For centuries, the world has strongly marginalized the LGBTQAI+ community that exists and thrives among us. Some countries continue to do so, while treating queer individuals with no respect or equal rights.

With the Pride month nearly ending, we have reviewed four movies about the queer community, that brought justice to the pain, suffering, loss, love and joy that they experience. So, grab a bucket of popcorn and a box of tissues, this is going to be an interesting ride.

Love, Simon

Directed by Greg Berlanti, this movie revolving around a gay closeted boy came out in March 2018, pun unintended.

Everyone dreams about having a normal life forgetting that some people face stigma just because they’re different. Wanting the same normalcy in his life, Simon hides his big secret. That he’s gay. Despite this, he believes that he too deserves a great love story, with all the big gestures of old movies. His life takes a surprising twist when he replies to an email sent by a person named Blue from his school. 

He faces his worst fears when he gets blackmailed by Martin about him being gay and later is heartbroken on seeing his crush, Bram, making out with a girl. The last straw being his personal emails with Blue getting posted and him being outed to the entire school, when he wasn’t ready.

Right from confronting his best friend about it to convincing his parents that he’s the same Simon all along, the story is all about his pursuit of finding his Blue, his own love story.

Love, Simon' Ending Explained | Hollywood Reporter

The film is vivid in its portrayal that gender doesn’t define your love story. While Simon’s father takes a while to accept his identity but his mother remains supportive and loves him the same way.

There comes low point in his life when he creates misunderstanding among his best friends in fear of being judged. Nick and Abby are infuriated by the lies he had implanted. Leah gets upset about how he told Abby his secret even though she was his oldest friend and also feels hurt on having her heart broken by him with no explanation.

However, getting past his mistake, taking in his reality and forgiving him, his three best friends Leah, Abby and Nick join him again in his journey to find Blue. A story filled with misunderstandings, angst, high school humor and young love, Love, Simon will have you gripped.

“You are the same person all along” and that’s what matters. The film succeeds in its attempt to convey to the present generation that they matter, despite of whom they love. And just like that, Love, Simon becomes another sweet love story that leaves a mark.

Tomboy (2011)

Imagine how hard life must be for a 10 year old, a gender non-conforming child. That is what this French movie, directed by Celine Sciamma, tries to address and does so with great finesse. Introducing herself as Mickäel, Laure grows a friendship with her neighbour Lisa. Making new friends as Mickäel, Laura does nonplussed acts like cutting her swimsuit into boy trunks, making clay penis and wearing a girl’s attire only when her mother forces her to do so, even though Laure’s family is somewhat comfortable with her gender non-conformity.

Event after event, Laure’s mother and sister realize that Laure’s been putting up an act as Mickäel outside the house. Initially, her younger sister, Jeanne puts up with this innocently, not understanding what her elder sister is doing. Later, when her mother comes to know about Laure’s play after a fight with the neighborhood kid, she scolds Laure for disguising as a boy.

Tomboy movie review & film summary (2012) | Roger Ebert

To resolve the fight, Laure is taken to the boy’s house followed by Lisa, dressed as a girl. Embarrassed by it, Laure runs off to the woods and frees herself from the dress. To her bad luck, some boys chase her in order to investigate her gender and ridicule her. Lisa takes a stand but the heat of the moment forces her to make sure if the person she’d kissed was a boy or girl, just as provoked by the boys. While the twists and turns are not as dramatic as other coming-of-age stories, Tomboy’s beauty lies in its simplicity and well-thought out characters.

The movie acquaints us with the adversities of transgender and gender non-conforming children and how confusing it can be for them while exploring this spectrum. While the story is ambiguous about Laure/Mickäel’s feelings for Lisa, it portrays how it’s our responsibility as a human being to respect the sexuality and gender preferences of each other and never be too quick to judge a person without understanding what they are going through.

Elisa and Marcela

This 2019 monochrome film is a Netflix Original that is based on the true story of Elisa Sánchez Loriga and Marcela Gracia Ibeas, two women who got married in Spain in 1901. This was arguably the first same-sex marriage in Spain, it getting legalized only in 2005.

The movie starts with Marcela attending a convent school in her home city of A Coruña. On the first day, she meets a senior student Elisa. Their attraction towards each other is apparent from the beginning. Marcela’s suspecting father sends her away to another school and the two girls decide to keep in touch via letters. The first half an hour is heavy with subtle background hints, from texts written on the walls to the content of lessons being narrated by the teacher. One of Emilia Pardo Bazán’s feminist novels is also mentioned.

Elisa & Marcela' Review: Flat Story of an Early Lesbian Couple ...

The movie starts feeling a bit unstructured in the middle when Marcela and Elisa meet again three years later, and start living together. The villagers suspect the couple and get hostile towards them. Elisa, then plans to marry Marcela, who disguises herself as a man named ‘Mario’. Marcela gets pregnant, as she sleeps with her suitor Andrés to avoid suspicion. Their lie, however, is discovered and the couple flees to Portugal. They spend time in jail there, where Marcela gives birth. They face a constant threat of expulsion. Newspapers publish their story on the front page, titled – ‘A Marriage Without a Man.’ However, their story gets sympathy from the Portuguese people and the current audience.

With beautifully shot scenes and attention to detail giving to this period-lesbian romance, you will find yourself rooting for Elisa and Marcela. The credits portray some facts regarding the acceptability of same-sex marriage in the world today and photos of recent couples in Spain, after 2005.

While some descendants of Elisa called their love story a sham, the marriage of Elisa and Marcela was an inspiration to many same sex couples of that era. Spain legalised gay marriage before many countries, including the US, ending the dark era in its history where homosexuality was a crime. If you like historical and artistic black and white movies, give ‘Elisa and Marcela’ a try!

Moonlight

Berry Jenkins ‘Moonlight’ is the story of a sensitive young black man, Chiron, who feels pressured by his hyper male Miami environment to deny his sexuality and true self.

The movie is told in three chapters following three phases of his life. The film stands out for both its form and content; how it’s made and what the story is about.

     Let’s walk through the movie which has drawn such a praise from critics and audience. The three phases of the movie show the fragility, mutability and complexity of a person’s identity over time casting three different actors for the three different versions of Chiron. The lost young ‘Little’ whose nickname is an insult thrust on him and a name he must reject, the teenager Chiron deals with his mother’s addiction and the hardened young black man who repressed his real self and put on a gangster facade.

Moonlight' is a perfect movie. - Tiffany Lam - Medium

     Moonlight taps into something that makes many of us feel that we are actually different people at different stages of our lives. There’s great sync between the actor’s performances yet to an external observer they are not the same person, showing the relation between external persona and internal self. Chiron’s character is always interacting with his community and is shaped by how they see him and label him and how he responds to that communal perception.

     As playwright McRainey has said a key part of the story is the quote, “the community knows about him before he knows them about himself”. People want to put him in a category before he even understands what that means. This structure of the film reveals the speed in Chiron’s struggle for self-awareness at the same time he falls for external persona, thanks to the few who throw him a lifeline.

     Moonlight is a triumph of expressive camera and sound design. It looks and sounds great thanks to the camera and sound choice by Jenkins and DP James Laxton. They’re always trying to express Chiron’s inner world from moment to moment. In the movie we frequently hear the sound of a breeze which represents the feeling of being loved, the presence of someone who loves us.

     Moonlight takes on the meaning of our secret innermost self, the person one really is when they are all alone. In  Chiron’s case, that person may rarely, if ever be brought into light. The movie with its three chapters titled after Chiron’s three names or personas is about this search for the true self. It is concluded with the final shot of his young self in the moonlight turning to camera and he looks to us including us and inviting us to do the same.

These are some of the movies that we would recommend for everyone to watch and gain a new perspective of the LGBTQAI+ community. Moreover, it is to understand that queer people around the world face violence and inequality—and sometimes even torture and execution—because of who they love, how they look, or who they are. We must advocate for laws and policies that will protect everyone’s dignity and work towards a world where all people can enjoy their rights as equals.

As it has been said by Jason Collins, “Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.”

-Bansi, Yash and Kartik