LIBRARY

Matthew Castillo
(he/they)

It’s Pride Month again! That time of year for rainbow flags, extravagant parades and a plethora of queer slogans plastered around your local Target®. But how do you, as a cis-het* person, fit in to the celebration? If you’ve ever found yourself asking how you can be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community, then this post is for you.

*cis-het = cisgender + heterosexual; a term used to describe those who do not identify with the queer community in anyway other than as an ally.

The past ten years have been a huge step forward for representation of marginalized communities in mainstream media. From CODA and Love On The Spectrum to Ru Paul’s Drag Race and Everything Everywhere All At Once– we’re seeing just how hungry people are for diversity in story-telling. We all want to see ourselves represented in the media we consume, and we all want to feel like our voices are being heard. The LGBTQ+ community is no exception, which brings me to my first point: a great and easy way to be a good ally is to support queer voices. Support us when we’re sharing our lived experiences, our perspectives and our talents with the world. That means watching our movies, listening to our music and reading what we write. It also means incorporating those stories into your discussions about media and entertainment with your friends, family and colleagues (even when it’s uncomfortable to do so). One of the easiest ways to hurt our community is to leave us out of the conversation; to pretend we don’t exist. But not to worry! I’ve put together a few lists of different queer media to get you started.

Believed to be the first pro-gay film in history, “Different From the Others” is a German film that was first released in 1919. Richard Oswald and Magnus Hirschfeld made the film as a criticism of the criminalization of homosexuality.

For the most part, queer movies tend to fly under the radar. But that isn’t to say they’re not worth watching. In fact, I would argue that they’re integral to one’s film education. Queer movies have been around almost as long as cinema has been around, and though we’ve been censored in various ways throughout history, we’ve fought to maintain a presence. As a gift to you, here are some of my favorite queer movies.

Legacy Movies

There will always be those movies– the ones everyone has seen, and if you haven’t what the hell is wrong with you?? Right? Movies like Titanic, Star Wars, Apocalypse Now and The Wizard of Oz. But in the Queer World, our list of legacy movies is a little different. So here’s a crash course on important queer movies that you absolutely must watch.

Coming of Age

Coming of Age movies are a staple in cinematic history. Everyone has at least one in their list of favorite films. And there definitely are some classics: Goonies, Stand By Me, Now and Then. They helped us to feel seen and understood when we were at our most vulnerable, and sometimes they even taught us some valuable life lessons. Unfortunately, queer kids aren’t quite so fortunate to have as many coming of age movies dedicated to their experiences. But there are definitely some treasures to be found! So if you’re interested in coming of age films and how they intersect with the queer experience, I’ve got a list for you.

Television has played an enormous role in helping to shape American culture. Where would be be today if not for the life lessons courtesy of The Facts of Life or The Brady Bunch? And American television is no stranger to queerness. Of course, sometimes we have to move in stealth mode. But no matter what, we always find a way to be seen and to be heard. Here are some of my favorite queer television shows!

The critically acclaimed television show Orange is the New Black (2013) helped to push the boundaries of what kinds of stories can find mainstream success. Winner of four Primetime Emmy Awards, one GLAAD Media Award and countless other accolades, Orange is the New Black cemented itself in Queer Television History.

Queer Eye

Before the series was rebooted in 2018 for Netflix, Queer Eye was an Emmy Award Winning series on Bravo that featured five gay men using their expertise in fashion, decor, grooming, cooking and pop culture to help the world find their inner slay.

The L Word

Debuting in 2004 to critical acclaim, The L Word was monumental in the portrayal of queer women in the mainstream. It's success later spawned a reality show, a documentary and a reboot!

Queer As Folk

Based on a British television show of the same name, Queer As Folk proved to be an enormous success for the tv network Showtime. It ran for five seasons and left an undeniable impact on queer pop culture.

POSE

Queer media is not only still going strong, it now sometimes dominates the airwaves. POSE is an outstanding example of that feat. Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk (creators of Glee and American Horror Story) and Steven Canals, POSE explores the drag ball scene of the 80s/90s in New York City. Be sure to check this Emmy Award nominated series!

Lil Nas X has shaken the music industry with his brazen persona and his unabashed openness about his sexuality. The two-time Grammy Award winner is breaking boundaries and changing the world’s perspective of what “gay music” is and can be.

If you were wondering when we’d get to the tunes, then wait no longer. Gay culture is rich with great music by great artists. From House to Rap to Disco to Rock; queer musicians have always been there. To help you get yourself immersed, we’ve made some playlists for you! 

Who doesn’t love cartoons? Some may think that at a certain age you become too old for ’em. Others say to heck with that! Regardless of how you may feel, it’s undeniable that cartoons play a big role in our lives as we grow and learn. They teach us life lessons by way of colorful palettes, funny voices and lovable characters. They show us that it’s okay to be human and to have flaws. They can even have the power to make us feel like we belong. It’s so important for young queer people to see themselves represented in the shows that are made specifically for children. It’s equally important for young straight children to see the diversity of the real world represented in the shows they watch. With that, here are some amazing cartoons that have broken boundaries with their representation of queer characters.

Haruka and Michiru are iconic symbols of queer love for fans of anime. The strength of their relationship is portrayed throughout season three of Sailor Moon, although they are never explicitly shown to be intimate. Even so, their relationship is confirmed to be canon in both the manga and the television show.