Queer Documentaries From 1984 - 2021

LGBT documentaries give an important glimpse at what queer life was like in the past. Check out these must watch gay documentaries.

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Queer Documentaries

Being half German with a father who served proudly in the Scottish army I have watched every Holocaust documentary I have come across. Thus I am into documentaries, particulalry queer documentaries. Forgive me, that this is not a compressive list of gay documentaries but the ones I admire and which cover LBTQ+ issues. I thank the amazing directors who made these documentaries and those who bravely told their stories.

We are so fortunate to live in this era where films, documentaries, news reports can be made on an iPhone and, some win awards i.e. Tangerine (shot with three iPhone 5S phones). Even if you don't have the budget get your iPhone out - there are so may LBTQ+ stories to be told. Do come come back - I will try to find and add some links to bodies which fund queer documentaries.

Did you know at one time Lesbians were called.. inverts, tribades, and uranians! Check out a history of Lesbian terminology.

Queer Documentaries: Before Stonewall

1984 - Before Stonewall

The iconic Stonewall Inn, a.k.a. Stonewall, is a gay bar in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City. It is the site of the Stonewall riots when drag queens fought back against police on June 27-28, 1969.... more

Documentary Dir: Greta Schiller & Robert Rosenberg

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Queer Documentaries: Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt

1989 - Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, a.k.a. AIDS Memorial Quilt or AIDS Quilt, is an enormous memorial to commemorate the lives of people who have died of... more

Documentary Dir: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman

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Queer Documentaries: Paris Is Burning

1990 - Paris Is Burning

Paris Is Burning takes its title from the annual drag ball held by legendary drag Queen, Paris Dupree. Drag balls (has various terms) originated in NYC's young African-American and Latino underground LGBTQ+ communities... more

Documentary Dir: Jennie Livingston

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Queer Documentaries: Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer

1992 - Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer

Dubbed the world's first female serial killer, sex worker Aileen Wuornos ended up on death row for murdering 7(!) men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. Wuornos claimed that... more

Documentary Dir: Nick Broomfield

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Queer Documentaries: Last Call at Maud's

1993 - Last Call at Maud's

For 23 years (1966 - 1989) Maud's, opened by Ricky Streicher, was a legendary San Francisco bar for women and an institution. Last Call at Maud's, records the last evening of Maud's during which patrons express... more

Documentary Dir: Paris Poirier

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Sapphic Movies: The Celluloid Closet

1995 - The Celluloid Closet

Touching and liberating queer documentary comprehensively relaying the various Hollywood screen depictions of gays through cinematic history.... more

Documentary Dir: Rob Epstein, & Jeffrey Friedman

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Queer Documentaries: Paris was a Woman

1996 - Paris was a Woman

During the 1920s and '30s, between the world wars, female (many of them lesbian) adventurers, artists, designers, photographers, and writers settled in Paris. Vive la France! They embraced Paris and became known as... more

Documentary Dir: Greta Schiller

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Queer Documentaries: The Brandon Teena Story

1998 - The Brandon Teena Story

In one of the most heinous HATE crimes in American history, Brandon Teena, a handsome 21-year-old transman was brutally beaten, raped and murdered. At the age of 20, in 1993... more

Documentary Dir: Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdottir

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Sapphic Movies: Paragraph 175

2000 - Paragraph 175

Paragraph 175 is a documentary that chronicles the lives of several gay men and one lesbian who were persecuted by the Nazis. The gay men were arrested by the Nazis under Paragraph 175, the sodomy provision of... more

Documentary Dir: Jeffrey Friedman & Rob Epstein

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Queer Documentaries: Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria

2005 - Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria

The Compton's Cafeteria Riot flared up in August 1966, San Francisco and is heralded as... more

Documentary Dir: Victor Silverman & Susan Stryker

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Queer Documentaries: For the Bible Tells Me So

2007 - For the Bible Tells Me So

Five Christian families, each with a gay or lesbian child talk about their church-going, their children's childhood and coming out, their...more

Documentary Dir: Daniel G. Karslake

Queer Documentaries: Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement

2009 - Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement

The heart-warming story of the long-term lesbian relationship and eventual marriage between Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer - 40 years after there engagement!... more

Documentary Dir: Susan Muska & Gréta Ólafsdottir

Queer Documentaries: T'Ain't Nobody's Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s

2011 - T'Ain't Nobody's Bizness: Queer Blues

T'Ain't Nobody's Bizness: Queer Blues reveals the lost and hidden past of some of the goddesses of blues who, in in the 1920s, were... black, female and queer!... more

Documentary Dir: Robert Philipson

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Queer Documentaries: This Is What Love in Action Looks Like

2011 - This Is What Love in Action Looks Like

In the summer of 2005, a Memphis gay teen wrote on his MySpace blog about his parents sending him to a "Fundamentalist Christian" program called "Love In Action" to turn him straight..... more

Documentary Dir: Morgan Jon Fox

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Queer Documentaries: Coming Oot! A Fabulous History of Queer Scotland

2015 - Coming Oot! A Fabulous History of Queer Scotland

Coming Oot! A Fabulous History of Queer Scotland is a charming and.... more

Documentary Dir: John MacLaverty

Queer Documentaries: Prejudice and Pride: The People's History of LGBTQ Britain

2017 - Prejudice and Pride: The People's History of LGBTQ Britain

In 1967, the Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised homosexuality, offering... more

Documentary Dir: ?

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Queer Documentaries: Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

2017 - Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

After his WWI military duty, Scotty Bowers, became a legendary escort and unpaid pimp for Hollywood male celebrities who were too scared to come out during the Hays code era.

Documentary Dir: Matt Tyrnauer

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Queer Documentaries: The Lavender Scare

2019 - The Lavender Scare

At the beginning of the Cold War and the heightened concern about internal security, in 1947, the US State Department began a campaign to rid the department of...more

Documentary Dir: Josh Howard

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Queer Documentaries: Welcome to Chechnya: The Gay Purge

2020 - Welcome to Chechnya: The Gay Purge

In Chechnya, the LGBTQ community lives in fear and secrecy. Since 2017, the Russian Republic of Chechnya, under the eyes of Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov and Russia, has... more

Documentary Dir: David France

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