Interview With The Vampire [Courtesy of Warner Bros.]

New Orleans Pride Movie Guide

07:00 June 03, 2024
By: Jeff Boudreaux

Taking Pride In Film

Here we are, halfway through 2024, with June taking its firm place as Pride month for the LGBTQIA+ community worldwide.

As summer beckons, we are fortunate to live in a country where each of our brothers and sisters can love who they choose and be who they are. What a great feeling. As you get ready to attend the multiple events that the city of New Orleans has planned to celebrate all things Pride, there are times when you will just want to kick back and watch a movie that best represents your identity and interests—and that entertain the hell out of us to boot. Check out this film guide for some recommended viewing for our city's gay community and their allies.

To fully appreciate how far we have come into acceptance and equal rights, we must reflect on the past and its less-than-ideal society for the inclusion of marginalized groups, not the least of which is the LGBTQ community. Playwright Tennessee Williams knew this all too well. As an openly gay man (in a time of severe prejudice), he created some of the greatest Southern literary characters in history, several of whose lives are unmistakably intertwined with that of homosexual men.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

A Streetcar Named Desire [Courtesy of Warner Bros.]

This fantastic film from Director Elia Kazan is perhaps best remembered for Marlon Brando's crackling performance as the brutish Stanley Kowalski ("Stella!" anyone?) and Vivien Leigh's second Oscar win for Best Actress as Blanche DuBois (this legendary British actress mastered the portrayal of the archetypical Southern Belle with her first Oscar win from her iconic performance as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind). What the average person may not remember is Blanche's backstory as a schoolteacher and Allan—the boy she loved and married.

However, Allan's eyes aren't only fixated on Blanche. The gay subplot of this film reminds us of the double lives that homosexuals were once forced to inhabit, with Blanche's husband's suicide directly the result of her shaming him when he is discovered having sex with another man. This, in turn, resulted in the immense guilt she has borne ever since. Of course, the described events happen before the film even starts, so no spoilers for classic movie fans. The spicier director's cut of this groundbreaking film is available to stream.

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Suddenly, Last Summer [Courtesy of Sony Pictures]

Insanity, sex, and cannibalism are on display in another Williams adaptation, this time with screen heavyweights Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn. Catherine Holly (Taylor) is institutionalized following the events of the film's title, with an aunt from Hell—New Orleans matriarch Violet Venable (Hepburn)—who seeks to have her niece lobotomized by Doctor Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift).

Why, you may ask? Well, perhaps it's because both Catherine and Violet have pasts that involve their statuses as a "beard" for their family member Sebastian and exist only to attract handsome young men into his life. All sorts of sordid happenings were occurring in 1930s New Orleans. When you think about it, Tennessee Williams sure made it a point to subject his female characters to mental illness and penitence on the backs of his offscreen homosexuals.

Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Interview With The Vampire [Courtesy of Warner Bros.]

Keeping with the gay subtext, it is quite obvious that Lestat (Tom Cruise) and Louis (Brad Pitt) are having a physical relationship, even though Hollywood in the 1990s would rarely "pull the trigger" on a same-sex love scene. This adaptation of Anne Rice's novel is no exception (with the book being much more explicit as it pertains to sexuality). The two vampires even share parental rights of cute little bloodsucker Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) before Lestat's behavior drives the two to partake in drastic measures.

The movie also co-stars Christian Slater as the interviewer and Antonio Banderas as Armand, head of Paris' vampiric theatrical troupe, who obviously loves Louis but not so much Claudia. We horror fans recognize a legend when we see them, so nary a list like this goes by without including something from the late, great Anne Rice. But beware, watch the terrible 2002 sequel (Queen of the Damned) at your own risk. As for this '90s classic, you can check it out online for a nominal fee.

Upstairs Inferno (2015)

Upstairs Inferno [Courtesy of Camina Entertainment]

This gripping documentary concerning New Orleans' 1973 UpStairs Lounge fire that killed 32 people is both heartbreaking and enlightening. It gives viewers the chance to see the survivors of what was once the deadliest mass murder of gay people in our nation's history, which would unfortunately be eclipsed the following year after this film debuted.

The men who perished in the fire were fathers, sons, brothers, and friends. Some were parishioners of the Metropolitan Community Church, which, for a while, congregated in that very lounge. Men who were able to enter into same-sex unions under the guidance of Reverend Troy Perry, long before our nation's laws were rightfully updated by the U.S. Supreme Court—the exact year this film came out. We learn that the patrons of the UpStairs Lounge had gathered for their weekly "Beer Bust" event, shortly before their lives were tragically ended by someone with a vendetta. However, the denouement of Director Robert Camina's film is one of healing and long-overdue recognition. Available to stream, free of charge, through apps such as Tubi.

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