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Pride Denied

Distributed by Media Education Foundation, 60 Masonic St., Northampton, MA 01060; 800-897-0089
Produced by Kami Chisholm with Aimée Mitchell & Danielle Waters
Directed by Kami Chisholm
DVD, color, 62 min.
College - General Adult
Gay Liberation Movement, Social Movements

Reviewed by Sophie M. Forrester, Reed Library, State University of New York at Fredonia

Recommended with reservations   
Date Entered: 4/6/2018

Pride Denied could have been a fascinating film – or rather, it could have been at least four fascinating films. As it is, its lack of focus makes for a frustrating viewing experience.

The film flits from issue to issue, without giving a real sense of an underlying theme, beyond perhaps “all of the filmmakers’ objections to current LGBT+ politics.” The commercialization of pride parades; Israel’s use of LGBT+ rights to distract from other human rights abuses; the abandonment of the most at-risk LGBT+ people, such as sex workers and the homeless; focus on wealthy, highly privileged LGBT+ people – the list goes on.

All of these are certainly issues that merit examination. But frustratingly, there is never a sense that any given issue has been fully explored. Part of that is due to so many issues being stuffed into a one-hour film. But another issue is the filmmakers’ seeming reluctance to completely address the issues. For instance, the film seems to be anchored in the political blunting of pride events, but not until its last moments does anyone broach the idea that joy and revelry are necessary in queer public life. In the midst of its case against fabulously wealthy activist Edie Windsor – delivered almost entirely via what is obviously a YouTube video – not once does someone question whether Windsor’s legal case, despite its grotesqueness, was worthwhile for the damage it dealt to the Defense of Marriage Act.

All of these issues result in Pride Denied coming across not as an explicatory film, but rather as a manifesto for a very particular brand of (rather extreme) political leanings. Nevertheless, it raises important questions about the present and future of LGBT+ politics: questions that are unlikely to be asked elsewhere. For that reason, it is recommended with reservations for academic and LGBT+ libraries.