Published On: June 10, 2024By

The Stonewall Uprising in June of 1969 is often seen as the beginning of the modern 2SLGBTQIA+ civil rights movement. It’s also the reason June is celebrated as Pride Month.

While it’s important to celebrate how wonderful it is to be queer and how far we’ve come, it’s equally important to remember those who paved the way to where we are today.

By understanding queer history, we can better understand the political climate we currently find ourselves in and how our queer elders and ancestors overcame their own struggles.

Queer history doesn’t begin at Stonewall though. The following movies and TV shows remind us that queer people have always existed and always will, no matter how repressive the world around us is.

Happy Pride!

Fellow Travelers (2023)

Fellow Travelers is an epic love story and political thriller that spans four decades of queer history. The story begins at the height of the Lavender Scare in 1950s Washington, DC, when anyone even suspected of being queer was being purged from federal government jobs. It carries on through the anti-war activism of the 1960s, the disco hedonism of the 1970s on Fire Island and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

Based on the fiction novel of the same name by Thomas Mallon, the show expands the world of the book to include a more diverse group of characters that have often been left out of queer storytelling.

The cast and crew are full of extraordinary queer talent, including Matt Bomer, Jonathan Bailey, Jelani Alladin, Noah Ricketts, Daniel Minahan, Robbie Rogers and Ron Nyswaner, among many others.

Rustin (2023)

Bayard Rustin was one of the key organizers for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. However, due to the homophobia of the time, he usually acted as an influential adviser behind the scenes and his story has largely been left out of the history books.

Rustin, directed by five-time Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe, looks to change that and shines a long overdue spotlight on Rustin’s incredible legacy. Colman Domingo’s phenomenal performance as Rustin earned him a well-deserved Oscar nomination.

Pride (2014)

Pride (not to be confused with the documentary series below) tells the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), a group formed in 1984 to support striking coal miners in the UK.

After realizing they shared common adversaries in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the tabloids, and the police, LGSM raised thousands of pounds and forged unlikely friendships with coal miners and their families in South Wales.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and best of all, you’ll be reminded that we often have more in common with other people than we think we do.

Pride (2021)

Pride is a powerful six-part documentary series that chronicles the fight for 2SLGBTQIA+ civil rights in the United States, with each episode focusing on one decade from the 1950s to the early 2000s. Seven renowned 2SLGBTQIA+ directors explore each decade through interviews, archival footage, and recreations, bringing these important, yet often overlooked stories to life.

This series shows us how much of the hate we’re seeing today isn’t new; it’s the same hateful rhetoric from previous decades that’s simply been recycled and repackaged. Understanding the past is a valuable tool as we continue to fight for 2SLGBTQIA+ rights here in Canada and around the world.

Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate (2023)

The Eldorado was one of many nightclubs and bars in 1920s Berlin that were part of a vibrant queer landscape. At the time, the city was home to numerous queer publications (which were sold openly on newsstands) and The Institute for Sexual Research, considered the world’s first gender-affirming clinic.


Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate is an illuminating documentary that features vivid reenactments, interviews with a diverse group of historians, and moving first-hand accounts of what queer Berlin was like before and after the Nazis came to power.

In an interview for the documentary, historian Zavier Nunn describes this period of history as a stark reminder of how “…even today with the kind of progress that has happened for queer rights and even trans rights, that you can have these liberties and they can be taken away from you.”

Firebird (2022)

Firebird is a Cold War drama based on Sergey Fetisov’s memoir, The Story of Roman. It tells the true story of his relationship with Roman, a fighter pilot he fell in love with as a young soldier in the 1970s during the Soviet occupation of Estonia. The two men met while serving on an air force base at a time when their relationship could have resulted in them being sentenced to 5 years in a hard labour camp.

Roman and Sergey’s story is particularly timely as Estonia was recently the first former Soviet-ruled nation to legalize gay marriage.

Framing Agnes (2022)

Director Chase Joynt blends fiction and nonfiction to bring to life six previously unknown stories from the archives of the UCLA Gender Clinic in the 1950s and 1960s. One of those stories features Agnes, a pseudonymized, transgender woman who participated in Dr. Harold Garfinkel’s gender health research in the 1960s.

Framing Agnes features trans historian Jules Gill-Peterson and a brilliant cast of trans actors including Zackary Drucker, Stephen Ira, Angelica Ross, Max Wolf Valerio, Jen Richards, and Silas Howard. They not only recreate interviews from those archives but also provide valuable insights informed by their own lived experiences.

We Are Never Alone

Despite the raising levels of hate and discrimination, queer history has never been more accessible to learn about than it is now. These movies and TV shows remind us that no matter what challenges we are experiencing, chances are someone else has gone through something similar; we are never alone.

They also give us the opportunity to better understand the lived experiences of the diverse individuals that make up 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. By understanding each other better, we can take care of, and advocate for, each other in more meaningful and informed ways. This is especially important for those who consider themselves allies, including cisgender queer folks.

– Brennen Neufeld

Brennen Neufeld (he/him) is a freelance marketing professional and a small-town guy with a big heart. He’s passionate about cultivating inclusion, belonging and community wherever he goes. In his down time, he enjoys listening to audiobooks, dancing to disco in his kitchen, and watching queer films.