Skip to content

Queer Documentaries Round-Up

By Anna Saldinger

Queer-centered documentaries are opportunities to explore what and who came before and where we are today. Keeping our history alive is a vital way to honor trailblazers and to assert and remember that we’re queer and we’ve always been here.

Compton’s served as a touchstone of the queer community in the Tenderloin.

Screaming Queens: Screaming Queens is about the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria riot in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Tensions erupted between the queer community rooted in the Tenderloin (particularly trans women and drag queens) and the San Francisco Police. This riot went largely unreported and remains a lesser-known historical event (check out this article for some basics). In this documentary, learn about West Coast Stonewall’s predecessor and the brave folks who fought for their right to exist.

Stonewall Uprising: Stonewall Uprising is a PBS documentary about, well, the 1969 Stonewall riots. This is one of the best-known moments in queer history, but it’s always worth revisiting. I recommend watching it alongside Screaming Queens for extra nuance.

Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story (Trailer): Lady Valor introduces you to Kristin Beck, a former Navy Seal who transitions after leaving the service. The documentary examines her 20 years of military service, her decision to transition, and queer patriotism. Though not available for free, it is available to rent on Amazon and iTunes.

#StillBisexual: Though not a single documentary, #StillBisexual is a video media campaign that includes a series of self-told stories by bisexual+ people from around the U.S. and beyond. The stories illustrate the diversity of experience of bi+ people and emphasize the importance of self-identity, finding community and validation. Visit the website and dip into lots of different stories.

Kumu Hina (Trailer): Kumu Hina traces the journey of native Hawaiian teacher Hina Wong- Kalu, who embraces the Hawaiian tradition of mahu- one that embodies both male and female spirit. This is a rich exploration of gender, acceptance, and Hawaiian culture which culminates in Hina Wong- Kalu mentoring a young student who is exploring her mahu identity.

Anna Saldinger is a radio journalism student at Bennington College and SpeakOUT winter intern. (She/her pronouns)