LGBTQ Comedies through the Decades: Torch Song Trilogy, But I’m a Cheerleader, and GBF

18 Aug

August is LGBTQ Pride Month in Hoboken and as in June we have lots to celebrate as we look back on the struggles that have been overcome and the many accomplishments of the LGBTQ community.  For this post I wanted to look at three movies that use humor as a way to engage audiences, poke fun at stereotypes, and show the ridiculousness of certain theories/practices.

Torch Song Trilogy (1988)
Torch Song Trilogy is a comedy-drama adaption by Harvey Fierstein of his award winning play.  The film stars Fierstein, Anne Bancroft, and Matthew Broderick.  Torch Song Trilogy is set over three distinct time periods as it follows the life and loves of a witty NYC drag queen & torch song singer as he copes with his ex-lover, his mother and adjusting to life with his adoptive teenage son.  The film and play shed light on issues like gay adoption before they were commonly widely discussed.  Available to borrow from BCCLS Libraries.

In honor of Hoboken’s Pride Month, the Hoboken Public Library, will present a staged reading of the Tony Award-winning comedy/ drama on Saturday, August 28 at 3:00 pm.  The cast features Broadway, Film and TV actors Sidney Myer, Michael Stever, Logann Grayce and Hoboken’s own Florence Pape who will perform this funny and sometimes intense staged reading. Registration is required and seating is limited.

Also for Hoboken’s Pride, singer and musician Andrew Schwarz will present a solo concert titled “EltonJohnish” on Saturday, August 21 at 2:00 pm in the Church Square Park Gazebo.

But I’m a Cheerleader (2000)
Netflix recently came out with a documentary, Pray Away, about the “conversion therapy” movement, but for a fictionalized subversive take on the movement bridging the 90’s and 00’s,  there was But I’m a Cheerleader.  Popular teen, Megan (Natasha Lyonne) loves cheerleading, however, her parents are suspicious that despite Megan’s protests that she might be a lesbian.  They send her off to a summer camp that promises to have her acting more “straight.”  Of course things don’t go as planned when Megan meets the intriguing Graham played by Clea Duvall.  Although the film from 2000, is a lot of campy fun, there is a seriousness to the fact that real people were pushed into harmful “conversion therapy” which still persisted into the early millennium. Available to stream from Kanopy and on DVD and Blu-Ray from BCCLS Libraries.

GBF (2014)
GBF in the mid 10’s, sought to skewer stereotypes of what it means to be gay including the token gay best friend character that had sprung up over the years as the needed accessory for any fashionable straight woman.  Two gay NJ teens: Brent (Paul Iacono), who wants to be outed as a road to popularity and another Tanner (Michael J. Willett), who would prefer to stay closeted, find their roles reversed.  Coincidentally Natasha Lyonne also stars in the film as a teacher. Although LGBTQ rights have come a long way, high school and growing up are never easy.  In the spirit of Mean Girls and Clueless, GBF pokes fun at being both a modern gay and straight teen.  Available to stream from Hoopla.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

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