Judy, 'Fire Island,' and 'QAF' — What to Watch this Pride Month

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday June 6, 2022

A promotional photo for "Queer as Folk"
A promotional photo for "Queer as Folk"  (Source:Peacock)

June is busting out all over, and so are queer-themed films and shows. Pride Month means a celebration across mediums, and we have a plethora of amazing titles to recommend, from the newly groundbreaking Peacock reboot, "Queer as Folk," to the Hulu rom-com, "Fire Island," to the dramatic conclusion of one of this year's best-limited series, "The Staircase," to the Season 3 premiere of Prime's "The Boys" which takes the idea of gay penetrative sex to extremes you must see to believe.

Most streamers are commemorating Pride with celebratory content, including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Peacock, Sundance, Shudder, AMC+, IFC, Acorn TV, Discovery+, Revry Prime, AppleTV, and the Criterion Channel. Check with your favorite streaming services, as most of them are offering stellar LGBTQ+ entertainment all month.

Our recs:

'Queer as Folk'




Whether you've experienced the seminal 1999 Russell T. Davies British series and/or the American series that followed for five seasons on Showtime, nothing will prepare you for this explosive, inclusive, and awesome reboot, where representation is key and authentic characters are presented, warts and all. Creator Stephen Dunn (with Davies' blessing) has reimagined the show, moved the locale to New Orleans, and quickly bonded most of the characters as they struggle to deal with a based-on-real-events, tragedy (don't read about it, just watch the first episode). Devin Way excels as Brodie, our protagonist fuckup, who returns home and immerses himself in a world of trouble. Fin Argus impresses as Mingus, a 17-year-old who loves drag. Ryan O'Connell (who also co-wrote some episodes) is Brodie's nerdy brother, who has quite a few surprises up his sleeve. Juliette Lewis and Kim Cattrall are divas divine in key roles. But it's Jesse James Keitel as a trans woman trying to navigate her relationship, motherhood, and her own desires that is the breakout performer. Keitel is truly mesmerizing to watch, as is the series!

"Queer as Folk" premieres June 9, 2022, on Peacock.

'Fire Island'




A gay male ensemble comedy loaded with sex, food, drugs, alcohol, angst, bitchy queens, and even some romance, Andrew Ahn's "Fire Island," is significant for focusing on two gay Asian characters and their respective, if superficial, plights while on a pleasure trip to the renowned homo haven. Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang star as, respectively, Noah, a newly six-packed egotist seeking sex, and his bestie, Howie, who wants to fall in love. Conrad Ricamora, as the haughty-seeming Will, elevates every scene he appears in. Even gay guys deserve their B-grade rom-coms.

"Fire Island" is currently streaming on Hulu.

'Benediction'



 
Terence Davies' deeply affecting, non-linear cinematic telling of the life of  20th century English poet Siegfried Sassoon, "Benediction," is both an exploration of identity and a depiction of the desire between men at a time when acting on such feelings was verboten — at least for the lower classes. Young Sassoon (embodied wholly and tenderly by Jack Lowden) lived openly as a gay man, and as one of the "bright young things" of the 1920s, having a string of unsatisfying affairs. Uncomfortable with his queerness, and haunted by the horrors of the first world war, Sassoon converts to Catholicism, marries a woman, and has a son, hoping for some sort of salvation, but is more miserable than ever. Peter Capaldi is the irascible older Sassoon, and Jeremy Irvine finds layers in Davies' cold and crude idea of who Ivor Novello was.
 
"Benediction" is currently playing in theaters.

'This is Going to Hurt'




Ben Whishaw stars in a satiric new dramedy, based on Adam Kay's award-winning international memoir. Adam (Whishaw) is a committed, on-call doctor dealing with an overly demanding boss (Alex Jennings), exhausting work hours, ridiculous responsibilities, and potentially calamitous medical situations. In his personal life, he's still not out to his mother (Harriet Walter), and has a very patient boyfriend (Rory Fleck Byrne) who rarely gets to see him. Whishaw is wickedly funny, and anchors this traumatically sweet series.

"This is Going to Hurt" is currently streaming on AMC+

'Firebird'




Peeter Rebane's queer-empowering Cold War thriller "Firebird" has played at 55 festivals worldwide in the past two years, and was finally released in April. This month it bows on digital and VOD. Set in the late '70s and into the '80s, the film explores the forbidden loved between an Estonian private (fully-committed and hot-as-balls Tom Prior) and his Lieutenant (an amazing Oleg Zagordnii) at a time when coming out would ruin a career and a life. The film is a reminder of the persecution queer people have historically faced. Prior, who co-wrote the screenplay, is a true find.
 
"Firebird" is now available on digital and VOD.

At the Criterion Channel: '100 Years of Judy Garland,' 'Queersighted: The Musical!,' and Terrence Davies




If there was ever a time to subscribe to the Criterion Channel it would be now, as the streamer celebrates gay pride with a cornucopia of queer titles and retrospectives beginning with 100 Years of Judy Garland, our gay Godmother, boasting 12 of her most famous films, including "Meet Me in St. Lous," "The Harvey Girls," "Easter Parade," and the film that makes us all want to "Get Happy," "Summer Stock."

"Queersighted: The Musical!" features a conversation between series programmer Michael Koresky and Criterion web editor Andrew Chan, and offers eight musicals, including "Gentleman Prefer Blondes," "Victor/Victoria," and "Original Cast Album: Company."

The streamer is also presenting a retrospective of 10 of out helmer Terence Davies' films, including "Distant Voices, Still Lives," "The Long Day Closes," and "A Quiet Passion."

If that wasn't enough, "Zero Patience," "Lilting," "Victor and Victoria" (the original Weimar film), "The Delta," and the underrated Greek film "Head On" lead a host of other available Queer movies. And 21 LGBTQ+ shorts can also be streamed.

'A Sexplanation'




"A Sexplanation" is basically your typical queer, Asian-American, comedic sex education documentary about the universal search for love, connection, and family acceptance. 36-year-old gay health reporter Alex Liu (who also directs) goes on an odyssey to acquire hard facts about sex, no matter how funny, weird, or awkward things get — and they take an especially tricky turn when he interviews his own parents. The film is highly entertaining while providing some cool insights into the guilt and shame that so many people feel when it comes to sex.

"A Sexplanation" is available on TVOD on June 7, 2022

'Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration'




Netflix is presenting "Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration," the largest ever gathering of queer comics, hosted by Billy Eichner and featuring Margaret Cho, Tig Notaro, Sandra Bernhard, Wanda Sykes, Eddie Izzard, Joel Kim Booster, and Rosie O'Donnell, who closes the ceremony inviting everyone onstage for a new version of the Cyndi Lauper classic titled, "Gays Just Wanna Have Fun."

"Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration" begins streaming on June 9, 2022)

'Moneyboys'




Writer-director CB Yi's feature debut, "Moneybags" is set in southern China (though filmed in Taiwan), and screened at Cannes last year as part of Un Certain Regard. This melancholic drama centers on Fei (a nuanced Kai Ko), a gay Chinese hustler, and his hustler/protector boyfriend, Xiaolai (a deeply affecting JC Lin). When Fei is beaten by a client, Xiaolai retaliates and is badly hurt. Fei is forced to flee the small village. Five years later, he is now a seasoned escort but is haunted by his past and returns to his village to see Xiaolai, with a young cousin in tow. Yi allows his scenes to breathe and linger (sometimes too long), but it is in the two central performances we feel the anger, sadness, and frustration that a repressed society produces.

"Moneyboys" begins streaming on MUBI on June 10, 2022

'Love, Victor: Season 3 — Final Season'




The final season of the popular series "Love, Victor," created by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, kicks off with Victor (Michael Cimino) making his decision between hottie Benji (George Sear) and sweet newcomer Rahim (Anthony Keyvan), and from there things get super complicated. How will it all turn out for Victor and his Creekwood High gang? You'll have to tune in to find out.
 
"Love, Victor" Season 3 will begin streaming on Hulu and Disney+ on June 15, 2022

'Wildhood'




Brettan Hannam's inaugural feature, "Wildhood," tells a transformative Native American/LGBTQ-themed story about spiritual and sexual awakening. Impressive newcomer Philip Lewitski plays Link, a young man on a journey to find his mother, who encounters a fellow Two-Spirit Mi'kmaw, played by an equally compelling Joshua Odjick. The attraction between the two boys is palpable. This is a truly remarkable work.
 
"Wildhood" will be open theatrically in Los Angeles, via Wolfe Releasing on June 17, 2022, and exclusively stream on Hulu beginning June 24, 2022.

All that and we haven't even mentioned:

"The Book of Queer" is a five-part docuseries on Discovery+ which shines a light on history's queer heroes and spotlights figures who have been straightwashed (currently streaming).

"Baloney," Joshua Guerci's wickedly funny portrait of a troupe of queer and queer-friendly artists who make up San Francisco's first and only all-male gay revue. (June 7th on VOD and Digital)

Netflix's teen vampire show "First Kill" has a central lesbian romance at its bloody core. (June 10th)

"Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin: Ladies Night Live" has the "Grace and Frankie" icons introducing an all-female lineup of comics. ( June 14th, Netflix)

"Dead End: Paranormal Park" is a groundbreaking transgender series, based on Hamish Steele's horror-comedy graphic novels, that follows Barney, Norma, and talking dog Puglsey at a theme park haunted house, battling supernatural forces. (June 16th, Netflix)

"Joel Kim Booster: Psychosexual," also on Netflix, features the comic at his funniest. (June 21st)

The film "Queen," is about a Polish drag queen who must return to his coal mining town to save his daughter. (June 23rd on Netflix)

Finally, for those in NYC, Film Forum is paying tribute to the legendary Montgomery Clift with a two-week retrospective of his work, including screenings of his four Oscar-nominated performances: "The Search," "A Place in the Sun," "From Here to Eternity," and "Judgment at Nuremberg." June 3-16. Visit: https://filmforum.org/series/montgomery-clift-100

Frank J. Avella is a film journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep and a Member of the New York Film Critics Online. Frank is a recipient of the International Writers Residency in Assisi, Italy, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, and a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. His short film, FIG JAM, has shown in Festivals worldwide (figjamfilm.com) and won awards. His screenplays (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW) have also won numerous awards in 16 countries. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute