LGBTQ streaming: What to watch in February

Three members of the cast of "Erin's Guide to Kissing Girls."
“Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls,” which is geared towards younger viewers, is a queer romantic comedy about Erin, an eight-grade lesbian.
Quiver Distribution

This month there are several notable LGBTQ films available for streaming, from a pair of documentaries, a trio of films from Latin American, a teen romance, and a horror flick. Here’s is a rundown of what to watch. 

No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics”

This affectionate documentary (on through April 22) traces the careers of five groundbreaking gay and lesbian comic book artists. Director Vivian Kleiman shows how these artists defined themselves and took risks to create a queer comics scene that is in full bloom today. There are charming anecdotes by the pioneering Mary Wings, who responded to reading the comic “Sandy Comes Out” by creating “Come Out Comix.” The late, great Howard Cruse describes how the underground comics scene allowed for queer and envelope-pushing work since the Comics Code restricted any mention of homosexuality. Rupert Kinnard explains how his work in college, creating the Brown Bomber — the first gay superhero in comic strips — was “cathartic” as it enabled him to come out too. Jennifer Camper gets emotional discussing the impact of the AIDS epidemic, and Alison Bechdel talks about destigmatizing the LGBTQ community through realistic illustrations and stories. As “No Straight Lines” shows, these artists “drew themselves as they wanted to be represented,” and in doing so changed the landscape and formed a strong sense of community. Kleiman employs comic panel formats to allow the next generation of queer comic book writers, which include Carlos Quispe, Ajuan Mance, and Maia Kobabe, among others. This is a fun and at times touching film that should inspire viewers to seek out these artists’ work.

“Nelly and Nadine”

Another documentary (available on VOD), uncovers the hidden history and “double lives” of its titular subjects, Nelly Mousset-Vos and Nadine Hwang. They met in the Ravensbrück concentration camp and began a romance that continued after the war. Filmmaker Magnus Gertten follows Nelly’s granddaughter, Sylvie, as she pieces together the couple’s story through letters, diaries, photographs, Super-8 films, and interviews with folks who knew them. This lyrical, inspiring, and moving documentary recounts Nelly and Nadine’s experiences during the war and shows their hope — and will — to both survive and be together.  

Petit Mal

Available on VOD, “Petit Mal” is an interesting hybrid documentary/fiction about a throuple — Marti (Silvia Varón), Anto (Ana María Otálora) and Laia (writer/director Ruth Caudeli). The strong bond among these three lovers is felt in the opening scenes of them sharing paella and playing word games. However, when Laia goes off for a job, Marti and Anto are bereft. The film shifts into black and white to convey their loneliness — Anto performs a poignant song — and calls with Laia freeze or are dropped. Laia cries and misses her girlfriends when they do connect. “Petit Mal” artfully examines the difficulties of maintaining an equilateral balance in the relationship, especially as Marti and Anto become closer during Laia’s absence. When they grow angry with Laia for failing to respond to their messages, there is noticeable silence when Laia returns from her trip. “Petit Mal” examines the singular dynamic of this trouple, and it is hard not to root for them to stay together — if only because they all look so adorable in their matching bear sleepwear.

“Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls”

“Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls (out February 3 on VOD) is a sweet queer romantic comedy about Erin (Elliot Stocking), an eighth-grade lesbian who loves comics and is determined to kiss a girl before high school. She sets her sights on Sydni (Rosali Annikie), the cool new girl, and conspires to not only spend time with her — but ask her to the school dance. However, her goal strains Erin’s friendship with her bestie, Liz (Jesyca Gu). “Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls” is geared squarely toward younger viewers, but adults can appreciate the pangs of a crush and value of being true to oneself. This is a slight but winning teen film. 


Out gay filmmaker Carter Smith’s “Swallowed” (out February 14 on VOD), has Ben (out actor Cooper Koch, from “They/Them”) readying to leave Maine to pursue a career in adult films in Los Angeles. His buddy Dom (Jose Colon in an impressive screen debut) wants to send him off in style — and with some cash. On their way home from a club, Dom detours to meet with Alice (Jena Malone) who will pay him to smuggle “drugs” across the Canadian border. But things get murky fast; Alice orders both Dom and Benjamin at gunpoint to swallow some sachets. While the guys must “deliver” the goods quickly, circumstances at a rendezvous point go sideways, prompting Alice to take Ben and Dom — the latter sans pants — to a cabin where her boss Rich (out actor Mark Patton) is waiting for the sachets. What Ben and Dom don’t know is that the “parcels” are bugs, not drugs. Smith ratchets up the tension as things get increasingly more uncomfortable for Ben and Dom when Rich is around. This is a fabulous, squirm-inducing film.

“The First Fallen

Out February 21 on VOD, “The First Fallen” is set largely in 1983, when gay Suzano (Johnny Massaro), his trans friend Rosa (Renata Carvalho), as well as their friend Humberto (Vitor Camilo) are all living with AIDS. While the first act introduces these characters, detailing their lives, the film’s power comes from an extended sequence where the three friends examine their lives, giving impassioned speeches that express their attitudes about living and dying and how their lives have changed. This is an emotional film that capture the uncertainty around AIDS in its early years, and it is heartbreakingly performed. 

“Wandering Heart”

In the outstanding character study, “Wandering Heart,” (out February 23 on VOD) written and directed by Leonardo Brzezicki, Santiago (Leonardo Sbaraglia of “Burnt Money”) is a restless and lonely gay man. He tries to reconnect with his ex, Luis (Alberto Ajaka), who wants to sever ties with him completely. Santiago also has difficulty with his moody teenage daughter, Laila (Miranda de la Serna). He needs to find his inner balance, but he is too busy trying to have fun hooking up, drinking and drugging, attending sex parties, and seeking love with either a Chilean guy, or a couple he meets in Brazil. Santiago is an impulsive man who experiences extreme highs and lows, and Sbraraglia, in a career-best performance, is completely vulnerable and heartbreaking dancing naked by a pool or sharing a moment of intimacy at a children’s party. This is an incredible, heartfelt, moving film.