June marks the beginning of International Pride Month. To some, that means crop tops, glitter and doing the choreography to that one Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande song. To a lot of us, especially in South Africa, Pride Month feels a little different.
Instead of floats, rainbow-coloured merchandise and top 40 radio pop hits, we're standing up to systems that that still refuse to see our full humanity.
We find ourselves reflecting on the legacies of Simon Nkoli and Bev Ditsie who led the first South African Pride March in 1990. We are marching, but not in celebration. We are screaming "queer lives matter!" to whoever will listen, because even though it's been 31 years, we are still embroiled in the same fight.
[Thread] I have some #QueerLivesMatter updates today.— Tutu Zondo (@tutuzondo) April 27, 2021
Because while it may be Freedom Day, today I’m painfully aware that we are still fighting to enjoy basic freedoms as LGBTI+ people in South Africa
Our fight still continues. pic.twitter.com/Ggh9ibPFaz
This Pride Month I'm choosing to acknowledge the long journey we still have to take. I'm intentionally looking back at our past, honouring those who came before and determining to celebrate our strength, individuality and resilience as a community. This Pride Month I will not focus on only one part of our beautifully complex existence; I'm looking at the bigger picture.
Our joys and triumphs exist side by side with our pains and traumas and it's important that we acknowledge all of it. So, for this International Pride Month, I've put together a list of films and series you should watch that reflect where we've come from, where we are and a glimpse of the future we hope to have. Enjoy!
Transhood (documentary series)
This incredible documentary changed the way I viewed gender and how we approach it. It follows the lives of four transgender children over the course of five years. In the documentary, we begin to see how this part of their identity affects so much in their lives. The documentary answers many questions that people might have about transgender people and does it in a way that is dignified and informative.
We are offered an opportunity to look closely at how their gender identity affects their relationships with friends, romantic partners, family, and even its impact on school. Through this excellently crafted documentary, you see the power of support and unconditional love – and how sometimes that's all we need.
- Transhood is available to stream on Showmax
Brokeback Mountain (film)
This is arguably one of the biggest LGBT+ films to come out in the past 20 years. This Academy Award-winning film, directed by Ang Lee, is a must-see that shows how far we've come in being able to love each other freely. Set between 1963 and 1983, it follows the lives of two cowboys who fall deeply in love, but cannot be with each other. Over the course of 20 years, they can only share stolen moments.
This film shows us the painful reality of living in a time where being yourself was the worst thing you could be. It gives us a look at the sacrifices many LGBTI+ people had to make just to survive. It's a sobering reminder of how far we've actually come; that even though we aren't where we want to be, we're in a much better place.
- Stream Brokeback Mountain on Showmax
Living the Dream with Somizi (reality show)
This Safta-winning reality show directed by famed television maker, Olwee, is a gem in the South African television landscape. This fast-paced and exciting show follows the life of superstar choreographer and TV personality Somizi.
Through his show, you not only see the incredibly glamorous life he lives that includes sports cars, shopping sprees in Paris and holiday homes on the beach, you also get to experience representation that we never see. On this show, you get to live in the world of a successful, black, African LGBTI+ man. Somizi is really living a dream that for so long, for so many seemed impossible.
- Stream Living the Dream with Somizi on Showmax
Good Trouble (series)
Callie and Mariana are two sisters who move to Los Angeles and begin finding themselves in a world vastly different from the one they grew up in. The sisters move into a communal building where they meet the most incredible people. In this communal building called The Coterie, we explore ideas around race, gender, body consciousness and of course, sexuality.
What makes the show special, is that it feels honest in every single scene. The series has a refreshing take on each of these themes and topics without making them vulgar and sensationalist. It is one of the few shows that I can watch and see myself reflected in it, especially in the manner they handled their LGBTI+ characters (yes characters, not just one).
This is a must watch.
- Good Trouble is available to stream on Showmax
No Hiding Here (film)
And it’s here!!! Feast your eyes on the trailer for the first gay romcom in South Africa! NO HIDING HERE premiers on 18th Feb on @ShowmaxOnline #monthoflove #nohidinghere 🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/KFbu57Hatj— Tiffany Barbuzano (@TiffanyBarb) February 15, 2021
Being a member of the LGBTI+ community is not only a traumatic experience – we also experience extreme joy and love, which is why South Africa's first LGBT+ romcom is so important.
No Hiding Here, directed by Gabe Gabriel, sees the life of a small-town teacher turned upside down when a superstar musician comes to perform at the local high school. This light-hearted movie shows that we are a community deserving of having our stories told even if they aren't marred by sadness and pain. It's a story about love and incorporates a drag performance and a musical number. We deserve to have our stories told and celebrated in their fullness.
- Stream No Hiding Here on Showmax