Top 10 queer classics film list for the Thanksgiving holiday

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Instead of dodging the drunken nut jobs on the road and in the malls, I invite you to stay safely ensconced and uninjured inside your carefully climate-controlled environment and enjoy all the luxuries that the 21st century has to offer.

I realize that any list on queer cinema is going to be enormously incomplete — especially when you’re limiting it to 10 — and I apologize if a personal favorite of yours isn’t here. The numbering system has nothing to do with ranking. It’s just the order in which I wrote them down. Since we are a wide and varied audience, I wanted to create a balanced list that would appeal to most if not all of us. Enjoy!

1. Transamerica (2005): Felicity Huffman is absolutely phenomenal as a trans-woman, Bree, who finds out she has a son (Kevin Zegers) just a week before her final sex-reassignment surgery. After bailing him out of jail, a uniquely American road trip ensues. Exquisite acting and an amazing supporting cast make for a film not to be missed.

2. Desert Hearts (1985): It’s 1959 and Professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) is on her way to Vegas for a quickie divorce. Although she’s expecting to be out of Sin City in no more than a week, her meticulous plans fall through after she finds herself falling for a female casino worker (Patricia Charbonneau) 10 years her junior. Erotic and bittersweet.

3. Paris is Burning (1990): Ah, the '90s! Quintessentially the queerest of decades! Unless you were living under a rock, it was impossible to ignore the explosion of rainbow-colored gayness during this time. With Wigstock, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, drag superstars vogued their way onto the silver screen and refused to come down. Join Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija and Anji Xtravaganza (all playing themselves) as they sashay chantey through the Big Apple in this Sundance award-winning classic.

4. Maurice (1987): Based on the posthumously published novel by E. M. Forster and starring Hugh Grant and James Wilby. Boy meets boy. Boy loses boy. Boy finally scores with the gamekeeper. Ridiculously romantic and lavishly produced, it’s gay love Merchant-Ivory style and my absolute favorite love story of all time.

5. The Big Gay Sketch Show (2007-2009): Not exactly cinema or a ‘classic,’ but the cast is hilarious. Highlights of this short-lived series include Maya Angelou (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) reading the man-to-man section for missed connections from Craigslist and Chicago-style Pilates. Why this show was cancelled after only three seasons is beyond me, you’ll laugh ‘til you bleed.

6. The Celluloid Closet (1995): Based on Vito Russell’s trail-blazing book and narrated by Lily Tomlin, this bold documentary traces the painful evolution of gay and lesbian characters in film from the dawn of cinema to the explosion of gay movies in the '90s. With interviews from Susan Sarandon, Tony Curtis, Shirley Maclaine and many others, this documentary rips the pink roof off of Hollywood for a look behind the scenes.

7. Southern Comfort (2001): This poignant and enormously moving documentary tells the story of southern trans-man Robert Eads (as himself) and his battle with ovarian cancer. With his loyal partner Lola Cola by his side, Robert lives his remaining days with grace and humor. Ultimately, this film is a profound meditation on what it means to be a man.

8. Pariah (2011): 17 year-old Alike (Adepero Oduye) is leading a double life. Around her friends she’s her true self and comfortable with her sexuality. It’s another story around her über-religious parents. This searing and honest portrayal of a young woman coming to terms with her lesbian identity and dealing with the consequences of coming out to a less-than-understanding mother comes highly recommended.

9. Parting Glances (1986): Oh, to be young, gay and living in New York City! The story revolves around a man named Michael (Richard Ganoung) as he tries to cope with his lover’s (John Bolger) impending departure to Africa, and his ex-lover’s (Steve Buscemi) battle with HIV. The film is surprisingly unsentimental yet manages to be uplifting too. This valentine to gayness and New York will leave you smiling for sure.

10. Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives (1977): A truly groundbreaking film, this documentary is required viewing for the entire LGBTQ community. Twenty-six gay men and women of different generations and walks of life speak candidly about their sexual orientation and how it has shaped their life experiences. Some of the interviewees were tracked down 30 years later and re-interviewed for the DVD release but the film was originally shot a few years after the Stonewall uprising and released in 1977. Bring the Kleenex with you.

Power-up your home theater, crack open the rum and eggnog and dig in to one or more of these fantastically fabulous queer cinematic experiences.

Christopher Curcio has lived in Colorado Springs for over 35 years and is employed by Colorado College at Tutt Library. In his spare time you will find him sleeping, napping, dozing while reading, napping while dozing and nodding off while watching America’s Test Kitchen.

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