ABOUT

Welcome to the Chaotic Guide to the Queer Moving Image.

This site highlights some key LGBTQ movies and shows that forged the long path that got us to now — where shows like Pose, Euphoria, and Heartstopper are mainstream hits. (More in-depth lists, with trailers and more, are gathered at Letterboxd.com and Trakt.com.)

This started out as a poster for the Heartstopper cast, crew, production company, and the team at Netflix — as well as creator Alice Oseman — a special thank you for creating a series that has brought so much meaning to so many lives. (The poster’s other side features lists of recent and classic films, with nods to Heartstopper characters and events.)

This list was curated by LGBTQ film historian and filmmaker Jenni Olson (@JenniOlsonSF) and Tom Rielly (@trielly), founder and CEO of PlanetOut. Jenni and Tom co-founded the first LGBTQ film website, PopcornQ, in 1995. (Click here for bios.)

Youth Movies

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Essential Movies

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Out on TV

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Rusell T Davies

For 30 years, TV’s most vital and urgent queer writer-producer. His groundbreaking shows include Queer as Folk (1999), Doctor Who (2005–2023) and Torchwood (2006), Tofu / Cucumber / Banana (2015), A Very British Scandal (2021), and It’s a Sin (2021). Mandatory viewing.

Russell TV List on Trakt

We recommend that you watch The Celluloid Closet (Amazon Prime UK) for an incredible history of queer people in cinema since the ’20s and before. Even though it’s old, there is no faster way to go to Queer Film School than this incredible, entertaining, fun and emotional documentary (1hr 42 min).

In addition, watch the AppleTV + miniseries Visible: Out on Television, a five-part history of queer people on TV (5 hour-long episodes).

Both works will provoke conversation and sharing and can be great to watch in a group.

ABOUT THE CURATORS

Jenni Olson (@JenniOlsonSF) is a queer film historian/archivist, writer and non-fiction filmmaker based in Berkeley, California. Her two feature-length essay films — The Joy of Life (2005) and The Royal Road (2015) — premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and, like her many short films, have screened internationally to awards and acclaim.

Her work as an experimental filmmaker and her expansive collection of LGBTQ film prints and memorabilia are part of the Harvard Film Archive (in Harvard’s Jenni Olson Queer Film Collection). Jenni’s reflection on the last 30 years of LGBT film history is featured in The Oxford Handbook of Queer Cinema (Oxford University Press, 2021). She was named to the Out Magazine Out 100 list in 2020, and in 2021 was recognized with the prestigious Special TEDDY Award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Jenni is a former co-director of Frameline (the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival), the oldest and largest queer film festival on the planet, and served as director of marketing at LGBTQ film distributor Wolfe Video for more than a decade where she also created the global LGBTQ streaming VOD platform WolfeOnDemand.com.

She co-founded the pioneering LGBTQ online platform, PlanetOut.com as well as the legendary Queer Brunch at Sundance. She is also the proud proprietor of Butch.org. Her work as a film historian includes the Lambda Award nominated The Queer Movie Poster Book (Chronicle Books, 2005) and her many vintage movie trailer presentations (Homo Promo, Afro Promo, etc.). A 2018 MacDowell Fellow, Jenni is now in development on her third feature-length essay film, The Quiet World and an essayistic memoir of the same name.

Tom Rielly (@trielly) was founder and CEO of PlanetOut, the largest digital home for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from 1995–2002. With noted film archivist and historian Jenni Olson, Rielly co-founded PopcornQ, the first online website for the Queer Moving Image, with the most comprehensive collection of video trailers and clips, 10 years before YouTube. 

With Karen Wickre, Rielly also co-founded the influential nonprofit Digital Queers, which brought and taught technology to LGBTQ+ leaders and citizens 1993-2000. Rielly served on the board of Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Rielly served as Executive Producer for Jenni Olson’s celebrated short film The Joy of Life. In 1980 at 15, Rielly played a supporting role in the sleeper U.S. hit film My Bodyguard where he played a possibly gay nerd being bullied by…Matt Dillon. Rielly, who as part of the wildly successful TED/TEDTalks NGO created the acclaimed international TED Fellows program (2009-), with 532 Fellows from 100 countries who affect at least 500 million lives per year. 

With protegé and best-selling author and of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba and he founded Moving Windmills Project, a 15 year old NGO that works on innovation and community economic development in Malawi. Netflix has a celebrated film based on his life (BBC in the UK)

Rielly was educated at The Sorbonne, Georgetown, and Yale, where he dropped out to enter the nascent tech industry. He enjoys his grandchild Lorraine, film, tech, instant comedy, LGBTQ+ activism, all things African community development, and deep mentoring. He resides in the Palm Springs California area. tom@chaoticguide.com.