The Best LGBTQ Documentaries: "The Times of Harvey Milk," "How to Survive a Plague," "Paris Is Burning," "Tongues Untied," and "The Queen"
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film The best LGBTQ documentaries of all time

The best LGBTQ documentaries of all time

The Best LGBTQ Documentaries: "The Times of Harvey Milk," "How to Survive a Plague," "Paris Is Burning," "Tongues Untied," and "The Queen"

Queer movies and TV shows are all fine, but arguably more important is the existence of great LGBTQ documentaries. Fiction can help provide great representation and tell heartwarming queer stories, but documentary does something entirely different: it preserves the stories of entire communities as snapshots in the kaleidoscopic history of humanity.

Documentary cinema has (almost) always been a relatively safe haven for LGBTQ cinema, especially smaller experimental documentaries created by independent filmmakers. For years, mainstream films have largely cleaned up and ignored the LGBTQ community, but the documentary format has allowed queer people to capture truths about their lives that might not otherwise have been portrayed. Great LGBTQ documentaries date back as far as 1967, with “Portrait of Jason”: a fascinating profile of a gay nightclub performer. Other early greats provided the first mainstream depictions of vibrant gay subcultures, such as the 1991 ballroom documentary “Paris is Burning” or the 1967 drag film “The Queen.” And still others have provided expansive and inspiring representations of the LGBTQ rights movement, such as “Before Stonewall” or “The Times of Harvey Milk.” Documentaries released today provide the most comprehensive depictions of the AIDS crisis ever, revisiting the federal government’s horrific silence in light of the 21st century, such as “How to Survive Plague.”

Today, there is no shortage of queer documentaries worthy of championing, such as the Oscar-nominated animated masterpiece “Flee” or the musical documentary “Sirens”. This year has already seen the premiere of another great film – “Kokomo City” by D. Smith. A profile of three black trans sex workers and their lives, the film premiered at Sundance to critical acclaim and will receive a limited release in July.

In celebration of “Kokomo City” and the end of Pride Month, we take a look at some of the great historians of LGBTQ documentary filmmaking. This list considers projects that profile members of the LGBTQ community or focus on queer history. Entries are listed in order of their US premiere date.

Here are the top 10 LGBTQ documentaries of all time.

With editorial contributions from Tambay Obenson.

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