Pride may be over, but your support shouldn't be.
A roundup of LGBTQ films, TV, and literature you can still enjoy.
It’s July, which means Pride is over. In a newsletter with an intended focus on queer identity and pop culture, I wondered how to appropriately cover the topic of Pride, if at all. Pride is complicated. Writing about the history of activism and protest that led to Pride alongside its current commercialization is beyond my depth. So, what I decided instead was to think about what it means to support queer identity beyond the month of June. The parades are finished. Company logos are changed back to their original design. Summer rolls ceaselessly into fall.
A few years ago, as I came to understand and reconcile with my own identity as a gay man, I invested time and energy into queer media - film, TV, and literature. What I found was a breadth of work that I felt was created just for me — something I hadn’t experienced before. For this newsletter, I made a roundup of some of my personal favorite queer media - films, TV, and literature. As Pride finishes, maybe check out a few of these works.
However, I will say that even after discovering queer media, I still find my scope and understanding of LGBTQ identity limited to that of a gay man. Much of this subsequent round up will reflect that. I still am trying to do the work and learn more.
As you read through these recommendations, let me know if you have any of your own and I’ll publish a follow up newsletter with reader comments and suggestions. If your favorite is not on the list, that doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed it — truthfully, I probably haven’t gotten to it yet. I will though, I promise.
Vuong writes the most heartbreaking and raw passages of growing up in suburban Connecticut as a queer Vietnamese immigrant. It’s purely poetry. Beautifully written.
My Brother’s Husband Volume 1 - Gengoroh Tagame
Japanese manga told from the perspective of a Japanese man reconciling both the loss of his twin brother and the appearance of his twin brother’s Canadian husband. Recommended in a previous newsletter, but again, a wonderful read.
Less - Andrew Sean Greer
Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction. A failed novelist turns fifty and decides to go on a journey around the world. Incredibly funny.
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays - Alexander Chee
Intersecting threads of a Korean-American identity, a queer identity during the AIDs crisis, and an identity as a writer come together to form this collection of essays. It’s a standout.
We the Animals - Justin Torres
Grapples with the questions of what does it mean to love and what does it mean to hurt. Told through the eyes of a young queer boy living in a dysfunctional home with two brothers.
Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family - Garrard Conley
Brutal read on the ripple effects of conversation therapy and what it means to reconcile love, family, and faith with queer identity.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic - Alison Bechdel
A memoir told as a graphic novel, Bechdel details her coming of age and her growing understanding of her queer identity in relation to her father. Highly recommend if you haven’t read already.
A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara
I read this in the dead of winter my first year back from Japan living at home. A worthwhile and fulfilling read, if at times, maybe a little too much. Four men live in New York and things happen.
Giovanni’s Room - James Baldwin
I read this work every year. With every reading, I fall in love with it more. If there was ever a moment where I had to pick my favorite novel of all time, it would be this work.
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
A generational work focusing on Greek-American identity ? How could I not?
Told in three parts, we watch as Little, a young gay African American kid, grows up and understands his desires and his identity.
A documentary about New York’s drag scene in the 1980s. If you’re a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, this is essential viewing.
A biopic chronicling the life and death of Harvey Milk - California’s first openly gay elected official. Tragic, as most queer works are.
Likely to have flown under the radar as Boy Erased, a similarly themed film, released around the same time. Chloe Grace Moretz plays a girl forced to join a gay conversation therapy center.
Sure, lots of criticism to be had about this film, but I watched it twice and cried both times. It’s cute and fun and something I wish I had when I was growing up.
Based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood, Colin Firth and Julianne Moore are stellar in this incredibly sad film of an English professor dealing with the sudden loss of his lover.
A young Korean American discovers the world of gay sex when he gets a job at a Korean bathhouse. Underrated film.
Unfortunately unavailable on most streaming platforms. The film centers around two boys in Argentina who reconnect as adults and rediscover their feelings for one another. A personal favorite.
Obviously. In order to understand any gay conversation without Google Translate, you need to watch this show. It’s a self-generating content mill of gay shit.
A drama following New York’s underground ball scene in the 1980s much like Paris is Burning. The cast includes transgender and queer people of color. Watch it. I’m catching up as we speak.
I think it’s easy to forget how groundbreaking this series was for TV audiences. I, personally, haven’t watched in years, but the first few seasons had great moments.
I mean, I guess. You already know how I feel. Nevertheless, it’s here and it’s relevant.
Not necessarily queer framed, but there are many queer characters in the series that it becomes normalized. Also, an incredibly funny series with the lovely Gillian Anderson. Highly recommend.
Lol. Whatever. It was my first introduction to a lot of queer high school dynamics in television. Obviously watch Pose instead of this, but maybe a revisit to the series won’t hurt.
The second season may not have been as great as its first, but you can’t help but love the cat and mouse between Eve and Villanelle. Any excuse to watch Sandra Oh is good enough for me.
Ding dong! Comedians Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers discuss all things culture. Highly recommend.
Cousin to Las Culturistas, Pat Regan and Catherine Cohen discuss all things boys, sex, fucking, dating, and love. You’ll be obsoooosed.
Has nothing to do with food but everything to do with race, identity, sex, and relationships.
Recently started listening but a podcast on politics and pop culture with a wide variety of comedians, writers, journalists, etc. as guests.
Again, this list is not exhaustive or definitive but just a personal collection of works that I’ve enjoyed. If you have any recommendations of works you’d think I’d enjoy or ones that should have been included on the list, feel free to let me know. Reply to this email to respond.