Most people know that June is Pride month, a time for LGBTQ+ folks and allies to come together in celebration of the triumphs and successes of the LGBTQ+ community. During a time in which America seems to be growing more divided than ever, showing acceptance towards others is a major step in the right direction.
One of the main ways queer people have been able to cope with bigotry and come to love themselves is through the onscreen representation of characters and stories in LGBTQ movies. Many of the most important films in the genre have been recent developments, as gay movies weren’t really something major studios would take on before the turn of the 21st century. We want to give you a wide array of stories to enjoy this Pride season, so let’s get started!
Staring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as two western cowboys grappling with a forbidden romance across a two-decade timespan, Brokeback Mountain is a revolutionary LGBTQ+ film that broke barriers and opened the floodgates for future same-sex romances on the big screen. Distilling the essence of what it means to fall in love, the story is one that helps even the most misunderstanding viewer take a second look at their views towards gay love. Director Ang Lee won an Academy Award for his work on this film.
Some of the best gay movies are based on originally heteronormative plot lines, giving a fresh perspective on tried and true storytelling for a more diverse and modern audience. Fire Island definitely fits into this category, as it uses many of the themes and threads from the classic novel Pride and Prejudice. A friend group vacations on the titular Fire Island in New York when things start to go awry. The movie is acclaimed for its representation of gay party culture and friendship politics.
You won’t find anything revolutionary in Love, Simon, but that doesn’t mean you won’t laugh, cry, and want to re-watch it time and time again. The movie is based upon a novel by Becky Albertalli and follows closeted teenage boy Simon Spier in his attempts to keep his sexuality hidden from his family and friends while being blackmailed by someone who already knows he’s gay. The movie is one of the first rom-coms about a gay teenager ever released by a major film studio, thereby serving as a major inspiration to a mainstream gay audience that needs to feel represented and heard. Nick Robinson gives an endearing and memorable performance in the lead role. The series went on to have a spinoff series, Love, Victor, which is one of the best coming-of-age shows on Hulu.
A major box office bomb, Bros is a cookie-cutter style rom-com about two men in their mid-30s who resist their romantic and sexual attraction for one another. Just because it didn’t make a lot of money doesn’t mean it’s not a funny and heartwarming story, though. Critics and fans enjoyed that the main actors, Billy Eichner and Luke Macfalane, are gay in real life. Judd Apatow served as an executive producer, demonstrating that there is some major star power in front of and behind the camera for this one.
If you want to check out one of the better recent additions to Amazon Prime’s lineup of movies, you could do a lot worse than My Policeman. Starring Harry Styles, the movie is an intimate look at the loves and regrets of a trio of people who are romantically involved with each other, two of whom are men. The film is a period piece that adds a layer of historical context to the difficulties gay people had expressing themselves openly during the middle of the 20th century.
There is perhaps no LGBTQ+ movie more critically acclaimed than Call Me By Your Name. This deeply tender and slow-simmering love story between a teenage boy and a mid-20s man is somewhat controversial due to the age gap of the characters, but it powerfully demonstrates the unbridled attraction between two people unlike most other movies in this genre. The breathtaking cinematography that spirals through the Italian countryside along with the chemistry of actors Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer make this film a modern classic.
If you want something with the vibes of a 1980s coming-of age-classic, Alex Strangelove definitely fits the bill. It follows main character Alex as his quest to lose his virginity turns into a gay awakening right before his very eyes. The movie is a great interpretation of the confusing wonder years of non-straight teenagers and the wrench that social media and online access adds to the equation.
Some LGBTQ+ movies focus far too often on men and boys, leaving young queer woman wondering where their representation is. Disobedience tries to solve this problem by telling a beautiful story of a reborn romance between two women who meet up again in adulthood. Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams passionately portray their characters with ease.
Not for the faint of heart, Boys Don’t Cry features a powerhouse performance from Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena, a transgender man who tries to find happiness with his girlfriend in Nebraska after transitioning. The film is graphically violent and discusses many visceral and raw themes such as hate crimes and sexual assault. This makes the movie a poignant reminder of the real-life issues that still face transgender people in 2023.
An Oscar-winning accomplishment by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight is an all-encompassing look at the struggles of double-minority people in America. The story is about a black child named Chiron and the three different phases of his life that make him the man he turns into. Vitally showing the ways being Black and gay can be a two-headed struggle in the United States, Moonlight is one of the most important films of the 2010s.
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