4 documentaries to educate yourself on LGBTQ2S+ history
By Riggs Zyrille Vergara, Publishing Editor
As lively and vibrant as the Pride events around Calgary this September will be, the history of LGBTQ2S+ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning and Two Spirit) is more than colourful parade floats and thrilling nightclub performances. If you are an ally or a younger queer person basking in the celebration of what it means to be queer right now, it’s important for you to know the history. So, here’s four documentaries that will educate you of the winded complex history of how queer culture became what it is today.
Executively produced by Orange is the New Black actress, Laverne Cox, Disclosure is a documentary that examines the previously dehumanizing to the now ground-breaking depictions of trans characters in film and television.
The documentary shows how societal beliefs and power in Hollywood worked hand-in-hand to create dehumanizing tropes of trans people in the media, and how it affected real trans lives. From the battle for trans rights to legislations like the military ban on trans service, these depictions have led to narratives that motivated the violence on trans people.
Disclosure will not only introduce you to the wide array of talented trans folk in the media but will also show you how lucky we are of all the work that has been done in the past for us to appreciate the wonderful yet still limited representation of trans people today.
Despite many efforts to ban gay conversion therapy in many parts of North America, it still continues to harm LGBTQ2S+ people today. Pray Away follows the lives of former religious leaders and survivors of this once-revered process of changing a person’s sexual orientation disguised as a religious salvation.
The many gripping stories of the survivors will show you how damaging their experiences were under the once internationally renowned and powerful “pray the gay away” movement.
The heartfelt, rattling conversations between the former leaders and survivors gives us hope that through understanding and empathy, hate will diminish.
Back in 2001, a teenager’s body later to be identified as Fred Martinez from Navajo was found lifeless on a dirt road in Colorado. Martinez was a nádleehí, “a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture”. He was recorded as one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history, and Two Spirits is the documentary which explored his short yet compelling life and the contemporary lives of Native two-spirit people.
This documentary will take you to the complicated and messy life of living in between cultures where gender identity has clashing meanings and repercussions. For Martinez, it was between his loving and accepting Navajo family and his prejudiced peers and school administrators.
Two Spirits gives us a glimpse of what it means to live in a predominantly Westernized world as a two-spirit and how it can greatly affect their childhood, family and well-being.
Killing Patient Zero
At the rise of the AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) epidemic in North America, there’s one person who was notoriously known as the sexually deviant careless gay man who “single-handedly” brought the disease to the continent: Gaetan Dugas.
However, Killing Patient Zero is making it clear that this was absolutely false; that the Canadian flight attendant Dugas was treated as a scapegoat, and he was in fact merely one of the disease’s victims.
The documentary has done a great deal at shedding light on this harsh treatment of history on a gay man. But not only that, it’s reintroducing to the younger generations of LGBTQ2S+ how much we have lost during this epidemic and how gravely bigotry and prejudice played a role in this tremendous loss.