It’s Elementary

Discussing LGBTQ issues with others can sometimes be awkward and tricky, but elementary_jacketthese elementary kids do a wonderful job talking and sharing about their ideas and insights. This is a wonderful resource that should spark discussion and conversation regardless of the age of the audience.

Southern Comfort (2001)

This moving documentary chronicles the last year in the life of Robert Eads, a female-to-male transsexual dying of ovarian cancer. We’re introduced to several comfortpeople who figure prominently in Robert’s life — most importantly, Lola Cola, a transsexual who’s become Robert’s life partner and cares for him full-time. The two prepare to lead a panel at the annual Southern Comfort conference, a yearly event created for transgendered individuals.

Making Grace (2005)

In this intimate documentary, filmmaker Catherine Gund examines lesbian gracemotherhood through the eyes of longtime partners Ann Krsul and Leslie Sullivan, who desperately want to have a child. Charting their unconventional path toward parenthood, from the first tough decisions — such as choosing a sperm donor and deciding who will carry the child — to their joy at the birth of baby Grace, this moving film reveals a uniquely emotional journey.

All Aboard Rosie’s Family Cruise (2006)

Comedian Rosie O’Donnell dons her crusader’s cap in this touching documentary rosiethat tags along on the first cruise for gay and lesbian families who sail toward, ironically, a homophobic greeting in the Bahamas. Director Shari Cookson interlaces the personal stories of passengers — who include not only same-sex couples but their heterosexual parents, siblings and friends — with film of shipboard shows and adoption seminars for the voyagers.

Tongues Untied (1989)

In this searing documentary, filmmaker Marlon Riggs uses his own and others’ tonguesstories to reveal the realities of being black and gay in America. Vintage film clips intercut with readings by poet Essex Hemphill accompany tales of gay-bashing, protest movements, drag culture and a memorial for black AIDS victims, all filtered through Riggs’s slyly humorous voice. The pointed study originally aired as part of the PBS series “P.O.V.”

The Education of Shelby Knox (2004)

Although not focused on LGBTQ issues, this documentary follows the story of oneshelby high school girl’s crusade to get comprehensive sexuality education into the schools of Lubbuck, Texas.  What she discovers is the intersection of oppressions—the same forces that  oppose sexuality education also oppose giving any voice to LGBTQ youth in Lubbuck.

Feature Films

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Based on actual events. Brandon Teena is the popular new guy in a tiny Nebraska town. He hangs out with the guys, drinking, cussing, and bumper surfing, and he boyscharms the young women, who’ve never met a more sensitive and considerate young man. Life is good for Brandon, now that he’s one of the guys and dating hometown beauty Lana. However, he’s forgotten to mention one important detail. It’s not that he’s wanted in another town for GTA and other assorted crimes, but that Brandon Teena was actually born a woman named Teena Brandon. When his best friends make this discovery, Brandon’s life is ripped apart.

Transamerica (2005)

Bree, a pre-operative, male-to-female transsexual, holds down two jobs and saves every penny so that she can pay for one last operation that will make her a womantrans at last. One day, however, she receives a strange phone call. It appears that on the other side is Toby, apparently her son, who must be the product of a somewhat clumsy sexual encounter years ago when she was a man. He stays in New York, incarcerated. Bree flies from Los Angeles to New York in order to get the boy out of jail. At first she is reluctant to do so, but her therapist convinces her to face up to her past. The boy is handed over to her without a word of explanation and Toby believes the woman to be some Christian missionary determined to convert reprobates to Jesus; Bree sees no reason to clear up the misunderstanding. However, she finds out that the boy just wants to escape from her and hitchhike to Los Angeles. She persuades him to accompany her back to the west coast–secretly planning to leave him at his stepfather’s along the way. Toby is happy to take her up on her offer. One week before her sex-change operation, Bree receives a call from a 17-year-old identifying himself as her son from a college liaison. Bree’s psychiatrist won’t approve the surgery until Bree deals with this relationship, so Bree flies to New York City, bails the youth out of juvenile detention, and offers him a ride back to Los Angeles without disclosing that she is his father. Both her plans and his go awry, and as secrets will out, what might become a friendship (or more) founders. The lad’s step-father, a sex-change support group, a peyote eater, a Navajo wrangler, and Bree’s family all play their parts in this exploration of family, gender, and expectations

Beautiful Boxer (2005)

Asanee Suwan portrays kickboxer Parinya Charoenphol, who’s harboring an boxerunusual secret: He’s a transvestite. Inspired by a famous Thai pugilist who lived two drastically different lives, this moving film written and directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham recounts Parinya’s painful attempts to exist in paradoxical worlds. To fund the sex change he longs for, Parinya earns money in the ring, participating day after day in the ultimate male sport.

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