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Billie Holiday Biopic Explores Queer Side Of A Jazz Legend

The hotly-anticipated film focuses on Holiday’s fight with the FBI, who were threatened by her powerful song. The song famously confronts the lynchings and killings of Black people in the United States.

The trailer shows Holiday and her lover Tallulah Bankhead (played by Natasha Lyonne) visiting a jewelry store.

“Don’t you know who this is?” Lyonne’s character asks while Holiday tells the jeweler that she’s looking for something “downright flashy”.

The trailer givesLGBT+ fans hope that Holiday’s queerness will be explored in the film. The jazz singer was famously bisexual and had both male and female lovers throughout her life, including the actress Tallulah Bankhead.

Director Lee Daniels told The Hollywood Reporter

Billie Holiday ‘kicked off the civil rights movement’. “Strange Fruit” was seen as a threat by the government of the day, and that turned Holiday into a target."

“When you think of Billie Holiday, you think of this brilliant tortured jazz singer that happened to have been a drug addict. I didn’t know that she kicked off the civil rights movement,” he said.

“Before there was a civil rights movement, there was Billie Holiday and ‘Strange Fruit.’ The government saw that song as a threat and she was a target. That’s history and they keep it from us.”

This is not the first biopic made about Holiday. Lady Sings the Blues, released in 1972, famously starred Diana Ross as the famous jazz singer – however, that version did not explore Holiday’s relationships with women.


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