We are living in a blissful age when most of us can proudly walk at Pride, when our favourite celebrities publicly come out or stand up for LGBTQ+ people, when we do not have to deep dive on IMDB to find a movie or series with relatable LGBTQ characters who are not the first ones ending up dying. However, the situation is still far from ideal: in some countries we can get married without a problem, but in others people are killed for their sexual orientation. Only a decade ago, it was harder to live life to the fullest as a gay person.
We have collected a bunch of documentaries depicting LGBTQ+ people fighting for their fundamental human rights - about people, who have one way or another, helped us live a little freer today.
Mommy Mommy (2007)
Linda Ludwick and Mona Laviolette struggled to be able to have children for five long years. The pair who lived in Québec, Canada did not have luck with artificial insemination, and infertility clinics did not offer any help either. When they finally decided to adopt, it turned out it would take up to ten years to go through the local process. Their last resort was the United States, but the only agency accepted by Canadian authorities had rigid Catholic views, and denied adoption for same-sex couples. Their fight ended after five years, and now Linda and Mona are proud parents of two amazing daughters.
Adoption for gay and lesbian couples has become a lot easier today, but we should not forget that just a decade ago, it was nearly impossible for a loving, caring family to have children only because they were not living in a traditional, heterosexual relationship. We have already covered the Hungarian legal situation in this Hungarian article.
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four (2016)
The summer 1994, Elizabeth, a latina lesbian girl, was babysitting her 7 and 9 years-old nieces for a week. After the week spent together, the girls have accused Elizabeth and her 3 girlfriends of gangraping them.
In 1997, Elizabeth was sentenced to spend 37 and a half years, her girlfriends 15 years in prison for sexual harassment. Their children were also taken away from them. They got freed in 2012, when one of the nieces admitted to the false accusations. She got forced into the situation by his father (Elizabeth’s brother-in-law) - he got angry when Elizabeth refused his sexual advances and wanted revenge. The film is about their long and incredibly depressing journey through the legal system in search of justice.
Keep Not Silent (2004)
Faith and homosexual sex - one of the most sensitive topics among both gays and heterosexuals. Religious LGBTQ people not only need to define their personality, but are also struggling with the community’s strict laws and sometimes unsolvable problems. This is especially true for Middle-Eastern countries.
This documentary is about three Jewish Orthodox women, all belonging to the Orthodykes Jewish lesbian community. Yudit is trying to come to terms with the laws of her religion and her same-sex marriage, while Miriam-Ester and Ruth are both living in heterosexual marriages. Miriam-Ester is hiding her sexuality, but Ruth’s husband has agreed to her lesbian relationship given they can keep up the appearances of their fake marriage.
You will not be able to stop thinking about the questions this documentary touches upon about religion and sexuality, and the struggles of faith and emotions.
Training Rules (2009)
Rene Portland used to be the head coach of the Pennsylvanian National University’s women’s basketball team for 27 years. Her rules were pretty straightforward: “alcohol, drugs and lesbians are not welcome’. Those who did not abide were automatically kicked out of the team. Jennifer Harris was fired because of her sexuality, and she went on to press charges. The documentary shows the homophobia permeating sports through the example of this story.
Most have already heard about the movie directed by Peter Solett, but there is also a lesser-known documentary about Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree’s struggles. Laurel has been working as a detective for 25 years when she was diagnosed with late-stage cancer. She filed to have her partner receive her life annuities that would allow her financial security when Laurel is gone. This money is by default provided to all widows whose partner served in the police, however Stacie was denied since they were not living in a heterosexual relationship. The case received a lot of attention: LGBTQ+ activist groups have organized demonstrations, even the otherwise not supportive policemen have showed their support in their fights. I don’t think I am spoiling the ending when I say the committee decided in favour of Laurel and Stacie, and however the story is pretty sad, it still marks a huge step in the direction to marriage equality.
Translated by Dóra Bajnóczi