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A Comprehensive Guide to the Top LGBTQ Movies – Find Out What Is on Our Must-Watch List

  • May.26.2021
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top lgbtq movies

Do you want to explore the world of the best LGBTQ movies and watch some amazing homosexual films? There are so many really good gay movies out there from your gay classic movie to LGBT-themed movies, mainstream gay films, and more obscure but just as powerful and interesting romance between the same-sex movies. Movies with themes of homosexuality or gender non-conformity have dramatically changed as the times and our culture have changed. More and more movies and television shows are depicting LGBTQ+ characters, which is an important stride in gay liberation and the movement for representation and equality for LGBTQ people. This is not to say that there are not classic gay movies from long ago. Some of the most top-rated gay movies are many decades old. But it hasn’t always been easy to make a film about homosexuality or queerness without a lot of reproach and criticism from a heteronormative public. While this difficulty has lessened it still exists, which is why it is important to support the filmmakers, producers, and actors who have brought us the masterpieces on this list of the best gay movies to watch.

This article truly has it all. If you’re looking for the gayest movie ever or just movies about gay relationships, enjoy browsing through some top gay films. In addition to films about sexual orientation, this extensive must-watch movie list also covers the best LGBT movies and movies that make statements about gender, queerness, and the intersection of gender, sex, and sexuality. Let’s take a look at some top LGBTQ movies available for you to view and enjoy.

The Kids are Alright

homosexual films

Annette Bening won an Academy Award, as well as a Golden Globe for her lead role in The Kids, are Alright directed by Lisa Cholodenko in 2010. This film follows the story of a same-sex couple played by Anette Bening and Julianne Moore with three kids who wish to find their biological father. Along with the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Annette Bening’s acting, the movie itself and the other actors starring in the film won many awards for this touching film about life, family, and love. It is one of the most popular gay movies of its time, and it should definitely be added to the must-watch list of influential LGBTQ+ movies.

Blue is the Warmest Color

popular lgbt movies

Some give it the rave review of being one of the greatest gay movies of all time, so it’s certainly a good one to check out, watch and see for yourself whether it is deserving of this title. Blue is the Warmest Color is a movie about a French teen who falls in love with an older woman. It follows their intense romantic relationship in what many have called a masterpiece directed by Abdellatif Kechiche.

Call Me By Your Name

the best lgbt movies

One of the most critically acclaimed and popular LGBT movies of our time, Call Me By Your Name was truly an iconic film of the 2010s. Luca Guadagnino directed this movie starring Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer as love interests. The movie was filmed almost entirely in the beautiful Italian countryside and offers a variety of breathtaking landscapes amidst the tumultuous story of a young Elio falling in love with the older Oliver, his father’s summer assistant, and how this reckoning with sexuality and romance impacts the two in their life journeys. It will have you singing and crying with its touching story, superb cinematography, and powerful acting.

Brokeback Mountain

mainstream gay films

As one of the most iconic gay movies of all time, Brokeback Mountain starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as love interests are one at the top of the must-watch gay movies list. Directed by Ang Lee in 2005, this world-changing Western shares the tumultuous story of a long romance between two men, each of whom married women as a way to cope with hate and intolerance in their communities. Annie Proulx wrote a short story entitled Brokeback Mountain in 1997, from which this widely renowned film was adapted.

Paris is Burning

best gay films of all time

Paris is Burning is certainly up there when it comes to must-see LGBT movies. This groundbreaking documentary following the lives of queer youth in the 1980s New York City drag scene shows the extravagance, creativity, and joy that surround drag balls and queer culture in 80s NYC. It also showcases the challenges faced by gay, transgender, and gender non-conforming folks who struggle to express themselves authentically in a world that can be violent and hostile towards those who don’t conform. Directed by Jennie Livingston in 1990, this film is certainly an important one on the LGBT movies list for its humor, charm, and deep investigation into the trauma faced by the LGBTQ community. Not just a gay-themed movie, this documentary observes the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class.

Before Night Falls

nice gay movies

Before Night Falls, featuring Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp, is a 2000 LGBT movie directed by Julian Schnabel that was inspired by the autobiography Before Night Falls written by Reinaldo Arenas as well as the documentary Havana. The movie follows the entire life story of writer Reinaldo Arenas and his experience during the Cuban revolution, being a homosexual man in Castro’s Cuba, and his later life after fleeing to the United States, the country where he eventually lived out the rest of his life. This story is touching, poetic, and brilliant, making Before Night Falls a strongly recommended addition to your list of the best LGBTQ+ Movies to watch.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

must see lgbt movies

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a 2001 drama/musical directed by John Cameron Mitchell who additionally played the role of Hedwig in the film. The musical is a tale of a rockstar who moves from Germany to Kansas, USA after suffering from a “botched sex-change operation” to live a life of stardom and love. This film is a funny, witty, and meaningful adaptation of the off-Broadway Musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch which was also created by John Cameron Mitchell. This vivacious drama/comedy is certainly a must-add to your list of the best LGBTQ+ movies to watch as soon as possible.

The Color Purple

best gay and lesbian movies

The 1985 film The Color Purple was directed by the one and only Steven Spielberg and stars two black female icons Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg. This film follows the life of a young girl who gets impregnated by her fathers in the 1900s southern United States and the way her life winds and turns as a result of the challenges she faces for decades to come. It is critically acclaimed and landed Whoopi Goldberg a Golden Globe for best actress. The movie is based on a Pulitzer prize-winning novel written by Alice Walker.

Tangerine

lgbt themed movies

Tangerine definitely does not fit into the category of “nice gay movies.” It is an explicit, raunchy, subversive, and campy film about a transgender sex worker named Tangerine, and while it might not fit into the category “nice” it is certainly one of the best queer movies of all time. Tangerine is a high quality and low budget drama/comedy directed by Sean Baker shows off the gritty and exceptional acting of Kitana Kiki Rodriguez as a larger-than-life character settled in a distinct subculture of Los Angeles, California. Give this film a watch if you’re interested in being shocked, charmed, and taken for an adventure. It is an important addition to anyone’s LGBTQ+ must-watch movie list.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

top gay films

One of the most fantastical and fabulous movies about LGBT themes and characters, the 1994 musical film follows two drag queens and a transgender woman on a journey through the desert of Australia, meeting many entertaining characters along the way. This film directed by Stephan Elliott won awards for excellent costume designs by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner including an Academy Award and an AACTA award. The musical stars Guy Pearce as Adam Whitely, Terence Stamp as Ralph Waite, and Hugo Weaving as Anthony ‘Tick’ Belrose.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

most popular gay movies

One of the great LGBT movies of the last few years, Portrait of a Lady on Fire directed by Céline Sciamma has been raved about as a truly exceptional LGBTQ+ film. It is set in 1770 France and follows the story of Heloise, a young woman who is soon to become a bride, and her relationship with Marianne, a woman who has been commissioned to follow Heloise silently to paint her wedding portrait. This film is deep, thoughtful, and passionate. It has been described as a piece of cinema that will linger with viewers for years to come. This truly impactful film should certainly be on anyone’s list of important LGBTQ+ movies to watch.

Moonlight

best gay movies to watch

Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins, is an independent film about a man who comes to terms with his sexuality. The film, which won an Academy Award for best picture, follows the life of a young black boy named Chiron as he reunites with an influential character from his past. With breathtaking cinematography by James Laxton, this film displays a beautiful story of vulnerability and strength, as well as an intersectional look at race and sexuality. The movie is based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unpublished story “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.” It may be one of the best gay films of all time, so it’s definitely an important one to have on your list of LGBTQ films to watch.

Disclosure

iconic gay movies

One of the recent top LGBT movies to add to your watch list, Disclosure is an important recent documentary that was directed by a transgender man and executive produced by a transwoman. This documentary interviews several famous transgender people such as Laverne Cox, Alexandra Billings, Chaz Bono, and Yance Ford. The interviews all weave together an inspiring, heartbreaking, and altogether educating and informative film that is intersectional, thoughtful, and needed in today’s society. Many people don’t understand how to approach educating their friends, family members, or themselves about the experience of transgender people, but this film is helpful and thought-provoking for many and should be shared widely as a beautiful educational creation.

Rocketman

gay themed movie

Rocketman, a movie that follows the story and life of legendary musical artist Elton John, is a winner of a Golden Globe and important addition to any comprehensive list of important LGBTQ+ movies to watch. Directed by Dexter Fletcher and starring Taron Egerton as Elton John himself, this film takes us through decades of the most tantalizing energetic pop and the brilliant life of a Gay popstar without glossing over the difficult parts.

Boys Don’t Cry

best lgbtq movies

If you haven’t seen it yet, add Boys Don’t Cry to your list of LGBT movies to watch. This film directed by Kimberly Peirce is one of the first mainstream North American movies to follow the life of a transgender man named Brandon who is played by Hillary Swank. Brandon is navigating his world and gender identity and falls in love with the Character Lana played by Chloe Sevingy. The movie was described in the documentary “Disclosure” as one of the more authentic portrayals of a transgender person’s experience, though an unfortunate portrayal as a dark and disturbing recount of a true story.

Now that you have an extensive list of some of the absolute best and most influential LGBTQ+ movies it’s time to put that list to good use. Sit back and relax with some popcorn, and for the tear-jerkers maybe a box of tissues, so you can enjoy these top-rated gay movies. Some of the best gay and lesbian movies are free to watch online, while others are super easy to rent through services like YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon Prime. They are all available on one streaming platform or another, so there is no reason why you can’t knock one or two off of your list every chance you get. For some absolutely inspiring cinema, take some time to watch any or all of these beautiful LGBTQ+ movies. Trust me, it will be worth it!

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