Cal Humanities

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

LGBTQ+ Stories on the Silver Screen

Updated June 11.

June is recognized in many places as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. At California Humanities, we’ve long been a supporter of projects that highlight the diversity of the alphabet community and that show the ways in which queer and trans lives intersect with other parts of lived experience. Below, we’re highlighting a few films we have supported that highlight LGBTQ+ stories throughout the Golden State.

Still from A GREAT RIDE.

To celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month, the Sean Leandro Main Library will host a screening on June 15 of A GREAT RIDE, a short documentary which looks at older lesbians—Sally Gearhart, Brenda Crawford, and several women who live in an LGBTQ-friendly retirement community in Santa Rosa—aging with dynamism and zest for life, determination, and humor. And on July 18, it will be showing at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. The film was also accepted into the All Voices festival on Amazon Prime, and will be streaming online through June 24. Watch it here.

On June 23, as a part of Frameline, the LGBTQ+ film festival in San Francisco, watch a screening of UNSETTLED: SEEKING REFUGE IN AMERICA at the famed Castro Theater. In this powerful documentary, acclaimed director Tom Shepard follows four LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East who have fled homophobic violence in their home countries as they arrive and try to begin anew in San Francisco. Cheyenne and Mari from Angola, Subhi from Syria, and Junior from Congo face immense barriers to securing work, housing, and legal assistance.  Despite the odds stacked against them, there are triumphs alongside setbacks. Filmed against a backdrop of familiar Bay Area locations, UNSETTLED is a timely look at the challenges and perseverance of four refugees on a quest for a better tomorrow. The screening is followed by a free panel discussion with the director as well as all four of the main subjects.


An awardee of a 2019 CDP Production Grant, and an awardee of a 2018 Research 7 Development grant, DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ON SCREEN from director Sam Feder, an unprecedented look at Hollywood’s role in creating and perpetuating historical stereotypes of trans people. More than 100 years of footage from A Florida Enchantment (1914) to Pose (2018) is woven together with the personal stories of prominent media figures like Laverne Cox, revealing how Hollywood has simultaneously reflected and manufactured our deepest anxieties about gender. At a time of increasing visibility for trans characters and actors in the media, Disclosure will deconstruct and critique stubbornly persistent tropes and highlight occasional breakthroughs in which trans creatives take control.


From director Vivian Kleiman, the documentary NO STRAIGHT LINES, inspired by the book of the same title, chronicles the story of five LGBTQ comic book artists from around the country: Alison Bechdel, Jennifer Camper, Rupert Kinnard, Howard Cruse, and Mary Wings. The film, which has yet to set a release date, will provide a unique window into the hopes, fears, and fantasies of LGBTQ people through four decades, from Stonewall, to the AIDS crisis, to same sex marriage. For Pride month, stay tuned for an exclusive opportunity to see clips from the upcoming film in conjunction with an exhibition from California Humanities’ Art of Storytelling program.

Still from WE WERE HERE.

Last but not least, WE WERE HERE: THE AIDS YEARS IN SAN FRANCISCO should be required annual viewing. According to Senior Program Officer John Lightfoot, “To this day, it’s one of the most intense and emotionally moving projects we’ve supported through the California Documentary Project.”



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