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Pride Month 2021: Celebrate with Feel Good, Pose, more movies and TV shows

Lesbian romances, gay thrillers, queer comedies, trans documentaries, drag queen reality shows -- these LGBTQI-themed movies and shows are streaming now.

The drama Pose portrays New York City's African-American and Latino LGBTQI and gender-nonconforming ballroom culture scene from the 1980s through the 1990s.

FX Networks

This June marks the 51st Pride Month, a time to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex community that spans races, ages and geographical lines. The past year has been tough for anyone, so Pride 2021 is perfectly timed to celebrate queer life and love in these thrilling, life-affirming or thought-provoking movies and TV shows.

The first LGBTQ pride march took place in New York on June 28, 1970. It was a two-fold occasion, marking the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, protests that spurred the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

While some will return to pride parades in person this year, there are plenty of brilliant LGBTQI films and TV shows to stay in with. CNET staff has rounded up a bunch of options that portray a range of stories and experiences.

Feel Good

Feel Good features Canadian stand-up comedian Mae Martin, who reflects on life, love and sobriety in this semi-fictitious drama. We see her struggle with addiction and sexism, as well as her romance with a new girlfriend who has never been with another woman before. Even in its tougher moments this show strives to live up to its title as you root for the cast of troubled but loveable characters. And with perfect timing, Season 2 streams on Netflix from June 4 2021.

-- Bonnie Burton

Betty

HBO series Betty premiered in May 2020 during the Covid pandemic, and proved to be the perfect life-affirming slice-of-life story to remind us of better times. A tight-knit all-girl crew of young skaters from different backgrounds come together to ride New York's streets and parks in a dreamily-shot tale of vibrant community. The second season picks up this month with the young skaters back on their grind and never missing a trick. The release date for Betty season 2 is June 18. 

-- Richard Trenholm

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

This compelling documentary investigates the mysterious 1992 death of Marsha P. Johnson -- a black, trans and gay rights activist and veteran of the Stonewall uprising of 1969. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson uses archival interviews with Johnson, as well as new interviews with Johnson's family, friends and fellow activists. This is a must-see movie for those who want to learn more about gay, trans and black history, but also for those who believe Johnson was murdered and want justice.

-- Bonnie Burton

A Single Man 

Colin Firth is George Falconer, a middle-aged English college professor (who's also English) living in 1962 Los Angeles in this 2009 movie based on Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel of the same name. When the film opens, it's been eight months since his longtime partner Jim (played in flashbacks by Matthew Goode) died in a car wreck. Still deeply in mourning, George goes about his day on autopilot while connecting with his best friend Charley (Julianne Moore) and meeting Kenny, an attractive student (Nicholas Hoult). 

It's a moving story that doesn't shy away from the cruel homophobia of the time (we learn Jim's family did not allow George to attend his funeral). Directed by fashion designer Tom Ford, the sets, costumes and music are stunningly gorgeous.

-- Kent German 

Pose 

Pose, created by American Horror Story's Ryan Murphy, is a TV drama about New York City's African-American and Latinx LGBTQI ballroom culture scene during its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s. Pose was inspired by the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning. The series, which has completed its third and final season, also tackles the HIV/AIDS crisis. It features the largest cast of trans actors as series regulars on a scripted show, including Our Lady J, MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Angelica Ross and Hailie Sahar. Pose also stars the one and only Billy Porter as the ballroom grandfather Pray Tell. Janet Mock also writes, produces and directs Pose episodes.

-- Bonnie Burton

God's Own Country 

The title of this 2017 British film refers to a popular nickname for the English county of Yorkshire. But as you'll soon learn after the opening credits, the Yorkshire you see on screen looks like anything but glorious. Johnny Saxby (Josh O'Connor of The Crown) lives a bleak, hardscrabble existence running his family farm after his gruff father has a stroke. When he's not tending sheep under perpetually somber skies or suppressing his emotions, he's binge drinking in local pubs and having rough, secret sex with other men.

But that all changes when he's forced to hire Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe Ionescu (Alec Secăreanu) for extra help. Johnny is hardly welcoming at first -- his use of a racial slur provokes an all-out fight between them -- but something deeper soon grows. You'll notice similarities between this movie and 2005's Brokeback Mountain, but God's Own Country stands on its own by telling a spellbinding story with outstanding performances.

-- Kent German

Schitt's Creek

One of the remarkable aspects of the amazing Schitt's Creek is that it's no big deal one of its main characters is openly gay. David Rose's sexuality is written into the script as completely normative. David doesn't need to come out of the closet. He's just out. And everyone is fine with it.

This shouldn't be remarkable, but it is. Because his sexuality isn't an issue, his search for love is funny, quirky and complicated -- like it is for the rest of the cast. The award-winning Schitt's Creek is aspirational, hilarious and wonderful, just like David.

-- Natalie Weinstein 

Milk 

This 2008 biopic tells the story of Harvey Milk, the gay rights activist and first out elected official in California who was assassinated in 1978 shortly after being elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Sean Penn, who won an Academy Award for the role, is tremendous, and he's backed by equally strong performances from his co-stars and a brilliant (and Academy Award-winning) script. 

Harvey's political awakening, his advocacy for San Francisco's Castro neighborhood and his transformative effect on the LGBTQI rights movement are the film's heart, but it also truthfully shows the cruel legal threats facing gay people in the 1970s and how they fought back. Three decades after his death, Milk's inspirational lessons on organizing, advocacy and fighting for quality are just as important. "You gotta give them hope," Harvey said. Milk shows just how we did it.

-- Kent German 

Everything's Gonna Be Okay

Neurotic gay 20-something Nicholas, played by Australian comedian Josh Thomas, becomes the guardian to his two younger teenage sisters after their father passes away from cancer. One sister is on the autism spectrum and the other sister has anger issues, which often means plenty of cringe-worthy but honest socially awkward moments that make Everything's Gonna Be Okay so much fun to watch.

-- Bonnie Burton

Happiest Season 

If you like your Christmas movies with a dash of substance, Happiest Season is one of the best new gems to slide onto your holiday viewing shelf. Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis star as loving couple Abby and Harper, who encounter a single spanner in their relationship: Harper hasn't come out to her conservative family yet. Delivering all the warmth of a Hallmark card with none of the cheesiness, and bolstered by a stellar supporting cast including Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie and Dan Levy, Happiest Season is a smart, modern Christmas movie with emotional punch.

-- Jennifer Bisset

Pride 

This 2014 British film tells the true story of a group of gay and lesbian activists who raised money for the National Union of Mineworkers as they faced Margaret Thatcher's government during a miner's contentious strike from 1984 to 1985. There's a culture clash between the activists and the working-class residents of a small Welsh town, but the two communities come to understand one another. Funny, sad and touching, the film shows the importance of building alliances in the struggle for rights and equality.

-- Kent German 

Derry Girls 

Riotous comedy Derry Girls takes us back to 1990s Derry, Ireland, where the teenage woes of Erin and her friends play out on a backdrop of the Northern Ireland conflict. In the final episode of season 1, Clare comes out to Erin as a lesbian, which produces one of the best lines of the show -- "Your gayness is staggering!" After a couple of rocky moments, the gang make a sweet statement of love and support to Clare via a brilliantly awkward dance routine. The entire show draws from the same well of sweet, feel-good charm.

-- Jennifer Bisset

Boys Don't Cry 

Just as relevant now as when it came out in 1999, Boys Don't Cry is a brilliant film about the painful struggles of Brandon Teena, a young transgender man looking for acceptance in rural America.

-- Sarah Tew 

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Set in France in the late 18th century, Portrait of a Lady on Fire tells the story of a forbidden affair between a female aristocrat named Héloïse and the female painter Marianne commissioned to paint her portrait. But there's a catch: Marianne must paint Héloïse without her knowing. She observes Héloïse by day as her companion so she can paint her portrait in secret. Eventually, a romance between the two blossoms in this breathtakingly beautiful tale.

-- Bonnie Burton

Blue is the Warmest Color

French teenager Adele seems to be boy-crazy, but when a mysterious blue-haired university student named Emma enters her life, everything changes. The film is notorious for its graphic lesbian sex scenes, but Blue is the Warmest Color is more than that. It's a romance between two girls with very different views on their own sexual identities. Emma is out as a lesbian, whereas Adele prefers to keep her sexuality a secret.

-- Bonnie Burton

Homecoming season 2

Season 1 of this Amazon Prime Video original series has Julia Roberts playing a conflicted counselor who falls for a soldier she's helping to forget his painful past. But it's season 2 of Homecoming that shows its queer side. Janelle Monáe plays the lead as a woman who temporarily loses her memory and spends the entire season trying to remember why she woke up on a boat floating in the middle of a lake. She eventually discovers that she has a long-term relationship with another woman who may or may not be the cause of her memory loss.

-- Bonnie Burton

Moonlight

Moonlight chronicles the life of Chiron, who grows up poor, black and gay in a rough neighborhood in Miami. The film shows the three defining chapters in Chiron's life, including his neglected childhood; his ongoing struggles with his sexuality, unstable family life during adolescence and finally his ultimate fulfillment as an adult. To say this movie is emotional and moving is an understatement.

-- Bonnie Burton

Sense8

Imagine waking up one day to discover your consciousness is suddenly linked to other strangers around the world. That's the fate of eight individuals in the sci-fi series Sense8. The characters -- who span from straight, gay, lesbian, poly and trans -- can see and feel each other's thoughts, emotions and experiences. Sense8's showrunners are also Matrix movie creators Lana and Lilly Wachowski, both trans women. It isn't just the impressive representation of LGBTQI characters and storylines that makes this show remarkable. Its sci-fi premise is also original and unexpected.

-- Bonnie Burton

All in My Family

US-based gay filmmaker Hao Wu documents his traditional Chinese family's process accepting his decision to have kids via surrogates. All in My Family is an interesting glimpse into Chinese culture and how it views homosexuality. It's also a touching look at how Wu comes to terms with his chosen life in America as opposed to the life he was born into in China.

-- Bonnie Burton

Gentleman Jack

Set in 1832 Yorkshire, Gentleman Jack is inspired by the true story of charismatic landowner Anne Lister, who attempts to revitalize her inherited home and marry a wealthy heiress. This lesbian romance is also full of drama involving Anne's day-to-day encounters with servants, tenants and various industrial rivals.

-- Bonnie Burton

Everything Sucks

The teen drama Everything Sucks tells the story of Kate Messner, a high school sophomore who's coming to terms with her sexuality as a lesbian during the mid-1990s. Set way before social media and cellphones, Kate's journey is an accurate view at how hard it was to be a queer teen in earlier times.

-- Bonnie Burton

Into the Dark: Midnight Kiss

When five friends meet up for New Year's Eve in Palm Springs, booze, drugs and sex are on their minds. But as this LGBTQI thriller reveals, relationships can get tricky when friends and lovers don't tell the truth. Midnight Kiss is a stylized horror film full of revenge, regret and blood.

-- Bonnie Burton

I Am Not Okay With This

Teen girl Syd not only has to come to terms with the recent loss of her father, but also deal with her budding sexual identity. That's not even the biggest issue in I Am Not Okay With This. Syd suddenly has superpowers and isn't sure how to use them.

-- Bonnie Burton

Queer Eye

Queer Eye features loveable gay experts Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk and Karamo Brown, who travel to different US cities (and sometimes Japan) to help people get their lives together. The Fab Five provide help to people from all walks of life who could use some advice about fashion, home decor, food and life in general. But it's not really about the makeover on the outside, but the transformations in people's hearts and minds that truly make this a gem of a series.

-- Bonnie Burton

Sex Education

Sex Education is about virgin Otis (the son of a sex therapist), who teams up with his friend Maeve to run a secret sex therapy business at their high school. It doesn't matter if you're a misfit, a popular kid or even a bully -- you need sex advice. One of the more touching storylines involves Otis' best friend Eric, who must deal with the expectations of his family about his own sexuality and gender identity. The show is painfully awkward at times, but overall pretty accurate.

-- Bonnie Burton

The Half of It

When smart but cash-strapped teen Ellie Chu agrees to write a love letter for an inarticulate jock at her high school, she doesn't expect to also fall for the object of his affection -- another girl. The Half of It feels like a lesbian Cyrano de Bergerac tale with heart-wrenching moments and a dash of teen comedy.

-- Bonnie Burton

Laerte-Se

After living as a man for almost 60 years (and having  three kids and three marriages), Brazil's most brilliant cartoonist Laerte Coutinho finally introduces herself to the world as a woman. The documentary Laerte-Se gives a candid look into Laerte's everyday life, as well as her transformation.

-- Bonnie Burton

Last Ferry

In the thriller Last Ferry, a young, inexperienced gay lawyer travels to Fire Island in the off-season looking for romance and friendship, but instead finds himself in trouble after witnessing a murder. This intriguing thriller has plenty of twists and turns all the way to the surprising end.

-- Bonnie Burton

Legendary

This reality show on HBO Max attempts to portray modern-day LGBTQI ballroom culture, in which "houses" of dancers compete for prizes and the ultimate title of a reigning house. While New York City's traditional ballroom scene once was primarily dominated by African-American and Latinx members, the new show also includes cisgender women, white and Asian-American voguing masters. Legendary feels more like an introduction to ballroom culture for those who have never seen voguing outside of the series Pose and Madonna's famous Vogue music video.

Legendary hasn't been without some controversy. When actor Jameela Jamil was announced as the show's host and one of the judges many wondered why a cisgender woman with zero background in ballroom culture was hired over a well-known trans woman and mother of a ballroom house Trace Lysette. Controversy aside, the show is a fun introduction to the drama and excitement of ballroom. If you want learn more about ballroom history, watch the documentaries Paris is Burning and Kiki.

-- Bonnie Burton

RuPaul's Drag Race

Drag queen royalty RuPaul makes wearing wigs, false eyelashes, sequined gowns and high heels into an extreme sport with popular reality show RuPaul's Drag Race. Watch new and legendary drag queens from all backgrounds battle it out for the crown as they compete in costume, acting, dancing and performing challenges, which always end in them lip syncing for their lives. The series is more than drama and dance trauma, however. It also celebrates friendship, as well as some very moving moments of self-discovery and hard work it takes to be a successful drag queen.

-- Bonnie Burton