Jun 11

Three (+) For Pride Month Viewing: Behind the Scenes

While there may be a lack of Pride Month events to attend this year, there’s been no shortage of series and films to watch that depict LGBTQ pride. Below are three I’ve recently seen, accompanied by notes about their creation.

I. Hollywood (Netflix), series created by Ian Brennan, Ryan Murphy. Janet Mock executive produced as well as wrote and directed several episodes.

Tracy E. Gilchrist, The Advocate, “Why Rewriting Hollywood Is Personal for Ryan Murphy and Janet Mock”:

For Murphy, the gay mega-producer of Glee, American Horror Story, the upcoming big-screen version of The Prom, and for Mock, a writer, director, and producer of Pose who broke down doors in terms of visibility for trans women and women of color, handing stories back to marginalized people and painting a portrait of what Hollywood could have been and what it needs to be moving forward is personal.

‘I wanted to do something specifically on three Hollywood icons who had,  I believed, really been treated poorly,’ Murphy tells The Advocate. ‘That was Rock Hudson and Anna May Wong and Hattie McDaniel. I was very interested in them, even as a kid’…

Of the historical figures Hollywood profiles, Mock tells the Advocate, ‘I was most intrigued by Hattie McDaniel  because of the idea of a Black woman breaking history — in making history and being the first in that space and the pressure that came from that and also the criticism that came from her playing the role that she played, that she was awarded for.’

II. The Half of It (Netflix), film written and directed by Alice Wu, whose 2004 Saving Face was notable for portraying an Asian same-sex (female) story with positivity

Natalie Escobar, NPR, describes The Half of It as “a classic teenage rom-com, but with an LGBTQ twist.”

As in her interview with Escobar, Wu also explains to Scott Simon, NPR, that the personal inspiration for the love triangle she depicts in this film is the emotional pain of a broken friendship:

…(I)f I’m very honest, probably some of the biggest heartbreaks, if not the biggest, were not actually romantic. And so thinking about all that – and as a society we’ve evolved, but I still think we have trouble, sometimes, when things are not sort of cookie cutter. They don’t fit the mold of the stories we grew up listening to. So I basically wanted to write a story told from the lens of sort of a lesbian-straight-boy friendship.

III. A Secret Love (Netflix), documentary directed by Chris Bolan

Chris Bolan is the great-nephew of Terry Donahue, who fell in love with Pat Henschel “in 1947, when norms around living openly as a gay person in the United States were far from what they are today. Though essentially inseparable from the moment they met, Donahue and Henschel kept their true relationship a secret for more than six decades. To family and coworkers, they were simply good friends and roommates; others knew them as cousins who lived together” (Mahita Gajanan, Time).

Gajanan adds, “Bolan says he knew he had to make a film after Donahue and Henschel came out to him in 2009. Once they realized it was possible to live openly, the women became ‘giddy schoolgirls’ who started spilling out ‘seven decades’ worth of stories,’ he says.” Full of pride.

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ADDED NOTE: Two other series I’ve seen during the pandemic feature secondary LGBTQ themes: both Mrs. America and Little Fires Everywhere will receive the “behind the scenes” treatment in my next post. A third viewing already eagerly covered on this blog is the comedy special Douglas by Hannah Gadsby. And another for all to watch and enjoy is the new (5th) season of Queer Eye, ever sweet and uplifting.