PBS airs two important documentaries in June to spotlight the LGBT community.
by Nancy Ford
Despite the recent threat from extremist conservatives to pull federal funding from public broadcasting organizations, PBS commemorates June as Pride month with two important documentaries addressing the LGBT community.
Some of the United States’ most prominent LGBT figures and pioneers are featured in OUT in America, Andrew Goldberg’s insightful and well-timed documentary celebrating diversity. Focusing on long-haul heavy-lifters like author/activist/think tank genius Urvashi Vaid to cult flashes like Bravo TV host Andy Cohen, interviewees include author Armistead Maupin, comedian Kate Clinton, and country singer Chely Wright, but also presents stories from lesser-known LGBT individuals like a bi-racial couple in their 80s, a trans police lieutenant, a Latino rapper, members of the clergy, and many others.
The doc also sheds new light on the division of power between gay men and lesbians, with Goldberg illuminating the growing role of lesbians in a community thought to previously primarily focus on gay men. June 8, 7 p.m. PBS (pbshouston.org).
Undeniably, the transgender community is gaining an increasingly louder voice in the American conversation these days, especially on TV. Coming on the heels of Chaz Bono’s insightful documentary illuminating his journey into manhood is Two Spirits, the season closer of PBS’s Independent Lens series.
The term “two spirits” reflects the indigenous tradition of reverence and honor accorded to effeminate men and butch-ish women; Navajo tradition, specifically, allows for four genders. Unfortunately for Fred Martinez, not only was he not revered, but was instead murdered by 18-year-old Shaun Murphy in 2001, becoming at 16 America’s youngest victim of transphobia on record.
In order to effectively convey Martinez’s story, Two Spirits director Lydia Nibley says she and her team worked with more than 60 organizations “to help expand the conversation about gender.” Suffice it to say, they succeed: Rice Cinema and PBS present a screening of Two Spirits, followed by a panel discussion, June 15, 7 p.m., at Rice University. PBS’s national broadcast airs June 14, 9 p.m. PBS (pbshouston.org).