It’s been over 50 years since the Stonewall Riots and LGBTQIA+ rights have come a long way since then. And the month of June is a time when the community across the world celebrates the freedoms they have today.
While there still might not be the usual parades, concerts and parties we were used to, we can still celebrate and be proud by streaming great LGBTQIA+ content.
LGBTQIA+ TV shows to watch during Pride
The L Word
The original series of The L Word ran from 2004 - 2009, following the intertwined lives of a group of lesbian and bisexual women living and loving in Los Angeles. The series tackled all sorts of topics, from dating and relationships to hook-up culture and raising a family. The diverse cast featured women from all walks of life and everyone had their favourites –– I’m still a Bette fan to this day.
The L Word: Generation Q is set 10 years on from the groundbreaking original series. You can rejoin Bette, Shane and Alice as they face trials and tribulations in LA by streaming it on NOW TV, while the original series is available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video.
Pose is a brilliant US series that centres on the underground world of 1980s ball culture. The series takes place at the height of the AIDS epidemic and follows the exploits of Blanca Evangelista as she starts her own “house” and turns mother to a gifted dancer and a sex worker.
Ryan Murphy’s FX drama shines a light on the ballroom scene of the 80s, which drew a largely gay, largely black crowd and featured predominantly trans performers competing for titles and trophies by “walking”. The vibe will feel familiar to anyone who’s ever watched RuPaul’s Drag Race, and is a refreshingly different kind of queer TV show.
Jam-packed with amazing performance and sizzling drama set against the backdrop of 1980s New York, including the racist, sexist and transphobic views that were prevalent at the time.
Season one of Pose is streaming on Netflix as part of its ‘Black Lives Matter’ collection and is also available on BBC iPlayer.
Betty is based on Crystal Moselle’s 2018 movie, Skate Kitchen, set in the world of the New York skateboard scene. Betty –– the derogatory term for a female skateboarder –– is both diverse and feminist as well as being unashamedly queer.
The cast is made up of non-professional actors and real-life friends who have lived in the male-dominated world of urban skate culture, giving their performances a natural and layered feel.
The series also examines themes, such as anti-blackness, homophobia, misogyny and gendered violence, in a way that makes it feel real and relatable.
Stream all six episodes of Betty on NOW.
Written by and starring Ryan O'Connell, Special is the semi-autobiographical story of a gay man with cerebral palsy. Ryan tries to distance himself from his disability and attempts to find his own identity as a young gay man. O'Connell serves as an executive producer on the comedy series, along with The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons.
Seasons one and two are available to stream on Netflix.
Not your typical LGBTQIA+ show, Ratched follows the story of Nurse Ratched before her appearance in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Portayed by the insanely talented Sarah Paulson, Ratched comes from the creative mind of Ryan Murphy, and features a number of out LGBTQIA+ actors, including Paulson herself, Cynthia Nixon and Charlie Carver.
Ratched is available to watch on Netflix.
Little Fires Everywhere
While we love niche queer TV shows, it’s still a thrill to find mainstream ‘must-watch TV’ featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. Produced by and starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, Little Fires Everywhere is a gripping drama that features one of the lead characters, the teenaged Izzy, going through a queer coming-of-age story arc.
Set in the 90s, it’s clear that so much has changed in what feels like a relatively short time. Since teenagers are much more accepting of queerness these days — and many identify as queer in some form themselves — it’s meaningful that the show explores a time when society’s thinking was significantly more narrow-minded.
Little Fires Everywhere is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Not only did Feel Good herald the return of Lisa Kudrow to TV, but this Netflix/Channel 4 crossover series was an LGBTQIA+ love story that tackled a range of serious subjects.
Mae Martin writes and stars as a Canadian comedian who begins dating a repressed middle-class English woman, George. As George struggles with substance abuse issues and with opening up to her family about her relationship with Mae, there are some brilliant performances, not the least comes from Kudrow who plays Mae’s mother.
Feel Good is available to stream on Netflix, All 4, and Amazon Prime.
No LGBTQIA+ list would be complete without mentioning Queer Eye. Over 5 seasons, Jonathan Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown and Bobby Berk have become household names as they help people to ‘make-over their life through a combination of grooming, styling, home remodelling, positive thinking and avocado toast.
Binge the whole show on Netflix.
The Politician is another show from Ryan Murphy –– creator of Glee and American Horror Story –– and is unique in that the sexual identity of many of its characters is not labelled. Ben Platt plays Payton, a student determined to be president of the USA who is struggling to get elected student body president in High School.
In addition to the lost romance between Payton and River, there are plenty of other queer or questioning characters as well as appearances from gay icons, such as Jessica Lange and Bette Midler.
In the bizarre world that sounds English but looks American, Sex Education is an unashamed look at the insecurities and misinformation that many teenagers face when it comes to sex.
Though there are plenty of straight characters to choose from, Eric has quickly become a fan favourite as he hilariously navigates being a gay black teenager in the modern world.
This taboo-busting show is available to binge on Netflix, but probably best not to watch it with your parents.
LGBTQIA+ documentaries to watch during Pride month
If you want to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community and the history of Pride, then there are some fantastic documentaries that give great insight into the community’s turbulent past.
Paris is Burning
Paris is Burning on Netflix served as the inspiration for Pose, combining interviews and performances from those involved in the scene.
Hating Peter Tatchell
From Executive producer Elton John, 'Hating Peter Tatchell' tells the story of the human rights campaigner whose acts of civil disobedience revolutionised attitudes towards homosexuality and the fight for equality.
Watch Hating Peter Tatchell on Netflix.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
Oscar-nominated director David France, explores the life of transgender activist and drag performer Marsha P. Johnson, who was instrumental in the LGBTQIA+ rights movement.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson is available to stream on Netflix.
The Netflix documentary, Disclosure takes a very different approach. And rather than making audiences feel bad about transgender representation in the past, it educated on the larger issues of problematic representation.
The Celluloid Closet
The Celluloid Closet is an iconic LGBTQIA+ documentary from 1995. Narrated by Lily Tomlin, The Celluloid Closet is available to purchase on Amazon Prime Video and dives into the hundred-year history of gay men and women in Hollywood.
Films to watch during Pride with LGBTQIA cast
There have been LGBTQIA roles in films for decades, many winning the actors and creators prestigious awards for their portrayal. Thankfully, as LGBTQIA visibility has increased in recent years, more of these roles are actually being played by openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender actors.
Here are a few films to watch during pride that actually have LGBTQIA cast members.
A sweet coming-of-age story as the lead character struggles to come out as gay in high school and find love. Queer actor Keiynan Lonsdale features as gay high schooler and love interest Bram Greenfeld. Worth a watch for the kiss on the ferris wheel.
Love, Simon is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Portrait of a Lady on Fire follows the story of Marianne, a painter who is commissioned to create a wedding portrait of Héloïse. The reluctant bride has just left the convent and Marianne seeks to capture her likeness by painting her in secret.
Adèle Haenel, like her character, identifies as a lesbian, a part that was written for her by her ex-partner, director Céline Sciamma.
You can stream Portrait of a Lady on Fire as part of your Amazon Prime Video subscription.
The Normal Heart
Ryan Murphy directs this TV movie set in the early 1980s, during the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York. The Normal Heart follows the lives gay activists as they work to raise awareness about the disease and stars a number of openly gay actors including Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer and Jonathan Groff.
You can buy or rent The Normal Heart on Amazon Prime Video.
Andrew Scott is probably best known for playing Moriarty on Sherlock and The Hot Preist on Fleabag. In Pride, the openly gay actor plays Gethin, a gay bookshop owner who joins other queer activists to help striking miners in 1984 England.
You can stream Pride for free as part of your Amazon Prime subscription.