This June marks 47 years since the Stonewall Riots, widely regarded as a catalyst for the gay rights movement, and one year since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state bans on gay marriage. As the nation takes the opportunity to celebrate June as LGBT Pride Month, POV takes a look at a number of films from our archive that shed light on the ongoing issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
From a father coming out to his family as transgender to a 2006 case of four black lesbians facing violent threats from a man on New York’s streets, these films examine contemporary stories of LGBT life, as well as its prevailing challenges.
In addition, the films highlighted below are available for free from the POV Lending Library for community or classroom screenings. Sign up in the POV Community Network to borrow these (and many more) films for free.
Brother Outsider by Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer
During his 60-year career as an activist, organizer and “troublemaker,” Bayard Rustin formulated many of the strategies that propelled the American civil rights movement. His passionate belief in Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence drew Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders to him in the 1940’s and 50’s; his practice of those beliefs drew the attention of the FBI and police. In 1963, Rustin brought his unique skills to the crowning glory of his civil rights career: his work organizing the March on Washington, the biggest protest America had ever seen. But his open homosexuality forced him to remain in the background, marking him again and again as a “brother outsider.” Brother Outsider: the Life of Bayard Rustin combines rare archival footage — some of it never before broadcast in the U.S. — with provocative interviews to illuminate the life and work of a forgotten prophet of social change.
Georgie Girl by Annie Goldson and Peter Wells
Born George Beyer, one-time prostitute-turned-politician, Georgina Beyer was elected to New Zealand’s Parliament in 1999, becoming the world’s first transsexual to hold a national office. Amazingly, a mostly white, conservative, rural constituency voted this former sex worker of Maori descent into office. Chronicling Georgina’s transformations from farm boy to celebrated cabaret diva to grassroots community leader, Georgie Girl couples interviews and images of Beyer’s nightclub and film performances with footage showing a day in the life of this New Zealand Member of Parliament. The film presents a remarkable account of Beyer’s precedent-setting accomplishment, revealing her intelligence, charisma and humor.
Off and Running by Nicole Opper
Off and Running tells the story of Brooklyn teenager Avery, a track star with a bright future. She is the adopted African-American child of white Jewish lesbians. Her older brother is black and Puerto Rican and her younger brother is Korean. Though it may not look typical, Avery’s household is like most American homes — until Avery writes to her birth mother and the response throws her into crisis. She struggles over her “true” identity, the circumstances of her adoption and her estrangement from black culture. Just when it seems as if her life is unraveling, Avery decides to pick up the pieces and make sense of her identity, with inspiring results. A co-production of ITVS in association with the National Black Programming Consortium and American Documentary/POV and the Diverse Voices Project, with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Out in the Night by blair dorosh-walther
In 2006, under the neon lights of a gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a group of African-American lesbians were violently threatened by a man on the street. The women fought back and were later charged with gang assault and attempted murder. The tabloids quickly dubbed them a gang of “Killer Lesbians” and a “Wolf Pack.” Three pleaded guilty to avoid a trial, but the remaining four—Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain—maintained their innocence. The award-winning Out in the Night examines the sensational case and the women’s uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system. A co-production of ITVS. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).
From This Day Forward (broadcasting on PBS October 10 – available for screenings starting August 29)
by Sharon Shattuck
When director Sharon Shattuck’s father came out as transgender, Sharon was in the awkward throes of middle school. As the Shattucks reunite to plan Sharon’s wedding, she seeks a deeper understanding of how her parents’ marriage, and their family, survived intact.
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