In-person Pride celebrations may be on pause this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t spend time reflecting on the history of the gay rights movement and the progress made toward a more inclusive society. And with more attention than ever before focused on justice and equality in America, it’s an apt time to examine how social change can be affected in our country.

Through these epic dramas and historical documentaries, I learned a great deal about the history of the gay rights movement and the continued struggle of LGBTQ people. Here are five films you can stream now, in honor of Pride Month.

American Experience: “Stonewall Uprising”

Last summer marked the 50th anniversary of a turning point in the modern gay rights movement. This American Experience film gives the events at Stonewall meaningful context through personal interviews with people who were there. In the 1960s, homosexuality was still widely considered a mental illness by the medical community an society at large. Despite public alienation and shaming, the gay community found ways to create safe spaces. One was the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The mafia-owned bar was one of the few public places where gay people could show affection and dance openly with each other. There, skirmishes with police were common as cops looked to raid the bar and arrest anyone violating strict social laws.

In the middle of a hot June night in 1969, a group of police officers entered the bar, turned the lights off and demanded identifications. As people gathered outside on Christopher Street, the crowd, fed up with police mistreatment, took a stand and fought back. The police never expected it, and there was no going back. “We discovered a power we weren’t even aware we had,” says one man who protested. That uprising is now credited with launching the first ever gay pride parade in New York, and generations of social progress. It’s poignant now to re-visit this event, when a minority community fought back against police abuse. In retrospect, we view this violent night as a catalyst for social change.
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FRONTLINE: “Growing Up Trans”

The most powerful thing about FRONTLINE’s documentaryabout transgender children is that it allows the kids to tell their own stories. In their own words, we get to hear from trans boys and girls, ages 9 to 13, about what it’s like growing up in a body that doesn’t match their identities. Advances in medicine mean that kids today are able to start transitioning to another gender at a much younger age than a generation ago. The kid’s stories are also stories about families: (mostly) supportive parents, grandparents and school friends who help them navigate a sometimes confusing journey.

This new frontier in transgender rights is not without challenges. Doctors and psychiatrists acknowledge that there are still many unknowns when it comes to medical interventions. At a young age, these trans children are confronting difficult questions about fertility and future biological children. “We’re asking you to be really grown up really quickly,” remarks one doctor. Despite obstacles, these kids are wise, self-assured and introspective. “Guys aren’t really allowed to play with their gender,” remarks one trans boy when asked why fathers have a harder time accepting a transgender child than mothers. We don’t know exactly what the future holds for these children, but we do know these pioneers are paving the way toward equality and inclusion.
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Reel South: “Alabama Bound”

Today, states are on the frontlines of social change. Most battles over gay rights are still fought in state legislatures, not Washington, DC, where marriage, adoption and discrimination laws are created. This Reel South documentaryzooms in on one state to examine how gay rights are evolving in America. In Alabama, one of the country’s most conservative states, religion and politics are constantly mixing. But that hasn’t stopped activists from pushing for more protections in the state, one of 26 where same-sex families are still not legally protected against discrimination by business owners, employers and judges.

The film follow three lesbian couples as they fight against unjust state laws. One woman loses custody of her son because of her sexual orientation, even though he’s living with an abusive stepmother. Another couple fights for equal adoption rights after being discriminated against at a hospital when their newborn baby is sick. That couple’s fight eventually overturns Alabama’s state ban on marriage for same-sex couples, and the cameras are rolling to capture the emotional moment when they learn of the Supreme Court ruling in 2015, which made marriage equality the law of the land. “I thought marriage would be the hardest obstacle to overcome, but it’s now the first major victory,” says Patricia Todd, the first openly gay Alabama state representative. “We still have a lot of work to do. Non-discrimination is the next frontier.”
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We’ll Meet Again: “Coming Out”

When 13-year-old Tom DiCioccio realized he was gay, he knew he couldn’t tell his conservative parents. It was the 1960s, and homosexuality was still considered a mental illness and a crime. So he told his friend Marla, who accepted him with open arms. They eventually fell out of touch. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, Paul Tosi was student body president at the University of New Hampshire. He worked with Wayne April to set up the university’s first gay student organization. The governor tried to stop it and the press mocked them, but they eventually brought the case to the New Hampshire Supreme Court in 1975 — and won. The decision in The University of New Hampshire v. Wayne April is now considered one of the most significant gay rights cases in American history. Tosi realized he too was gay, and the case gave him “the permission to be who I am” and become a passionate gay rights advocate.

In this episode of We’ll Meet Again, Ann Curry follows these two men as they reunite with their lost connections, 40 years later. Tom and Paul are able to personally thank Marla and Wayne for giving them the courage to accept themselves and live openly. These reunions are beautiful, and, ultimately, hopeful stories of friendships and love. In a time of isolation when we are all searching for human connection, it’s a reminder to tell the people in your life or in your past what they mean to you. You don’t have to wait 40 years.
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MASTERPIECE: “Man in an Orange Shirt”

MASTERPIECE’s beautiful Man In An Orange Shirt originally ran on the BBC to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in England. Before that legislation, gay people were brutally treated and sent to prison, including men like Thomas, whom we meet in the first half of this movie. Played by James McArdle, he’s an artist who has a secret love affair with Michael Berryman, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen. They meet serving in the military, and carry on a passionate affair after the war, only able to show affection for each other in the shadows.

In the style of The Notebook, the story flashes forward 60 years to modern London and follows a gay man, played by Julian Morris, as he wrestles with his own acceptance and identity and his sometimes troubled relationship with his grandmother, played by Vanessa Redgrave. The story eventually comes full circle, but not exactly as you may expect. The script, written by novelist Patrick Gale, exquisitely ties these multi-generational stories together. It shows how oppression and internalized shame can linger for generations, and how the echoes of prejudice remain in our modern world. It’s a heartbreaking and emotional journey, and I imagine this story and characters will stay with me for a very long time.

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