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Pride Takes Over the Airwaves: June Brings Six LGBT Documentaries to TV

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By Bradley Donalson

June is a time of celebration for people in the LGBT community and their allies. It’s a time to come together, show who we are, and how we rejoice in it.

But Pride isn’t just about giant parties or parades of the scantily clad. It is also a time to celebrate our history and show the world that we are people who deserve the same respect as anyone else. From pre-Stonewall to the Supreme Court, our history—both the good and the bad—is worth knowing.

In this vein, two media outlets will air June LGBT documentaries that cover court battles, hate crimes, aging, and growing up trans. Four of the documentaries air on Houston Public Media TV 8, and the other two stream online from the World Channel at worldchannel.org.

Limited Partnership, the first TV 8 documentary, airs June 16 at 10 p.m. Richard Adams and Tony Sullivan met in 1971 and quickly fell in love. Adams is a Filipino-American, and Sullivan is Australian. With the help of a county clerk in Boulder, Colorado, they became one of the first same-sex couples to be legally married in 1975. When they subsequently applied for Sullivan’s Green Card, the Immigration and Naturalization Service denied them with the statement, “You have failed to establish that a bona-fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” Limited Partnership follows the resulting lawsuit against the federal government—the first federal suit seeking equal treatment for same-sex couples in the United States.

Venice Brown in Out in the Night. Photo by Lyric Cabral.
Venice Brown in Out in the Night. Photo by Lyric Cabral.

Out in the Night airs June 23 at 10 p.m. on TV 8. In 2006, a group of African-American lesbians was violently threatened by a man in the streets in New York City. When the women defended themselves, they were charged with gang assault, attempted murder, and dubbed a “Wolf Pack” and “Killer Lesbians” by the tabloids. Four of the women maintained their innocence and were forced to go to trial. Out in the Night documents the uphill battle these women had to face while exposing the factors at play in our justice system involving race, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Available June 24 on worldchannel.org, A Self-Made Man tells the story of Tony Ferralio, a certified life coach and transgender youth advocate in New Haven, Connecticut. Tony is a transgender man, something he knew from a young age. He formerly identified as a lesbian, and he had to come to terms with the complexities of life as a trans person. Now, Tony has embraced the role of educator and activist. Guiding children and their parents through the journey of transitioning, he creates a safe space and support groups to help facilitate the transition process.

Facing Fear airs June 29 at 9 p.m. on TV 8. Matthew Boger was homeless after coming out to his parents. On the streets of Hollywood, Boger was savagely beaten by a group of neo-Nazi skinheads and left for dead. He managed to survive the attack and get off the streets, but 25 years later, a chance encounter with Tim Zaal, one of his attackers, would turn his world upside down again. Facing Fear documents their emotional journey to understand themselves and each other on their road to reconciliation.

Immediately after Facing Fear at 9:30 p.m. on June 29, TV 8 airs The Day It Snowed in Miami. This documentary reviews the 1977 equal-rights statute in Florida’s Miami-Dade County that would ignite a political tsunami, galvanize the gay-rights movement, and launch Anita Bryant (the bigoted orange-juice industry spokeswoman) into infamy. The Day It Snowed in Miami examines the ordinance that would have prevented LGBT discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and employment. It recounts its passage—and the successful repeal effort led by the failed songstress—as well as the AIDS pandemic in southern Florida.

Finally, the 2015 season of LGBT documentaries ends July 1 on worldchannel.org with Before You Know It, a celebration of active gay senior citizens and the changes they’ve witnessed in their lives. One of the three seniors featured in the film is Houston native Robert (aka “The Mouth”), owner of Robert’s Lafitte bar in Galveston. The documentary explores some of the trials faced by the estimated 2.4 million LGBT Americans over age 55.

More program information is at houstonpublicmedia.org and worldchannel.org.

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Bradley Donalson

Bradley Donalson is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.

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