Growing up Queer without any mode of representation is difficult. Heteronormative portrayals of life and family are always available and that too everywhere. In that environment it is important to figure and discover positive representations of how it is to grow up Queer and how an individual can tackle the societal obstacles and pressures. In lieu of the ‘The Day of Silence’ movement gaining acceleration in not just USA but worldwide, such movies become all the more important. Below are eight films made in India and abroad to aid children and young adults on that journey of self-acceptance, coming out and feeling at ease with their identity.
Moonlight (2016) directed by Barry Jenkins – One cannot stress enough how important a movie like Moonlight is for a generation of queer kids growing up. This Oscar winning movie charts the journey of Chiron as he deals with his homosexuality and with coming out, while going through different moments in his life, first as a young boy, then as a teenager and finally as a man.
Kapoor and Sons (2016) directed by Shakun Batra – Why this movie is important for kids and teenagers alike? The answer lies in its non-stereotypical representation of a man not only identifying as gay but also having a partner. The movie deals with his family accepting his orientation. The same is done with sensitivity and gives a good example of how slowly all of them come to accept him the way he is.
My Brother Nikhil (2005) directed by Onir – Onir is perhaps the only openly gay director in the Hindi movie industry. With his landmark 2005 movie, he not only got mainstream actors such as Sanjay Suri and Juhi Chawla to talk about homosexuality and AIDS, but also gave a felt portrayal of what it means to be young and gay in India. It also showed the struggles of coming out to one’s family especially when you need them the most.
Margarita With a Straw (2014) directed by Shonali Bose – This movie released with great expectations because it portrayed a young disabled bisexual woman, who eventually falls for a blind woman identifying as lesbian. Why this movie was able to fulfill most of the expectations was because it gave a much needed Bi representation. It also depicted a character who was struggling to not only come out to her mother but also to herself. Though it ended on a bitter sweet note it ended with the realization that our protagonist was finally at ease with who she was.
Chutney Popcorn (1999) directed by Nisha Ganatra – This English language movie made by Nisha Ganatra was applauded for how realistic it was when most Hollywood movies that were made with LGBTQ characters intended only to recycle the same stereotypes. Nisha Ganatra who has worked as a producer and director on TV shows such as Transparent and Girls, gave a heartfelt movie following the story of Reena (played by Ganatra herself) who comes out to her mother but her mother rejects Reena’s sexuality and her partner. This was a landmark movie not only in American cinema but also for the diaspora living in the States and most of the experiences were taken from Ganatra’s real life struggle of coming out to her family.
My Beautiful Launderette (1985) directed by Stephen Frears – This 1985 movie written by Hanif Kureshi was hugely successful and served as a source of inspiration for many closeted diaspora youth. While the movie tackles racisms in the backdrop of Margaret Thatcher’s reign as England’s Prime Minister, it also deals with bi- racial homosexual relationship between the two leads and how they come to understand the bond that they share and come out to each other in a beautifully constructed scene inside the launderette.
The Normal Heart (2014) directed by Ryan Murphy – The Normal Heart was a made for television movies that revolved around a group of gay men in the 1980’s when AIDS was fast spreading like an epidemic in the United States. During this time homosexuality was being made the cause of this epidemic. The movie chronicles how the community not only helps each other through this difficult time, but also supports many of their peers who have contracted the disease while they are still closeted.
Jenny’s Wedding (2015) directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue – This movie follows Jenny who decides to get married to her longtime partner Kitty. She still hasn’t come out to her family who presumes her to be single and unlucky in love. The movie is a sensitive portrayal of the coming out process of a woman, and that in the face of rejection from her family she remains steadfast and true to her identity and the woman she loves. It is one of those movies that let reassure one that love and acceptance are things worth waiting for.