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Celebrating 10 Trailblazing LGBTQ+ Directors

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June is like a month-long extravaganza where the dress code is strictly rainbow. It's packed with so many amazing events like pride parades, picnics, concerts, and of course, epic movie marathons. We all know that representation matters, so for Pride Month, we're celebrating the top 10 LGBTQ+ directors who have made waves in the industry.

These filmmakers explore a wide range of genres, from campy delights to heart-wrenching stories, and from groundbreaking narratives to side-splitting comedies. They're pushing boundaries and giving us incredible films to enjoy and celebrate during this month.

The Wachowskis

What should I know? Lana and Lilly Wachowski led a genre revolution with the game-changing Matrix franchise, which took the world by storm in 1999. These groundbreaking sisters didn't stop there though—they also made headlines with the mind-blowing Sense8 orgy scene that had the internet buzzing. As trans women, they effortlessly integrated themes of sexuality into the sci-fi landscape through their acclaimed Netflix series. Their impressive filmography includes gems like V for Vendetta, Speed Racer, and Cloud Atlas, with the slight mishap of Jupiter Ascending (but hey, we can forgive them for that one). 

What should I watch? The Matrix (1999)

Gus Van Sant

What should I know? Gus Van Sant is the ultimate film wizard who's known for his remarkable films such as Good Will Hunting, Milk, and My Own Private Idaho. With an exceptional range and a killer artistic vision, his work delves into the complexities of human relationships, social issues, and personal struggles, delivering films that hit you right in the feels. Not limited to filmmaking, he’s also tipped a toe into the realm of music, directing music videos for artists ranging from Elton John to Hanson.

What should I watch? My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Todd Haynes

What should I watch? Todd Haynes is a filmmaker who knows how to make an impression. His films are all about pushing boundaries and diving into unconventional themes. Whether it's a compelling love story or a gripping historical drama, Haynes fearlessly explores topics like identity, sexuality, and gender, offering fresh perspectives and thought-provoking narratives. Films like Far from Heaven, Carol, and Velvet Goldmine have solidified his reputation as a boss-level storyteller.

What should I watch? Carol (2015)

Dee Rees

What should I know? Dee Rees is a seriously talented director and almost all of her films are top-notch, except for maybe The Last Thing He Wanted (but let's not dwell on that). She's received critical acclaim, and Emmy nominations, and even scored an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Her body of work tackles the complexities of race, identity, and intersectionality in a way that truly strikes a chord.

What should I watch?: Pariah (2011)

John Waters

What should I know? John Waters, aka the Warden of Weird, is a bona fide visual artist who slays in multiple mediums. You might also know him as the genius behind the iconic musical Hairspray. He has been in the game for ages, and his unique blend of campy and dark humor has been entertaining people for just as long. With his signature pencil mustache and proudly gay identity, Waters is an absolute legend in his own right.

What should I watch? Serial Mom (1994)

Cheryl Dunye

What I should know? Cheryl Dunye, a renowned director, gained acclaim for her contributions to the new queer cinema movement in the 1990s. As the first ‘out' Black lesbian director of a US feature film, she made history with The Watermelon Woman. Dunye now directs episodes for various hit TV shows like The Rookie: Feds, The Chi, The Equalizer, and Bridgerton. Proudly identifying as a lesbian, her work has paved the way for LGBTQ+ representation, particularly within the Black lesbian community.

What should I watch? Watermelon Woman (1996)

Céline Sciamma

What should I know? Céline Sciamma is an absolute revelation when it comes to creating visually stunning and emotionally captivating films. Her works, including Water Lilies, Tomboy, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire, have gained widespread recognition and critical acclaim. Drawing from her own experiences and sexuality, Sciamma’s films delve into themes of gender identity and the complexities of sexuality. Her movies, often centered around female characters, provide powerful perspectives on their experiences and desires.

What should I watch? Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Alan Ball

What should I know? Alan Ball has solidified his status as a TV GOAT with unforgettable creations like Six Feet Under and True Blood. But that's not all—this genius also penned the screenplay for the acclaimed film American Beauty. With an impressive collection of awards, including an Academy Award, an Emmy, and a Golden Globe, Ball has proven his talent time and time again. While he's primarily known for his TV work, he has also taken a turn behind the camera for a few feature films.

What should I watch? True Blood (2008)

Janet Mock

What should I know? Janet Mock is the ultimate multi-hyphenate icon who excels in every role she takes on. Starting as an award-winning journalist, she ventured into the realms of authorship and film production before making her mark as a talented TV writer and director. Notably, Mock made history as the first trans woman of color to direct, write, and produce a TV series, joining the groundbreaking show Pose. While she hasn't delved into film directing yet, her directorial prowess shines through in the episodes she helmed. Mock continues to break barriers as she creates an enduring legacy in the industry.

What should I watch? Pose (2018)

Desiree Akhavan

What should I know? Desiree Akhavan is a filmmaker, writer, and actress who has been making waves since her debut film, Appropriate Behavior, hit screens in 2015, she's even scooped up some seriously impressive awards, like the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Akhavan explores themes of sexuality and coming-of-age, infusing her work with her own experiences as a bisexual woman. She's a true artist and someone you definitely don't want to sleep on.

What should I watch? Appropriate Behavior (2015)

Do you have any suggestions for our list? Let us know in the comments!

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Jaime Blanson
Jaime Blanson
Jaime Blanson is a seasoned filmmaker and storytelling wizard on a mission to amplify Black LGBTQ+ representation in pop culture. When they're not busy crafting content, you'll find them on a hunt for fresh Funkos to add to their expanding collection or championing the continued relevance of Tumblr.
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