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Celebrate Pride Month with These Shows on WTTW

Meredith Francis
Chicago AIDS activist Danny Sotomayor speaks at a rally. Credit: Lisa Howe-Ebright, photographer.
Chicago AIDS activist Danny Sotomayor speaks at a rally. Credit: Lisa Howe-Ebright, photographer.

June is LGBTQ Pride Month, and WTTW has a slate of programming that highlights stories of acceptance, identity, struggle, and features the LGBTQ+ individuals and groups that made waves in their fields. Plus, there are new shows, including a new documentary on actor George Takei, as well as one on Art Johnston and Pepe Peña, owners of Chicago’s famous gay bar Sidetrack.

This month, you can also explore the story of a Chicago activist who confronted the AIDS crisis with Chicago Stories: The Outrage of Danny Sotomayor. With his pointed political cartoons, no patience for some of the city’s politicians, and a passionate personality, Sotomayor helped lead major protests that spilled out into Chicago’s streets during the height of the AIDS crisis. Though Sotomayor would not survive his own battle with AIDS, his friends and fellow activists remember how he left his mark so that others might survive. You can stream the show anytime at this link, too.

American Masters: Joe Papp in Five Acts

Sunday, June 2 at 8:00 pm on WTTW Prime
Joe Papp, founder of The Public Theater, Free Shakespeare in the Park, and producer of groundbreaking plays like Hair, A Chorus Line and For Colored Girls, created a “theater of inclusion” based on the belief that great art is for everyone.

American Masters: Ballerina Boys

Sunday, June 2 at 9:30 pm on WTTW Prime
Discover Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (The Trocks), an all-male company that for 45 years has offered audiences their passion for ballet classics mixed with exuberant comedy. With every step they poke fun at their strictly gendered art form.

POV: We Are the Radical Monarchs

Sunday, June 2 at 10:30 pm on WTTW Prime
Meet the Radical Monarchs, a group of young girls of color on the frontlines of social justice. Follow the group as they earn badges for completing units on such subjects as being an LGBTQ ally, preserving the environment, and disability justice.

True Colors: LGBTQ+ Our Stories, Our Songs

Saturday, June 8 at 10:00 pm on WTTW
Celebrate Pride Month with music from Indigo Girls, Billy Gilman, Morgxn, Peppermint, Jujubee, Alexis Michelle, Trey Pearson, Breanna Sinclaire, Andre de Shields, and more along with real-life stories of hope hosted by Jeopardy's Amy Schneider.

American Experience: Stonewall Uprising

Sunday, June 9 at 8:00 pm on WTTW Prime and Sunday, June 30 at 4:00 pm on WTTW
Stonewall Uprising explores the dramatic event that launched a worldwide rights movement. Hunted and often entrapped by undercover police in their hometowns, gays from around the U.S. began fleeing to New York in search of a sanctuary. Hounded there still by an aggressive police force, they found refuge in a Mafia-run gay bar in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn. When police raided Stonewall on June 28, 1969, gay men and women did something they had not done before: they fought back. As the streets of New York erupted into violent protests and street demonstrations, the collective anger announced that the gay rights movement had arrived.

POV: Breaking the News

Sunday, June 9 at 9:30 pm on WTTW Prime
A scrappy group of women and LGBTQ+ journalists buck the white male-dominated status quo, banding together to launch the 19th*, a digital news startup aiming to combat misinformation and include the voices often left out of the American story.

Go Figure: The Randy Gardner Story

Sunday, June 9 at 11:00 pm on WTTW Prime
Go Figure: The Randy Gardner Story intimately documents the life and career of two-time Olympian Randy Gardner. Together with his Olympic partner Tai Babilonia, they formed the iconic figure skating pairs team known as Tai and Randy. The film shares one man’s quest to finally come to terms with his true identity so that he can be a light to others.

Afropop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange

Sunday, June 16 at 10:30 pm on WTTW Prime
Filmmakers Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz trace the history and legacy of choreographer-dancer-director Bill T. Jones’ ballet, “D-Man in the Waters.” Emerging in the age of AIDS, the 1989 ballet gave physical manifestation to the fear, anger, grief, and hope for salvation that Jones and colleagues experienced as AIDS took the life of their beloved co-founder Arnie Zane and other troupe members.

Miriam and Alan Lost in Scotland

Thursday, June 20 and Thursday, June 27 at 7:00 pm on WTTW
Miriam and Alan are back rip-roaring across Scotland... and beyond! They ride the Harry Potter Express steam train and head to the glorious Cairngorms National Park before Alan conducts an LGBTQ+ wedding.

To Be Takei

Thursday, June 20 at 8:00 pm on WTTW and Friday, June 21 at 7:00 pm on WTTW Prime
Over seven decades, actor, and activist George Takei boldly journeyed from a World War II internment camp, to the helm of Star Trek's USS Enterprise, to the daily news feeds of five million Facebook fans. Join George and his husband Brad on this star’s playful and profound trek for life, liberty, and love.


Thursday, June 20 at 9:00 pm on WTTW and Friday, June 21 at 8:00 pm on WTTW Prime
Follow queer actor Dyllon Burnside on a journey across the South to meet diverse members of the LGBTQ community. From a lesbian rodeo champ in Texas to an African American mayor ally in Alabama, he discovers how LGBTQ Americans are finding ways to live authentically and with Pride in the modern South.

LA: A Queer History

Sunday, June 23 and Sunday, June 30 at 10:00 pm on WTTW Prime
From artists who helped shape early Hollywood to the male/female impersonators in the “pansy clubs,” early Hollywood became a Queer destination for people wanting a new life. Early LGBTQ culture and community begins to take shape just as the post World War II era sparks widespread criminalization.

Art and Pep

Friday, June 28 at 8:00 pm on WTTW and Friday, June 28 at 7:00 pm on WTTW Prime
Art Johnston and Pepe Peña are civil rights leaders whose life and love is a force behind LGBTQ+ equality in the heart of the country. Their iconic gay bar Sidetrack has helped fuel movements and create community for decades in Chicago's queer enclave. But behind the business and their historic activism exists a love unlike any other. This film tells the inspiring story of the long struggle for equality and their fight to love freely.

Chicago Stories: The Outrage of Danny Sotomayor

Friday, June 28 at 9:00 pm and Saturday, June 29 at 6:00 pm on WTTW and Friday, June 28 at 8:00 pm on WTTW Prime
Fiery openly gay AIDS activist and political cartoonist Danny Sotomayor used civil disobedience to wage war on city officials who marginalized the LGBTQ community and ignored the AIDS crisis, while fighting a losing battle with the disease himself. This program chronicles his courageous fight for equality. Audio-narrated descriptions of key visual elements are available. Explore the companion website or stream the show any time.

For the Love of Friends

Sunday, June 30 at 2:30 pm on WTTW
Set against the lead-up to a stage play based on the same story, this documentary highlights the remarkable life and work of activist Brent Nicholson Earle at the height of the AIDS epidemic.