Celebrating Pride 2016 with LGBTQ DVDs: Toronto Public Library Supports the Rainbow Couch Potato
You likely know Toronto Public Library has a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Collection at the Yorkville Branch including books, magazines and DVDs. LGBT materials can also be found at all 100 TPL branches or brought to your local branch via our holds system. TPL annually compiles a recommended reading list and offers programs city wide, including a Pride Family Storytime, She Writes, A Proud Voice Event and youth programs.
Yorkville Branch (2014) Toronto Public Library front columns wrapped in rainbows
For many years in the 1990s and early 2000s the Library had a table at Pride where myself and many others gamely, albeit somewhat naively, tried to give out book lists and promote the collection. But, as more than one person said ..."Do you see pockets on this outfit?"
Subsequently, Toronto Public Library, the staff Pride Alliance and our union Local CUPE 4948 started marching together in the parade. This was not just more fun, but our bookmobile and witty pun based signage proved a hit.
Toronto Public Library and CUPE Local 4948 march in Pride Parade 2013. copyright Two Aussies in Canada blog
And, in a mildly nerdish way, we even have a YouTube video from 2013 showing the TPL bookmobile as our "float". We're at minute 1.00 and going forward. We've had 74 views so far, so we're no threat to Madonna (hi Ab).
So, following the parade, the party and the after party etc we would like to suggest you go to your local library branch (there are 100 locations) or bookmobile stop and borrow some of the following DVDs (recommended by various Library staff and in no particular order - yes that is shockingly cavalier and random). Then sit yourself down on your couch, put your feet up for a well deserved rest and some enjoyable viewing.
Brenda recommended Cloudburst with Olympia Dukakis as a sweet, funny and raucous lesbian road trip movie. If you're interested in true life stories of what life used to be like for lesbians in Canada in the 1950s / 60s you may also enjoy Forbidden love the unashamed stories of lesbian lives. I'm also reminded of Ruthie and Connie about two Jewish lesbians who leave their husbands and go on to fight for marriage rights in the New York City.
Cloudbust: "Stella and Dot have been together for 31 years and have faithfully accompanied one another through life's ups and downs. Now in their seventies, Stella is hard of hearing and Dot is legally blind. Dotty's prudish granddaughter, Molly, decides the best place for Dot is a nursing home that will provide all the necessities. This forces Stella and Dot to make a bold decision: they will leave their hometown in Maine and make their way to Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal."
And speaking of older lesbians the following DVD really takes us back into history with The Oldest Lesbian in the World.
The Oldest Lesbian in the World: "Nearing 100 years old, a national treasure, Bobby Staff whimsically exposes a rare and revealing insight into the romantic life of a butch lesbian born in 1913. Accompanied by her long time friend, Sweet Baby J'ai, Bobbie takes us on a trip down a very steamy memory lane, through photographs and vivid memories of many decades living her life as an out lesbian in New York City and Los Angeles."
Something a bit edgier comes from MK who suggested filmmaker Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin. I recall seeing Araki's The Living End in 1992 when it came to the Carelton Cinema in the midst of the AIDS crisis. A sort of gay Thelma & Louise (funny how any road trip movie is now Thelma & Louise like - but this one really is) it also involves a homicide, and two HIV positive gay lovers on the lam. It's a powerful F-you to the world in a wildly funny subversive way.
Sephora suggested the lesbian romance When Night is Falling pointing out the lesbian lovers are not punished at the end for their love. She also liked the light comedy Jeffrey including actor Patrick Stewart from Star Trek.
Ab highly recommends Loose Cannons an Italian, English sub titled comedy that opened the Toronto Lesbian Gay Film Festival in 2011 about two brothers who both come out in a traditional /Italian family.
A couple of staff, including Jennifer, recommended Tomboy. While neither gay or lesbian it does speak to the fluidity of gender roles especially among the young and the risks of gender non conformity. The documentary Growing Up Trans looks at the struggles (and joys) of transgender kids and their parents. There are many more DVDs on gender identity that you can also explore at the Library. For an interesting take on fluid gender you might also enjoy Tilda Swinton in Virginia Woolf's Orlando.
Tomboy: "Laure is 10 years old and a tomboy. On arrival in a new neighbourhood, she lets Lisa and her crowd believe that she is a boy. Summer becomes a big playground and Laure pretends to be Michael, a boy like the others, different enough to get the attention of Lisa, who falls in love with him. Laure takes advantage of her new identity as if the end of the summer would never reveal her unsettling secret."
Felicity Huffman in Transamerica, portrays a conservative transsexual who unexpectedly finds out she has a teenage son. In Patrik 1.5 a gay couple who think they are adopting a baby find themselves with a sullen, homophobic 15 year old teenage boy.
The "ex gay" movement comedy satire But I'm a Cheerleader also got a nod.
Irene liked Dutch film Antonia's Line won the 1996 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the TIFF People's Choice award. Set in rural Holland post WW2 it portrays rural life with as seen through "pink" coloured glasses.
More and more gay and lesbian films are making into the mainstream. Both cowboy romance Brokeback Mountain (with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) and 1950s New York Carol (with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) are so well known they really need no introduction.
At the cottage last year I watched Last Summer which was an unexpectedly sweet film about two teenagers in love in small town USA. This elegiac movie looks at their relationship not going through the angst of being gay, but rather the angst of one leaving town for university and one staying. The cinematography is especially beautiful. My husband Richard wanted to recommend Do I Sound Gay, which includes the very funny Margaret Cho.
More gritty and cutting edge, and not just for being filmed on a iPhone 5s smartphone, Tangerine follows transexual Sin-Dee searching for her cheating pimp fiance boyfriend. This is an eye opening film about love, friendship, prostitution, being in the closet, being out of the closet and the colors of Los Angeles. Not for the faint of heart.
To know one's history is to know one's roots:
And for some more specific lesbian herstory:
And though invisibility, oppression, bias and even hate are often the foundation of our history and to varying degrees our present, some communities face additional challenges based on race or religion:
This is just a sample of what we have in Toronto Public Library. Not all feature films come with subject headings so it's difficult to pull a complete list together. But if you're interested in further material, you could try these two searches: