Decades of Pride: FX Docuseries showcases LGBTQ history

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Saturday May 8, 2021
Share this Post:
Decades of Pride: FX Docuseries showcases LGBTQ history

In six episodes made by six directors, FX's Pride Docuseries showcases six decades of stunning and deeply touching interviews and archival footage to visualize the more than half century of struggles and achievements of LGBTQ leaders, activists, artists and everyday people who became pivotal contributors to civil rights and equality.

Killer Films (This American Life, Mildred Pierce) and Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize winning VICE Studios (Flee, The Report) are the producers of Pride, a six-part documentary series chronicling the struggle for LGBTQ civil rights in America from the 1950s through the 2000s.

The limited series spans the FBI surveillance of homosexuals during the 1950s Lavender Scare to the "Culture Wars" of the 1990s and beyond, exploring the queer legacy of the Civil Rights movement and the battle over marriage equality.

With six renowned LGBTQ directors exploring heroic and heartbreaking stories that define us as a nation, we get six different documentary styles as well.

a scene from FX's 'Pride'  

Episode 1: 'People Had Parties, directed by Tom Kalin, includes rare home movies of queer people in the 1950s and the repression of the McCarthy era.

Episode 2 focuses on 'Riots & Revolutions,' and Director Andrew Ahn blends historic protest footage with interviews of marginalized communities, women of color and trans people.

In Episode 3, 'The Vanguard of Struggle,' Director Cheryl Dunye interweaves archival footage, personal testimonies and interviews to show how the 1970s helped forge a national movement, from the first Gay Pride march, to the rise of artists like filmmaker Barbara Hammer and poet Audre Lorde, to the confrontation of intersectional feminism and the backlash and opposition from the religious right.

Anthony Caronna and Alexande Smith co-directed 'Underground,' the fourth 1980s episode, which focuses on downtown New York's scene, including AIDS activist Ann Northrup in footage (by the late Robert Hilferty) of the infamous 1989 ACT UP Stop the Church protest at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Uptown stories include rare scenes of the Black ball culture (later dramatized in FX's series Pose).

Yance Ford's 1990s 'Culture Wars' recalls the "friendly" Clinton-era continued struggles, and the final episode, 'Y2Gay,' by Ro Haber, compares our increased rights and mainstream visibility with trans struggles.

a scene from FX's 'Pride'  

The series doesn't just focus on known leaders. Discover the legacy of attorney and memoirist Madeleine Tress, and 1980s videographer Nelson Sullivan, who chronicled a vanishing downtown New York City during the AIDS epidemic.

The series also features international figures such as Civil Rights pioneer Bayard Rustin, Senators Tammy Baldwin and Lester Hunt. Acclaimed local author Brontez Purnell is also included among the interviewees.

Said Producer Christine Vachon, "It's just critical that we get our stories told."

Three of the six episodes premiere on FX and Hulu May 14.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.