For inspiration this Pride Month, we reached out to staff for their recommendations of LGBTQ+ creators and works that break boundaries — and expand their minds around gender and sexuality.
Their picks, which include television shows, books and podcasts, touch upon everything from love, video games and art to pirates and freedom. Check them out, and support the work and programs of our colleagues, including the LGBTQ+ Campus Resource Center and the Williams Institute.
Diana King, librarian for film, television and theater, world arts and cultures/dance, gender and LGBTQ studies
- WATCH: “Behind Every Good Man,” directed by Nikolai Ursin. This empathetic pre-Stonewall short film follows a Black trans woman presented as hopeful, forward-looking, and self-confident, in opposition to tragic, exploitative, and stereotypical portrayals in Hollywood and mainstream media culture. Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive as part of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, and available online via Internet Archive.
- READ: “Video Games Have Always Been Queer” by Bonnie Ruberg. Ruberg combines queer theory and game studies, arguing for a more expansive discussion of queerness in video games. This framework goes beyond character representation in mainstream games to a conception of how games can be played, interpreted, and designed. While the book contemplates a reconfiguration of understanding the past and present of gaming, Ruberg’s last chapter in particular contemplates the future of a queer gaming avant-garde, “a network of queer game-makers working individually or in small teams to make scrappy, impactful, and indeed revolutionary video games that relate directly to lived LGBTQ experiences.”
Andy Cofino, director of the UCLA LGBTQ Campus Resource Center and the Volunteer Center
- LISTEN: “Making Gay History” is a podcast from journalist Eric Marcus about LGBTQ+ history featuring the voices of those who’ve lived it. I’m a big LGBTQ+ history nerd and this podcast has interviews featuring LGBTQ+ icons, including Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson and former UCLA psychologist Dr. Evelyn Hooker, who helped remove homosexuality as a mental disorder in the U.S.
- WATCH: FX’s “Pose” is a drama about the legends and lives of NYC’s underground LGBTQ ball culture, which spotlights transgender women of color, and tells powerful narratives of queer and trans history. It was also co-created by Steven Canals, a Bruin with an MFA from the class of 2015 and this year’s UCLA Lavender Graduation keynote speaker.
Jade Elyssa Cariaga, chair, UCLA Committee on LGBTQ Affairs and co-chair, UCLA Lambda Alumni Association
- WATCH: “Anything’s Possible.” In a sea of romantic tragedies, this refreshing rom-com celebrates Black trans joy and softness while retaining the quintessential elements of the genre. As Billy Porter’s directorial debut (and written by Ximena García Lecuona), this coming-of-age story earned the 34th GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film by capturing the simplicity that trans love can be.
- READ: “You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty” by Akwaeke Emezi. Gorgeously written and delightfully queer, the book follows Feyi Adekola as she navigates grief and the passionate pursuit of joy (as well as the messy choices that are part and parcel of exploration) against all odds. Best Romance of 2022 by the New York Times and the Washington Post, Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society has purchased the screen rights to the novel and will develop it into a film.
Kim Chatham, executive administrator, Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law
- VISIT: Keith Haring exhibition at the Broad. Keith Haring was a trailblazer in a multitude of ways and an artist who continues to have a tangible presence within the LGBTQIA+ community. This will be the first time such a large collection of his works will be on display on its own in a museum in Los Angeles!
Holly Ober, senior media relations officer, UCLA Strategic Communications
- WATCH: “Our Flag Means Death.” A ship full of queer pirates, with all the swashbuckling, humor and romance that entails.
- WATCH: “Sense8.” Lana and Lilly Wachowski created this trippy show about completely different people around the world who can share each other’s bodies telepathically, a situation that brings them together but also puts them in danger.
Leslie Snipes, social media manager, UCLA Strategic Communications
- READ: “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin. I love this book because it transcends labels and captures the universal human experience of longing and the consequence of denying living authentically.
- WATCH: “Dog Day Afternoon.” This 1975 film is a fantastic true story about pure love because it delves deep into the bond between the characters, Sonny and Leon. It showcases themes of love, acceptance and the struggle for personal freedom.
Michael Callahan, editorial director of UCLA Magazine, UCLA Strategic Communications
- READ: “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston. Soon to be a film on Amazon Prime in August. A breezy, charming rom-com about the son of a female U.S. president and a prince of England who are frenemies and unexpectedly fall in love.
Michael Dirda, director of executive and internal communications, UCLA Strategic Communications
- READ: “The Argonauts” by Maggie Nelson. This is a meandering philosophical meditation comparing pregnancy to a partner’s transition.
Alison Hewitt, senior media relations officer, UCLA Strategic Communications
- LISTEN: “Our Opinions Are Correct” podcast. Science and science-fiction authors/journalists Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders explore storytelling, movies, books, TV and more, discussing queerness in Star Trek, gender and race in Dungeons and Dragons, how science fiction often fails disabled people by trying to “fix” them, and the sexism inherent in the application of smart homes.
- READ: “Light From Uncommon Stars” by Ryka Aoki. A genre-bending own-voices mashup of reality, fantasy and sci-fi. Katrina Nguyen, a trans violinist, wants nothing more than to play her violin and be loved, and runs away from home to the San Gabriel Valley. The stories get a little tangled at the expense of the plot, but there is a lot of kindness and generosity between the characters and exploration of whether and how you can find self-worth, acceptance and love when your birth family has rejected you.
Christopher Coniglio, senior project manager, UCLA Strategic Communications
- WATCH AND READ: “Gods and Monsters,” based on the book “Father of Frankenstein” by Christopher Bram. The story is somewhat of a universal theme, I think. A young man of limited means is befriended by an older man, who is well-to-do but in failing health. The wonderful counterpoint between the two is what makes the story.