3 Free Documentaries to Watch for Pride Month

I’m just 1 person who doesn’t usually watch a lot of documentaries. Unlike my sister, I prefer fiction to nonfiction when it comes to movies, shows, and books. But I recently watched some short, quality LGBTQ+ documentaries I wanted to recommend you check out during Pride month. The best part is that all three of these are amazing. But the second best thing is that they are all free and available on YouTube. Watch and share them with others!

State of Pride

Year: 2019

Length: 1 hr 10min 40sec

Description: Fifty years after the Stonewall uprising, Oscar®-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman and host Raymond Braun travel to three diverse communities – Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama – for an unflinching look at LGBTQ Pride, from the perspective of a younger generation for whom it still has personal urgency.

My Thoughts: After all these years, and after successes like marriage equality, are Pride events still relevant today? In an attempt to answer this question, this documentary follows individuals attending Pride events of different sizes (small, medium, and large) and taking place in different locations (traditionally conservative or historically progressive). You get to see their experiences and also the experiences of their families (found and otherwise) attending Pride events with them. I was especially moved by the individuals sharing what attending their first Pride events meant to them; I definitely teared up a few times. The documentary doesn’t avoid discussion of racial issues and inclusion (or lack thereof) either.

My favorite part was that the documentary starts and ends at Capital Pride, which is the event in my own backyard. It was great seeing the event through the filmmakers’ point of view.

Stonewall Forever

Year: 2019

Length: 21min 48sec

Description: Stonewall Forever is a documentary from NYC’s LGBT Community Center directed by Ro Haber. The film brings together voices from over 50 years of the LGBTQ rights movement to explore queer activism before, during and after the Stonewall Riots. 

My Thoughts: This documentary is a fantastic mix of the past and present. It is short but powerful. It explores the historic roots of the gay rights movement that gained significant momentum after the Stonewall rebellion. It also addresses the racial inequality and other issues in the community today.

My favorite part was that it covers parts of the LGBTQ+ community that we don’t often talk about. Seeing the Intersex community making a visible statement that they belong and are valid was wonderful, for example. But it was even more wonderful for me because I spotted one of my friends in the crowd!

Pay It No Mind – The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson

Year: 2012

Length: 55min 30sec

Description: This feature-length documentary focuses on revolutionary trans-activist, Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson, a Stonewall instigator, Andy Warhol model, drag queen, sex worker, starving actress, and Saint. “Pay It” captures the legendary gay/human rights activist as she recounts her life at the forefront of The Stonewall Riots in the 1960s, the creation of S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) with Sylvia Rivera in the ’70s, and a New York City activist throughout the ’80s and early ’90s. Through her own words, as well as in-depth interviews with gay activist Randy Wicker, former Cockettes performer Agosto Machado, author Michael Musto, Hot Peaches founder/performer, Jimmy Camicia, and Stonewall activists Bob Kohler, Danny Garvin, Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, and Martin Boyce, Marsha’s story lives on.

My Thoughts: The title of this documentary is taken from Martha P. Johnson’s mantra to not let people’s narrow perceptions of you affect you. Last year, I watched “The Death & Life of Martha P. Johnson,” which is available on Netflix. I thought it was good, but I was looking for something I could share and recommend to a multi-generational audience. “Pay it No Mind” still has a language warning, but it’s a little more balanced. You still get to hear from Martha P. Johnson in her own words through many interviews and clips that I haven’t run across in other places.

My favorite part was the in-depth look at transgender rights and activism as part of the greater gay rights movement. It really celebrates Martha and the others who have helped make such a significant difference to the lives of so many LGBTQ+ folx.

Photo by David Balev on Unsplash

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