Now before everybody starts losing their shit about how wrong I am (yes, I’m well aware that “Paris Is Burning” isn’t on here, as great as it is), I want to be put on record saying that it’s pretty much impossible to shrink the list of great documentaries about gay men down to just five. There are numerous brilliant films that have been appropriately thumb-tacked to gay history. I simply tried to pluck out the ones that packed the biggest emotional punch.But this is the opinion of one man, however brilliant and charming. If you feel I’ve overlooked a documentary so moving that I should be marked a criminal, please let me know in the comments below.
Outrage indeed. There’s certainly something about closeted, anti-gay homosexuals that makes me want to flip my desk. Gleaning various testimonies and convincing evidence, this documentary outs all sorts of politicians and their suspicious nighttime habits despite their insistence to halt gay rights in their tracks. Spoiler warning: they’re all republican.
4. The Times of Harvey Milk
Put down the Sean Penn movie and pick this puppy up instead. Winning the Academy Award in 1984 for best documentary, this film doesn’t just look at the unabashed courage of Harvey Milk, but is a sweeping view of the ongoing struggles of gay men at the time.
3. For the Bible Tells Me So
Yeah, so maybe it’s because I was raised Catholic, but this film stuck with me hardcore. Snapping up all sorts of awards and honors, this documentary takes a hard look at Christian hate towards homosexuality, interviewing numerous theology professors and holy men (e.g. Desmond Tutu) and picking apart the scant passages that supposedly condemn sodomy.
2. Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt
Narrated by Dustin Hoffman and backed by such celebrities as Whoopi Goldberg and Elizabeth Taylor, this 1989 Academy Award winner documents the lives of several people lost to AIDS, and how they and countless others have since been remembered through the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
1. Paragraph 175
We’re all very aware of the slaughter of Jews during the Holocaust. Many of us are also at least vaguely aware of the slaughter of homosexuals during that same time. But there really haven’t been any good documentaries on the latter until “Paragraph 175” came around and, quite frankly, it’ll never be topped. It’s quiet, it’s factual, and it’s scary as shit. Watch it if you have the stomach.