A curated list of films, books, and music to celebrate Pride Month
Maha Sanad, SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR Arlie Sarnicola, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Pride Month, the time to celebrate and promote self-affirmation of the social group that continues to fight for equality. Pride Month takes place annually in June as a commemoration of the 1969 New York City Stonewall Riots. While diversity of representation is always important, it is especially important to shine light on queer figures and stories during the month. From books and authors, to films and artists, here is our compilation of some of the defining works and people that The Pioneer wanted to shine a light on in honor of Pride Month:
“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller
A Greek myth retelling based on Homer’s “The Iliad” follows Patroclus’ perspective, painting he and Achilles as lovers rather than friends or cousins, as other adaptations have done. Miller manages to write an absorbing and emotional story with a refreshing twist on a well-known story and even more well-known mythologically historical figures. “The Song of Achilles” has been recognized by the American Library Association as a Stonewall Honor Book for its representation of LGTBTQ+ characters.
“You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson
This debut young-adult novel by author Leah Johnson follows protagonist Liz Lighty in her small midwestern and prom-obsessed town where she feels she doesn’t fit in due to being poor, awkward, and Black. This sapphic story brings a twist to the small, midwestern high school prom story with a young queer Black girl at the forefront. “You Should See Me in a Crown” has been called a “self-love anthem for queer Black girls everywhere” by Goodreads, along with receiving a Stonewall Book Honor.
“Felix Ever After” by Kacen Callender
This young adult novel follows a Black transgender teen, Felix Love, who attempts to grasp his identity while falling in love for the first time. While trying to figure out the identity of an anonymous troll who targets Felix for being transgender, readers follow Felix navigating his identity and journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. “Felix Ever After” has been given the Stonewall Honor Book Award for its representation of a young, Black, transgender character.
“Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin
Baldwin’s novel resonated with the queer community for its documentation of a young man’s journey of love and desire as an ex-pat in 1950s France. Despite momentous changes since the 1950’s, Baldwin’s thematic use of the human experience still remains strong in 2021 America.
“City of Night” by John Rechy
In the scandalized literary world, Rechy’s novel explores the world of drag, hustlers, and sex workers. The Doors notably claimed inspiration from the novel, pushing boundaries of what is ‘socially acceptable.
“Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit” by Jeanette Winterstorn
The complexities of understanding sexual orientation paired with religion makes for a grappling coming-out story. Jeanette, growing up evangelical, finds her sexuality throughout the novel, creating a divide within her family’s plans.
Sabina Khan is an author whose books focus on Muslim teens who straddle between different cultures. Two of her novels, “The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali” and “Zara Hossain is Here,” follow the lives of two young queer Muslim women who struggle to feel accepted in their conservative communities on top of the struggles of being an immigrant in America. Khan has a unique ability to craft stories of the intersectional struggles and hardships but also showcase the journey to self-discovery of her characters.
Adiba Jaigirdar is a writer with two books, “The Henna Wars” and “Hani Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating,” that follow characters who are struggling with people in their community invalidating and even trying to erase their queer identities. With both books following young brown women on their journey of grappling with their identity, these books are perfect for anyone wanting to diversify their reading with a look into the lives and the intersectional struggles of queer POC.
“Tipping the Velvet” is a beautifully written coming-of-age story following Nancy ‘Nan’ Astley, a young working-class girl from Kent, Mich. who falls in love with a woman who performs on the vaudeville stages dressed as a man. The story chronicles Nan’s transformation from a small-town girl working at her family’s oyster restaurant to an out-and-proud young woman who walks through the world with hard-won confidence and her heart on her sleeve. It’s tragic, erotic, beautiful, and at times deeply, universally, relatable. Readers will root for Nan on every page of this book, as she prevails through her grief and discovers who she is and what she wants at the end of it all.
Films/ Television Shows
“Paris is Burning” Jennie Livingston (1990)
The documentary highlights ball culture in New York and chronicles the movement and the involvement of underrepresented groups (Latinx, African Americans, LGBTQ+ community). Alternating between footage of drag performances and interviews with a number of well-known performers within the scene, the documentary explored the inner workings of the ball scene, the slang, the various ‘houses’ that performers belong to, and their experiences with sexism, racism, and homophobia. It is a gorgeous, sobering, and historically significant work that illuminates a scene that became a lifeline for many in the New York City LGBTQ community at the time.
Drawing inspiration from the underground ball culture, the show explores the ‘house mothers’ of the ball and honors the legends who made ball culture a safe space. Filled with glitz and glam, the show tackles intersectional LGBTQ+ issues, bringing awareness and historical accuracy to the ballroom community.
“Portrait of a lady on fire” Céline Sciamma (2019)
In the French film, Marriane, a young painter, embarks on a journey to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse after leaving her convent. Marriane must study Héloïse discreetly as she does not know Marriane had been hired to paint her portrait. The beautifully shot movie develops slowly, like a slow burn leading to the final events.
“Desert Hearts” Donna Deitch (1985)
This romantic drama follows a divorced professor who finds herself in Reno, Nev. falling for another woman as her previous marriage comes to an end. A charming film that is known and loved for being one of the earlier lesbian films that do not end in a stereotypical tragedy.
“Killing Eve” (2 seasons, 2018-2022)
An MI6 intelligence officer (Sandra Oh) works to track down a ruthless global assassin (Jodie Comer), and in the heat of the pursuit, begins falling for the stylish killer. A smart, sometimes unexpectedly funny thriller that will keep you binge-watching all 24 episodes thus far. Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer give incredibly nuanced, dimensional performances of two of the most complex characters written for tv in the past few years.
“Betty” (2 seasons, 2020-present)
Heartfelt, hilarious, and inspiring, Betty is centered around a group of four skateboarding girls living in New York City.
The new wave rock artist plans to release more music in 2021, available on all streaming platforms. Recommended for those who enjoy Mitski, Angel Olsen, Grimes, and Florence + the Machine.
Berlin-based DJ and producer creates classic house music similar to The Blessed Madonna. Recommended to those who favor classic house music.
Pop artist King Princess plans to release music in 2021, pairing each song with a queer-centered thematic music video. Similar to: Lorde, Billie Ellish, and Dua Lipa.
Queer frontman of the rap group, Kevin Abstract, released a statement the group will produce more music in 2021. Similar to: SOB x RBE and Shoreline Mafia.
The new music producers seek to uplift Black Trans youth through their work, beginning a new label coined ‘Trans Trenderz.’ Rapper Jupiter Gray has already released music with this label, in addition to Jæ, a singer-songwriter.
Anchored by the smooth vocals of queer icon Syd tha Kyd (of Odd Future fame), The Internet mixes jazz, r&b, hip hop, and funk. Similar to: Ravyn Lenae, KAYTRANADA, Thundercat.
Cari Elise Fletcher has been writing her idiosyncratically catchy pop-breakup songs since 2019. Her vocals shine throughout her “You Ruined New York City For Me” ep, soaring to the limits of her range from the very first song. Similar to: Carlie Hanson, Lennon Stella.
Jay Som is the solo project of Oakland-based Melina Duterte. She writes and produces all her work, which might be described as a lush mix of shoegaze and dream pop. Similar to: Japanese Breakfast, Alvvays.
Although known by some as an ex-Disney Channel star, Kiyoko has grown into a multi-talented artistic force, writing and producing her own catchy pop songs as well as directing her music videos. Similar to: Halsey, King Princess.
Christine and the Queens
The solo project of French artist Heloise Letissier, Christine, and the Queens is a queer producer, singer-songwriter, and choreographer. The subject matter of her music is diverse, ranging from love, loss, and desire to playing with gender roles that she expresses through her live performances’ costuming and choreography as well. Similar to: Robyn, Shura, Empress Of.
Media representation and visibility are imperative to foster a safe, inclusive environment. Those who are struggling with personal identities are seen during this month. The Pioneer honors and recognizes the countless lives lost to violence against the LGBTQ+ community. We condemn states pushing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and urge readers to contact their local representatives.
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