10 Documentaries to Celebrate Pride

10 Documentaries to Celebrate Pride

Love is love, and people are people — whether they’re gay, straight, trans, cis-gender or anything in between. To celebrate Pride Month and broaden your understanding of the queer experience in today’s society, check out these 10 powerful documentaries: 

Historical Documentaries 

‘Equal’ (2020)

This four-part, Max original docu series dives into the history of the LGBTQ+ community and the lives of its unsung heroes. With archival footage and dramatic reenactments from stars like Samira Wiley, Cheyenne Jackson, Anthony Rapp, Billy Porter, Heather Matarazzo, and others, Equal explores the rise of early gay rights organizations, the 20th-century trans experience, contributions from the Black community, and the Stonewall uprising that marked the start of the Pride movement. 

‘Larry Kramer in Love & Anger’ (2015)

The life of playwright, author, and groundbreaking gay rights activist Larry Kramer is explored in this powerful documentary, released just five years before his death. An impassioned activist since the start of the AIDS crisis, he is credited with waking up the gay community, government, and medical establishment to the devastation of the epidemic while battling his own HIV diagnosis. The film collects archival and amateur activist footage, as well as exclusive discussions with Kramer himself, to complete the portrait and everything he stood for.

‘The Times of Harvey Milk’ (1984)

This groundbreaking, Oscar-winning 1984 documentary is one of the first features of its kind to address gay life in America via its focus on the work of politician Harvey Milk — California’s first openly gay public official. Highlighting the lives and deaths of Milk and Mayor George Moscone, both assassinated by fellow supervisor Dan White, the film describes the political and social climate of 1970s San Francisco. Roger Ebert called the doc “enormously absorbing…for the light it sheds on a decade in the life of a great American city and on the lives of Milk and Moscone, who made it a better, and certainly a more interesting, place to live.”

‘The Case Against 8’ (2014)

The Case Against 8 provides a behind-the-scenes look into the legal battle to overturn California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. Premiering at Sundance, where Ben Cotner and Ryan White won the Directing Award for U.S. Documentary, the film “beautifully reminds us of the human beings who opened up their lives to the world and became representatives for one of the most important movements for equal rights this country has ever seen.”

Culture and Representation 

‘Wig’ (2019)

A love letter to the art of drag, Wig, revolves around the origins and legacy of New York’s annual drag festival, Wigstock, and the personalities that make it what it is. With archival footage, contemporary coverage, and cultural commentary — from the likes of co-producer Neil Patrick Harris, Willam Belli, and many others — queerness, art, and identity across generations of drag are illuminated.

‘The Out List’ (2013)

Released in 2013, HBO’s The Out List — followed up in 2016 by The Trans List — shines a spotlight on LGBTQ+ representation and visibility across entertainment, sports, education, law enforcement, comedy, and far beyond. The interviews, featuring Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Cynthia Nixon, Wanda Sykes, and many others, focus on being “out” in America, and the challenges and opportunities that arise in a society that’s not always accepting. Topics range from discrimination, AIDS, gay marriage, parenthood, and beyond.

‘Suited’ (2016)

While the setting of this Lena Dunham-produced documentary, Suited, may be a custom tailor shop in Brooklyn, the film has little to do with fashion and everything to do with transgender identity. As six individuals are measured and fitted for new garments at Bindle & Keep, known for catering to those outside the gender binary, viewers are given a poignantly humanizing look at what it means to be transgender in America today and just how much representation and recognition really matter.

The Future of Pride 

‘Transhood’ (2020)

Filmed over the course of five years, Transhood,  follows four Kansas City, Missouri kids, ages four through 15, and the unique issues they face growing up transgender or gender-fluid in America’s heartland. An eye-opening, intimate look at the relationships between these kids, their families, and their communities at large, this film also examines how the children understand themselves as they change and grow.

‘A Family is a Family Is a Family: A Rosie O’Donnell Celebration’ (2010)

Rosie O’Donnell’s 2010 special offers, A Family is a Family, a light-hearted, positive portrait of the changing face of what it means to be a family in America. Celebrating kin of all shapes and sizes, including single-parent, two moms or two dads, mix-race, adoptive, and others, this family-friendly documentary features interviews with kids and their caregivers as well as animated short and musical numbers from the likes of Ziggy Marley.

‘When I Knew’ (2008)


This candid, fun, and emotionally moving collection of interviews from When I Knew, features real-life stories from men and women who recount the moments in their lives when they realized — or knew, once and for all — that they were gay. Inspired by the writing of Robert Trachtenberg, award-winning filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato set out across the country to meet with an incredible variety of people of all ages, occupations, and walks of life to show off the vast and beautiful diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why was June designated to be Pride month?

Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.

What is the difference between Pride month and LGBT+ month?

The Pride movement was born from the Stonewall riots of 1969 and the early gay liberation movement, and as such from its inception has had a strong political drive. It is different from LGBTQ+ History Month which usually focuses on the present and the future of the community rather than the past.

What is the significance of the rainbow flag as a symbol of pride and inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community?

The rainbow flag is a powerful symbol of pride and inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community. Designed by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978, it has since become an iconic representation of the community's diversity and unity. Each color of the flag holds a specific meaning: 1. Red represents life. 2. Orange represents healing. 3. Yellow represents sunlight. 4. Green represents nature. 5. Blue represents harmony and peace. 6. Purple represents spirit.

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