Summer is almost here, and though you might not be expecting much in the way of great LGBT content coming your way given the season’s big straight blockbuster tendencies (not that some of those worthwhile… every gay man we know is more than excited to go see the Zac Efron shirtless opus that is “Neighbours” this weekend), we are here to queerly assure you that is not actually the case. On screens big and small, there’s actually a really strong mix of LGBT film and television about to come your way, and here’s a big gay summer preview to prove it:
The Case Against 8
When/where can you watch it? June 6th in select theatres, and then on June 23rd on HBO (you got all the options!)
Why should you be excited for it? Shot over five years, Ryan White and Ben Cotner’s documentary (which won a best directing prize at Sundance and an audience award at SXSW) offers an incredible inside look at the legal battle behind overturning Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California back in 2008. It’s an inspiring journey that Cotner and White (along with editor Kate Amend) tightly put together into a very powerful film about a legal battle that will and has dramatically changed the legal rights situation for gay and lesbian couples in the US.
Watch the film’s trailer:
When/where can you watch it? Right now on MTV. The debut season runs until mid-June.
Why should you be excited for it? We have to admit, we weren’t exactly excited for this show when we heard its premise: Two straight girls fake being lesbians to become more popular at high school? In the hands of MTV, god only knew where something like that could go. But the show — which has now aired three episodes — is impressively way more complicated than that, and has gotten better with every episode. Set at a progressive high school in Austin, Texas, “Faking It” is probably as insightful as it gets when it comes to LGBT youth on television. It sort of feels like a more melancholic, more transgressive, and certainly much more gay version of the cult WB series “Popular.” And that’s a major compliment.
Watch the trailer below, or better yet just go find the first 3 episodes that have already aired.
When/where can you watch it? Season two of the series premieres on June 16th on ABC Family.
Why should you be excited for it? We met ABC Family’s lovely drama last summer and its coming back for more next month. Featuring a biracial lesbian couple at its center, the series follows Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum), married women raising a blended family of biological, adopted and foster children. Appealing to adults and younger viewers in a smart, heartwarming way, there’s nothing else like it on television (or on this list).
Watch the promo for season 2:
Love is Strange
When/where can you watch it? Sony Pictures Classics wants you to save the the date of August 22nd for this late summer love story.
Why should you be excited for it? John Lithgow and Alfred Molina’s heartbreaking, complex and perhaps even career-defining performances in Ira Sachs’ “Love Is Strange” are about as good as it gets — gay or straight — this summer. As Ben (Lithgow) and George (Molina), the two portray an aging gay couple who — after finally getting the chance to tie the knot after 39 years together — run into serious financial troubles when George is fired from his job at a Catholic private school when word gets out about his nuptials. This evolves into a nuanced, beautiful portrait of not only their love but the love of the many friends and family members around them, with Lithgow and Molina providing the centerpiece of an impressive ensemble (that includes Marisa Tomei and Cheyenne Jackson).
Watch the film’s Sundance Film Festival Q&A (a trailer isn’t out yet):
The Normal Heart
When/where can you watch it? HBO on May 25th.
Why should you be excited for it? Well, yes, a couple days ago we ran this piece explaining exactly why you shouldn’t be excited for it, our writer Charles O’Malley is clearly (and bravely) in the minority. Adapted from Larry Kramer’s groundbreaking 1985 play (Kramer wrote the screenplay as well), “The Normal Heart” follows New York-based writer and gay activist Ned Weeks as he struggles to pull together an organization focused on raising awareness about AIDS, which at that point had yet to even find a name (before it was AIDS, it was called, seriously — GRID, or Gay Related Immune Deficiency). Mark Ruffalo plays Weeks in the film, and he leads a cast that includes Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, Alfred Molina, Denis O’Hare and Jonathan Groff. It’s been a long while since we’ve seen an unflinching narrative take on the onset of AIDS, and HBO has a pretty stellar track record (see “Angels in America,” please).
Watch the film’s trailer:
Orange Is The New Black
When/where can you watch it? Netflix will post the show’s second season in its entirety on June 6th (in all territories!)
Why should you be excited for it? Do we really need to even go there? An instant cultural phenomenon when it debuted last year, the second season of Jenji Kohan’s dark women-in-prison comedy is at the top of summer anticipation lists for millions of people gay or straight. We’ll find out what happened to Piper after she seems to beat the shit out of Doggett at the end of the season finale, and whether Alex is sticking around much, not to mention the season two happenings of Crazy Eyes, Alex, Sophia, Red, Nicky, Taystee… We are more than ready to feast our eyes on some next level crazy.
Watch the second season trailer:
Please Like Me
When/where can you watch it? Starting on August 1st on Pivot.
Why should you be excited for it? If you have not heard of “Please Like Me” you should immediately find a way to watch it’s first season (as soon as you’re done reading this article, at least). The Australian import — which got picked up for US release on Pivot — is a half hour comedy-drama based on the autobiographical stand-up of 26-year-old gay Aussie comedian Josh Thomas. Drawing consistent comparisons to “Girls,” “Louie” and “Enlightened” (who doesn’t want to be compared to those amazing shows?) the first season gained a cult following, and the second should be an event as far as we’re concerned.
There’s no trailer for season 2 yet, so here’s the season 1 trailer as a reminder:
Queer Film Festivals
When/where can you go to them? All the time, and all over. We recently posted a preview of May’s LGBT film festival calendar, and there will be plenty more where that came from with dozens of cities around the world hosting such events through August.
Why should you be excited them? I know including LGBT Film Festivals on this list might feel like a cheap attempt at rounding it out to ten, but seriously: They’re such amazing opportunities to see not only the best LGBT films eventually coming to theaters near you, but also the many that probably won’t. Check back with us for a preview of the best films the summer circuit has to offer in the coming weeks and look out in your own area for when and where an LGBT film festival is happening.
Check out the Sundance Q&A for George Takei doc “To Be Takei,” likely to be a fixture (often with Takei himself) at pretty much every queer film festival around:
The Skeleton Twins
When/where can you watch it? In theaters on September 19th (okay, we know, this doesn’t sound like summer but it technically still is! And this film is too good to keep off the list).
Why should you be excited for it? “The Skeleton Twins” gave us a very notable new queer voice in co-writer and director Craig Johnson when it premiered at Sundance this year, and you best go see what he has to offer. Starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as estranged siblings who come together after Hader’s openly gay character tries to kill himself, “Twins” mixes melancholy and hilarity in its ode to family needing to stick together. And while Wiig is reliably great, Hader gives one of the most layered, moving performance of the year. Between this and Stefon, Hader is quickly drifting into gay icon territory, as far as we’re concerned.
No trailer yet, but here’s a feature from the Sundance Film Festival where director Johnson talks about the film:
When/where can you watch it? In theaters and on VOD come June 6th.
Why should you be excited for it? Set in 1985 San Francisco, Chris Mason Johnson’s “Test” follows two modern dancers (Scott Marlowe and Matthew Risch) who develop a relationship amidst the increasing paranoia coming out of the onset of the AIDS epidemic. It’s a refreshingly unpretentious and wholly affecting film that fits nicely in the all too small canon of narrative films about HIV/AIDS (and offers a nicely complimentary option after you see “The Normal Heart”).
Watch the film’s trailer: