Movies, Books, and Art Every LGBTQ+ Student Should Know

This is, in fact, the directorial debut of queer punk icon, black non-binary goddess Vaginal Davis. The first time I discovered Vaginal was when I was 15, behind the back of Index magazine, which was an arts and culture magazine in the late 90s and 2000s. When I came across Vaginal, I had never heard of queercore, which at first was primarily a queer punk movement of the west coast that combined a very harsh and confrontational aesthetic with a very visibly queer narrative and punk art-making techniques like zines. Vaginal was someone who made a lot of queer zines and people shared them. This was a time before the internet and people sent mail art to each other. Fertile La Toyah Jackson is about this pregnant teenager named Fertile and she’s helping deliver and it’s just this very high camp narrative. After her friend gives birth, she hops on a skateboard and drives off. It’s really slapstick, very high end, almost in the world of John Waters video art but somehow something else. – Mykki Blanco

Seeing a version of yourself reflected in media and entertainment is crucial to our development and actualization as queer people. These are some works that have influenced me and allowed me to cross. –Tian Richards

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by Kelly Quindlen Late at the party holds such a special place in my heart for how it deals with being a late bloomer and how friendships change and evolve with our own understanding of ourselves. Quindlen writes of the deeply relatable experience of being a teenager about to come out and seeing his world open up with such warmth and emotional honesty, and including a ridiculously cute romance doesn’t hurt. ! –Dahlia Adler

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Maybe for seniors flirting with adulthood, Detransition, baby is written from a unique perspective, lived experience, and sense of identity that I could relate to. Being a NYC girl/former Brooklyn queer myself, this felt like a retelling of stories of friends in my own backyard at a time when my gayness brought me into the community. As a trans woman with complicated dreams of motherhood, it was the first time in my life that I felt like I could be the protagonist of a novel. – Jesse James Keitel

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Fried green tomatoes at Whistle Stop Cafe

Throughout high school, my literary comfort food was that of Fannie Flagg. Fried green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, with its 1920s-1940s Alabama love story between Ruth and Idgie — never explicitly labeled, but deeply committed, raising a child, running a restaurant together, embraced by their community. It’s a funny, moving and joyful image of queer love blossoming for all to see, even in the American South a century ago. –June Gervais

Brontez Purnell, musician and author of 100 boyfriendsrecommends keeping “a personal diary with a padlock on it”

So I’m old as shit. Like, a nigga olllllllllllld, FORMER, I’m farting dust (I’m 40) – but RECENTLY a friend from high school sent me this zine I made in 1996 when I was 14 and I didn’t get it. haven’t seen in almost 20 years and it was so powerful to realize how little I’ve changed. I don’t recommend a zine, but I think EVERY young person needs a personal journal for their thoughts – but one that’s not made for anyone to see. Put a padlock on it and try to write on it once a week. Put some thoughts into it. Spells. Recipes, whatever. And if you can stick with it for as long as possible, seeing how and how much we change as people is wonderful magic. – Bronte Purnell

These responses have been edited and condensed.

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