25 Gay Films Everyone Should See: The Sequel

Another round of films that helped to define the culture -- and cultural impact - of LGBT cinema'

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2001)

John Cameron Mitchell’s wildly imaginative comedy/drama/musical features brilliantly subdued lighting effects and animated sequences. It’s also got an infectious punk score by Stephen Trask, and a strong cast, including Mitchell, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for his delightful portrayal of the title character. But above and beyond the surface cinematic treats, the story, which began life as an Off-Broadway production, subtly, even slyly, captures the ongoing struggle for recognition of the transgender community in a mainstream society confused by black-and-white cultural norms about gender and sexuality. Hedwig may be just an accidental transgender — on account of a botched teenage sex-change operation that left her with an ”angry inch” below the belt. But this fictional male-to-(not-quite-)female transgender effectively stands in for many actual transgender people who might understandably harbor some resentment over mainstream society’s routine transgender ignorance, even discrimination. Hedwig, the ”internationally ignored song stylist,” doggedly pursues respect in a world that makes fun of her and bluntly refuses to understand her predicament. Such a world may prefer Tommy Gnosis, the milquetoast straight man who stole her ideas and music. But ultimately, Hedwig cannot be denied.

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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