9 LGBTQI series and movies to binge this weekend

2017-11-17 11:59

Cape Town - This week, as a country that’s had marriage equality for 11 years, we welcomed Australia into the ranks of the more enlightened countries of the world. But while we'll jump at the chance to celebrate love winning, these 9 LGBTQI series and movies prove that we've still got a long way to go, in SA and the world as a whole. 

Check out these TV shows, documentaries and movies about love and life for LGBTQI communities around the world. They’re all available on Showmax, Netflix, DStv Now and Amazon Prime.

1. While You Weren’t Looking (Showmax)

Winner of four international awards, While You Weren't Looking interweaves the lives and experiences of a cross section of Cape Town queers. Produced by the dearly missed Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the star-studded cast includes the likes of SAFTA winners Lionel Newton and Thishiwe Ziqubu, as well as SAFTA nominee Petronella Tshuma (Of Good Report, also available on Showmax). 

2. uNomalanga and the Witch (Showmax)

Directed by Palesa Shongwe, this 27-minute movie won the Best South African Short Film Award at the Durban International Film Festival in 2015. It’s about Nomalanga, a religious young newlywed who strives to do things by the book, and her unlikely friendship with the widowed hairdresser who lives across the street. The woman is rumoured to have used dark magic to kill her husband, but Nomalanga finds herself irresistibly drawn to her, and before long, their friendship moves to another level.

3. Pariah (Showmax)

Premiering at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival to great acclaim, this stunning, powerful drama is about Alike, your typical teenager, hanging out with her friends and learning who she is. But her discovery that she is attracted to other women leads to conflict, especially with her conservative family.

4. HBO’s The Out List (Showmax)

A group of high-profile personalities and celebrities share their experiences of being “out” in America. From actor Neil Patrick Harris to talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres to finance author Suze Orman to sports star Wade Davis to Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters, these subjects speak out about what it’s like to be gay or bi in today’s world. Gay visibility might be high and prejudice might be roundly denounced, but they have all faced hurdles in their journey to success because of their sexuality. But they’ve also had cause to celebrate, with same-sex marriages becoming legalised in many states.

5. HBO’s Larry Kramer in Love & Anger (Showmax)

In fighting to bring the AIDS pandemic in gay communities across America in the 1980s into the spotlight, Larry Kramer encouraged widespread recognition of LGBT rights. His militant protest actions also turned him into a revered but controversial public figure. We get into the heart and mind of the author and playwright who became the father of the gay rights movement through never-before-seen interviews with him in his hospital bed, battling the effects of HIV. Find out how Larry Kramer used the struggles in his own life to drive his tireless fight for gay rights.

6. The Hours (Showmax)

This drama about three generations of bisexual and lesbian women made the GLAAD Media Awards list in 2003 as one of the movies of the year that provided “fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect our lives.” Nicole Kidman, in her Academy Award-winning role, plays the writer Virginia Woolf, who wasn’t given the freedom to explore her desires in 1920s England; Julianne Moore plays 1950s housewife Laura, who acts on her urges and risks being ostracised from her suburban community; and Meryl Streep plays Clarissa Dalloway in the present day, a career woman who lives with her partner Sally … but she’s got a secret of her own.

7. Please Like Me (Netflix)

This quirky, award-winning Australian series was created by Josh Thomas, who stars as himself - a twentysomething who’s only just realised that he’s gay. Follow him on his journey to coming out, and the very funny circumstances he seems to have a knack for seeking out as he tries to find his place in the world. Though the show is shot through with humour and empathy, it tackles the tough topic of being true to yourself, even if you’re not always 100% sure who that may be.

8. Milk (Amazon Prime)

Harvey Milk was California’s first openly gay elected official, and became one of the most prominent figures in the struggle for gay rights in America. In the 1970s, living an openly homosexual life was tantamount to a crime in the States, and Harvey’s fight against conservatives who sought to remove gay people from jobs in the public school system gave hope to the embattled LGBTI community at the time - which makes Harvey’s tragic death all the more heartbreaking. Sean Penn plays Harvey and won an Oscar and a SAG Award for his role, and the film also took the Oscar for Best Writing.

9. Brokeback Mountain (DStv Now)

This multi-award winning drama starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as cowboy lovers in the 1960s and 1970s is a must-see. Among its accolades are a coveted Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival and three Oscars, for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. In the time and place where Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) lived, acting on your attraction to a person of the same sex was unheard of - and yet the two embarked on a dangerous, secret on-and-off affair that spanned almost two decades. This stunning movie is about “two souls who fell in love”, as Gyllenhaal told Details magazine, and watching their doomed relationship unfold is both beautiful and heart-breaking to watch.

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