FX’s ‘Pride’ documentary series on Hulu delves deep into LGBTQ history
By giving queer filmmakers creative control, “Pride” presents a remarkably nuanced take on LGBTQ identity and history.
Every June, a barrage of LGBTQ media and media coverage arrives to announce the start of Pride Month. The final season of FX’s groundbreaking drama “Pose” premiered in May, and the adorable Hulu teen releasing the “Love, Victor” story will return in two weeks. But for those looking for an engaging and accessible history lesson in the LGBTQ movement, FX’s six-part documentary series “Pride” is a delicious and substantial addition to the canon of pride-related content. By giving queer filmmakers complete creative control, “Pride” goes far beyond the conventional narrative of LGBTQ history.
Part political and cultural history, each of the six episodes of “Pride” follows a single decade, beginning with McCarthyism in the 1950s and ending with growing acceptance of the 2000s by the mainstream. Produced by FX, Vice, and Killer Films, each episode is directed by different queer filmmakers who have been given a full creative license on What To Showcase. They include new queer cinema mainstays Tom Kalin and Cheryl Dunye alongside young uprights Andrew Ahn, Ro Haber and Anthony Caronna & Alex Smith.
In between is Yance Ford, whose deeply personal “Strong Island” debut launched him as a cinematic force when he landed an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary in 2018. In “1990: The Culture Wars,” Ford shows how the spread of LGBTQ activism radicalized by the AIDS crisis was in direct conversation with a growing queer art movement.
The religious right has targeted queer visual artists like Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, but New Queer Cinema filmmakers have not escaped their just outrage. Todd Haynes ‘”Poison” and Marlon Riggs’ “Tongues Untied” both received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and also became lightning rods for the wrath of the Conservatives. “Poison” was produced by Christine Vachon of Killer Films, executive producer of “Pride” and interview subject in Episode 5.
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“When you think back to the 1990s, you don’t realize how the people whose work is considered queer canon had to figure out how to survive this attack,” Ford said in a recent telephone interview. “The systematic use of religion as a baton to try to silence queer artists and to try to marginalize queer work. [Christine Vachon] was targeted and the work she was producing was targeted.
While the queer film may not get the hindsight it did at the time, Ford sees many parallels between the ’90s and now on how the religious right is able to militarize LGBTQ rights as a way to consolidate power. As a Gen Xer who lived through Culture Wars, these heartbreaking similarities are never far from Ford’s mind.
“I wanted to focus on the national level and remind people – first of all, where the term ‘culture wars’ comes from – and that the attacks we see today against transgender youth, for example, are coming from ‘a long history of very coordinated political and cultural attacks targeting the LGBTQ community,’ he said. “I think what we’re going through right now bears a very strong resemblance to the 90s, and we can learn a few lessons from [that time]. “
It’s not even halfway through the year and the HRC has declared 2021 the worst year for state legislative attacks on LGBTQ rights, citing eight new laws prohibiting trans youth from accessing sports and / or sports. medical care and 10 bills awaiting signatures from governors. As a trans man, such attacks hit Ford personally. Comparing the current moment to culture wars, it was important for Ford to center the trans experience, especially from a trans-male lens.
To that end, one of the most important interview topics is Marquise Vilson, a trans actor and man who has found community and identity in the New York City ballroom scene. Throughout the episode, Ford reinforces Vilson’s interviews with archival footage from Daniel Peddle’s 2005 documentary “The Aggressives,” in which a fresh-faced young Vilson can be seen flexing his biceps on the track. It’s a unique scene, and one that doesn’t necessarily match the conventional ballroom image of women and trans women in high fashion looks.
“The trans male community is not as visible as trans women and trans women, and for me it was important that people had a sense of how far the trans male community actually existed,” said Ford.
There is another small but pivotal moment where Vilson reflects on being trans, although he can certainly ‘get by’, and how he rejects the idea of having ‘a privilege assumed by the cis’. Another filmmaker might not have included Vilson’s voice in the episode, but it’s definitely a highlight, given how remarkable it is to witness such a nuanced conversation between two men. black trans – the kind of thing that could only make it to screen under Ford’s capabilities. direction.
“There is a larger conversation about trans-masculinity and non-binary identities that we don’t have,” said Ford. “It’s a hard thing for people to imagine that the lines of gender, sex and sexual orientation are not as straightforward as cis or not cis. […] I hope this quote from Marquise will motivate people to try having a nuanced conversation about trans-male identity.
All six episodes of “Pride” are currently airing on Hulu.