LGBTQ streaming: What to watch in January

Two men embrace in a scene from "8 Years"
Spanish writer/director JD Alcázar’s “8 Years” hinges on whether two men will stay together.
TLA Releasing

It’s a New Year, and there are some new LGBTQ films available for streaming, along with some older titles. Here’s a rundown of what is on deck in the month ahead.

“The Cosmos Sisters” (now on VOD)

“The Cosmos Sisters” has besties Whitney (cowriter/director Whitney Uland) who is queer and pushy, and Nora (cowriter/director Nora Kaye), who is straight and stubborn, reconnecting after Nora’s mother has died. Whitney wants to be there for her friend, as well as revive their musical act The Cosmos Sisters, but Nora is initially less inclined. After consuming some pot brownies, however, they start get their groove back, despite some conflict with a song. They also hope to play a concert Whitney received a request for via email. (Unbeknownst to her, Nora sent the message.) The friendship between the young women evolves — and devolves — over the course of this slight (and slightly amateurish) film, but there is something real and poignant about their friendship. A subplot has Whitney crushed on Maddy (Madeline Grey DeFreece), who delivers pizzas, and a scene between them in a car is sweet. “The Cosmos Sisters” is low-key — it was made during the pandemic — but it was also made with heart.

“Broadway Rising” (now on VOD)

“Broadway Rising” is a valentine to the resilience of Broadway performers before, during, and after COVID closed theatres for 18 months. Director Amy Rice chronicles the experiences of a handful of folks who work on stage and off as they coped with the shutdown. For gay dancer Adam Perry, from the show “Frozen,” the pandemic prompts him to consider a career change. In contrast, John Kristiansen and Brian Blythe wonder if and how they will keep their costume company alive. Meanwhile, Tom Kirdahy grieves the death of his husband, playwright Terrence McNally, who succumbed to COVID during the first wave of the pandemic. But as the film shows, the disruption sparked the Black Lives Matter movement and brought more BIPOC shows to the Great White Way when it started to reopen after 18 months. “Broadway Rising” is a pleasing time capsule that showcases several talented creatives and folks who work behind-the-scenes on Broadway, and it illustrates the magic, as well as some of the lives that were lost as both New York and the world grappled with the pandemic.

“Gay USA” (January on Ovid) 

Arthur J. Bressan Jr.’s classic documentary chronicles Pride Parades held on June 26, 1977, in San Francisco, New York, San Diego, and Chicago. The film offers a snapshot of attitudes and experiences of lesbians and gays, straight allies, drag queens, and homophobes through a series of on-the-street interviews conducted by various camera crews. In some cases, the interviewers ask, “Are you gay?”, a question that generates a number of interesting responses. Some interviewees recount the empowerment they feel being out, while others describe the harassment they have encountered as a result of being identified as gay. It is a fascinating film and Bressan assembled a cross-section of humanity, featuring men and women, old and young, gay and straight, from various religious and racial backgrounds. The result makes queer lives visible.

“Proud” (Filmatique)

“Proud” is an engaging, three-part mini-series from 2018 about fathers and sons, and the politics and social change the gay community faced in France. The first episode is set in 1981, when discrimination against gays and lesbians was still legal. Charles (Frédéric Pierrot) is the manager of a construction site, and his 17-year-old-son Victor (Benjamin Voisin) helps him out after school. One afternoon, Charles spies Victor kissing his classmate Sélim (Sami Outalbali), the son of his foreman, Sofiane (Hafid Djemaï), which causes some tensions. The second part of “Proud” is set in 1999. Victor (now played by Samuel Theis) is an architect. He is romantically connected to Serge, (Stanislas Nordey), but they have an open relationship. Victor wants to adopt a child, but this was not viable for gay men and lesbians at that time in France. The last episode of the series, set in 2013, concentrates on Diego (Julien Lopez), Victor’s adopted son, and addresses the legalization of gay marriage in France. A storyline has Victor being attacked by extremists on his way to a Pride Parade. “Proud” uses these episodes to show how change is still necessary in contemporary France. This series may overreach but it is both engaging and provocative and easy to binge all three episodes in one sitting.

“8 Years” (January 24, VOD)

Spanish writer/director JD Alcázar’s “8 Years” starts off as a breezy romance as José (Miguel Diosdado) and David (Carlos Mestanza) reconnect for the first time after their breakup in La Palma, the island where they initially met. The couple had been together 7 years and are reconsidering a future together after a 10-month hiatus. Initially, it’s all good times — sex, streaking, hiking, and canoodling on a beach. There is also a fun, but fake wedding ceremony at a drag club. But soon things start to sour with some homophobia and some misfortune followed by jealousy and possible infidelity. “8 Years” hinges on if the guys will stay together, and the film suggests the best way to find what you want is to stop looking. While this romantic drama is uneven, it is best when it features José and David together. (A section of the film has José off on his own, meeting Airam (Eloi Catalan) who takes him on a “spiritual” journey.) And while the leads are handsome, the scenery is especially gorgeous.

“Last Call in the Dog House” (January 24, VOD)

“Last Call in the Dog House” is a stagey drama from gay writer/director Bruce Reisman that takes place mostly in the title establishment, a family-owned New York bar call the Dog House, where various gay and straight character drink and tell stories. Two brothers, Mo (Adam Jacobs), a rabbi, and Jess (Aaron Fors), a junkie, tend the bar as their father Dog (David Chokachi) runs the place and their grandfather Simon (Parker Stevenson) drinks, seeking late-night inspiration. The clientele includes Eli (Julian Curtis), a man who has been abused, as well as Matthew (Matt Kriger), the bar’s accountant, and Lily (Judy Geeson), a 92-year-old barfly. Matthew’s story is the queer one as he meets Gabe (Lou Wegner) a sailor in for Fleet Week, and they spend the night together. Later scenes feature their wedding as well as a rock-climbing adventure that goes sideways. “Last Call in the Dog House” features spirituality and some time travel; not only does Dog claim to have been at Stonewall, but various characters appear in different storylines across time. It doesn’t all work, but the gay characters are of interest.