Throughout the month of June, Filmstruck will be celebrating Pride by curating five collections of LGBTQ themes in cinema, and some of our favorite queer celebrities will aid in guiding us through the selections.
Lea DeLaria, Alan Cumming, and drag legend Charles Busch are lending their voice to the series of videos that the streaming service will release throughout the month. Cumming and Busch showed up for the “Dressing the Part” series, which dropped last week and explores cross-dressing in film and the influence it’s had on queer culture and social progress. Featured films include like Some Like It Hot (1959) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001).
Orange is the New Black star Lea DeLaria will tackle the lesbian cinema series on June 22nd, which features seven films, including The Watermelon Woman, Cheryl Dunye’s early ’90s indie which DeLaria praises as deeply influential for queer cinema.
“I loved that we were telling our stories for the first time,” she tells The Advocate. “When I saw the change that was happening, that we were starting to tell our own stories, that was like, fuck yeah! This was not The Killing of Sister George, you know what I mean? This was The Watermelon Woman. And the fact that it was about black lesbians was just like, fuck yeah! So good. So cool.”
DeLaria hopes the future of queer cinema includes more romantic comedies and more visibility for butch women, like herself. “I’d love to make a lesbian rom-com,” she says. “That’s just something I’ve never seen. Of course we have laughter and humor and love in our lives, like everybody else. That’s the best part when I saw The Watermelon Woman— I saw us talking about us.”
Of course, there are lesbian rom-coms, like the 2005 classic Imagine Me & You, and Angela Robinson’s D.E.B.S. (2004), but happy-go-lucky queer movies come few and far between. However, these movies, along with many queer female narratives, mostly feature femme or femme-leaning women. DeLaria wants to change that.
“I think it’s very important for me to be visible as butch because butch is not the same as any other lesbian,” she explains. “When we start to forget that there are other kinds of us out there, that’s not a good thing. I need people to recognize, yes, I’m a lesbian, but I’m a butch.”
Other curations in the series include the oeuvre of director and AIDS activist Derek Jarman, films based on the works of playwright Tennessee Williams, and films starring Liza Minnelli.
As for DeLaria, she can be seen in the upcoming sixth season of Orange is the New Black, which was given a release date Tuesday morning (July 27th). DeLaria has brought, and continues to bring much-needed representation to the small screen for MOC queer women.
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