Table of Contents
What is Pride Month?
Pride Month is about acceptance, equality, and celebrating LGBTQIA+ identity whilst raising awareness of issues facing the community around the world. Although it is an important to time to celebrate the progress that has been made across legislation, attitudes and behaviours, it is also a continued protest, and demonstrations often take place within the marches for legal rights such as same-sex marriage or complete protection from conversion therapy.
June is Pride Month because it coincides with the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. In the early hours of the 28th June, 8 police officers from the New York “Public Morals Division” raided the Stonewall Inn — a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City. There was nothing particularly exceptional about this in the first instance. In the 1960s, the NYPD unit enforced all “vice” laws, and had the power to arrest and hospitalise gay people by force. However, on this particular night, the bar fought back. Neighbouring revellers were drawn to the scene, hundreds resisted prejudiced arrest, and a mirror was smashed by “the shot glass that was heard around the world”, thrown by Black transgender activist Marsha P Johnson. As the eight policemen barricaded themselves inside the Stonewall Inn, protesters took control of the street: that night, and the 5 that followed.
Stonewall itself did not create a movement; LGBTQIA+ activism had taken an organised shape in the 1920s, if not before. But the show of force and numbers, coupled with widespread media coverage, empowered many others to join the campaign.
Since then, every year in June, demonstrations in a mix of politics and parties have elevated a community whose existence has been denied, supressed and criminalised. Parades act as a form of celebration, but are also a sign of fighting for liberation, visibility and equality. In the UK, particularly up until the repeal of Section 28 in 2003, Pride had a more protest feel than a parade. The Pride Month meaning remains the same, and is a time for people within the community, and their allies, to celebrate successes in LGBTQIA+ inclusion, but it is also a time for reflection.
Everyone will have different experiences to reflect on. For example, personal journeys of self-discovery and acceptance, or remembering friends and loved ones lost during the HIV/Aids pandemic of the 80s and 90s. For the LGBTQIA+ community, history plays a significant part in shaping the current story and reminds us: although lots of progress has been made, there is still lots more to do. At first, the month was known as “Gay Pride Month”, but has now progressed to include and reflect on the whole LGBTQIA+ community.
Why is it still important to celebrate Pride month?
Promoting safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ people
Pride as both an event and a movement promotes the importance of safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ people to celebrate a part of themselves they may sometimes hide. Artists, activists and allies collaborate for a future where everyone can be and celebrate their identities. Pride promotes the spaces available for people to feel fully safe and protected, so that they know how to access them all year round.
Building and supporting the community
Any events where LGBTQIA+ people are coming together can build community. Pride gives young LGBTQIA+ people the chance to attend events where they can meet others who are like them and feel part of the wider LGBTQIA+ community. Pride events promote opportunities of support both within and outside of the LGBTQIA+ community, with many charities and other groups promoting the work they do to support people.
Continuing a conversation
The general conversation around Pride and the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as local events, creates an environment where people can feel acceptance of themselves. It allows others to become more familiar with seeing LGBTQIA+ people being themselves in their local communities, which can go a long way in encouraging acceptance from others. A positive consequence of this is that some people may feel more able to come out to friends, family, etc. when the world is already talking about the LGBTQIA+ community with acceptance and without judgement. While on their own these things might not make a huge difference, increasing acceptance and building community and support networks can help to make some of the challenges faced easier to cope with.
There is still so much work to be done
There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of social reform. Violent crimes against LGBTQIA+ people are on the rise, and Stonewall estimates that over 80% of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people go unreported. There is a lack of understanding and awareness of domestic violence and abuse in same-sex relationships, often remaining invisible. There is a significant level of underreporting of all types of violent crime, and a lack of help-seeking among LGBTQIA+ people including those in violent and abusive relationships.
Many same-sex partners are afraid to show affection, to even hold each other’s hands in public, fearing verbal and physical attack, or worse. Many children and young people, who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, or perceived to be, are subjected to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse and bullying from their peers. Often this happens at school, or on the journey to and from school. In some cases, this abuse is perpetrated by those working in the schools, including by teaching and support staff. As an adult, many people experience negativity in a range of health, care and other settings, including social care, which can impact negatively on health and wellbeing. Many people fear experiencing discrimination when they seek help, which impacts on people’s health, including presenting at later stages of illness and disease.
We need Pride Month now more than ever; both to support the LGBTQIA+ community, and to educate and inform wider society about the harm and damage homophobia, biphobia and transphobia has. This also includes educating people on how to become an ally to support those within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Being an ally
What does it mean to be an ally?
The Straight Ally flag is made up of the black and white stripes of the heterosexual flag as a background, with a large rainbow coloured “A” (for “Ally”) to indicate unity and straight support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Bearing this flag is not a trend, it comes with understanding the challenges that people within the LGBTQIA+ community face, and acknowledging that you are responsible for doing something about them.
A straight ally is a cisgender or heterosexual person, who recognises the discrimination people within the LGBTQIA+ community face, and actively supports equal civil rights, gender equality and LGBTQIA+ movements, to ultimately make the world a more inclusive, and better place for people who identify as LGBTQIA+, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender or religion. They themselves identify as straight, but support LGBTQIA+ causes and fight for a more inclusive world.
When it comes to being an ally, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, but there are some simple steps you can take to recognising the opportunity you have to make a difference, starting with educating yourself. As a true ally, you will give your support in many different ways to call out discrimination and to fight for equality.
Ways to be a good ally
Being an LGBTQIA+ ally is about helping to create an inclusive environment where everyone can be themselves.
Listen to what LGBTQ+ people are saying. Follow LGBTQIA+ people on social media, and consume content created by LGBTQIA+ people. If someone comes out to you, let them set the tone for the conversation. If they are bringing it up in a casual way, respond in kind. If they are being more serious, make it clear that you support them.
Educate yourself and stay informed
Follow LGBTQIA+ topics in the news to keep up to date on the current issues for the LGBTQIA+ community. Read blog posts and news articles written by LGBTQIA+ people.
Recognise that language evolves, and be open to new concepts and ideas. If there are words you are unfamiliar with, look them up. There’s no shame in not knowing, but make sure you learn what each new term you hear means so you know for next time. The Stonewall glossary of terms is a great place to start.
To continue to build a culture which is inclusive of all people, you should avoid wording that assumes there are only two genders. For example –
Instead of “ladies and gentlemen”, say “everybody”, “colleagues”, or “friends and guests”.
Instead of “he/she” (when referring to someone unknown or a universal person), use “they” or “the person”.
Instead of “men and women”, say “people”.
Instead of beginning emails/letters to an unnamed individual with “Dear Sir or Madam”, address the person by their position/whatever their capacity is that provides the context for this interaction, so “Dear Colleague”, “Dear HR Team”, “Dear Programme Administrators”, etc.
Check your privilege
Most of us (including those of us within the LGBTQIA+ community) have some kind of privilege – whether it’s racial, class, education, being cis-gendered, non-disabled, or straight. Being privileged doesn’t mean that you have not had your fair share of struggles in life, it just means that there are some things you won’t ever have to think or worry about just because of the way you were born. Understanding your own privileges can help you empathise with marginalised or oppressed groups.
Confront your own prejudices and unconscious bias
Being an ally means you will often find that you need to challenge any bias, stereotypes, and assumptions you didn’t realise you had. Think about the jokes you make, the pronouns you use and if you wrongly assume someone’s partner is of a particular sex or gender just because of the way they look and act. LGBTQIA+ prejudices can be subtle and transphobia and biphobia exist even within the LGBTQIA+ community. Being a better ally means being open to the idea of being wrong sometimes and being willing to work on it.
Be mindful about confidentiality and “outing”
A LGBTQIA+ person should always have control over who they come out to and how they do it. Do not assume that because someone is out to you, they are out to everybody. You should never out a person to others. If someone comes out to you, you might want to check how open they wish to be with others, and whether this is something you can refer to in casual conversation while other people are present.
Not everyone you meet is straight and/or cisgender. Avoid using gendered language where these assumptions are implied, e.g. instead of asking someone about their girlfriend/boyfriend or husband/wife, ask about their partner.
Think of ‘ally’ as an action rather than a label
It is easy to call yourself an ally, but the label alone isn’t enough. Oppression doesn’t take breaks. To be an effective ally you need to be willing to be consistent in your support of LGBTQIA+ rights and defend LGBTQIA+ people against discrimination. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that as an ally you find anti-LGBTQIA+ comments or jokes offensive. It takes all members of society to make true acceptance and respect happen, and your open and consistent support will hopefully lead as an example to others.
Speak up and challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
If you hear people make homophobic, biphobic or transphobic comments and jokes, call them out. Speaking up boils down to a transaction between two (or more) people, and that transaction needs to happen well. Someone needs to express a concern, complaint, or a suggestion for improvement. The other person (or people) needs to thank them for doing so, take action, and offer them the opportunity to feedback on the experience. However, a thousand and one things make that transaction harder than it might appear. Sexuality, gender, professional background, ethnicity, seniority, and a plethora of other factors play a significant part in this.
So, where is the link between homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, and the problems that people encounter when they speak up? The link is that they arise from a sense of ‘them’ and ‘us’. But we can change this.
Here are just a few things you can do:
1. Be aware that we may embody things that others might not relate to and some may even be fearful of.
2. Don’t be afraid to talk about it – challenge misconceptions and encourage everyone to look at where any sense of ‘them’ and ‘us’ might come from.
3. Get over it.
4. Help others get over it.
Until everyone can get over it, be responsible for doing anything and everything you can to stop it – speaking up whenever and wherever it occurs.
Uplift the most marginalised voices in the community
Remember that to be an ally to LGBTQIA+ people, you must be an ally to all LGBTQIA+ people: this includes BIPOC LGBTQIA+ people, trans and non-binary people, and disabled LGBTQIA+ people, whose voices are not heard as often. Consider whether you are making room for these voices when you are thinking about LGBTQIA+ inclusion.
It is important to learn what pronouns are, why they matter, and how you can be an ally by introducing yourself with your pronouns when you meet someone new.
You can’t know what someone’s pronouns are by looking at them. Asking and correctly using someone’s pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their gender identity. When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or dysphoric (often all of the above). It is a privilege to not have to worry about which pronoun someone is going to use for you based on how they perceive your gender. If you have this privilege, yet fail to respect someone else’s gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive.
If you aren’t sure of someone’s pronouns, you could ask: “What pronouns do you use?” or “Can you remind me what pronouns you use?”. It may feel awkward at first if it’s something you aren’t used to, but it is not half as awkward as making a hurtful assumption.
It is important to remember that by consistently asking people for their pronouns, you can help create a more normalised and safe way for others to share their pronouns, which they may not have been able to do before. However, it’s worth noting that there are multiple reasons why someone may not want to share their pronouns in a group setting. If someone does not share their pronouns, feel free to use their name as a placeholder or ask in a more private setting.
What to do if you make a mistake –
We can all make mistakes sometimes. If you realise as you’re speaking that you’re making a mistake with someone’s pronouns, apologise, correct yourself, and move on. There’s no need to make a big deal out of your mistake or draw attention to it, just make sure to try your best to get it right in the future. If you realise after you’ve been speaking about someone, e.g. during a meeting, that you made a mistake with their pronouns, apologise to the individual in private afterwards, acknowledge that you know their pronouns and assure them that you’ll get it right in the future.
Below is a list of some commonly used pronouns and how they are used:
This is not an exhaustive list, and there are many other pronouns people may choose to use. It is good practice to always ask which pronouns a person uses.
There are many different LGBTQIA+ Pride flags in use today, each with their own unique meaning. Below is a guide to some of the more commonly used/known flags, but this webpage has more details about some of the other perhaps less well known flags, and what each colour within it stands for.
There are around 100 recognised Pride flags, most of which you can see below. Some of these are very similar to each other, because they essentially all started as one flag, but different people will identify with different flags which they feel best encapsulates their identity.
LGBTQIA+ Support Charities & Organisations
- Albert Kennedy Trust – for homeless young LGBTQIA+ people.
- Galop – an LGBTQIA+ anti-violence charity.
- Gendered Intelligence – increasing understanding of gender diversity through creative ways. They work with the trans community and those who impact on trans lives; and they particularly specialise in supporting young trans people aged 8-25.
- LGBT Foundation – providing advice & info to LGBTQIA+ communities.
- London Friend’s – aims to improve the health and mental well-being of LGBTQIA+ people in and around London.
- Mindline Trans+ – a confidential emotional and mental health support helpline and signposting service for anyone identifying as transgender, non-binary, genderfluid and agender, there to support individuals, family members, friends and colleagues.
- MindOut – LGBTQIA+ mental health service.
- National Trans Youth Network – represents young trans people in the UK, with groups in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Opening Doors – for LGBTQIA+ people over 50.
- Stonewall – empowering individuals in the UK and abroad, by providing them with support and advice to help tackle discrimination and hate crimes. As well as campaigning for greater equality, it has a range of research and resources to support people.
- Stonewall Housing – a specialist lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) housing advice and support provider in England.
- Switchboard – an LGBTQIA+ helpline.
- The Beaumont Society – offering help and support for the transgender community.
- The Proud Trust – home of LGBTQIA+ youth.
- The Terrence Higgins Trust – a national sexual health charity that provides information and support on STI’s/HIV, and where to get tested.
- Trans Unite – a comprehensive resource for people in the UK searching for support in the transgender community. The easy to use and mobile friendly website connects you to an established network of trans support groups both in your local area and those who offer online support.
- UK Black Pride – The world’s largest celebration for African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Caribbean-heritage LGBTQIA+ people.
Educate Yourself Through The Arts
Events and exhibitions
There are events happening across the world to celebrate Pride, and hundreds of events and celebrations within the UK alone. However, if you want to stay a bit closer to home, here are a few things taking place in London this month.
London Pride – This year’s Pride in London event will take place on Saturday 1st July. It will start at 12:00 noon at Hyde Park Corner, and the grandstand in Haymarket will be open from about 11.30am for viewers. Tickets for the grandstand are available to purchase from here. The event is otherwise free to watch and take part in. Volunteers are still being sought here.
With everything from Drag Queen Bingo to May Thai Boxing classes, Pride Picnics to Burlesque Dance classes, Late night charity shop browsing to concerts – whatever you want to see or do, it’s probably happening! You can find the whole schedule of official Pride events taking place in London this June here.
Barbican Events – Discover a season of LGBTQIA+ events in the Barbican Centre. There’s lots to explore in Barbican with Cinema, Music and Theatre events, including the premiere of acclaimed Broadway Pulitzer-winning musical A Strange Loop.
British Museum’s Desire, Love, Identity – Ongoing throughout June, free entry. The British Museum has put together two different treasure hunt trails spotlighting various artefacts and objects that share an interesting link to different aspects of LGBTQ+ history, from Sappho and her ancient Greek poems of lesbian desire to a once-banned Roman wine cup decorated with scenes of male lovers.
Globe Theatre Pride Guided Tour – Tours running from 8 June – 30 September, Tickets from £20. What would life have been like for the queer community during Shakespeare’s lifetime? Take a deep dive into an important era in LGBTQ+ history, bringing to life the queer stories and characters from the Bard’s life and times.
Homostash Pride Rave – 1st July in Hoxton. The Homostash crew are throwing a huge Pride night party over three rooms – one blasting techno, another playing tech house, and a third dedicated to disco and world music. As ever, you can expect tash-sporting go-go dancers and an array of LGBTQ+ hostesses helping to get the party started. ‘And no matter whether you have a moustache or you just love them,’ they say, ‘this party is for absolutely everyone!’ Bring it on.
K-pop Heaven: Blackpink Afterparty – 2nd July in Charing Cross. Celebrate the end of Pride in London weekend and Blackpink’s huge Hyde Park show at LGBTQ+ superclub Heaven. Three DJs will be playing K-pop, K-hip-hop and EDM in three different rooms and the party will be raging until 3am. Blackpink’s ‘Born Pink’ album topped the UK charts in September, so this one’s bound to be busy.
London’s LGBTQ+ History at the Museum of London – Ongoing throughout June, free entry. Explore the heritage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans Londoners through stories from the museum’s rich collections, from queer folklore to the alternative club scene.
Mimi’s: Pride at Troxy – 1st July in Limehouse. East London’s queer party-starters Mimi’s are throwing their biggest-ever bash on the night of Pride in London. They’re promising a spicy antidote to ‘corporate pink-washed events’ with killer DJs, fabulous drag performers and an ‘iconic headline act’. The party rages until 4am, with last entry at midnight, giving you seven whole hours to kick against restrictive heteronormativity in the most fun and fabulous way.
Pre-Pride signpainting meetup – 30th June at Southbank Centre. Head to the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre the day before the parade for a group sign-painting session. It’s BYOC – Bring Your Own Cardboard – if possible, but pens and paints will be provided. Even if you’re not feeling creative, it’s a perfect opportunity to hang with your queer comrades ahead of the main event.
Pride at the Royal Albert Hall – Ongoing throughout June, free entry. Explore this pop-up exhibition celebrating the rich history of LGBTQ+ trailblazers, icons and events at the Hall.
Pride’s Got Talent – Taking place at The Adelphi Theatre on 27th June. The Glory, the RVT, the Two Brewers and Ku Bar are just some of the nightlife hotspots that will be playing host to the city’s finest queer musicians and cabaret performers in the heats this spring. These lead up to grand finale at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre on the 27th June, where the winner will take home £1000 and be given the opportunity to perform in front of a crowd of thousands at Pride in London.
Queer Britain – Queer Britain is an exhibition located near Kings Cross Station. It is a riot of voices, objects and images from the worlds of activism, art, culture and social history covering over 100 years of queer life.
Queer Joy at The Outside Art Project – 1 June – 31 August, free entry. Queer Joy is an exhibition of 50 striking portraits of Queer people captured by ten emerging LGBTQIA+ photographers from the UK and abroad, shining a light on the unfiltered self-expression that is vital to the Queer community.
Screening of Pride – Released in 2014, the uplifting British film ‘Pride’ tells the story of a group of LGBTQIA+ activists who raised money to help families affected by the miners’ strike in 1984. It’s a heartwarming reminder of what marginalised communities can achieve when they work together. Taking place the night before the Pride in London parade, this screening event will raise money for the Albert Kennedy Trust.
Sexquisite Slut Heaven for Pride Weekend – Kick off Pride weekend at a sex-positive party featuring an all-queer lineup of DJs, dancers, drag artists and burlesque performers. Held at the iconic Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, this is a fun and inclusive club night where glitter and sparkles definitely won’t be in short supply.
The Grand’s Pride After Party 2023! – 1st July in Clapham Junction. South London’s cathedral of camp hosts a late-night Pride party with DJs, drag performers and confetti cannons. The Grand has a capacity of 1250 over several floors – plus an actual bar on the stage – so it’s bound to be a big one.
WE Party London: 7th Heaven London Pride – 1st July in Brixton. Fresh from rocking Madrid Pride the latest WE Party production comes direct to London. Expect big-name DJs, thumping beats until the sun comes up and (ahem) one or two topless male revellers. WE Party events are very much a ‘go hard or go home’ affair, so if you fancy a quiet end to Pride in London, so if you fancy a relatively restrained end to Pride in London, this probably isn’t the party for you.
There are far too many pioneering LGBTQIA+ musicians to name them all, but whether standing firm against adversity, fighting for rights and medical research, or providing a platform for those whose voices were until now unheard, these are some of the most influential musicians that have added their own splash of colour to the walls of popular music’s everlasting corridors.
- ADAM LAMBERT (1982-) – One of the standout LGBTQIA+ musicians to emerge from the world of reality TV, Adam Lambert’s career has eclipsed those of most of the outright winners of American Idol, even though he was only a runner-up in the show’s 2009 series. Working with hitmakers Max Martin and Ryan Tedder, his first solo records included sharp electro-pop cuts such as Whataya Want From Me? (originally recorded by P!nk) and the powerful Ghost Town, but it was the call from Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor that came as the biggest surprise. Stepping into the late Freddie Mercury’s shoes is an almost impossible challenge, but Lambert’s commanding stage presence soon had everyone convinced, and the partnership has yielded multiple international hit tours. In 2023, he released High Drama, an album of cover versions, including a haunting take on Duran Duran’s Ordinary World.
Must hear: Ordinary World
- BESSIE SMITH (1894-1937) – Closely mentored by Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith honed her craft well. Before assuming the nickname “The Empress Of The Blues”, Smith toured the US via club circuits, performed on Broadway and made in a single film appearance in 1929. Before long, she became the highest-paid black artist of her time, penning songs that tackled themes ranging from social injustice to female sexuality and ambiguity, paving the way for female LGBTQIA+ musicians to follow. Her death, a result of two serious car collisions, saw her funeral attended by thousands of people, but she was buried in an unmarked grave until 1970, when a certain Janis Joplin paid to have a tombstone erected in her honour.
Must hear: Down Hearted Blues
- CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS (1988-) – By 2016, Chris was already considered by Vanity Fair to be the most powerful and influential French person in the world. Since then, he’s released an eponymous sophomore effort (which The Guardian ranked the best album of 2018), appeared in the BBC’s 100 Women series and performed on the 11th season finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race. One of the most celebrated LGBTQIA+ musicians of recent years, it seems that Chris will continue to find success wherever he goes; he’s won numerous awards, and his electronic, “freakpop” mastery – influenced by the transgender community, T. Rex and Björk – draws the attention of almost three million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Must hear: People, I’ve Been Sad
- CYNDI LAUPER (1953-) – When She’s So Unusual hit the shelves in 1983, young women the world over suddenly had one hell of a role model – but it almost didn’t happen. A lawsuit following her first band’s commercial bomb forced Lauper into bankruptcy. Thanks to her rebellious roots and her defiant demeanour, Cyndi helped sway what it meant to be a woman in pop and diminished impossible standards created by the likes of MTV; in 2019, her stellar debut album was considered significant enough to be preserved in the National Recording Registry. Her leadership qualities extend outside her music: as one of the 80s’ most pioneering LGBTQIA+ musicians, Lauper has been a fierce advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights in the US for decades.
Must hear: Time After Time
- DAVID BOWIE (1947-2016) – There was always something different about David Bowie that was difficult to quite put a finger on. Perhaps glam rock’s greatest champion, Bowie’s archetypal androgyny and alter egos metamorphosed from decade to decade, securing his place as one of the most unpredictably brilliant artists of the 20th century. His sexuality, while still debated, is besides the point; no one else quite reflected the confusing and exciting times of young people in 70s England, and no song summarises it quite like Rebel Rebel: “You’ve got your mother in a whirl/She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl/Hey, babe, your hair’s alright/Hey, babe, let’s go out tonight.”
Must hear: Rebel Rebel
- DEMI LOVATO (1992-) – Publicly declaring their non-binary status in 2021, Demi Lovato broke out of the Disney Channel’s Camp Rock and Sonny With A Chance shows, and released their debut album, Don’t Forget, in 2008. Their third album, 2011’s Unbroken, showcased a more mature sound, including the now-standard anthem Skyscraper. 2015’s Confident was an accomplished electro-pop smash and, across their subsequent releases, Lovato has pushed musical boundaries.
Must hear: Confident
- ELTON JOHN (1947-) – Sir Elton is perhaps the most decorated of all LGBTQIA+ musicians. Active since 1967, he has sold over 250 million records, earned a knighthood and raised over £350 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The entertainer has tirelessly advocated for LGBTQIA+ rights around the world, including Russia, where, in 2013, he asked President Vladimir Putin if he would like to know about various citizens who have been penalised under Russian anti-homosexual legislation. Sir Elton’s philanthropy and humanitarian stance has garnered him many friendships, including Eminem, who he helped get sober in the mid-2000s.
Must hear: Tiny Dancer
- FRANK OCEAN (1987-) – “By the time I realised I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless.” Forever the romantic, Frank Ocean took to Tumblr in 2012 ago to speak about his experiences with intimacy. Not that it was ever completely under wraps – his tongue-in-cheek line on Odd Future’s Oldie says it all: “I’m high and I’m bi – wait, I mean I’m straight.” Paving the way for male LGBTQIA+ musicians in R&B, Ocean has very coolly crafted his own amorous and introspective world with huge releases, including channel ORANGE and Blonde, the latter of which contains Nights, a track often said to feature one of the greatest beat switches of all time. His music provides a soundtrack to those who feel their love lives (or lack thereof) play out like a film, and Ocean himself certainly has a director’s touch. His visual album, Endless, is pristine in its black-and-white glory, teeming with influences from classic R&B to The Beach Boys.
Must hear: Nights
- FREDDIE MERCURY (1946-1991) – Rob Halford once said, “If Freddie hadn’t have been gay, Queen would’ve been a totally different band.” Apart from the fact it’s probably more appropriate to consider Freddie bisexual, Halford is right; Mercury was the quintessential performer, full of life and energy, and with one of the greatest voices of all time to boot. Be it performing in drag in the music video for I Want To Break Free, or commanding tens of thousands live at Wembley, he gave everything 100 per cent and appeared (for the most part) wholly unashamed of his true self. Following his death, The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert For AIDS Awareness featured performances from gargantuan acts, including Elton John, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and Liza Minelli (a gay icon in her own right). Mercury’s status as one of the most pioneering LGBTQIA+ musicians continues to send ripples through pop culture.
Must hear: Killer Queen
- GEORGE MICHAEL (1963-2016) – Few singers have had a career quite like George Michael. His humble and high-spirited beginnings in Wham! later developed into mature, time-stopping moments on his first two legendary solo albums, Faith and Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1. The latter became a key aspect of his 1994 court case with Sony, over feelings that the label had “punished” the singer by failing to properly promote his album. Now an icon among LGBTQIA+ musicians, Michael was dealing with internal issues at the time and felt that Sony pushing the “sex symbol” persona on him had backed him into a corner. This, paired with losing partner Anselmo Feleppa to AIDS in 1993, made for dark times, but there was little to stop Michael’s charitable and altruistic exploits, volunteering in soup kitchens and campaigning for LGBTQIA+ rights and AIDS research until his sudden passing in 2016.
Must hear: Father Figure
- JANIS JOPLIN (1943-1970) – One of the best female singers of the 60s, the electrifying Janis Joplin epitomised the free spirit and “wild child” nature of the decade. Misunderstood from the get-go due to her appearance and love for black music (namely, Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey), Joplin remembered being ostracised for her interests as early as high school. However, she went on to become the voice of a generation, leading up to one of the most defining moments of the era: her Woodstock performance in 1969, backed by a full-band ensemble (her previous group, Big Brother And The Holding Company, had split by this time). Joplin had relationships with both men and women, and remained unfazed by rumours and the press speculating about her sexuality, instead embodying the bohemian notion still synonymous with her name.
Must hear: Piece Of My Heart
- KYLIE MINOGUE (1968-) – The former Neighbours actress became a pop sensation when she recorded the anthemic I Should Be So Lucky with Stock Aitken Waterman in 1987, earning the distinction of being the first artist to simultaneously top the UK and Australian singles charts. In time, Kylie Minogue would break away from the PWL Hit Factory, but not before recording the Pride classic Better The Devil You Know, on her third album, 1991’s Rhythm Of Love. During the decade that followed, she experimented with dance and indie music, before returning to all-out pop with 2000’s triumphant Light Years album, kick-starting a creative reinvention that would also spawn the 2010 anthem for unity, All The Lovers. Kylie’s unique connection with her LGBTQIA+ fans has been a powerful constant in a career that has outclassed and outlasted early expectation. In 2023 she headlined the opening of WorldPride in Sydney, the first time the celebration had been staged in the Southern Hemisphere.
Must hear: All The Lovers
- LIL NAS X (1999-) – Lil Nas X’s breakthrough single, Old Town Road, took the world by storm upon its release in 2018, and received a buffed-up Billy Ray Cyrus remix the following year. The song has since gone on to sell over 18 million copies and was placed 490th in the 2021 revision of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time list. The rapper came out as gay the same year, tweeting, “Thought I made it obvious,” making him the only musician so far to come out while holding a No.1 single. His debut album, MONTERO, followed in 2021, with guest appearances from Elton John, Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat cementing Lil Nas X’s place among the most important LGBTQIA+ musicians of the day.
Must hear: Old Town Road
- LITTLE RICHARD (1932-2020) – One of the most influential Black musicians of all time, Little Richard helped invent rock & roll music. From his humble beginnings in Macon, Georgia, where he was born Richard Wayne Penniman, to commanding crowds of thousands in theatres and music venues across the US, Little Richard paved the way for rock- and blues-structured music to become the dominant form of pop for the next half century. Less well known is his prolonged inner conflict between his sexuality and his religious beliefs – a decades-long struggle which for a period saw him quit rock & roll for the church. As a live performer, Richard made an undeniable impact, with his flamboyant stage presence influencing everyone from Mick Jagger to Prince.
Must hear: Tutti Frutti
- MADONNA (1958-) – The Queen Of Pop’s commitment to LGBTQIA+ issues started early in her career, with an uncompromising advocacy of the rights of those suffering from HIV and AIDS. She lost many close friends and creative partners to the disease, and used her platform to include safe-sex messages (such as the information insert that appeared in her Like A Prayer album). By 1992’s Erotica, the bold statements had soared in ambition, and her work began to focus on a startling-but-powerful personal agenda which has more than earned her a place among the most important LGBTQIA+ musicians of all time. Madonna’s one-woman sexual revolution further endeared her to the legions of gay men who adore her; the 1990 hit Vogue, included on the I’m Breathless soundtrack album, brought mainstream attention to New York City’s queer ballroom scene, and well into the 21st century.
Must hear: Vogue
- MA RAINEY (1886-1939) – If there has to be some genesis of the LGBTQIA+ icon, Ma Rainey is likely the best choice. Prove It On Me Blues alone is a startlingly open portrayal of Rainey’s comfort with cross-dressing and her preference for women. Decades ahead of her time and a maestro of deeply affecting blues, Rainey is celebrated as a motherly figure in rock & roll and influenced countless cherished artists, from Dinah Washington to Louis Armstrong.
Must hear: Prove It On Me Blues
- MARLENE DIETRICH (1901-1992) – A Renaissance woman, Marlene Dietrich did it all: boxer, lover, singer, drag-ball punter, film star, radio personality and fashionista. Revered for her endlessly glamorous portrayals in cinema and also her compassionate work during World War II, Dietrich still stands as one of the most recognisable and talented women in Hollywood. Her singing career, which spanned six decades, is filled with hidden gems that tend to hark back to dark cabaret clubs in Berlin, especially Lili Marlene, in which Dietrich somehow sings sombre German with the cool sensuality of French.
Must hear: Lili Marlene
- MICHAEL STIPE (1960-) – Michael Stipe was the enigmatic frontman of R.E.M., perhaps America’s greatest rock band. His mysteriousness, genius and particularly elusive writing style resonated with millions of listeners, helping R.E.M. graduate from their college rock, jangle-pop early years into a gigantic stadium act. Perhaps Stipe’s most recognisable asset was his blue “goblin” stripe mask he donned around the early 2000s, most notably during the band’s performance at 2005’s Live 8. Like other LGBTQIA+ musicians, Stipe rejected a pigeonholing of his sexuality, telling gay magazine Butt in 2004: “I think there’s a line drawn between gay and queer, and for me, queer describes something that’s more inclusive of the grey areas.”
Must hear: Electrolite
- ROB HALFORD (1951-) – The “Metal God” is nothing short of a hard-rock icon. Halford fronts Judas Priest, one of the pioneering British heavy metal bands. Despite his famous stage persona and suggestive outfits throughout the 80s, Halford struggled with shielding his sexuality for years. Coming out to The Advocate in 1998 was “the greatest thing I could have done for myself”, he said, and his fears of backlash were settled thanks to countless messages of support from fans.
Must hear: Living After Midnight
- SAM SMITH (1992-) – In 2015, Sam Smith’s Writing On The Wall became the first James Bond theme to reach No.1 in the UK, marking another peak in the meteoric career of the singer, who came out in 2014 and revealed that they were genderqueer in 2017. Their discography includes 2023’s Gloria, which features the chart-topping duet Unholy, with Kim Petras.
Must hear: Stay With Me
- SOPHIE (1986-2021) – Scottish-born Sophie Xeon was a jack of all trades. Eccentric and experimental, Xeon was praised for her unique touch on contemporary pop, as well as her impressive background in producing records for big acts, namely Charli XCX, Flume and Madonna. But with her own work, listeners found something uncompromising and agile: a kind of victorious beacon of hyperactive soundscapes. After her tragically young death in January 2021, aged just 34, her only album, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES, will forever provide a beautiful glimpse into the exquisite world Xeon created.
Must hear: It’s Okay To Cry
- TROYE SIVAN (1995-) – Australian actor and singer-songwriter Troye Sivan enjoyed parallel careers when he was picked for a part in one of Marvel’s X-Men movies, while also building a profile as a singer. Signed in his homeland in 2013, Sivan secured his first hit with Happy Little Pill. International attention with guest slots on Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour followed, and 2018’s My My My! was his first multi-market hit, buzzing with a confident sexuality. Sivan’s effortless confidence about his sexuality and the industry’s easy accommodation of it demonstrates just how much has changed for young LGBTQIA+ musicians in the past decade.
Must hear: Dance To This (featuring Ariana Grande)
Check out Spotify’s “100 Greatest Pride Songs” Playlist Here.
“Listening to an LGBTQ+ podcasts feels like surrounding yourself with queer friends. It feels like eavesdropping to the queers at your local gay bar or queer-friendly space”, says queer sex educator and sex science researcher Eva Bloom. “For people currently exploring their sexuality, and those newly inhibiting an LGBTQ+ identity label (welcome!), podcasts are especially valuable. They allow you to listen, learn, and be immersed in queer community, without any expectation that you participate in the conversation beyond listening”.
Oh, and if you’re straight? It shouldn’t need to be said, but you can (and should) listen to queercasts too! In addition to showing support for queer creators as an ally, listening to an LGBTQIA+ podcast can give you the language to have certain conversations, as well as giving background on the queer community.
However, a friendly reminder: Queer people are not a monolith. So, understanding one LGBTQIA+ host’s perspectives is not synonymous with understanding all queer perspectives.
While LGBTQIA+ podcasts are valuable to listeners of all sexualities and gender identities, because the podcast industry is still a pretty white, cisgender, and straight space, it can be tricky finding the right pods that suit your interests. That’s why we’ve compiled a few suggestions below to get you started. Additionally, this Audible Blog has “The Top 100 LGBTQIA+ Listens of All Time” so if you’ve already worked your way through this list, go check that out too!
- A Gay and A NonGay – In a time where we’re all threatened by a rhetoric of hate from the people in power; A Gay And A NonGay challenges our differences. No matter who you are, or what you’re into, gay’s and nongay’s can & should be friends. An independent podcast from James Barr and Dan Hudson.
- Attitudes! – A political comedy podcast hosted by Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi who cover LGBTQ+ and gender issues of the moment with hilarity and healthy doses of vulgarity and absurdity.
- Bad Queers – Though social labels are liberating for some, they can be restricting for others. “Bad Queers” is a podcast full of transgressions against queer stereotypes in which the hosts aim to disrupt the boxes they were forced into after taking on a queer label. The show covers topics related to modern LGBTQIA+ culture through an intersectional lens. In each episode, the hosts reflect on their experiences, give their hot takes, and unravel toxic expectations. From top surgery to the WNBA, “Bad Queers” investigates queer norms and reflects on their origins. Join the hosts as they find out how overrated labels can be.
- Disability After Dark – Host Andrew Gurza, a disability awareness consultant, creator of viral hashtag #DiasabledPeopleAreHot, and co-founder of Handi, talks about things like being a disabled person on Grindr, the ableism architecturally built into gay bars, queer-crip porn, and so much more.
- Food 4 Thot – A multiracial mix of queer writers talk about sex, relationships, race, identity, what we like to read, and who we like to read. It’s not about food — we just really like the pun. Hosted by Denne Michele Norris, Joseph Osmundson, Tommy Pico, and Fran Tirado.
- Gayish Podcast – Featured in Buzzfeed, Oprah Magazine, Esquire, and Queerty, Gayish is an award-nominated podcast that breaks down one gay stereotype each week. Mike and Kyle bring humour, honesty, and irreverence to topics like the hanky code, depression, and open relationships. Past guests have included YouTuber Davey Wavey, gay porn star Calvin Banks, Andrew Gurza, Matt Baume, a gay priest, a trans atheist, and Mike’s wildly supportive and over-sharing mum.
- Gay Men Going Deeper – The LGBTQIA+ community is one of the most vulnerable populations. Experiencing disproportionately high rates of sexual assault, HIV, and suicide, queer people need support. Focused on tackling these topics alongside endorsing queer camaraderie, “Gay Men Going Deeper” is a podcast that calls for change. The show talks about identity, sexuality, and mental health as these issues relate to gay men, and the multiracial cast of hosts always sprinkles in intersectional viewpoints. From lessons on forgiveness to dating with disabilities, “Gay Men Going Deeper” incites critical and empathic conversations about gay manhood.
- Gender Reveal – Welcome to Gender Reveal, a podcast about nonbinary and transgender folks. Join us as we interview notable trans guests, analyze current events, answer advice questions and get a little bit closer to understanding what the heck gender is.
- Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness – This podcast gives listeners a peek at the world through JVN’s eyes as a nonbinary person. Each podcast episode covers a quirky question, featuring queer-specific and non-queer-specific topics. JVN goes deep with the expert guests to unlock small but impactful curiosities. From the history of “female husbands” to intersex inclusion (and even the power of sunscreen), there is no shortage of curious factoids in each episode. This podcast is jam-packed with chronicles of life delivered through a queer prism and is for listeners who are ready to learn.
- History Is Gay – A podcast dedicated to exposing hidden LGBTQIA+ figures, with each episode covering different eras, countries, and ideologies that have remarkably queer pasts. The hosts and guests explore topics like the queer history of EDM, homosexuality in Imperial China, and transgender cowboys in the Old West. “History Is Gay,” full of intellect and humour, is interesting for casual listeners and history enthusiasts alike.
- Homo Sapiens – The world from a Queer perspective: Conversations, Stories, and a good old laugh with LGBTQIA+ icons, allies, and of course, our lovely listeners. Come and join the Homo Sapiens family with new episodes every Thursday.
- Inside The Closet – There is nothing more entertaining than eavesdropping on the banter and musings of hilarious NYC comedians Emma Willmann and Matteo Lane. Each week, they share their experiences as gay comics, as well as their sexperiences during acts like anal, anal with rabbit vibes, strap-on sex, and more.
- LGBTQ&A – Weekly interviews with the most interesting LGBTQIA+ people in the world. Recent guests include Laverne Cox, Janelle Monáe, Pete Buttigieg, Brandi Carlile, Alok Vaid-Menon, and Angela Davis. LGBTQ&A is hosted by Jeffrey Masters and produced by The Advocate magazine, in partnership with GLAAD.
- LGBTQ Sports Podcast – Outsports is the world’s leading LGBTQ-sports publication. We highlight the stories of LGBTQ athletes, coaches and other people in sports who show us all that Courage Is Contagious.
- Life of Bi – Are we living in a bisexual renaissance? From Ancient China to TikTok, writers, hosts and ex-gfs Mary & Ell explore what it really means to be a modern bisexual. “I still regretfully shag men… I guess that’s what bi is” – anon. Written, created and hosted by Ell Potter and Mary Higgins.
- Making Gay History | LGBTQ Oral Histories from the Archive – Intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history brought to you from rare archival interviews.
- Outward: Slate’s queer podcast – a whip-smart monthly salon in which hosts and guests deepen the audience’s understanding of queer culture and politics, delight them with unexpected perspectives, and invite listeners into a colourful conversation about the issues animating LGBTQIA+ communities.
- Queerology: A Podcast on Belief and Being – Many people might consider the terms “LGBTQIA+” and “religion” irreconcilable because of their complicated history of association. However, the “Queerology” podcast says otherwise. Dedicated to merging the queer and the spiritual; the show examines faith from an LGBTQIA+ viewpoint. The host — along with experts in fields like theology, psychology, and the occult — dives deep into connecting to a higher power as a queer person. This podcast helps listeners reclaim their spirituality by dispelling the myth that religion and sexuality can’t mix.
- Queer Movie Podcast – Entirely dedicated to LGBTQIA+ representation in media, “Queer Movie Podcast” covers just what its title suggests: queer movies. The hosts’ near-encyclopedic knowledge of popular film and culture keeps each episode full of new takes on old classics. You can also get recommendations for your next LGBTQIA+ movie night. The podcast focuses on dissecting cinema, airing out the good, the bad, and the ugly of queer media.
- Sounds Fake But Okay – A podcast where an aromantic asexual girl and a demisexual girl talk about all things to do with love, relationships, sexuality, and pretty much anything else that they just don’t understand
- We’re Having Gay Sex – After 10 years of serial monogamy, comedian Ashley Gavin, trades in her u-haul for a life of sleeping around and documents every gritty detail of her queer experiments in this podcast. Always in fear of being cancelled, Ashley is aided by her queerest friends, Kate Sisk, known as the “Cancel Coach”, and the “Youth in the Soundbooth” Gara Lonning, equipped with a gen-z themed soundboard, to call Ashley out on her BS. Together they interview people from all over the gender and sexuality spectrums (from straight to gay and cis to trans) about their sex lives. And yes straight people, you will find out what lesbian sex is.
LGBTQIA+ centred films are still pretty rare– particularly from major studios. However, queer characters have still come a long way in a relatively short time. From the self-loathing middle-aged men of The Boys In The Band, to the headstrong misfits of Fire Island, to the love-torn teens in Love, Simon. Queer cinema has evolved too, from the shoestring brilliance of The Watermelon Woman to the big-budget glitter-fest that is Rocketman. While gay characters tended (until much too recently) to be one-dimensional, white, marginal, and doomed, in 2018 Barry Jenkins won an Oscar by telling the layered and hopeful story of a gay Black man in Moonlight. Since then, even more intersectional films about the queer experience have emerged.
Rottentomatoes have compiled this page, which features “The 200 best LGBTQ+ movies of all time”, but below are a few top picks to get you started.
- A Fantastic Woman – When her older lover, Orlando, dies suddenly, Marina must put her grief on pause as Orlando’s ex-wife and family immediately shun her because she is transgender. The winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Sebastián Lelio’s drama features a stirring lead performance from actress Daniela Vega.
- Ammonite – a romantic drama that stars Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. The story follows Mary Anning (Winslet) a paeleontologist who sells fossils to tourists to support her elderly mother. Her life changes when a visitor hires her to tend to his wife, whom she finds herself inexplicably drawn to.
- Beginners – Mike Mills’s sweet 2010 film concerns a Los Angeles artist, played by Ewan MacGregor, building a relationship with his newly-out father (Christopher Plummer) in the last year of the older man’s life. Beginners earned Plummer an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and features a talking Jack Russell terrier.
- Blue Is the Warmest Color – This film kept its NC-17 rating for some explicit, passionate sex scenes between leads Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, but it is at its heart a movie about youth, art, heartbreak, and the thrill of exploring one’s identity.
- Boys Don’t Cry – If any film can be credited with kicking off our cultural conversation on gender, this is it. Hilary Swank’s breakthrough performance anchors Kimberly Peirce’s film about the murder of Nesbraskan trans man Brandon Teena. Boys Don’t Cry was originally given an NC-17 for even addressing trans issues, but was later downgraded to an R.
- BPM (Beats Per Minute) – Set in the early ’90s, this energetic and emotional drama follows a group of activists in Paris fighting the government and its slow-moving efforts to battle the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While highlighting the dramatic and powerful work from ACT UP, the film also depicts the personal stories of those fighting for their lives, delivering a human and urgent remembrance of the plague that afflicted millions across the globe—and continues on today.
- Brokeback Mountain – The first mainstream queer film of the new millennium, Brokeback Mountain ushered its themes into the mainstream. Heath Ledger’s shy Ennis del Mar falls in what he cannot articulate as love with Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist over a long, lonely winter, and their lives bounce off each other’s for years afterward. Ang Lee and screenwriter Larry McMurtry expand Annie Proulx’s short story into a film without one false moment.
- Call Me By Your Name – The greatest, most achingly beautiful gay male romance movie. Timothée Chalamet plays the precocious Elio, a teenager living in Italy who becomes infatuated with an older American student, Oliver (Armie Hammer), who is staying with his family for the summer. What begins as a contentious friendship turns into a full-blown love affair as the two young men spend their idle summer days in the lush Mediterranean locale, bracing themselves for inevitable heartbreak.
- Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Melissa McCarthy got an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Lee Israel, a caustic celebrity biographer who turns to literary forgery when her career stalls. Richard E. Grant is wonderful as her co-conspirator, but it’s McCarthy’s attempt at romance with Dolly Wells’ shy bookstore owner that gives the movie its heart.
- Carol – Todd Haynes brings Patricia Highsmith’s cult novel to the big screen in this lush and seductive film following a young shopgirl named Therese (Rooney Mara) who finds herself charmed by an alluring older woman named Carol (Cate Blanchett). The two set out on a road trip on which they consummate an unspoken passion for each other—one that ultimately brings ruin to Carol’s marriage and awakens dark desires within Therese.
- Dog Day Afternoon – On a scorching August day, Al Pacino’s Sonny attempts to rob a bank in Brooklyn, and…things do not go well. The instant, intense media fame Sonny earns feels more relevant than ever, and things turn surprisingly tender when we learn he plans to use the stolen money for his lover’s gender confirmation surgery.
- Fire Island – Joel Kim Booster writes and co-stars in this funny, sexy, incisive and insightful ensemble piece. It’s a loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set at the titular gay paradise, and a look at the class divide through a modern gay lens. Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho, Matt Rogers, Conrad Ricamora and James Scully all get a chance to shine, and we get a rare honest look at gay friendship, flirting, and joy.
- Happiest Season – Who says you can’t watch a Christmas movie in June? Happiest Season follows Abby, a young woman planning to propose to her girlfriend, Harper, during her family’s annual Christmas party. But her plans get complicated, when she learns Harper hasn’t come out to her narrow-minded parents.
- Happy Together – Wong Kar-wai won Best Director at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival for this film about two Hong Kong men who emigrate to Buenos Aires, after the handover of Hong Kong to China put LGBTQIA+ lives in jeopardy.
- Keep the Lights On – Ira Sachs’s autobiographical drama packs a hard punch as it follows a filmmaker, Erick, throughout his relationship with a young lawyer, Paul, which begins as a random sexual encounter and implodes following Paul’s drug and sex addiction.
- Knock at the Cabin – This film follows two dads and their young daughter, who travel to a remote cabin for a family vacation. Their plans for a relaxing stay are upended when a group of armed strangers breaks in and forces them to make a life-altering decision. They can either choose a family member to sacrifice, or allow an apocalypse to take over the world. M. Night Shyamalan-esque antics ensue.
- Longtime Companion – Norman Rene’s film follows a group of gay men through the early years of the AIDS crisis, one day per year, starting on the day the New York Times first covered the story of the “gay cancer.” A deep meditation on grief, gallows humour, and the families we make with our friends.
- Love, Simon – Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.
- Moonlight – The only film on this list to earn an Oscar for Best Picture—and deservedly so. Barry Jenkins explores masculinity and repression in his study of Chiron, a young man coming of age in Miami (and played by three different actors at various stages of his life) who grapples with his sexual identity amid his troubled relationship with his crack-addicted mother. Chiron longs to break free of the predetermined path set out for himself by his environment, a journey set into motion by an encounter with one of his male peers
- Of An Age – Of An Age is a captivating drama that follows Kol, an 18-year old ballroom dancer. His ordinary life takes a turn, when he falls into a sudden—and intense—24-hour-long affair with his best friend’s older brother, Adam.
- Other People – Former SNL head-writer and The Other Two co-creator Chris Kelly makes his directorial debut in a semi-autobiographical account of his mother’s death from cancer. Molly Shannon gives a devastating performance, the tragic qualities of the Sacramento gay bar are hilariously explored, and the viewer is forced to re-evaluate Train’s “Drops of Jupiter.”
- Pariah – Dee Rees’s gorgeous directorial debut stars Adepero Oduye as Alike, a Brooklyn teenager who comes to terms with her own sexuality and puts the comforts of friends and family at risk as she discovers how to express her identity.
- Philadelphia – Tom Hanks won his first Oscar for his performance as Andrew Beckett, a successful lawyer who is fired from his firm once the senior partners discover he has AIDS. Jonathan Demme’s searing drama was the first mainstream film to tackle the AIDS crisis, and it gave a familiar face and voice to a marginalized community often ignored by their neighbors and left to suffer because of an intolerant society.
- Portrait Of A Lady On Fire – Who among us hasn’t been hanging out in the late 1700s, waiting on our customary proposal portrait to be finished so that we can find a proper spouse, only to fall for our portrait artist of the same sex? Rats! Fooled by queer impulses again. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is one of the most recent additions to the queer canon, and it already boasts quite a reputation for examining the complex relationship between two women who dared to love in an era when their love was absolutely forbidden.
- Pride – Realising that they share common foes in Margaret Thatcher, the police and the conservative press, London-based gay and lesbian activists lend their support to striking miners in 1984 Wales. Based on a true story.
- Rent – Rent is a movie musical that is loosely based on the 1896 opera, La bohéme. The film follows a group of young artists who live in Manhattan’s East Village. While they struggle to make ends meet, their lives are further complicated by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Through all the ups and downs, they rely on each other as a chosen family to survive.
- Rocketman – A biographical musical drama film based on the life and career of British musician Elton John. After completing his studies, Reginald begins to perform rock music at local pubs. Later, he meets John Reid, a music manager, who helps him rise to fame, but also creates chaos in his life.
- Tangerine – Shot on iPhones along Santa Monica Boulevard’s unofficial red light district, Tangerine follows two transgender sex workers and one lovesick cab driver through a particularly eventful Christmas Eve. Director Sean Baker found his leads—two first-time film actors—at the actual donut shop where much of the movie’s action takes place.
- The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Two drag queens (Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce) and a transgender woman (Terence Stamp) travel across the barren Australian Outback in a giant pink bus named Priscilla en route to a cabaret gig in Alice Springs. Hilarity ensues as their travels involve misadventure after misadventure, but the trio come together as a family unit as they learn more about each other and their personal lives
- The Color Purple – Spielberg followed up Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with this adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel. In her film debut, Whoopi Goldberg plays Celie, an African-American woman in the early 20th century, who fights her way through oppression and abuse and finds an unexpected love along the way.
- The Kids Are Alright – Julianne Moore and Annette Bening play lesbian mothers to two teenagers whose blissful modern family is rocked when their kids seek out their sperm-doner father played by Mark Ruffalo. The family unit falls into crisis when his sudden appearance into their lives causes a rift between the two women as well as their kids
- The Watermelon Woman – Cheryl Dunye directs and stars in this microbudget indie about an African-American lesbian searching for an uncredited black actress from a 1930s film. Along the way, she falls in and out of love, and meets the real Camille Paglia.
There are increasingly more TV Shows with LGBTQIA+ topics and discussions at the forefront of their plot, from vampire love stories to comedy dramas, there are shows to break or warm your heart, and sometimes even both. However, below are some fan favourites to get you started. If documentaries are more your thing, check out these 40 Essential LGBTQ+ Documentaries.
- Believer – Imagine Dragons’ Mormon front man Dan Reynolds is taking on a new mission to explore how the Church treats its LGBTQ+ members. With the rising suicide rate amongst teens in the state of Utah, his concern with the Church’s policies sends him on an unexpected path for acceptance and change.
- Brothers – A narrative web series about a group of trans men living in Brooklyn. There might be a bit more trans representation onscreen today compared to when Brothers first debuted in 2014, but at least one glaring lack remains: stories about transmasculine people, told by transmasculine people — and not just in supporting roles, but as leads. Emmett Jack Lundberg’s short-form series follows the intimate daily lives of four young trans men across Brooklyn, exploring the difficulties of dating as a trans man, the anxiety of using the men’s bathroom, navigating healthcare, sex, planning for surgery, and discussions on the physical changes of HRT.
- Elite – Full of LGBTQIA+ relationships you’ll want to root for, Elite is as inclusive and sex-positive as it is soapy and ridiculous. Come for the promise of solid LGBTQIA+ and polyamorous representation, stay for the ludicrous drama. You will binge from start to finish.
- Euphoria – This drama about teenagers growing up in modern California stars Zendaya as a young addict, and Hunter Schafer as her just-as-troubled love interest, profiling the increasingly strange world in which children are growing up in. Equal parts glitter and grit, this sprawling narrative encompasses numerous LGBTQIA+ plotlines, as well as more personal stories of sexual self-discovery.
- Feel Good – A British dramedy about a lesbian romance, at the heart of Feel Good is the painfully intimate relationship of Mae and George, played by Mae Martin and Charlotte Ritchie. You’ll fall in love with their warmth as well as their imperfections, relating to universal themes of shame, acceptance, and fear against a backdrop of whip-smart dialogue and beautiful acting.
- Grace & Frankie – A sitcom about two gay men, their ex-wives, and their children. Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen star as a closeted couple in their ’70s who, after years of hiding, decide to come out. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda play the pair’s burned ex-wives, whose journey of self-acceptance and friendship anchors the rest of the series. Unceasingly heartwarming, Grace & Frankie has spurred important conversations across generations, infusing what could have been a stale story with progressive ideology and genuine love
- Heartstopper – Teens Charlie and Nick discover their unlikely friendship might be something more as they navigate school and young love in this coming-of-age series.
- Her Story – A drama web series about the dating and professional lives of two trans women in Los Angeles. Her Story is a short and sweet web series that captures the nuances of dating as a trans woman. Featuring trans and queer creators behind and in front of the camera, the series follows Violet, a trans woman working as a bartender in L.A., and her close friend Paige, a lawyer who represents queer clients for Lambda Legal. Over the course of six nine-minute episodes, Her Story charts each woman’s experience in a new relationship. Violet, who previously identified as straight, begins dating a queer woman for the first time, while Paige navigates how to come out to the cis man she’s seeing.
- Interview with the Vampire – Vampires have long been a metaphor for queerness, and Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire — both her 1976 novel and the 1994 film adaptation — did not shy away from this. But that subtext becomes the literal text in Rolin Jones’s AMC series, an adaptation that “finally lets the vampires be their unapologetically gay selves, with queer sex scenes full of bites, blood, and beautiful levitating naked men”. The series follows Louis de Pointe du Lac, as he recounts the wild tales of his life as a wealthy gay Black vampire in 1900s New Orleans and the lover companion of Lestat. What makes this new iteration of Interview so compelling though, is how it updates Rice’s original material to offer sharp social commentary on race, class, and sexuality.
- It’s A Sin – It’s a Sin is a British drama miniseries written by Russell T Davies. Set in London between 1981 and 1991, it depicts the lives of a group of gay men and their friends during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United Kingdom.
- Love, Victor – This TV spin-off from 2018’s queer romantic comedy Love, Simon stars Michael Cimino as Victor, a new student at Simon’s high school. He’s a star athlete, a model son, a great friend … and he’s beginning to think he might be gay. Love, Victor is pitch-perfect high school drama with all the sweeping musical cues and whispered secrets that entails, and its connection to the original movie is incredibly sweet — Victor reaches out to Simon (now graduated) on Instagram for advice, and the franchise’s OG romantic hero periodically offers him advice on how to deal with life at Creekwood High.
- Orange Is The New Black – This award-winning series, partially based on the memoir of the same name, began as a character study of a privileged bisexual woman serving a short sentence in a minimum-security prison. But the series soon fanned out to include important meditations on Black Lives Matter, immigration, trans rights, and more. The fact that these stories were told with authentic voices in the director’s chair and writers’ room makes them all the more special.
- Pose – Because Pose focuses on the Black and Latino LGBTQIA+ community in the middle of the HIV/AIDS crisis, every single character has reason to believe that their world is ending. For some of them, the world does end. But in the middle of their crisis, which was exacerbated by a lack of government response and social rejection by the medical establishment, the people of Pose find time to form families, experience joy, dress up, sing songs, and generate unyielding beauty among themselves and the people they care about. Pose is hopeful because its characters are hopeful, and their example is always a shining one.
- Queer Eye – Since premiering their show in 2018, Tan France, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, and Antoni Porowski have become internationally recognised gurus of lifestyle improvement. Rebooting a concept first done by Bravo in the early aughts, this new Fab Five offers modern viewers their expertise in areas ranging from cooking to grooming, along with their insight into what sometimes holds us back from living our best lives.
- RuPaul’s Drag Race – RuPaul’s Drag Race brought the art form of drag to the mainstream, providing a platform to queer artists all across America and the world. Ever since its 2009 premiere, Drag Race has increased the visibility of LGBTQIA+ stories and issues: Contestants on the show candidly discuss everything from fighting for marriage equality to being HIV positive. Drama may occur (this is a reality show, after all), but there’s a persisting sense of support and cherishing found family throughout. Plus, you’ll be in awe of these queens’ talent and the sheer versatility of drag.
- Schitt’s Creek – A sitcom about a rich family forced to move to a rural town, but it’s so much more than that. Not only is this series one of the most all-around delightful viewing experiences in modern memory, but it also offers a moving and nuanced look at LGBTQIA+ love that actually lets a gay couple serve as the main romantic storyline. Dan Levy and Noah Reid will charm the absolute socks off of you, so enjoy every minute of their characters’ perfect romance.
- Sex Education – When it comes to onscreen sex and relationships, Sex Education provides critical representation across the board. This coming-of-age Netflix drama centres on students at a UK secondary school struggling to understand their emerging identities. This show depicts not just homosexual and heterosexual relationships well, but also considers asexuality with care and grace. Sexuality informs who these uniquely relatable characters are as people, but it doesn’t define them.
- The Last Of Us – A post-apocalyptic drama series about a man (Pedro Pascal) and a young girl (Bella Ramsey) surviving in a post-apocalyptic world. HBO’s adaptation of the hit video game takes place in an alternate 2023 where, following the global outbreak of a brainwashing fungus, society has collapsed. Those who remain struggle to avoid infection — or death by the zombie-like Infected. A better-than-ever Pascal plays rugged, violent Joel, who reluctantly sets out on a mission to smuggle Ellie (Ramsey) to a destination across the country. Beyond phenomenal performances, stunning production design, and a delicate balance of human storytelling and terrifying action, The Last of Us gives us a complex queer lead in Ellie, who gets a touching romance flashback episode. Plus, there’s a standout episode about a gay couple that will bring you to the messiest of tears.
- Veneno – As loud, colourful, and in your face as its unfettered subject, this Spanish biographical series is based on Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez, aka La Veneno (“The Poison”), a trans woman who rose to fame in mid-90s Spain after a late-night talk show featured her in a segment about sex work. Veneno traces the woman’s remarkable life story alongside that of real-life trans journalist Valeria Vegas (Lola Rodríguez), who wrote a book on the icon the series is based on. Most notably, the show tells Cristina’s story through three different trans actresses — Jedet, Daniela Santiago, and Isabel Torres — portraying her at various stages of her life and transition. A series that finds depths of beauty and glamorous joy in the life of a woman who met with immense struggle, Veneno is an underseen gift that should be far more celebrated than it has been.
- We’ve Been Around – A documentary web series exploring icons of trans history.
- Work In Progress – A comedy about a queer woman struggling with mental health. In her semi-autobiographical comedy, Abby McEnany plays herself at her lowest point. Convinced she’s responsible for killing her therapist, Abby begins a painful journey of self-reflection that leads her to conclude her life isn’t worth living. But when a handsome trans man (played by Theo Germaine) enters her life, an uproariously funny and uplifting chain of events occurs.
- Yellowjackets – Part survival epic, part psychological horror and part coming-of-age drama, this is the story of a team of wildly talented high school girls’ soccer players who survive a plane crash deep in the remote northern wilderness. The series chronicles their descent from a complicated but thriving team to savage clans, while also tracking the lives they’ve attempted to piece back together 25 years later. What began in the wilderness is far from over.
LGBTQIA+ Bookshops in London
Gay’s The Word – Gay’s The Word is the UK’s oldest LGBTQIA+ bookshop, and a touchstone for the broader community. The bookshop was set up in January 1979 by a group of gay socialists as a community space where all profits were funnelled back into the business. This ethos continues today with shelves bursting with books and the space used for book and community events.
The Common Press – The Common Press is a lot of things to a lot of people. As London’s first consciously intersectional bookshop, they champion titles by authors from a huge range of marginalised backgrounds – whether you’re looking for the latest novels by your favourite gay, lesbian, queer, trans, and non-binary authors; seminal works of Black history; fourth-wave feminist theory; or that niche book on disability activism, they’ve either got it, or know how to get it fast. And it’s not just novels and theory – they also stock poetry, plays, graphic novels, and a great collection of books for children and young adults. And if, after all that browsing, you’re feeling a bit tired, they do a pretty great coffee as well.
There are many books out there which explore LGBTQIA+ themes, from fiction to non-fiction, and everything in between. This webpage has compiled “The best LGBTQIA+ books: your essential reading list”, which features LGBTQIA+ characters and narratives, books written by LGBTQIA+ authors, and books that explore themes that have greatly affected LGBTQIA+ communities.
But for now, here are a few to get started!
- Detransition, Baby – by Torrey Peters
Reese wants to be a mom so badly, she’ll do almost anything. So when her former partner Ames has an affair with his coworker Katrina that results in her pregnancy, they see an opportunity to create a new kind of family. It’s a story of queer community, complicated relationships and creating the kind of world we want to live in.
- Giovanni’s Room – by James Baldwin
In a novel that has resonated with the queer community since it was first published decades ago, a young man finds himself caught between desire and morality in 1950s expat Paris. While much has changed since Baldwin wrote it, many aspects of life, love and heartbreak remain the same.
- Orlando – A Biography by Virginia Woolf
Even if you don’t think you’re a Virginia Woolf fan, give this hugely influential masterpiece a try. It follows the 300-year life of a man born during the time of Elizabeth I who’s on a quest to write a great poem. Of course, he has lots of life to live along the way, including love affairs as both a man and a woman with some of the most important moments in European history as window dressing.
- She Who Became the Sun – by Shelley Parker-Chan
It’s 1345 in China’s Central Plains and Zhu Chongba’s village is suffering a devastating famine. Upon his birth, he’s fated for greatness and his sister is fated to nothingness. But when a bandit attack orphans the two children, Zhu Chongba succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fate, the girl assumes her brother’s identity to enter a monastery. There, she does all she can to survive until her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule. That’s when Zhu really comes into her own, in this heart-pounding fantasy.
- Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story – by Jacob Tobia
As a kid, Jacob was called “sissy” for being creative, sassy, and obsessed with glitter. But as they got older, they began to identify with different, more neutral words like “gay,” “transgender” and “nonbinary.” This story of gender revolution calls out the stereotypes that were probably rampant in many of our childhoods in a book that will make you laugh and cry, maybe even at the same time.
- Sounds Fake but Okay – by Sarah Costello and Kayla Kaszyca
The hosts of the popular podcast of the same name invite readers to question everything they thought they knew about dating, love, sex and everything in between. As they put it, “Somehow, over time, we forgot that the rituals behind dating and sex were constructs made up by human beings and eventually, they became hard and fast rules that society imposed on us all.”
- The Atlas Six – by Olivie Blake
In this fantastical twist on dark academia, six magicians compete for membership in the powerful and prestigious Alexandrian Society. And if they have to make enemies out of their allies to get in, then so be it. For fantasy lovers looking for an LGBTQIA+ alternative to Hogwarts, start with this one before diving into the sequel.
- The Late Americans – by Brandon Taylor
Anyone who’s ever struggled to find themselves while pretty much everyone around them is in the same boat (hello, everyone) will see themselves in this novel about a group of grad students, artists, food service workers and other Iowa City residents all trying to figure it out.
- Under the Udala Trees – by Chinelo Okparanta
After getting displaced by civil war in Nigeria, a young girl begins a love affair with a fellow refugee. The cards are stacked against them in a variety of ways: They’re from different cultures, different places, and they’re the same gender. The way this book reckons with both culture and sexuality is beautiful, and worth a read.
- Your Driver Is Waiting – by Priya Guns
A queer feminist retelling of the 1970’s film Taxi Driver, this is a red-hot social commentary on the social justice movement, the gig economy, performative knowledge and who gets to speak on behalf of the disadvantaged. It’s smart, occasionally slapstick and a rollicking good time.
There are a number of LGBTQIA+ focused news channels. Here are a few of them:
Autostraddle – Since 2009, Autostraddle has been covering topics on television, arts and pop culture, sex and dating, politics, community, and more. The site is “an intelligent, hilarious and provocative voice and a progressively feminist online community for multiple generations of kick-ass lesbian, bisexual and otherwise inclined ladies (and their friends).”
LGBTQ Nation – LGBTQ Nation is an online news magazine that covers LGBTQ-related topics on politics, life, health, and elections. LGBTQ Nation is one of the few news sites on this list that has a news section dedicated solely to LGBTQ Pride – the banner reads: “Pride is the spirit that bolsters LGBTQ rights movements throughout the world.” The LGBTQ Pride section is packed full of diverse stories for everyone to discover.
Out – Out is a news outlet that features editor’s picks on topics such as fashion, entertainment, news and opinion, and television. The site also has a section called Popnography, a “one-stop shop for all aspects of LGBT entertainment and culture.” Out features some of the most well-known voices of the LGBTQ+ community — Jesse Archer and Tammy Baldwin, to name a few — who share opinions on gay news.
PinkNews– Pink News covers world news topics on politics, education, entertainment, religion, sports, dating, parenting, and much more. It’s a global community of people who want to stay informed, inspired, and empowered to be themselves.
The Advocate – The Advocate presents trending news on gay politics, elections, commentary, culture, and photography. The Advocate also has hundreds of free podcasts covering legislation related to marriage equality and same-sex adoption, and other issues that impact the LGBTQIA+ community.
This Guardian article from 2021 is an interview with George Ikediashi, A.K.A. Le Gateau Chocolat. From Glyndebourne to the Globe, actor, opera singer and drag star Le Gateau Chocolat is a UK stage fixture. However, not everywhere has been so welcoming. Read the article to find out more!