5

Queer News Films

8 min read

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I’ll be the first to confess – this month’s theme was a tricky one to plan! Sure, it’s easy to find a list of queer films & shorts that IMDb includes under their News genre. But the bigger question I had was: what makes a queer News film DIFFERENT from a queer Documentary?

According to IMDb, films in the “News” genre are defined as: “Reports and discussion of current events of public importance or interest. This generally includes newsreels, newsmagazines, daily news reports, and commentary/discussion programs that focus on news events.” That works for all of the films listed, so the answer should be clear, right? The issue is that IMDb also notes that feature films and direct-to-video titles should NOT be included in the News genre. By definition, this would exclude a documentary film – even though it likely discusses current events and often includes newsreels, footage, and commentary on the current events shown.

Further muddying the puzzle is IMDb’s definition their “Documentary” genre: “Films that contain numerous consecutive scenes of real personages and not characters portrayed by actors.” Essentially a documentary includes interviews with real people about real events. However, it doesn’t specifically note that a documentary has to be about real events!

In the end, I focused on queer films that specifically discuss current events (or at least current at the time of release) – EVEN if the film was also a documentary! I feel that these five queer news films provide a wide range of topics that are relevant to the LGBTQ community and all are important films to watch. We have one that addresses concerns facing our LGBTQ elderly. Another film uses Pride celebrations to discuss LGBTQ rights & equality worldwide. While there are many films & documentaries about the AIDS epidemic, it was key to also include one on this list as well. However, the two queer news films that I found most intriguing were the last ones. The first discusses the current anti-LGBTQ hatred coming out of Russia – which sadly has worsened. The second enters the realm of kink – which was both intriguing and fun!

Keep reading to find out more about these five queer news films – and where you can watch them (if available). Let me know which one was your favourite!

[Note: Not all of these films have full reviews yet – but they’re added to the quickly growing list of films I plan to tackle soon!]

5 Queer News Films

LGBT people who fought the earliest battles for equality now face so much fear about discrimination, or worse, in health care/long-term care that they hide their past lives, are afraid to ask for help, and die earlier. But, a small group of professionals is trying to change that.

Perhaps one of the most important LGBTQ Documentaries, “Gen Silent” is a MUST see queer news film! Organised by The Clouder Group, this film recounts the stories and lives of our older queer folk and the struggles they face as they age and require hospital or retirement home level care – even in today’s environment! And what’s worse is that this film came out in 2011 – and while some things have improved since, the situation for elderly really hasn’t. Some could even argue that it’s gotten worse recently. However, it’s watching and listening to the personal and true stories of what our queer elders both had to face and continue to face today that can motivate the community to work to improve and change the situation. Not only is it an important battle for our elders today, but we ALL will be in the same shoes someday! If you haven’t seen “Gen Silent” yet, I strongly advise you to find a copy and watch it today. It’s THAT important!

Watch “Gen Silent” on HERE TV or Prime Video.

A story of two coalitions – ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) – whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time.

Released in 2012, “How To Survive A Plague” is a queer news film and documentary that highlights a time in queer history that many have forgotten: the AIDS epidemic of the 80’s. As many of our gay men were dying from this horrific new disease, everyone was looking the other way – including the government. Tired of it all, various groups within the community decided to take a stand and demand action. ACT UP (and later TAG) was one of the major coalitions. The surprise part – it worked! As this queer news film recounts, the frequent and targeted protests of FDA, drug companies, and even the government resulted in the approval of potential life-saving HIV medicines and treatments. It’s thanks to them that HIV is no longer a death sentence, although many queer youth are utterly unaware of their own history. If you are young and queer, then this queer news film is a MUST watch! For the rest of us, “How To Survive A Plague” is still an important and worthy film to watch. Even I learned something!

Watch “How To Survive A Plague” on Amazon or Prime Video.

As most of the world moves forward toward gay equality, Russia is seemingly heading backward. Antigay sentiment and legislation are spreading rapidly throughout the country. In 2013, the Russian parliament passed a ban on so-called ‘gay propaganda’ that effectively makes nearly any public discussion of gay equality a crime. It is my hope that this documentary will educate viewers to their reality.

Even though “Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda” is predominantly in Russian, which requires most of us to read the subtitles, it is quite a captivating queer news film & documentary! Centring on a core group of interviewees, they talk about everything relevant to being homosexual and living in Russia. Little is off the table and there is a wide range of folks speaking on various topics such as coming out, how most have been gay bashed or attacked at some point in their lives, to the extra concerns of same-sex adoption, and even a few who have left & claimed asylum abroad. Woven together by the co-writer and interviewer , this is quite an emotional film to watch!

However what both stunned and angered me was that one of the politicians who helped push the Gay Propaganda law into effect agreed to be interviewed and try to espouse the anti-LGBT rhetoric. However, it’s important to know where they are coming from – even though it’s disgusting to listen to. The film was released in 2014, mainly in response to the 2013 “Gay Propaganda” bill that used minors as the means to create a second class of citizens for LGBTQ folk. I actually visited Russia in 2017, and it was tense even being an out tourist; I downplayed being gay a LOT. Unfortunately, things have worsened. The initial 2013 bill was expanded in 2022 and now includes a ban on ANY mention of LGBTQ-relevant topics in public and in the media. As such, “Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda” is an important queer news film and documentary to watch.

Watch “Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda” on Amazon and Prime Video.

Before the 30th anniversary, Vancouver’s Gay Pride Parade director examines relevance of Pride celebrations internationally. He travels to places where Pride is steeped in protest to experience the powerful oppression that still exists. Pride is more than a parade, it’s a giant step on the road to equality.

“Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride” is an interesting queer news film & documentary. On one hand, it’s quite informative about the various realities of holding Pride events & parades around the world – including in counties such as Russia and Poland where simply being homosexual can get you arrested! Yet those informative segments are almost lost amid the frivolity and celebration of Pride events where queer people have improved or equal rights. Ken Coolen, the organizer of Vancouver Pride’s parade, is the key figure throughout this queer news film as the camera follows him around the world to various events. He tries to highlight that we all must remember that pride is NOT an equal celebration around the world, and that there is greater work to be done.

However, that message gets lost and even diminished amid the segments where it’s just one big party. Is “Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride” and important queer news film to watch? Sure! However, it’s also a tad dated now as even things in the US have changed since this film premiered in 2010. I can personally attest that things have gone downhill in Russia as I had to be quite cautious just going out when I visited in 2017. If you have the time to spare and are intrigued about world-wide LGBTQ hurdles, then I recommend watching this queer news film. But it’s also OK if you skip it.

Watch “Beyond Gay: The Politics Of Pride” on Amazon and Prime Video.

The story of the HOIST, London’s first and only Gay Fetish Bar, coincides with the political struggle to decriminalize homosexual activity within the United Kingdom.

Well… for starters, “Age of Consent” is not an adult film, but it leaves nothing to the imagination! (AKA – please be 18+ or whatever the legal age is where you’re at!) I’m torn with my thoughts about this queer news film. It’s advertised as a history of the club which also coincides with the criminalization (and subsequent recent decriminalization) of laws pertaining to homosexual activity in the UK. Yet, it starts off more as a insider’s guide to the club HOIST itself – which I won’t deny, is awesome! The parts that actually address the historical information I expected to learn were oft overshadowed by the sexual images and acts occurring on the screen, to the point that some key information about the history around these laws got lost unless you were just listening. The other issue I have with “Age of Consent” is that HOIST closed it’s doors in 2016 – so while this queer news film teases the fun & great atmosphere of the club, you cannot actually visit it anymore.

If you’re curious about or are a participant in the Fetish & Leather scene, then “Age of Consent” is an intriguing & semi-erotic film to watch. But if you’re after a solid history of UK’s homosexuality laws over the last few decades, there are better queer news films and queer documentaries to watch.

Watch “Age Of Consent” on Gay Binge TV or Vimeo.

So what do you think of these five films? Do you agree with my choices and my quick thoughts about each film – or maybe you disagree? Or perhaps I left out a film you think I should’ve included… Leave me a comment below and let me know!

So what did you think – do you agree with these five queer news films? Have you seen all of them yet? If so, let me know which one was your favourite. And if you haven’t watched them all yet, I highly encourage you to add these queer news films to your watch list ASAP!