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    6 LGBT+ TV Shows And Films That Actually Star LGBT+ Actors.

    Too often have we had to explain to cisgender, straight people why it is preferable and often necessary to cast real LGBT actors when telling queer stories. While Hollywood studios have made too many mistakes in the past in this area, (namely the poor portrayal of a transwoman in Dallas Buyers Club by Jared Leto, and the disappointing The Danish Girl starring a cisman as arguably one of the most important historical trans figures…), there are several shows and films that do a fantastic job of including trans and LGB actors, making for a much better cinematic experience.

    1. Transparent

    Beth Dubber

    Arguably the greatest thing to come out of Amazon Prime, (close second being free one-day delivery), this 30 min dramedy centred around a transwoman coming out to her three adult, and highly dysfunctional children, is a refreshing look at the trans experience.

    So, I have to admit, this show is on the list even though none of the main actors are openly LGBT. However, throughout its four seasons, Transparent has introduced a brilliant number of diverse actors. When it comes to trans representation especially, Transparent really knocks every other show out of the park. The show has a record number of supporting trans actors, including Rocco Kayiatos, Zackary Drucker, Ian Harvy, Alexandra Grey, Trace Lysette, Hari Nef, and of course, Alexandra Billings who plays Maura’s best friend and is at the main support of her transition.

    The show is also ground-breaking in it’s representation of trans people of colour. The first episode of season 3 features three trans Latina actors, Hailie Sahar, Harmony Santana and Mariana Marroquin, hanging out at a shopping mall, laughing at Maura’s complete lack of awareness as to how to approach them about a missing trans girl.

    Transparent is brilliant in its casting of trans actors, but also fantastic in its trans-inclusion on set. Our Lady J was chosen to be the first openly trans writer for Transparent in 2014, and as of that year, over eighty transgender people have worked on the show, including Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst who are transgender consultants and co-producers.

    2. Orange is the New Black

    The extremely popular Netflix show is at the heart of most, if not all queer ladies. Hitting the screens (of the internet) in 2013, the series has received 16 Emmy Award nominations and 4 wins, and has been praised greatly both for its portrayal of prisoners and its representation of gender and sexuality.

    Samira Wiley, Lea Delaria and Laverne Cox all play central characters on the show and are the most prominent LGBT actors of the series. Other supporting LGBT actors have featured, including the straight-girl-flipping Ruby Rose who plays Piper’s love interest, before she goes ape-shit on her in Season 3.

    The queer-ness doesn’t end on screen though, behind the scenes the cast and crew of OITNB have stood up on multiple occasions advocating for LGBT rights, including being a part of the Human Rights Campaign. Also, one of the biggest (and cutest) news stories to come out of the show was OITNB writer Lauren Morelli realising her gayness, divorcing her husband and getting together with Samira Wiley, (aka Poussey on the show), all within the first season.

    3. Tangerine

    Tangerine received a lot of press, partly because it was shot entirely on an iPhone, but mainly because of its trans and BME representation. The two main actresses are brilliant as transgender working girls on a mission to find out if the rumours about one of their pimps/boyfriends is true. The fact that the trans characters, played by actual trans actresses, are the heroic leads in this film is certainly more ground-breaking than the fact it was shot on a phone.

    Both Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, who plays Sin-Dee Rella and Mya Taylor who plays her friend Alexandra are fierce and unashamed in the way they take on the streets, and the men in their lives. Neither actresses had any major acting experience prior to this film, but with their brilliant performances, we will surely see them on screens again.

    4. But I’m a Cheerleader

    Ok so, pretty sure the only openly LGBT actor in this movie is Clea DuVall, (although Natasha Lyonne who plays the main character has appaeared in a number of queer roles in including OITNB), however this movie is SO GREAT and absolutely hilarious.

    Despite not receiving the best critical reception when it first came out in 1999, it quickly became a cult classic due to its satirical look at gay conversion therapy and the religious right. Sure, some parts seem stereotypical, but the dynamic between DuVall and Lyonne, plus the brilliant take-downs of traditional gender norms, make this film worth watching.

    5. Freeheld

    I remember waiting for months for this film to come out. Partly because I had always admired the Oscar-winning short film documentary directed by Cynthia Wade in 2007, but also because this was the first undeniably queer role Ellen Page took on since very publicly coming out as gay in 2014 at the Human Rights Campaign “Time to Thrive Conference” in Las Vegas. I’ve probably watched the speech she made at that conference at least 35 times, so to see her playing a lesbian character in a major motion picture was a Big Deal for baby queer me.

    The film, which focused on the difficulties faced by a lesbian police detective Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) and her partner Stacie (Page), after Hester is diagnosed with cancer but unable to give her pension benefits to her partner due to them being in a same-sex relationship, is moving but ultimately disappointing due to the narrative moving away too much from the two women’s relationship and giving the spotlight to the lawyer instead. However, the chemistry between Moore and Page is fantastic and definitely makes it worth a watch.

    6. I Am Michael

    I Am Michael has been one of my favourite films of this year. It is daring and controversial, touching on the extremely taboo subject of gay conversion therapy, as well as questioning what having an identity in something really means. The film is based on the real life story of Michael Glatze, a former LGBT activist who, after a series of health scares and mental breakdowns, decided to renounce his homosexual lifestyle and eventually became a Christian pastor and married a woman.

    Michael (played by James Franco) has two long-suffering partners, Bennett and Tyler, who are played by out actors Zachary Quinto and Charlie Carver. The performances of these three are very tense and believable and certainly make up for the film’s often convoluted narration.

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