The best documentaries capture important histories, moments, and places with flair and passion while always aiming for realism. For the LGBTQ community, these non-fiction motion pictures fill the bill as they bring untold stories from the underground into the mainstream, especially for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Here is OutSmart’s list of favorite LGBTQ BIPOC documentaries available for streaming this month.
This documentary recounts the story of two pillars in Los Angeles’ Black LGBTQ community—the legendary disco nightclub Catch One, and its owner Jewel Thais-Williams. After opening in 1973, Thais-Williams’ club survived over four decades in spite of racial and cultural barriers, constant police raids, the AIDS crisis, economic depressions, and more. Scored with a greatest-hits soundtrack from the disco era, Catch One and Thais-Williams’ legacies are forever immortalized in this documentary.
Told by the legend himself shortly before his passing in 2019, Walter Mercado looks back at his decades-long career and enduring legacy. For many Latinx families, Mercado’s astrology readings were an essential part of their daily routine, and his positive nature and over-the-top fashions had an unforgettable impact on each of his viewers and listeners. Whether you’re a longtime fan or this Netflix documentary is the first you’re hearing of his work, Mercado’s story will inspire you to live life more freely—and, of course, with lots and lots of love.
Exploring concepts of family, identity, and culture, this Netflix documentary is an honest and humble portrayal of one man’s journey to reconcile with his Chinese family while beginning a new family with his American partner. Surprisingly brief at just a little over an hour, this intimate portrayal is free of any grand gestures and forced relatability. As entertaining as it is realistic, this gem makes viewers really think about what it means to love your family, and how our culture shapes the way we show that love.
CeCe McDonald, a Black trans woman, defended herself against a transphobic attacker. While fighting for her life, her attacker was killed and she was later charged with his death and sent to a men’s detention facility. But her story doesn’t end there. Produced by Laverne Cox, this Amazon Prime Video documentary depicting CeCe’s journey is an inspiration for activists, showing us what it takes to survive and persevere in the face of prejudice and injustice.
This Amazon Prime Video documentary follows Polynesian activist, teacher, and politician Hina Wong-Kalu as she tackles various personal, professional, and academic endeavors. The documentary highlights her work as an advocate for Polynesian culture and traditions, both as a mentor to young students and as an official representative of various Indigenous groups. While intimately capturing her story, this indie documentary also explores the decolonization of the Polynesian concept of “third gender” Mahu that Hina identifies with. With so few films depicting Polynesian culture, this production provides viewers with several informative segments without compromising the emotional weight of this amazing woman’s story.
Professional wrestling in Mexico, also known as Lucha Libre, has a long and storied history of producing stars and legends. But Cassandro the Exotic stands out above the rest. As the only openly gay professional wrestler in Lucha Libre’s history, Cassandro does not hide his identity and fights without a mask. Whether he’s competing on sold-out stages with the nation’s top Luchadores or having a friendly match for a family audience in his hometown, this Amazon Prime Video documentary shows that Cassandro never compromises his goals of self-expression while giving it his all, no matter the circumstances.
Showcasing the power of transformation, this Amazon Prime Video documentary highlights nine different individuals living in Puerto Rico, each with their own unique perspective on gender and gender performance. Despite their shared backdrop and a few close friendships, each person approaches their personal transformation differently, with their own individuality shaped by their circumstances as well as their needs and identities.