10 must-watch films that put the spotlight on diverse voices this Pride Month

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. (Photo: Netflix/Supplied)
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. (Photo: Netflix/Supplied)

This year Pride Month, usually a jovial time that celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community, comes at a particularly difficult period in our history.

Not only has the world been brought to a standstill by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the month of June has also started with global Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and marches after the shocking and tragic death of George Floyd, who was killed by a white police officer during an arrest that was caught on film.

#BlackLivesMatter started in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's murderer and has spurred on a movement to "eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes".

The Pride movement too has a deep-seated history of police brutality and protests. The catalyst that started it all happened one hot summer night on 18 June 1969 when the police raided a bar called the Stonewall Inn located in New York City's Greenwich Village.

At the time it was against the law to serve gay men and women in New York City alcohol in public spaces under the designation "disorderly conduct". But the Stonewall Inn was a safe haven for many where they could freely be themselves, until the night of the raids.

History reports: "Fed up with years of police harassment, patrons and neighbourhood residents began throwing objects at police as they loaded the arrested into police vans. The scene eventually exploded into a full-blown riot, with subsequent protests that lasted for five more days."

Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender activist, along with Zazu Nova, Sylvia Rivera and Jackie Hormona, have been praised as key figures who stood up to the police during the raids.

Stonewall Inn was one of the few storefronts not b
Stonewall Inn was one of the few storefronts not boarded up in the west village, in Manhattan, on 5 June 2020 during Black Lives Matter protests. (Photo: Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On 28 June 1970, Brenda Howard, a bisexual activist known as the "Mother of Pride", spearheaded the Christopher Street Liberation Day March in anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, The New York Times reports. This would later become known as the first Pride March.

"The march's route covered about 50 blocks and drew just a few thousand participants. Though the numbers were small, marches in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles that year eventually led to hundreds of Pride parades," writes the New York Times.

June 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Pride March.

In celebration of Pride Month, we recommend the following online films that explore, celebrate and shine a spotlight on the LGBTQIA+ community. (Click on the title to watch the film now.)

1) The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson – Netflix

As she fights the tide of violence against trans women, activist Victoria Cruz probes the suspicious 1992 death of her friend Marsha P. Johnson.

2) A Secret Love – Netflix

Amid shifting times, two women kept their decades-long love a secret. But coming out later in life comes with its own set of challenges.

3) Rafiki – Showmax

Kena and Ziki live very different lives in Nairobi. Their paths cross when their fathers run against each other for seats in the County Assembly, and they find themselves drawn to each other. Soon their interest grows to affection and the girls find ways to love each other despite the ever-watching gaze of the neighborhood.

4) The Queen – Netflix

From wartime drafts to evening gowns, this candid time capsule documents a 1967 beauty pageant that offers an inside look at competitive drag.

5) Inxeba (The Wound) - Showmax

Xolani joins the other men of his community on a journey to the mountains to initiate a group of teenagers into manhood. His entire existence starts to unravel when a defiant initiate from the city discovers his best-kept secret, a forbidden love.

6) Moffie – Moffiefilm.com

A young conscript starts his military service in the South African Defence Force in the 1980s whilst battling with his own sexual identity. 

7) All in my Family – Netflix

His family is loud, judgemental – and full of heart. What will they say when he brings home his husband and their two new kids?

8) Die Stropers (The Harvesters) – Showmax

A young man from a heavily patriarchal Afrikaans family confronts his sexuality and competes for his mother's love when she welcomes a hardened street orphan into their home.

9) (S)he - Showmax

After qualifying to compete in the 2016 Olympic trials for swimming, Penny Kemp, an intersex teenager, is forced to undergo gender treatment while dealing with being ostracised by one of her teammates.

10) Evening Shadows – Netflix

When her son comes out to her as gay, a religious mother struggles to reconcile his truth with her own beliefs and their orthodox family values.

READ MORE: The ABCs of LGBTQIA+ by The New York Times 

(Sources: History, The New York Times, BBC, Black Lives Matter Foundation)