Between Pride Month celebrations and July 4th fireworks, you probably haven’t had much time in your summer schedule for TV. But while we were all marching in parades and dancing until dawn, some fabulous queer content dropped.
Now that Pride is over — the festivities, that is; Pride is ever really over — and you’ve hopefully got some much-needed downtime coming our way in the dog days of summer, it’s a perfect opportunity to catch up on this essential viewing.
Netflix released the teaser clip at the streamer’s recent fan event in Brazil.
From true crime investigations to Hollywood history to exuberantly defiant performances, here’s what you may have missed.
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Today, Manhattan’s Meatpacking district is a playground for the rich, full of designer boutiques and trendy hotels and restaurants. But before Giuliani-era gentrification reshaped the area, it was the stomping ground of Black and brown trans sex workers, many of them with few options after having been pushed out of more traditional jobs. They called it “The Stroll,” and in this intimate, long overdue documentary, they share their stories firsthand. Director Kristen Lovell, a sex worker herself in the 1990s, interviews these women about their experiences of violence from clients, harassment from police, and the bonds they forged to protect each other. Streaming on Max.
Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed
The fact that Hollywood golden boy Rock Hudson — the man, as the cliché goes, that women wanted and men wanted…to be — was a closeted homosexual is one of the great, enduring ironies of McCarthy era show business. This new documentary examines the iconic star’s life and career through the lens of his precarious double life, from the efforts of his managers to turn him into a silver screen heartthrob and keep his private life under wraps to his death from AIDS in 1985.
Featuring new and archival interviews with Piper Laurie, Doris Day, Armistead Maupin, and others who knew him personally, Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed is at once a dishy account of the star’s gay relationships, an eye-opening behind the scenes look at mid-century Hollywood, and a poignant glimpse at the ravages of the early HIV/AIDS epidemic. Streaming on Max.
Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music
If you’re feeling slightly less than patriotic lately in the wake of certain hideous Supreme Court decisions, relentless attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, the disintegration of American democracy, etc., Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music serves as both a joyous post-Pride celebration of the radically queer perspective and post-July 4th counterprogramming.
The film documents the one-time-only, immersive, 24-hour long performance, which itself was the culmination of a years-long project in which Mac performed shows recontextualizing popular American songs from every decade from the country’s founding in 1776 up to 2016.
This exuberant, expansive, fiercely entertaining and deeply moving doc intercuts inciteful interviews with the renowned playwright and performance artist with live footage, capturing the vibe of that transformative 24-hour experience. It will leave you exhausted and exhilarated and longing for a full 24-hour director’s cut. Streaming on Max.
John Early: Now More Than Ever
Part stand-up special, part concert film, part mockumentary – all John Early. The out comedian and actor has made a career out of playing hilariously over-the-top, egomaniacal, spotlight obsessed, and somehow very recognizable characters. His first comedy special finds that persona center stage as he mashes up jokes and live musical performances with his band, The Lemon Squares, intercut with back-stage drama reminiscent of This Is Spinal Tap. Streaming on Max.
Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York
Based on journalist Elon Green’s award-winning 2021 true crime book, this four-part documentary series delves into a darker moment in an already dark chapter of LGBTQ+ history.
At the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the early 90s, a serial killer stalked New York City’s gay bars targeting queer men. Like Green’s book, the series examines how homophobia warped the public’s understanding of the case and undermined law enforcement from bringing the killer to justice for years. But it also highlights the sense of community and liberation that can be found in gay bars and how that led to LGBTQ+ New Yorkers fighting back and demanding justice. Premieres July 9 on HBO and Max.