Looking for a must-see list of great gay documentaries? Here they are...25. Saint of 9/11 (2006)
Sir Ian McKellen narrates this inspiring portrait of Father Mychal Judge, a New York City Fire Department Chaplain who wrestled with his sexuality, his genuine dedication to life as a priest, and his alcoholism before perishing during the collapse of the Twin Towers in the line of duty.
Official website: Saint of 9/11
IMDb: Saint of 9/11 (2006)
Trailer: Saint of 9/11 Trailer24. Transgeneration (2005)
This GLAAD Award-winning documentary miniseries follows four college students undergoing gender transition. The series places special emphasis on the diversity of the transgender community.
Official website: TransGeneration
IMDb: TransGeneration (TV Mini-Series 2005)
Trailer: TRANSGENERATION | Where Did You Go? (Ep. 1)23. How To Survive A Plague
A stunning portrait of the emergence of ACT UP in the early days of the AIDS crisis, Plague documents the lengths to which its activists would go to demand government action in regards to the testing of AIDS medications. Its impressive use of footage from the trenches makes this an essential chronicle of a painful yet pivotal time in gay rights history.
Official website: Surive A Plague
IMDb: How to Survive a Plague (2012)
Trailer: How To Survive a Plague - Official Trailer [HD22. Silverlake Life: The View from Here (1993)
The winner of the Sundance Grand Jury prize for documentary as well as a Peabody Award, Peter Friedman and Tom Joslin’s extremely moving and deeply personal chronicle of the life of a gay couple supporting one another in the advanced stages of AIDS is often cited as one of the most heartbreaking movies of all time. This film puts a human face to the AIDS crisis in a way that no other movie has.
Official website: Silverlake Life: The View From Here
IMDb: Silverlake Life: The View from Here (1993)
Trailer: Silverlake Life: The View From Here
. Silverlake Life: The View From Here (1993) -- Full]21. The Adonis Factor (2010)
This long, hard look into the masculine physical ideal that many gay men pursue piles on the chiseled bodies and probes topics including plastic surgery, steroids, the gay porn industry, circuit parties, and the pros and cons of living one’s life as eye candy.
Official website: The Adonis Factor
IMDb: The Adonis Factor (2010)
Trailer: The Adonis Factor - Trailer20. Bear Nation (2010)
Hirsute heavyweights are the subject of this documentary by Small Town Gay Bar director Malcolm Ingram (and returning producer Kevin Smith), which dives beard-first into the gay subculture that celebrates men who are bigger and furrier than your average Abercrombie model.
Official website: Bear Nation
IMDb: Bear Nation (2010)
Trailer: Bear Nation -- Trailer19. Trembling Before G-d (2001)
revealing look at gay and lesbian Orthodox and Hasidic Jews who struggle to reconcile their sexual identities with their devout faith. Filmmaker Sandi Dubowski returned to the intersection of faith and sexuality for his 2007 film A Jihad for Love.
Official website: Trembling Before G-d
IMDb: Trembling Before G-d (2001)
Trailer: Trembling Before G-d18. All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise (2006)
R Family Vacations – the gay family cruise line started by Rosie O’Donnell and her ex Kelli – had its 2004 maiden voyage documented for this lighthearted and touching portrait of some very modern families unwinding en route to the Bahamas.
Official website: -
IMDb: All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise (TV Movie 2006)
Trailer: All Aboard Movie Trailer Film Trailer Rosie O'Donell Travel Cruise17. Stonewall Uprising (2010)
This 2010 documentary about the formative event of the gay liberation movement notably uses archive newscasts and “special reports” on homosexuality to demonstrate how gays and lesbians were viewed and treated by the media prior to the historic 1969 rebellion in Greenwich Village.
Official website: Stonewall Uprising
IMDb: Stonewall Uprising (2010)
Trailer: Stonewall Uprising - Theatrical Trailer16. Word Is Out (1977)
Acclaimed director and producer Rob Epstein (who was behind a number of the films on this list) began his impressive career by co-directing this 1977 film (the earliest entry on this list) that features over two dozen gay men and lesbian women speaking directly to the camera about their lives. Simple, yet groundbreaking for its time.
Official website: Word Is Out
IMDb: Word Is Out (1977)
Trailer: Word Is Out (trailer)
. Word is Out (1977) on Vimeo (full)
. 15. After Stonewall (1999)
The follow-up to the film, Before Stonewall, this Melissa Etheridge-narrated documentary chronicles the gay rights movement from the Stonewall Rebellion to the present, touching on subjects including Anita Bryant, Harvey Milk, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and the AIDS crisis.
Official website: After Stonewall
IMDb: After Stonewall (1999)
Trailer: After Stonewall (Trailer)14. Chris & Don. A Love Story (2007)
The longtime love affair of Christopher Isherwood (A Single Man, The Berlin Stories) and portrait artist Don Bachardy is the subject of this 2007 film, which explores an openly-lived Hollywood gay romance in a time when such a thing was unheard of.
Official website: Zeitgeist, Film’s Chris & Don: A Love Story
, The Christopher Isherwood Foundation
IMDb: Chris & Don. A Love Story (2007)
Trailer: Chris & Don. A Love Story - Trailer13. Gay Sex in the 70s (2005)
Focusing its steamed-up lens on the period between when the Stonewall Rebellion liberated New York City’s gay community and AIDS brought it to its knees, Joseph F. Lovett’s gleefully hedonistic doc is a fascinating look at a sexual revolution unlike any other. Mustaches, machismo, and muscles abound.
Official website: Gay Sex In The 70s
IMDb: Gay Sex in the 70s (2005)
Trailer: GAY SEX IN THE 70s - offizieller deutscher Trailer
, GAY SEX IN THE 70'S OPENING12. 8: The Mormon Proposition (2010)
Dustin Lance Black narrates this 2010 film by Reed Cowan and Steven Greenstreet that exposes the Mormon Church’s involvement (via The National Organization for Marriage) in in the obstruction of same-sex marriage legislation across the country, including the highly publicized Proposition 8 in California.
Official website: The Mormon Proposition: 8
IMDb: 8: The Mormon Proposition (2010)
Trailer: 8 : The Mormon Proposition | Trailer US (2010)11. Small Town Gay Bar (2006)
Filmmaker Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy, Red State) produced this documentary by Malcolm Ingram exploring the culture of gay bars in the rural American South. The film chronicles the gay communities struggling for acceptance in the shadow of overwhelmingly conservative landscapes, and the refuge that their gay bars provide. (They also have a heck of a good time.)
Official website: Small Town Gay Bar
IMDb: Small Town Gay Bar (2006)
Trailer: Small town gay par part 110. Vito (2011)
Jeffrey Schwarz (Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon and the upcoming I am Divine) directed this acclaimed chronicle of the life and work of Vito Russo, a figurehead of the gay rights movement and the author of The Celluloid Closet, a seminal work on gay representation in the media. An endearing portrait of the onetime film student who emerged from the Stonewall Rebellion as one of the most outspoken activists for gay rights and visibility.
Official website: VITO: A New Documentary by Jeffrey Schwarz
IMDb: Vito (2011)
Trailer: VITO Trailer - Gay rights documentary - Peccadillo Pictures9. Outrage (2009)
Straight documentary provocateur Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated) turns his lens on the destructive hypocrisies of closeted gay politicians who lobby for anti-gay legislation in the United States in this 2009 film.
Official website: Outrage
IMDb: Outrage (2009)
Trailer: Outrage (2009) Official Trailer #1 - Gay Documentary HD8. Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989)
Winner of the 1989 Oscar for Best Documentary, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s chronicle of The Names Project tells its broader story by focusing on the lives of several of the people commemorated in the massive quilt, which honors those lost to AIDS.
Official website: -
IMDb: Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989)
Trailer: Common Threads7. We Were Here (2011)
This 2011 film explores the arrival of AIDS in San Francisco and how the city (and especially its strong and outspoken gay community) dealt with the crushing blow to life and culture at a time when the gay community was just beginning to find its voice.
Official website: We Were Here | A documentary by David Weissman
IMDb: We Were Here (2011)
Trailer: We Were Here (trailer)6. Paragraph 175 (2000)
Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman co-directed this 2000 film chronicling the lives of the handful of known survivors of Germany’s Paragraph 175, the sodomy provision of the penal code that led to over 100,000 men being arrested and imprisoned or sent to concentration camps between 1933 and 1945. Rupert Everett narrates this harrowing and essential look at one of the darkest times in history for gays and lesbians.
Official website: Telling Pictures: Paragraph 175
IMDb: Paragraph 175 (2000)
Trailer: Paragraph 175 (Trailer)5. Before Stonewall (1984)
Noted lesbian author Rita Mae Brown (The Rubyfruit Jungle) narrates this exploration of the burgeoning gay and lesbian community prior to the revolutionary Stonewall Rebellion of 1969. A fascinating look at the way that the underground gay community operated prior to the landmark uprising.
Official website: Before-Stonewall - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes
IMDb: Before Stonewall (1984)
Trailer: Before Stonewall4. For the Bible Tells Me So (2007)
Daniel Karslake’s moving study of gay people of faith explores the interplay of religion and sexual identity through the stories of five Christian families with gay members. The film also details the ways in which some groups have used Biblical interpretations – sometimes questionable ones – to stigmatize and marginalize gay people, and makes a plea for greater understanding.
Official website: For the Bible Tells Me So
IMDb: For the Bible Tells Me So (2007)
Trailer: For The Bible Tells Me So - Trailer
3. Paris Is Burning (1990)
Jennie Livingston’s boundary-smashing glimpse into the “drag ball” scene shines the light on some of the queer community’s most underrepresented – yet most fabulous – members: gay and transgender men of color who stage and compete in elaborate cross-dressing pageants. According to our voters, Paris gets 10’s across the board.
Official website: Paris Is Burning (film) - Wikipedia
IMDb: Paris Is Burning (1990)
Trailer: Paris is Burning - Trailer
, Paris Is Burning (full)2. The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
Decades before Sean Penn earned an Oscar for playing him, Rob Epstein’s Oscar-winning 1984 documentary honored the life of Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official. Using both archival footage and original interviews, the film chronicles Milk’s rise from a Castro Street activist to his assassination at the hands of rival politician Dan White.
Official website: The-Times-of-Harvey-Milk - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes
, Harvey’s Enduring Legacy
IMDb: The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
Trailer: THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK Trailer (1984)1. The Celluloid Closet (1995)
Based on gay activist and media critic Vito Russo’s groundbreaking book, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Peabody Award-winning documentary examines homosexuality in American film from the classics of Old Hollywood to New Queer Cinema, as well as the struggles of gay and lesbian filmmakers and stars. Choice clips from touchstone films and interviews with Hollywood allies like Susan Sarandon and Whoopi Goldberg make Closet an informative and wonderfully entertaining landmark in the study of gay visibility in entertainment.
Official website: The Celluloid Closet
, Top Documentary Films: The Celluloid Closet
, The Celluloid Closet
IMDb: The Celluloid Closet (1995)
Trailer: The Celluloid Closet TrailerNOTE
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