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4 Heartrending documentaries that'll open your eyes about diversity

Julie Sprankles is a freelance writer living in the storied city of Charleston, SC. When she isn't slinging sass for SheKnows, she enjoys watching campy SyFy creature features (Pirahnaconda, anyone?), trolling the internet for dance work...

Keep some tissues handy

With transgender actors landing starring roles on the big screen and as support for gay marriage grows, the LGBT community is seeing more acceptance than ever before. Still, as documentaries like these four prove, we still have a long way to go.


When Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Bridegroom met, the two immediately hit it off. Before long, the young men were in a loving and committed relationship that friends and family describe as enviable — they were the couple everyone wanted to be. Tragically, their love story was cut short in 2011 when Bridgegroom fell to his death while taking pictures of a friend on a rooftop. Crone, who by all accounts Bridgegroom had planned to spend his life with, was told not to attend the funeral. "If I do show up," he recalls being told, "his uncle and his father had planned an attack." This is their story, at once both heartwarming and heartrending.

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God Loves Uganda

As a Christian, this film by Roger Ross Williams was hard to stomach but extremely eye-opening. The filmmaker was inspired to make the documentary while shooting his Oscar-winning film, Music by Prudence, and seeing firsthand the extreme prejudice stemming from North American Evangelicalism. In Uganda, in particular, the documentary suggests it is the catalyst for the highly-controversial Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which proposes the death penalty for gays and lesbians. Disclaimer: Some of the imagery is hard to watch, but you'll walk away with a better understanding of diversity and how the Western influence affects it globally.

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Out Late

Admittedly, this one is kind of adorable. A total inspiration, Out Late profiles five people who came out as lesbian, gay or transgender after the age of 55. The heartbreaking part lies in their personal truths — that these vibrant individuals stifled their true selves for so long because they didn't feel like they could come out. This sweet film explores everything from the timing of their choices to who they ultimately decide to be with. It's a must-watch.


With transgender stars like Laverne Cox landing leading roles in film, the trans community is beginning to emerge from the "last minority" shadow. In this eight-episode documentary series, that community was given the spotlight through the lives of four transgender college students during the 2004/2005 school year. A dichotomy of liberating and heartrending, their stories show the very real struggle young people must go through to "merge their internal and external selves."

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