Revisiting Iconic Pride Scenes From Film and Television

Pride month is nearing, and I thought it might be fun to look at on-screen depictions of Pride through the years. It turns out…there aren’t that many? I thought perhaps there was just a gap in my knowledge, but even when I tapped other queer film/tv critics to assist with this list, it didn’t get much longer! I thought surely there’d be DOZENS? Where is the 200 Cigarettes-esque multistory, sprawling cast Pride comedy we deserve?! Actually, don’t take that idea. I might wanna do that idea.

Also, I’m hoping the Billy Porter-directed teen comedy set at Pride being made by Gabrielle Union’s production company is still in the works, but I feel like I haven’t heard any new information about it in a couple years.

I do think part of the reason it’s rare to find Pride scenes is because of budget reasons! It’d be expensive and difficult to film a Pride parade or major event in a way that feels realistic. It makes sense to me that Sense8 is on this list twice given the sheer size of that show’s large-scale production budget! Also, it makes sense to me that a lot of Pride scenes film at actual Pride events rather than staging them. Some shows have referenced Gay Pride even if they don’t explicitly show Pride events, like Pose and Generation Q.

Here are some of the (rare!) moments from film and television that explicitly depict Pride celebrations. I’m sure I missed some though, so be sure to shout them out in the comments!


Pride docuseries

Pride: An FX Original Docuseries, surrounded by Gay Pride buttons

Okay, this is an obvious one to include, but the 2021 FX docuseries Pride documents LGBTQ+ resistance and activism from the 1950s to the 2000s. It’s worth a watch! I’m skipping over some documentaries on this list, because I’m going to do a separate Pride piece that centers docs, but this series feels right to include on this list as a starting point.


Pride (2014)

Pride (2014)

This movie really captures the political and activism aspects of Gay Pride, focusing on the group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, which advocated for a Welsh mining community. Collective action! Protesting! Being loud and proud and fighting the system! This is what Pride’s all about.


The Truth About Jane (2000)

the Pride parade scene from The Truth About Jane

Ah, yes, the time Stockard Channing plays mother to a teen lesbian coming out the closet and does not take it well but then eventually goes to a Pride parade as she learns to accept her gay daughter! I wish this very 2000 movie hadn’t made me cry when I watched it the first time, but ALAS!!!!!! We get to see the parade from young Jane’s POV, and it got me. She’s taking it all in — the signs, the shirts, the smiling and cheering queers living out and proud. The movie is free to stream online.


BPM (2017)

Set in 1990s France, the French movie BPM follows ACT UP Paris activists. There’s a lot to love about this movie, and I in particular am drawn to the tension within the group about how to best show up for Pride. Some members want to take a more serious approach to mourn lives lost, but some of our central characters want to take a more joyful and cheerful approach to celebrating queer lives. I think this tension and plurality ties very well into the theme of Autostraddle’s Pride package this year, which will be revealed soon 👀


South of Nowhere, “Gay Pride”

a blonde white woman holds a Pride flag

The third season of South of Nowhere indeed featured an episode literally called “Gay Pride,” which saw the return of the show’s popular ship “Spashley.” Just typing “Spashley” awakened something dormant in me.


Queer as Folk, “Pride”

dykes on bikes in Queer as Folk's Pride episode

The Pride episode of Queer as Folk aired in 2002 and is centered on the characters attending Pittsburgh’s Gay Pride parade. It has it all! Pride ex drama! Baby gay first Pride fears! Dykes on bikes!


The L WordLoud & Proud

Alice looks at Dana in "Loud and Proud"

Given the subject matter and scope, it’s a little surprising we don’t have like…75 episodes of The L Word to choose from when it comes to on-screen depictions of Pride. Instead, we pretty much just have season two, episode 11, “Loud & Proud.” We head to West Hollywood Pride in the episode, and I’d say that the most Pride thing about this episode are the outfits that make you experience a full spectrum of reactions. Alice at one point is in a red terrycloth romper and a rainbow boa, and it all makes you go “huh” but also “could be cute?” What is Pride if not perplexing fashion-wise!


Harlem, “Pride”

The Pride celebration on Harlem

In Harlem‘s second season, Tye takes Quinn to her first Pride after coming out — she comes dressed wig-to-toe in a homemade outfit! —  and the comedy of errors of one of the longest days on the queer calendar is not quite what Quinn expected. Meanwhile, Tye ends up on a journey of self-discovery, confronts her past, and grapples with what her legacy means as a queer small business owner in service of her community. It’s joy-filled but also nuanced look at the range of feelings queer people have about Pride, and is also one of the only depictions of Black community celebrations of Pride on television.


Boomerang, “Family”

Tia from Boomerang, a Black lesbian with a long blonde wig, stands underneath a rainbow balloon arc during a Pride festival.
Like Harlem, Lena Waithe’s Boomerang stands out by focusing its depiction of Pride on voice and celebrations that are often otherwise left at the margins — this time on Atlanta’s annual Black Pride festival. This is what Carmen had to say when the episode first aired in 2019:

“Most striking is that we not only see Tia and Ari comfortable in their own Black queer skin, but that the director chooses to highlight – via portrait style close ups – a variety of festival goers. Black trans women and men, Black studs and butches, Black femmes of all genders, Black drag performers, Black masc gay men – the whole family is accounted for. And we’re happy, we’re smiling, we’re…. Proud. There is not a single second in the episodes 22 minute run time where Black queer folks are asked to check any part of ourselves at the door. It’s unforgettable and, quite frankly, revolutionary.”


Vanderpump Rules, “Your Pride’s Showing”

Dayna on Vanderpump Rules in a Pride headband

While I won’t include every single Bravo Pride moment (because a lot of them center straight women!), this Vanderpump Rules episode from season eight is important, because it was the first Pride episode of VPR that main cast member Ariana Madix was out as bisexual for. In fact, I wrote about it when it first aired. Newer (and short-lived) cast member Dayna (pictured above) also came out as bisexual at Pride that year. Now is when I must confess that my fiancé Kristen and I have a deranged annual Pride tradition — that we do on the morning of Orlando Pride, which doesn’t happen until October — of watching all the Pride episodes of Vanderpump Rules. Yes, Pride episodes are an annual tradition for this show (though they’ve sadly stopped doing them recently), and yes they often focus way more on the straight cast members’ drama than the actual queer ones, but they still just really capture the vibe of Pride.


Real Housewives of Atlanta, “The Float Goes On”

Cynthia Bailey putting on a rainbow headpiece for Pride

My favorite thing about this episode is that it airs one episode after Cynthia Bailey’s daughter Noelle opens up about being sexually fluid to her mom in a really sweet scene. Then just one episode later, we get to see them going to New York for World Pride together! There are some classic Housewives shenanigans that go down on the float unfortunately, but I like that it’s also a touching mother daughter moment between Cynthia and Noelle!


Southern Hospitality, “Pride and Peanut Butter”

Mikel Simmons and the cast of Southern Hospitality, celebrating Pride

This is one of my favorite Pride episodes on Bravo, because it’s the one that manages to center LGBTQ+ cast members the most. There are still some straight shenanigans (I won’t even explain what the “peanut butter” in the title means, but you can Google it”), but for the most part, this episode really is about Mikel and TJ, the show’s queer main cast members — who also are kind of frenemies but still come together in this episode to throw a killer Pride party. Mikel’s coming out journey is documented across the season as he reckons with his religious upbringing and familial relationships. TJ opens up in the episode about how he never really formally came out to his parents. It’s a really moving depiction of a range of queer experiences in the South, and the whole time I was watching it, I was mumbling “Vanderpump Rules could never.”


Sense8, “Isolated Above, Connected Below”

the cast of Sense8 in a Pride parade

The sixth episode of Sense8‘s second season features the previously closeted Lito making the boldest public declaration of his own queerness by participating in São Paulo’s Pride parade. The scene was filmed at São Paolo’s actual Pride celebrations!!!!! It has all the hallmarks of a big, spectacular Sense8 set piece while also being…real! It’s such a celebratory and fun scene that it would easily be one of my favorite on-screen Pride moments of all time if it weren’t for the fact that Sense8 had already topped it a season before, which brings us to…


Sense8, “Limbic Resonance”

Amanita and Nomi saying "happy Pride" to each other in Sense8

I have saved the best for last. This is easily my favorite Pride scene of all time as well as the moment I first fell in love with Sense8. It happens in the first few minutes of the show’s pilot. Amanita fucks Nomi with a rainbow strap-on, takes it off, and wishes her gorgeous girlfriend a happy Pride. It’s a lovely, hot, wet scene of intimate and joyful queer and trans sex. Happy Pride indeed!!!!

a rainbow strap-on

Later, we see Nomi and Amanita out and about celebrating Pride, and they reflect on their first Pride together. It’s really sweet and sweetly real! This is why I’m surprised Pride doesn’t crop up in film and television more often! Sure, there are plenty of individuals and couples who don’t make a point to attend designated Pride events on the regular, but it’s a big part of a lot of queer people’s lives! Even just complaining about [corporate] Pride is a big part of being queer! Nomi and Amanita always felt like a strikingly realistic lesbian couple to me, and the fact that we meet them on Pride and they reflect on their first Pride together actually heightens that!

Amanita and Nomi kissing and saying "your lips...are so...amazing"

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 837 articles for us.

15 Comments

  1. Also in the movie Pride! That scene at the end had me tearing up. But also the queer women in that movie were side characters, so I understand why it may not fit this list.

  2. Here’s a little-known one – a Serbian movie called “The Parade”.
    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1784575/

    It’s about the first pride in Serbia. The government said they won’t protect the participants from the far-right activists, so the organizers of pride asked a gangster and his friends for protection. In exchange the organizers of pride helped the gangster and his fiancée organize their dream wedding.

    It’s part buddy movie, part super-serious drama, and quite a fascinating film altogether. Also an insightful look into the life in the Balkans.

    And the director uploaded the movie to his vimeo, so anyone can watch it for free.
    https://vimeo.com/120042548

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