10 LGBTQ Documentaries You Might’ve Missed in 2018, About Punks, Playwrights & More

It’s been a pretty great year for films, from the scene-stealing Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born to the record-breaking might of Avengers: Infinity War. But breaking out from the blockbuster limelight, unbeknownst to many it’s also been a great year for LGBTQ documentaries.

This year, docs like Won’t You Be My Neighbor and RBG have shown that the taste for documentaries is still well and truly there, offering unique first-hand accounts of interesting stories and subjects.

But let’s say you’re a little overwhelmed with the sheer number of amazing documentaries released this year. Well, fear not, as we’ve recapped some of our favorite LGBTQ documentaries of the past year, documenting transitions, revolutions and even a bit of ice skating.

Here are 10 LGBTQ documentaries you may have missed this year:

1. The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

lgbtq documentaries armistead

Armistead Maupin is the writer best known for his San Francisco-set Tales of the City books of the 1970s and its subsequent television adaptation in the ’90s. The books and series were one of the first to show positive representations of gay men and trans women in the mainstream.

This documentary by Jennifer M. Kroot shows the incredible achievements Maupin has achieved throughout his writing career, from author of a newspaper serial to international bestseller. Perhaps the most affecting part of the documentary is the focus on Maupin’s sexuality, previous relationships and how the AIDS epidemic took center stage in his life.

Available to stream on Netflix

2. Dykes, Camera, Action

lgbtq documentaries dykes

This documentary sees the story of queer cinema told directly by the women who made it happen. Directed by Caroline Berler, the film explores how queer women have expressed their identity through film, most notably during the Stonewall and experimental cinema eras of the 1970s.

Featuring first-hand interviews with the likes of Cheryl Dunye, B. Ruby Rich, Vicky Du and Barbara Hammer, it’s a riveting watch that demonstrates how expressionism matters and how it gives a voice to people who may not feel heard.

Screening globally (details here)

3. Denial

lgbtq documentaries denial

What first began as a project to show how Vermont Electric Cooperative’s CEO was incorporating the dangers of climate change into the energy industry quickly becomes a whole other project.

Filmed by the CEO’s son, it’s revealed the subject of the film is undergoing a gender transition into Christine. Not just showcasing how global warming is impacting various aspects of the world, we see the journey of Christine Hallquist (who later unsuccessfully ran for governor of Vermont) trying to come to terms with everything at the same time as her family and business colleagues. It’s a powerful tale of transition and family while also an important reminder that it’s never too late to find yourself.

Available to stream on Revry

4. Every Act of Life

lgbtq documentaries terrence

World-renowned playwright Terrence McNally is the subject of this career-spanning doc. The man behind dramas and musicals, including Master ClassTeeth Apart and The Full Monty, the Tony Award-winner’s career is documented through interviews with screen legends like Angela Lansbury, Christine Baranski, Nathan Lane (pictured above with McNally), Billy Porter and Edie Falco.

The film also touches upon McNally’s fight for LGBT rights, his own internal battles and being openly gay in Texas. Of the year’s LGBTQ documentaries, this one’s a story of survival and success, with plenty of talent.

Screening globally (details here)

5. The 34th

lgbtq documentaries 34th

The battle for marriage equality in Ireland is historic for a number of reasons. Not only was the fight successful in 2015, resulting in the 34th amendment of the constitution, but it also saw Ireland become the first country in the world to legalize marriage equality by public vote. This success is also being used to spur on Northern Ireland’s continued battle for marriage equality.

Directed and produced by Linda Cullen and Vanessa Gildea, the film uses a blend of archival footage and interviews with people directly involved in the fight for equality in Ireland. The film has received critical praise from film festivals, including the 29th Hamburg International Queer Film Festival, where it won the coveted Audience Award.

Available to stream on Netflix

6. Call Her Ganda

lgbtq documentaries call me ganda

Following the political and social aftermath of the murder of Filipina trans woman Jennifer Laude, Call Me Ganda is an unflinching fight for justice.

Following activist attorney Virgie Suarez, trans journalist Meredith Talusan and Jennifer’s mother Julita “Nanay” Laude, it’s the defiant tale of how a brutal murder sparks a political uprising and leaves a lasting memory. One of the year’s most important LGBTQ documentaries.

Available on DVD and VOD

7. The Fabulous Allan Carr

lgbtq documentaries allan carr

As a producer, manager and marketing maestro, Allan Carr was the name behind some of the biggest films and Broadway shows, including Grease and La Cage Aux Folles. But his glorious Hollywood life came crashing down in 1989.

After producing the 61st Academy Awards, which was then described as deserving of a “permanent place in the annals of Oscars embarrassments,” Carr would never produce a film, television show or theatrical production again. This documentary showcases the rise-and-fall of one of Hollywood’s most flamboyant stars, and one who is rarely given the credit deserved for his impact on pop culture.

Available on DVD and VOD

8. The Ice King

lgbtq documentaries ice king

John Curry paved the way for generations of athletes when he won gold at the 1976 Winter Olympics. Showing more to the man than the trophies, this — one of the year’s best LGBTQ documentaries — features unseen footage alongside unprecedented access to his letters and photos, showcasing a hidden romance and an unsuccessful battle with HIV.

With his sexuality exposed by a German publication the same year he won gold, it’s a tale of defiance as much as it is a championing of Curry’s successes. Contributions from former British skating champions reiterate Curry’s impact and how he forged the way forward for the likes of Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy.

Available on DVD and VOD

9. Studio 54

lgbtq documentaries studio 54

In the ’70s, the New York City nightclub Studio 54 was the place to be. In fact, the club quickly came to define an era.

This documentary follows co-owners Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell as they conquered New York City, only to have it all famously fall apart. Featuring interviews (some of Schrager’s first) and archival footage from inside the club, it’s a time capsule of the most exclusive and recognized club ever, from its highest highs to its lowest lows.

Available on DVD and VOD

10. Queercore: How to Punk a Generation

lgbtq documentaries queercore

The queer punk scene of the mid-1980s was revolutionary. Through homemade zines and underground films, the movement was a retaliation against the prejudices pressed onto the LGBTQ community at the time.

This film showcases how Canadian friends Bruce LaBruce and G.B. Jones sparked a revolution and helped transform the mainstream, homophobic punk scene — giving a platform for queer people who felt they didn’t fit in.pu k

Screening globally (details here)

What were some of your favorite LGBTQ documentaries of 2018?