Category Archives: GLBT documentary



 The 2021 QueerX Film Festival brings together original content from LGBTQ creators, inclusive of all identities and perspectives. QueerX is at the nexus of the quickly evolving digital music and film industries. 

As a part of the festival Revry, the only LGBTQ-first streaming media network, will presentQueerX TV–a free always-on  TV channel throughout the month of October that will host all of the festival’s “Official Selections” including international LGBTQ documentaries, dramas, comedies and music videos. The channel launched on September 7th  and audiences have the opportunity to screen all the selections and vote, in real time, on their category favorites.The audience will vote via QR codes that appear on the screen of the QueerX TV channel.

“The festival gives a platform to queer voices across the amazingly talented spectrum that is the LGBTQ community,” shares Revry CEO and Co-Founder, Damian Pelliccione. “We want to continue to create a sense of community and belonging tied to our shared experiences. One where artists, industry professionals and enthusiasts alike can connect and uplift each other from a community and industry perspective.”   

Key Festival Highlights include:

·         September 7th- October 31st: QueerX TV Presented by Lexus premiered on Revry and viewers can screen all the festival selections and vote for their favorite selections from the Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Feature and Music Video categories until September 30th. 

·         October 11th: On National Coming Out Day, the QueerX Live! Virtual Awards show will stream live on Revry with musical performances, special screenings of the winning films, as well as Revry’s annual honoring of influential celebrities who have made an impact on the community with the 2021 Revry Visibility Awards. 

QueerX is proud to have Lexus as its Grand Sponsor. This year’s travel partner is The Florida Keys/Key West. This year’s media partners include; The Advocate, Out, Pride, Plus,Out Traveler, and Queerty. Key community partner Black Women Lead has also signed on for the festival.

Upcoming announcements include: Virtual music performances as well as Visibility Award Winners. Past awardees, industry participants, and sponsors include Tyler Oakley, Gigi Gorgeous, Dan Reynolds, LoveLoud, Tegan and Sara, Hannah Hart, Ari Fitz, Bebe Zahara Benet, Amber’s Closet, Viacom, EOne, IFC, Funny or Die, Brian Graden Media, Seed&Spark, Adaptive Studios and Powderkeg Media. 

QueerX 2020 Official Selections Program Includes 



99 (Dir. Safi Jafri)

Beauty Boys Dir. Florent Gouelou)

Candis For President (Dir. Michelle Peerali)

Delivery Boy (Dir. Hugo Kenzo)

Demonhuntr Episodes 1-3 (Dir. Tim O’Leary)

Friends Like That (Dir. Francesca de Fusco)

Hell No (Dir. Teddy Alexis Rodriguez)

in[APP]licable (Dir. Cam Owen)

Mountain Lodge 

New Flesh for the Old Ceremony (Dir. Elizabeth Rakhilkina)

Pete Can’t Play Basketball


Show For Ghosts (James Medley, Em Haverty)

Supreme (Dir. Youssef Youssef)

The Fae (Dir. Shelton Lindsay, Nessa Norich)

The Safety Plan (Dir. Jesse Randall)

Eat the Rainbow (Dir. Brian Benson)

Sweater (Dir. Nick Borenstein)


Four FruitBites


Being Sascha (Dir. Manuel Gübeli)

Dani Boi (Dir. TBC)

êmîcêtôsêt-Many Bloodlines (Dir. Theola Ross)


I Live Here (Dir. Shane Watson)

I’ll Cry Tomorrow 


Inferno (Dir. Andrew Blackman)

Is It Me 

Look Up! (Dir.Monty Wolfe) 

Marielle and Monica (Dir. Fábio Erdos)

My Neighbor, Miguel (Dir. Danny Navarro)

My Own Wings (Dr. Katia Repina and Carla Moral)

Once a Fury (Dir. Jacqueline Rhodes)

Proud to Be (Dir. Sam Meneses, Kyra Knox)


Sensorium (Dir. Elliot Mercer)

Surviving Voices – The Substance Use & Recovery Community

Sweet Sweet Kink: A Collection of BDSM Stories

Taiwan Pride for the World

Through the Windows (Dir. Bret Parker, Petey Barma)

To Love and Back (Dir. Jakov Sedlar)

Venture Out 

We are the Radical Monarchs (Dir. Linda Goldstein Knowlton)

We Will Be Heard 

What Do You See

Where My Girls 

Of self-blessing

Stephen & James: Best Girlfriends (Dir. Dave Quantic)

Zero to Eighty (Dir. Patrick Ryan Gass)

Dennis: The Man Who Legalized Cannabis (Dir. Brandon Moore)


Between Two Lines

We Dig!

Park View (Dir. Tab Ballis)


75 Cents (Dir. Safi Jafri)

Afternoon Sun (Dir. Gonçalo Pina)

ÃH (Dir. Alex El Dahdah)

Aimee Victoria (Dir. Chrystee Pharris)

Amor Sangue Dor (Love Blood Pain)

Aye, Boy 

Bakla (Dir. Brandon English and Michael Thór)

Deviant (Dir. Benjamin Howard)

Disciple (Dir. Sebastian LaCause)


Edible (Dir. Kandis Golden)


First Love (Dir. Florent Gouelou)

First Position. (Dir. Michael Elias Thomas)

Flood (Dir. Joseph Amenta)

Freed (Dir. Josza Anjembe)

Glances (Dir. Aleksei Borovikov)

Hugo 6 : 30 (Dir. Simon Helloco, James Maciver)

Iftah (Dir. Moti Rachamim)

In Case of Fire (Dir. Tomás Paula Marques)

In the Paint (Dir. Bryce Ferendo)

Juliet (Dir. Irina Storozhenko)

MC Jess (Dir. Carla Villa-Lobos) 

Mino: A Diasporic Myth (Dir. Ashunda Norris)


Our Bed Is Green

Parry Riposte (Dir. Goldbloom Micomonaco)


Save the Queen (Dir. Levin Hübner)

Simone is gone (Dir. Mathilde Chavanne)


Smoke, Lilies and Jade (Dir. Deondray and Quincy LeNear Gossfield)

Teddy Mate (Dir. Rommel Villa)

The Change Up (Dir. Jordan Auten)

The One You Never Forget 


Thirst Trap (Dir. Steve Flavin)

To Take a Step with You (Dir. Martin Del Carpio)

Together Again 

Top Ten Places to Visit in São Paulo

Two Men by the Sea (Dir. Gabriel Motta)

Where do the sounds go (Dir. Florent Gouëlou)

Funeral March 

Coming Out

Fernanda’s Spring

Tell-by Date

The Heirs

I Bleed


Trade (Dir. Trae Briers)

Unwelcome Advances (Dir. Ricardo Alvarado)

Don Filipo (Dir. Tim Munoz)

Apricot Groves


Be My Light 

Colours (Dir. Amandine Navarro)

Cymbol ‘Best Friends’ 

Happy in Hell (Dir. Saalika Khan)

Here We Stand (Dir. Paco Beltrán)

Left for Dead (Dir. Tab Ballis)

Lights, Camera, Action [Official Music Video] (Dir. Maya Table)

Live It Up (Dir. Sabrina Petrini and Naemi Jaworowski)

Livin’ in the Light (Dir. Hannah Hefner and Emmanuel Henreid)

Please Boy (Dir. John Tancredi)

Sarah Mary Chadwick “Full Mood” (Dir. Tristan Scott-Behrends)

Waiting by Racquel

We Can’t Breathe (Dir. Miranda Winters, Rocky Romano)

High Road No. 6

Walking Progress

About QueerX

Originally founded as Out Web Fest in 2016, QueerX broke the mold of other festivals by giving prominence to honest and unfiltered digital short-form storytelling. Beyond screenings, this unique festival also invites cutting edge musicians to showcase their sound through live performances including panels with top industry experts, providing ample opportunity to meet future collaborators and build professional relationships. QueerX aims to create a space where artists, industry professionals and enthusiasts alike can connect while exploring the future of queer entertainment.

About Revry

Revry is the LGBTQ-first streaming media network with free live TV, movies, series, news and exclusive Original programming amounting to over 5,000 titles. Its mission is to inspire exploration of LGBTQ content for the community and allies. Revry is led by a diverse founding team with technology, digital media, and LGBTQ advocacy experience. Revry reaches millions of global viewers on connected TV, Smart TV, OTT and mobile platforms including Samsung, Vizio, Roku, Apple, Comcast Xfinity, Cox Communications, Google,TiVo, and many others.



Queer in Nigeria

Amos Lassen

 Directors Giselle Bailey and Nneka Onuorah give us an intimate look at the persecution of gay men in Nigeria as we see the personal toll of the country’s homophobia and the government’s crackdowns on men appearing effeminate in any activity. The focus of “The Legend of the Underground” is on a group of 57 young men who were rounded up at a party in 2018, forced to do the perp walk, and  then left in legal limbo. We see the negative media coverage.

The film is very powerful as a portrait of the ongoing fight for LGBTQ rights globally by sharing the experiences of several gay man who face persecution simply for existing.

Nigeria’s position against LGBTQ rights makes other countries seem like gay Gardens of Eden. Men can be sentenced to 14 years in prison for being caught having sex with another man. However, we see that this discriminatory law is just the beginning. Nigerians can be persecuted for being perceived to be gay. Nigerian law makes it illegal for homosexuals to congregate and they therefore go underground as so many did before homosexuality was decriminalized. We see the challenges of navigating the underground while remaining true to one’s authentic self. The narratives speak to the fissures that further marginalize people within marginalized groups.

Michael Ighodaro, a Nigerian ex-pat who is now in New York, uses his newfound freedom to bridge these divides. Ighodaro is an activist for LGBTQcauses and AIDS awareness. We see him as he calls upon queer people and allies to take an intersectional approach to their activism. He argues that his identity as a Black man and a gay man are inseparable, and that it is necessary to see both of these sides of who he is. He has a way with words and often speaks in coded language.  

In Nigeria, the filmmakers meet several young men  who are navigating the underworld and evading persecution but they really focus on the one character who gained international attention when his arrest was captured on video. James Brown is a drag queen, dancer, and Instagram influencer, who brought about an awareness campaign when he was arrested along on suspicion of being gay. This shows the bigotry of Nigeria. Brown was one of 58 men arrested on suspicion of participating in a gay initiation ritual and police and the media showed this as all witchcraft. Many of the men stayed quiet and kept their heads down but James defied the cops and orated a fierce defense to the media. He said that the men were being arrested merely on suspicions and not for being caught having sex. 

The film follows James through his court case and the delays and setbacks, which deny his freedom and prevent him from clearing his name. The camera sees Brown as a queer icon as he deals with public and private identities, gaining an Instagram following of over 400,000 people.

We really see how these criminal laws ruin families, cause alienation and continue inequalities. The government could better serve its population through education and awareness campaigns rather than laws that are dehumanizing. The film balances tragedy and triumph. The men’s stories are only one facet of the film. The confessional looks at the everyday life inspires LGBTQ people to search for spaces where they can express themselves freely. Here, we see what freedom looks like and that is has the ability to move, mingle, love, and navigate space in a natural manner. The dancers we see are free moving and we seem to go into a world that is a safe place , one that we hope gay Nigerians will find.

“BOULEVARD : A Hollywood Story”— The Original Musical


“BOULEVARD : A Hollywood Story”

The Original Musical

Amos Lassen

Filmmaker Jeffrey Schwartz’s new documentary looks at the real story of a gay couple who were writing a musical version of “Sunset Boulevard”. We also get a peek at thelife of one of Hollywood’s biggest film stars, Gloria Swanson, who has been an icon for the gay community. .

In 1950 Dickson Hughes and Richard Shapely, a gay couple andyoung songwriters went to Swanson with a new play that they had written for her. Swanson was looking for a new project and told the couple to change their plans and write a musical based on Sunset Boulevard so that she could be Norma Desmond once again. 

Schwarz knew something about the musical and looks for more information.  He found archival footage of  Swanson singing some of the songs, an interview with Hughes, and an interview with Stapley. The   musical did get written and Swanson and the writers took it to New York to find financial backers. Swanson did not care for any of the film roles that came to her and her career floundered. The boys’ musical did not get produced and years passed.

Then in 1995, ten years after the death of Swanson. Andrew Lloyd Webber brought a musical of “Sunset Boulevard” to the stage. But he was refused to rights by Paramount Studio. About the same time, the original couple broke upand Stapley returned to his native England.  He took a new name and began a successful film career.Hughes used the songs in a cabaret act about the failed project.


“SOCKS ON FIRE”— Queer in the South


Queer in the South

Amos Lassen

Bo McGuire’s “Socks on Fire” is a documentary about growing up queer in the Deep South and a prize-winner at Tribeca.

McGuire is campy and confident. Born in Alabama he meets everything with a poise that should be familiar to any queer person who has had to deal with non-acceptance. His favorite aunt, Sharon, attempted to kick her gay, drag queen younger brother (the filmmaker’s Uncle John) out of the family home in Hokes Bluff, Alabama. Sharon was a free-thinking hell-raiser in her youth, and she was an inspiration to young Bo as he came to terms with his sexuality and identity. So her turn to religious fundamentalism and homophobia was quite a shock and it became especially ugly when Sharon and John’s mother (Bo’s grandmother) passed away leaving no legally binding will.

McGuire uses archival home-video footage, one-on-one interviews and dramatic re-enactments  to give us a look at growing up gay in the South.

The film is supposed to take place in a fantasyland; the McGuire house — in which actual family members and actors playing family members interact. However, there is no mention of race and little exploration of the Bible Belt’s tendency toward spirituality.

McGuire shifts focus to his own development as a queer person within a milieu often stereotyped as bleak and hostile. In a very moving scene, McGuire gathers many of the ladies who influenced him for a kind of impromptu outdoor devotional. It’s easy to see how Aunt Sharon’s actions are a betrayal that for McGuire cuts right down and uses the film as a reverential, slim hope that someone lost will eventually find their way home.

Told through both beautifully shot reenactments and home-video footage, the film looks at dispute over the family home after the matriarch passes away and doesn’t leave behind a will. McGuire says that his aunt, who was a driving force in his upbringing, has claimed the house and all the items in it and left his uncle without a home. 

This causes Bo to make this documentary about his hometown and his family and to reflect upon growing up queer in the Deep South and the elements that made him who he is today. It’s not just the family dysfunction that makes this a special film. The conflict itself is rather banal when compared to major world problems but it’s Bo’s exquisite storytelling and plot structure that make this such an wildly entertaining and moving documentary. 

On first look, this is a single family argument between a drag queen and the sister who disapproved of her brother’s lifestyle but McGuire goes deeper. He evokes ideas of memory.


“GEMMEL & TIM”— A Way to Remember


A Way to Remember

Amos Lassen

In 2017 and 2019, Gemmel “Juelz” Moore and Timothy “Tim” Dean, two gay black men, both died of a meth overdose at the Laurel Street apartment of Ed Buck, a once influential Democratic donor, businessman and LGBTQ+, political activist. These deaths shocked the Los Angeles LGBTQ+ community, especially West Hollywood. A media circus followed that brought up the issues of sex, drugs, race and politics, but did not look at the human stories of who Gemmel and Tim. This documentary looks at Gemmel and Tim’s parallel lives through their extended families and we see and hear memories, correspondence, what they did and didn’t share with each other, and what led them to their terrible deaths. The film explores the details of the crimes and gives us a cautionary tale that can help stop these events from happening again. Through what we hear, each character exposes how they dealt with the loss and the grief that followed.  

These are two timely films in which the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Michael Dean are memorialized from two differing but complementary vantage points. Buck, who has just been found guilty of his crimes, habitually tempted gay, Black men to his home and injected them with high doses of methamphetamine which were fatal for Gemmel and Tim.

The film shows the support network that came into being in the  community following Gemmel’s death and was  dedicated to helping members struggling with addiction. This is a portrait of a community coming together to heal, provide awareness, and protest the justice system’s response to Moore’s death.

We see the progression of Buck’s crimes through the years and former District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s i decision not to prosecute and the efforts to keep the story in the news, and the effects of the deaths on friends of both men. What we really see the need for our community to listen to and support marginalized voices, and to bring about a needed discussion about issues that LGBTQ+ people.


“PRAY AWAY”— Ex-Gay Ministries


Ex-Gay Ministries

Amos Lassen

Kristine Stolakis’s feature documentary, “Pray Away” is the story of how so-called reparative therapy has originated in its prominent form within evangelical church groups. It is an attempt to cure one of homosexuality, whether by force of another, or voluntarily. The “ex-gay” graduates of the programs often say they have chosen a new life of normalcy. This is true somewhat, but it isn’t that they have made the choice of sexuality, but that of repression.
We see the supposedly cured “ex-gays” who lead these programs, trying to help others become like them, even if they themselves are still actively repressing their own desires. We hear from the former face of a group called Exodus in which Josh Paullk, who admits that even he never changed, and that he lied that he didn’t still have feelings for men. Since leaving the organization, he says he truly believed had the power of change.

We see voluntary conversion therapy as what it is: a form of self-harm. Whether it comes from societal pressure, religious conviction, or any other fear of one’s same-sex attraction, this is a process of lying to oneself and the world, and treating a part of the self as a form of evil that is incredibly damaging. For some, there is panic, and for others, there is a turn further inwards. Trained self-hatred leaves scars, and these Christian fundamentalist programs are exactly that.

There are four threads in the documentary and one of the most difficult to watch is that of Julie Rodgers, who was held up as the teen ex-lesbian face of the movement after being forced into a reparative program at sixteen. Some parts, like enforced adherence to gender roles (girls must wear makeup, sports are too masculine), come off as almost cartoonish for these programs. But reality sinks in: these are young teenagers are being trained to hate themselves. She says she’ll always remember being a teenager who was told she was a bad kid for having acknowledged who she was, and this is where we see just how much these teachings remain even when those who’ve gone through them have left and denounced them. When we see Julie in the present day after seeing her through archival footage, we watch her prepare for her marriage to a woman, and we see the happiness that comes with freedom and that the effect never quite leaves.

​Instead of beating down the misery, the documentary shows that there has always been a future possible for the subjects who had tried to fix something they were told was wrong with them. We see them happily married, or living as themselves, years after what they had been through, and we can see that future instead of wondering if maybe it could have worked. When we are only shown the misery of conversion, we are led to believe that it is an ending, when it is very much so. We seea painful false path and that there’s always a way back.

In the 1970s, five Evangelical gay men decided to start a bible study dedicated to helping one another leave the homosexuality. Word quickly spread, over 25,000 letters were received, and soon these humble meetups became Exodus International, the largest conversion therapy organization on the planet. As it rose, so too did its leaders even as they slowly began to realize that what they were selling was simply homophobic snake oil. Even if they married the perfect woman and doted on their kids, those same-sex attractions never really went away. Finally, in 2013 they were told to dismantle the movement  and close down the organization and apologize for all the damage it had caused to queer people everywhere. Nonetheless, Exodus International’s destruction has continued.

Director Stolakis brings together a tremendous amount of archival material with current interviews with the movement’s founders (including Randy Thomas, former vice-president of Exodus International (and now the husband of a former “ex-gay”), and John Paulk, who started Love Won Out, the conversion therapy wing of Focus on the Family. (He and his “ex-lesbian” wife Anne, Paulk made the daytime TV circuit until he got drunk at a gay bar in DC and was outed. This brought about an “ex-gay” crisis. He and his wife also divorced in 2013, though she is still a “ex-lesbian”).

Yvette Cantu Schneider, the onetime head of Exodus International’s women’s ministries and “ex-gay” spokesperson for the Evangelical nonprofit Family Research Council has kids and continues to be happily married to a man, now identifies as bisexual. The most shocking is Jeffrey McCall, who considers himself a “formerly transgender”  who is the founder of Freedom March, the nationwide organization, which brings together people across the race and gender spectrum who’ve been divested their queerness. Today, he is often used by the Christian Right to introduce anti-LGBTQ legislation wherever it may pass. He is a new face with the same old self-hate.

The documentary is filled with horror stories and it is difficult to watch. It’s the true story of the many lives that were ruined (some needlessly ended) because of the homophobia of the religious far-right. Exodus used all means of mental torture and diabolically desperate acts to convince young people on the LGBTQ spectrum that they were sinners facing hell and worse.We hear stories of people who had been forced, usually by ultra-religious parents, to go along with this brain-washing. We see the brutality of what they were forced to do and the ignorance of the leaders of the methods they adopted that never had a chance of succeeding.



Transcending Tragedy

Amos Lassen

“Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters” is a beautiful and moving documentary by Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz that shows the choreographers’ body of work with the main focus here on Bill T. Jones’s 1989 ballet D-Man in the Waterswhich is now considered one of the most important artistic works to come out of the AIDS epidemic.

The film seamlessly interweaves the cinema verité footage of LeBlanc’s students struggling to learn and master a new dance language in the restaging of the piece between interviews with the original company members. We have archival clips of their 1989 performance, and shots of present-day Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company performers as they swim, slide, leap and dive into the outstretched arms of others.

In New York in the 1980a, Jones and Zane, who were then a couple, set out to create a community that had a mission and a direction. However, that community spirit changed when AIDS took Zane, who died in 1988 at age 39.

After Zane’s death, there was great anxiety among the dancers about whether Jones would go solo. But when he asked them to improvise to a piece of music, to share how they would enter a body of water, there was a sense of relief that the company would continue. In the process of creating “D-Man in the Waters”, the dancers also found a healing that kept them going even with the pain they felt. The urgency of this piece was the AIDS illness of dancer Demian Acquavella, whose fighting spirit was celebrated in Jones’s choreography. Although “D-Man,” as the company affectionately nicknamed him, was deathly ill at the time of the ballet’s premiere, we see a moving clip shows Jones tenderly carrying Acquavella across the stage.

Perhaps the most moving moment comes when LeBlanc is brought close to tears at her students’ inability to connect emotionally with Jones’s piece. They were born more than a decade after its original premiere and while they are able to do the steps and gestures, they cannot relate to the trauma out of which D-Man was created. To them, the AIDS crisis is a remote historical event. In rehearsal, Jones urges them to be brave, to be bad motherfuckers, to “bring it.”

We see how the AIDs epidemic in the 1980’s affected him and his dance company. The dance company survived and still exists today. It’s fascinating, though, to watch Bill T. Jones show up to LeBlanc’s dance classes and provide feedback and criticism to the students. LeBlanc educates them on the history of D-Man in the Waters while educating those who see the documentary.

“D-Man In the Waters,” premiered in 1989 to great acclaim. It is so much more than  a “response” to the AIDS epidemic and to think of it that way is to misrepresent the dance’s origin, intent, and objective. It was created from the center of the disease, immediately following the death of the dance company’s co-founder. Shortly after that, another company member contracted AIDS and the process of creating the dance became a “healing cathartic ritual.”

“D-Man In the Waters” is a rigorous and relentless dance, requiring a high level of athletic endurance in the dancers. Each movement has an objective. Bodies fall to the ground, and swim across the floor, launched into the air, and carried offstage, flopped over another dancers’ back. They are like soldiers on the battlefield. “D-Man in the Waters” is a group event that when it’s done right, the dance becomes bigger than dance.

We are reminded of just how bad it really was “back then”, when paramedics refused to move the dead body of Arnie Zane out to the ambulance, and the company members present wrapped him up in a sheet and did it themselves, a moment that we see re-created in the dance. They took care of their own. Trauma still exists in those who survived the AIDS era and “Can You Bring It” shows why.

“Senior Prom”— Aging and Queer

“Senior Prom”

Aging and Queer

Amos Lassen

Senior Prom is about queer elders finding happiness, confidence, and desire in a world “where they just don’t feel that there’s room for them,” filmmaker Luisa Conlon told LGBTQ Nation. 

PBS documentary “Senior Prom” is the story of an annual prom held for residents of the LA LGBT Center’s senior apartments and it is 14 minutes of love.

Dressed up in their absolute best, the senior center residents dance the night away and are free to be their whole and complete selves in a way that many of them were not able to do when they were younger. Throughout the film, they share their stories of love, loss, coming out, and the obstacles they faced.

Directed and produced by Luisa Conlon and Jessica Chermayeff, the film is revolutionary in how it portrays aging while queer and shows that doing so can be an experience filled with happiness, confidence, and desire. The film helps LGBTQ young people see that it not only gets better, but it also gets more fun.

The subjects also speak openly about sexual desire. One interviewee discusses how good it felt to be turned on for the first time after coming out at age 50. Another talks about her first French kiss.

Many of the seniors in the film speak about either skipping their high school proms completely or else being forced to go with someone of the opposite gender. We know that  this is not only an issue for past generations.

The film provides hope and says that if you find yourself forced to miss out right now, it doesn’t mean you’ll miss out forever.

“SEX, DRUGS & BICYCLES”— Investigating The Netherlands


Investigating The Netherlands

Amos Lassen

Jonathan Blank’s first-person account of The Netherlands methodically points to universal healthcare, paid vacations, cannabis coffee shops and legalized prostitution. The Netherlands reputation for tolerance dates back to the 17th century a period that also coincides with Dutch involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, a reminder of which is reflected by the country’s sizable Suriname population. As educational and cultural sectors make an effort to better address that past, activists have also been grappling with Zwarte Piet, the folkloric assistant to St. Nicholas who is still celebrated with annual parades of white people in blackface.

The United Nations study ranks Dutch kids as the happiest in the world (while adults rank sixth, well-ahead of 18th place U.S.) and so we understand that the Netherlands must be doing something right and Blank’s film, shows the contented mood.

“Sex, Drugs & Bicycles” really is about sex, drugs and bicycles with the implication throughout the documentary that the more you have of each, the happier you will be.

Even with the high taxes of countries with Holland’s social welfare programs and policies, the Netherlands joins the equally social democratic countries of Scandinavia. This might seem surprising to people here in the U.S., often called the world’s richest country (as though that leads to happiness as does the night the day), but the view of our Republican politicians and the moderate Democrats who sometimes resemble them is that socialism is the monster you found under your bed when you were six years old.

Directed, written, edited by Jonathan Blank, with a wonderful sense of humor, this documentary shows a love for Holland.  “Sex, Drugs & Bicycles” looks at the four+ weeks of holiday that the Dutch are required to take, even getting paid for their extra month off. Every traveler knows about the sex shops where sex workers, fully legal and licensed, parade on storefronts in the tourist-heavy neighborhood. Kids get sex education beginning in primary school, and perhaps as a result, the Dutch abortion rate is much lower than that in our country.

Medical care is not free but it’ is mandatory. Basic coverage is required and 99% are insured. Insurance is sold by private companies, and you are able to add extra cash to get more than the usual services. Marijuana can be sold in legal neighborhood coffee shops and teens also take drugs on TV,  even though Holland has had a problem with legalizing hard drugs.

Blank takes little time reviewing what’s bad, though he does point out that the liberal policy on accepting Muslim refugees has brought right-wing politicians up for battle. Holland has an increasing problem— in 2018 there were 39,000 without homes and this has afflicted Muslim refugees.

The Netherlands is a queer utopia and we see this through an American view on the paid vacations, universal healthcare, LGBTQIA+ acceptance, and windmills of The Netherlands. It is a country that is at the forefront of LGBTQ equality, free speech laws, and animal rights.   The Dutch economy is one of the best in the world, and they’re in the top five of almost every quality of life index. Everyone also has excellent health insurance — even sex care for the disabled.

“A SEXPLANATION”— Talking About Sex


Talking About Sex

Amos Lassen

In most of the world, sex is just a biological function – there’s a time and a place for it, but talking about it is not a big deal. In the US it has been subject to ongoing panic, with the result that even well-meaning, well- educated parents often have no idea how to talk to their kids about it. For Alex Liu who is gay faced years of shame and uncertainty, poor communication with partners and worry about his private fantasies. In this documentary, he sets out to set that to right.

Liu is known for being undaunted by social taboos but it’s clear that this film has strained the limits of his courage. Amongst other things, he takes on the challenge of talking to his own parents about sex for the first time on camera. We see his fear and get their apologetic explanations of why they said so little when he was growing up. They reflect on their own relationship with humor and break down barriers, and the family come closer together as a result.

This film is designed to educate and to facilitate communication. The joy that Liu finds in the learning process is infectious and gives viewers a new respective on the subject. His openness is reciprocated by many of his interviewees. A conservative politician comes across warmly and a Jesuit priest surprises Liu by talking about sexuality as an important part of what it means to be human.

The film focuses on conversations with scientists, doctors and other experts who look at myths about sex and pose new questions, inviting viewers to wonder exactly what we mean by the term in the first place and explaining the still poorly understood complexity of orgasm. Many will find their questions answered as well as learning surprising facts which has it never occurred to them to wonder about.

 Sociologically, the film explores a historical approach to sex educations that was focused on trying to terrify teenagers with images of diseased genital organs, and looks at how educators today are trying to move beyond mechanics and talk about relationship skills and the importance of consent. There’s some reflection on objections to sex education and on the purity movement, but these do not dominate the film. The message is that society is changing and has room to change further, making room for much healthier and happier sexual experiences.