of Jose Sarria.
Firebird is a hot covert romance between a dashing Soviet fighter pilot and an idealistic private. It’s your typical tragic closet romance, but the chemistry between Ramon and Sergey is so sizzling and cozy in the freezing Sochi Russian winter, the shopworn plotline is totally forgiven.
The acting is also superb among the three actors in this feature film based on a true and forbidden love triangle that took place at a Russian military base in 1977. Actor Tom Prior plays the unassuming private Sergey who’s romancing a female cadet, Luisa (Diana Pozharskaya), when Ramon (Oleg Zagorodni) disrupts the relationship and sends Sergey into an emotional tailspin. Although you want it to work out for Ramon and Sergey, you know it’s going to end in a Trotsky-esque travesty.
No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics is a fascinating documentary about queer comic heroes. Talk about redundant! These heroes, however, are not so much the cartoon characters, as the creators of the comics themselves who forged uncharted territory of queer storytelling. Comic book geeks will be in Comic-Con heaven with this intriguing look behind the inkwell.
The other documentary worth the price of admission is about the first openly gay man to run for public office, who was Latino and a drag queen. Jose Sarria was a pioneer activist to be reckoned with and set San Francisco on its ear when she stood up on beatnik café tabletops and screamed “Gay is Good!” and “United We Stand Divided They Catch Us One by One!” in 1961! Jose not only sent terror into the souls of homophobic politicians, the vice squad and the police, she socked it to her fans and patrons for living in the closet. Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of Jose Sarria is an awarding winning feature documentary that premiered at Outfest last year.
Frameline45’s Festival Streaming Pass is your all-access entry to view all of Frameline’s online streaming content this June with one simple purchase – a total of 60 presentations, including 50 films and 10 digital discussions.
Festival Streaming Passes are now on sale at a members ($95) and non-members ($115) price. Purchase soon as quantities are limited. Learn more at frameline.org/passes.
Here TV is the new Logo Channel for LGBTQ+ audiences. And one of the darling directors/producers/writers for the channel is Emmy nominated Billy Clift (The Advocate Celebrates 50 Years: A Long Road to Freedom). His new short film, No Time for Goodbyes will be streamed throughout June. It may only be 22 minutes, but this gay prison love story set during the horrors of the Holocaust packs an emotional punch as well as a couple of disturbing facts about what actually happened to Gay concentration camp prisoners upon their release.
For instance, after Jews and other political prisoners were rescued by the Allied Forces, both the East and West German governments upheld the country’s anti-gay laws and many of those gay men went straight from the concentration camps into prison, some incarcerated up until the 1970s.
Even though Clift’s fictional story is centered on historical situations, his lead actor, David Lenga, who plays Otto, is so convincing as the 90 year-old narrator you may think you’re watching a documentary. Otto’s fellow gay prisoners and the Gestapo were not only his tormentors, they were also his lovers.
Clift’s other short film is a documentary that’s been nominated for an Emmy this year. His episode from Here TV’s original series HERE Os focuses on attorney Gloria Allred’s legendary legal career. Most people identify Allred as a women’s rights champion, but Clift’s ten-minute exposé highlights the beginning of Allred’s career when she took on LGBTQ discrimination cases and won some landmark decisions here in Los Angeles. It’s a must see for LGBTQ+ activists.
This is the third and last season of my favorite series, POSE and if you missed those fierce final episodes in May, be sure to catch the series’ swan song’s season when it streams on Netflix. This season opens up with one of the dancers dying from AIDS. Though it’s been revealed that Blanca and Pray Tell are both HIV, will it be one of them that take their final strut down the catwalk? Instead of bringing the competing House performers together over their beloved’s demise, sadly it actually divides them. There are some shady divas on that dance floor.
Streaming on NETFLIX
Netflix has brought back a cache of classics for this year’s Pride, including Brokeback Mountain, A Single Man, and Milk, the Oscar winning biography on Harvey Milk. They’re all great movies to view more than once. Other exceptional feature films include, a remake of The Boys in the Band, with Zachary Quinto, and The Danish Girl.
Documentaries worth catching are Transformers, Circus of Books, and I Am Divine. Indulgent binge watching series include seasons one and two of Pose, and Schitt’s Creek. Dan Levy is brilliantly funny as the uptight riches-to-rags drama queen, but Catherine O’Hara as Moira is hilariously demented as the has-been movie queen, who lives in her own down and out motel, a Norma Desmond for the 2020s.
So if you’re not quite ready to remove your mask and join in at the Pride festivities in the bars and parades this year, you can still soak in some digital Pride via the Lavendernet.