For so many of us who grew up watching almost uniformly negative representations of our lives on the screen, finally seeing a semblance of our community and our stories reflected in all their glorious diversity brings great joy despite how far we have yet to go.
Queerty is highlighting six creators, all of whom identify as LGBTQ, and all of whom have created provocative, queer-themed work designed to educate and enlighten audiences. Their contribution has made a striking difference in what we see on TV: GLAAD's annual Where We Are on TV report found that of all the LGBTQ characters on television, 47% are people of color--a record high.
From timely subjects to groundbreaking levels of visibility, their passion, their risk-taking, and their artistry have given us pride not just in them, but in ourselves and our community. True representation still has a long way to go, but these fine people are working to make that day come faster.
3. David France
David France‘s documentary, Welcome to Chechnya, chronicles how LGBTQ Russians live in constant fear of violence and imprisonment. France made Welcome to Chechnya at some personal risk. As a journalist asking tough questions about the treatment of a vulnerable minority, he too could have become the target of violence while filming in Russia & Chechnya.
France began his career as a journalist in the 1980s, penning articles on the AIDS crisis which had begun to ravage New York City. His brave early beat cost him then, too: The New York Post fired him for being open about his sexuality but he persisted– landing an editorial job at Newsweek.
At the turn of the century, France broadened his story-telling. He wrote three investigative books beginning in 2004: Our Fathers confronted the Catholic sex abuse scandals at the dawn of the crisis, while The Confession detailed the rise and fall of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy, who spent years living in the closet for fear that coming out would wreck his political career. 2016 saw France’s How to Survive a Plague, a chronicle of the AIDS crisis, which detailed how the inaction of the Reagan & Bush White Houses made HIV a worldwide epidemic.
France went on to direct the film adaptation of How to Survive a Plague in 2012, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. He’s worked in documentary film since: The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson chronicled the life of the African-American transgender activist who was one of the Stonewall denizens who fought back. The film pushed back against the notion that only white men participated in the Stonewall Uprising, and helped raise Johnson’s profile as a hero to both the LGBTQ and African-American communities.
Welcome to Chechnya confronted the lethal homophobic policies of leaders like Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov while taking other governments–including the United States–to task for ignoring this humanitarian crisis.
As France told Exberliner:
We’ve seen other explosions of extreme homophobia and anti-queer violence in Russia, Poland, the United States, places where you thought that things were irreversibly heading in the direction of liberalism. This is the tip of a global iceberg and I didn’t think that homophobia could be weaponized again, the way it was in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. I thought that that would be impossible. In almost every society, we have celebrities who are queer, politicians who are queer. And yet, we’re looking at the first place and the first time since Hitler that a top-down government-sponsored campaign exists to round-up every LGTBQ person for execution.