Queer Films Made Before Stonewall Prove There Has Always Been LGBT Characters In Movies

Jeremy Kinser

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Just as gay people have always been around, so have queer characters in movies. We’ve been here from the very earliest days of the flickers (an experimental film from 1895 shows two men dancing while a third plays a violin) to the dawn of the gay liberation movement when characterizations of LGBT people began to become more complex and multi-dimensional with bold films such as 1968’s The Killing of Sister George. All of these cinematic pioneers will get their due as the focus of An Early Clue to the New Direction: Queer Cinema Before Stonewall, the most comprehensive LGBT film series yet assembled, that will be screened at Lincoln Center In New York City today through May 1.

Many of the medium’s finest directors, including John Huston, Vincente Minnelli and Ingmar Bergman are represented with screenings during the series. From well-known titles such Minnelli’s adaptation of the now-quaint play Tea and Sympathy, Huston’s melodrama Reflections in a Golden Eye starring Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando, Andy Warhol’s erotic My Hustler (pictured above) and Bergman’s influential Persona to less-available works like Jose Rodriguez-Soltero’s avant-garde Lupe Vélez biopic Lupe and Andrew Meyer’s moving An Early Clue to the New Direction. Drag fans will relish the 1968 doc The Queen, which now stands as a compelling time capsule as it was filmed during 1967’s Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant and the same year’s fascinating Queens at Heart, which features interviews with a quartet of transwomen and provides an early look at ball culture.

The opening night selection is 1931’s Mädchen in Uniform, a lesbian-themed drama from Germany that found a somewhat unlikely champion in First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Related: If Stonewall Whetted Your Appetite For Bad Movies, Try These

Watch a trailer for the entire film series below. For more info on screenings and tickets, go here.

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