PRIDE month: Our books and film recommendations

Pride Month is a time to celebrate the diversity, resilience, and achievements of the LGBTQI+ community. It is also an opportunity to educate ourselves and others, foster empathy, and promote inclusivity. One of the best ways to do this is through storytelling, whether in books or films, which offers powerful insights into the lives and experiences of LGBTQI+ individuals. Here are some recommendations that highlight different aspects of LGBTQI+ history, culture, and personal narratives.

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Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

“Memoirs of Hadrian” is a historical novel by Marguerite Yourcenar, which takes the form of a letter from the Roman Emperor Hadrian to his successor, Marcus Aurelius. The novel explores Hadrian’s life, including his political achievements, philosophical insights, and his profound love for Antinous, a young Greek man whose untimely death deeply affected him.

This novel offers a nuanced portrayal of a historical same-sex relationship within the context of ancient Rome, emphasising the universality and timelessness of love and loss. Yourcenar’s eloquent prose and meticulous historical research provide readers with a deep understanding of Hadrian as a leader and as a man, making “Memoirs of Hadrian” a profound meditation on power, mortality, and human connection.

“It gave me the strength to see beyond the prejudice that surrounded me and rise above it."

Image source: Amazon

Pride (2014)

“Pride” is a British historical comedy-drama film directed by Matthew Warchus. It tells the true story of a group of LGBTQ+ activists who, in 1984, formed the group “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” to raise money for striking miners in Wales. Despite initial mutual mistrust, the two groups form an unexpected and powerful alliance.

“Pride” highlights the power of solidarity and the impact of intersectional activism. It showcases how two seemingly disparate communities can come together to fight for a common cause, thereby breaking down prejudices and fostering mutual respect. The film is uplifting and humorous and a poignant reminder of the importance of unity in the face of adversity.

“A reminder that Pride has always been political despite all the pink-washing today. It brings me hope, knowing there is power in our solidarity across all our different and intersecting struggles.”

Image source: IMP Awards

Blue Jean (2022)

“Blue Jean,” directed by Georgia Oakley, is a drama set in 1988 England, a time when Section 28, a law prohibiting the “promotion” of homosexuality, was enacted. The film follows Jean, a closeted lesbian PE teacher, who is forced to live a double life. Her world is upended when a student discovers her secret, leading Jean to make difficult choices about her identity and integrity.

“Blue Jean” is crucial viewing as it sheds light on a dark chapter in LGBTQI+ history and the personal toll of institutionalised homophobia. The film captures the struggles of LGBTQI+ individuals to live authentically in a society that legislates against their existence. It serves as a reminder of the progress still needed in the fight for LGBTQI+ rights and acceptance.

“Set when legislation known as Clause 28 deepened stigmatisation of LGBTQ+ people, this film underscores ‘belonging’ and ‘power of community building’, both of which are core to the Impact Hub way.”

Image source: IMDB

My Tender Matador by Pedro Lemebel

“My Tender Matador” is a novel by Chilean writer Pedro Lemebel, set during the Pinochet dictatorship. It tells the story of an unlikely romance between a flamboyant, ageing drag queen, and a young revolutionary involved in a plot against the regime. The novel interweaves political intrigue with personal vulnerability and resilience.

Lemebel’s work is a vivid portrayal of the intersection between personal and political struggles. “My Tender Matador” is important for its unique narrative voice and its exploration of love, resistance, and identity under oppression. The novel humanises the impact of political violence and offers a powerful testament to the enduring spirit of those marginalised by both their sexuality and their politics.

“A so considered unconventional love and is also a symbol of resistance against the oppression of Chilean dictatorship.”

Image source: Amazon

Paris Is Burning (1990)

“Paris Is Burning” is a landmark documentary by Jennie Livingston that chronicles the ball culture of New York City in the late 1980s, focusing on the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved in the scene. The film provides an in-depth look at the lives of the drag queens and vogue dancers who participate in these balls, offering a glimpse into their struggles, dreams, and resilience.

This documentary preserves and celebrates a vibrant subculture significantly influencing mainstream fashion, music, and LGBTQI+ identity. It highlights issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality, providing a raw and intimate portrayal of individuals who created a space for self-expression and community against a backdrop of discrimination and marginalisation. It remains a powerful reflection on identity and resistance.

“Beautiful, heartbreaking, and an important watch. We owe so much of our culture to BIPOC Queer people.”

Image source: IMDB

Books and films are powerful tools for fostering understanding and empathy, especially during Pride Month. By exploring stories from different times, places, and perspectives, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities of LGBTQI+ experiences. The recommended works each offer unique insights into the lives, struggles, and triumphs of LGBTQI+ individuals. Engaging with these narratives enriches our knowledge and strengthens our commitment to equality and inclusion. 

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