June is LGBT pride month - celebrations have been taking place around the US all month, with major festivities this weekend in SF and NYC. As our own show of support, the latest indieWIRE at Hulu Docs - iW's regular curation of Hulu's Documentaries page - highlights a number of fantastic and diverse LGBT themed non-fiction films available on the site.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "indieWIRE @ Hulu Docs" is a regular column spotlighting the iW-curated selections on Hulu's Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. iW selections typically appear in the carousel at the top of the page and under "Featured Content" in the center. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge.
Hometown homophobia, bullying, and the potential for acceptance come to the forefront in Joe WIlson and Dean Hamer's "Out in the Silence." After the filmmaking duo place their wedding announcement in Joe's rural hometown's newspaper, they receive not only condemnations from incensed locals, but also a plea for help from the mother of a teen who's recently come out in high school, only to face threats of violence. Returning to conservative Oil City, PA, Wilson and Hamer set out to help the boy and to try to find common ground with their critics, including an evangelical preacher.
Dave O'Brien's "Equality U" reveals what happens when a busload of young LGBT Christian activists travel around the country to confront antigay discrimination policies at conservative religious and military colleges. The Soulforce Equality Riders try to engage in a dialogue with university administration and students to explain the tragic consequences that discriminatory policies have had on LGBT lives - hoping to change hearts and minds one school at a time.
Dan Merchant's "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers" is not wholly focused on LGBT issues, but the scenes dealing with the relationship between the Christian church and gays and lesbians are among the most powerful in his film. Recognizing that his religion, which is supposed to preach tolerance, instead has become such a divisive force, compels Merchant to explore people's perception of Christianity and of the church - resulting in an enlightening and at times humorous film.
Director Erin Davies sets off on her own trip around the US in "Fagbug" after her rainbow-stickered VW Beetle is vandalized with homophobic slurs. Rather than repairing the damage, she decides to roadtrip to meet other LGBT individuals who have experienced more severe abuse and document their own experiences in an effort to spread the word about hate crime and its impact.
The insidiousness and damaging effects of institutionalized homophobia are clear in "Training Rules." Dee Mosbacher and Fawn Yacker's hour-long film tackles the subject of homophobia in women's collegiate sports, where even the perception of lesbianism has cost promising young athletes their careers.
Institutionalized homophobia of another kind is addressed in Alex Hinton's "Pick Up the Mic." This look into queer hip-hop culture demonstrates that there's room for diversity in an industry plagued with rampant misogyny and homophobia. The film challenges notions of what mainstream hip-hop music and culture claim to represent, and embodies what it should be representing - unconditional acceptance through music.
Update: Snag Films, indieWIRE's parent company, has a great Pride-related initiative going on through tomorrow, June 23 to support the work of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network. Watch "Fagbug," "Equality U," and other LGBT films in their library and you can help too through social networking. For more details, click here.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance, consults with documentary filmmakers and festivals, and co-produced Cameron Yates’ feature documentary “The Canal Street Madam.” Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1 and @CanalStMadamDoc) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).