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FX/Hulu’s Pride a Necessary Step in Queer History Education

By David T. Valentin

The eight-episode Hulu docuseries Pride following six decades of LGBTQ+ history premiered Friday night and its first episode definitely delivers. Blended with a mix of education, suspense, sorrow and joy, the first episode of Pride keeps you hooked right up until the very end and then leaves you wanting to binge the whole series in one day.

One of the creative decisions I found intriguing was the show deciding to begin between the 1940’s and 1950’s rather than a few years before or a lead up to the Stonewall Riot. In this first section they talk about how many men and women went off to war and either used the experience to experiment and discover their sexuality or experiment already knowing their sexuality as a homosexual. Because in the military these units were same sex and had plenty of room to experiment, many queer people found partners within their military experiences. Interestingly, they discuss how despite discrimination against queer people, many families of queer children were accepting of their children’s sexuality even if they didn’t fully understand it all.

Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Senator of Wisconsin, towards the end of the episode discussed how, during the Lavender Scare (a period in which LGBTQ+ people were targeted) was how citizens’ patriotism was called into question as queer people were interrogated. She mentioned how, when queer people were being interrogated, their patriotism was called into question, as if they were unamerican or a communist even if they had served in the military or were heavily involved in American politics. Baldwin reminded us how if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

And I think that’s a really interesting point because when someone’s patriotism is called into question it makes it clear that those in power have a very clear, defined set of what is and isn’t patriotic. Because of this defined sense of patriotism defined by those who are in power--white, straight cis men mostly at the time--it is easier to be little, take advantage of, and oppress those who others define as unamerican.

Although there were some heavy-handed topics discussed in the first episode, those being interviewed still ended the episode with a heartwarming and inspiring tone. What I enjoyed a little about the first episode is that it did delve into the intersectionality of how trans POC and Black people could not simply pass because they were considered unamerican due to their skin color. I do hope the show will delve a little more into that in future episodes, as the episode did feel a bit white and the inclusion of an inclusive commentary felt more of an aside than a thoughtful addition.

Still, I will definitely be watching this docuseries to see how well it does with framing LGBTQ+ history and to further educate myself in history that I hadn’t known before.

The six-part documentary airs on Fridays at 8:00 p.m. on FX (and available the next day on Hulu. The first three episodes are available for viewing now.


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