The 8 Best LGBTQ Movies to Watch

The 8 Best LGBTQ Movies to Watch

LGBTQ people have long been buried under tropes and unsubtle stereotypes in film and television. Still, from Sacha Baron Cohen’s fashion-obsessed Brüno to a Scream Queens character nicknamed Predatory Lez, we unfortunately continue to see it all. For marginalized groups, truthful representation in film is imperative, even lifesaving, and in today’s stormy political climate there’s an urgency for straight cisgender people to see LGBTQ characters portrayed accurately and unapologetically — and by people who actually know what LGBTQ life is like because they live it.

Luckily, hope is on the horizon: Although LGBTQ people used to be less visible than Sia’s face in a music video, more LGBTQ-identifying filmmakers, actors, producers, and directors than ever are being given the opportunity to tell their stories. So, ranging from a historic biopic about a gay rights activist to a cheesy 2000s rom-com that’ll turn even your worst mood around, here are 25 of the best LGBTQ movies you need to see — or see again.



Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

If you’ve ever asked a friend for a lesbian film recommendation, the answer was probably Blue Is the Warmest Color. The French film follows Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a teenager who falls in love with an older art-school student named Emma (Léa Seydoux). Just like most woman-loving-woman relationships, the film is quite the saga of ups, downs, heartbreak, and tortured passion.


Love, Simon (2018)

Many grew up watching and loving classic ’80s high school rom-coms such as Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and Say Anything. If you have the same keenness for John Hughes films, then you won’t be disappointed by Love, Simon. Based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the movie shows what it’s like to come out in high school during a post-Glee world. Sure, you may be a part of a liberal community in a family you realize will accept you, but that doesn’t necessarily make coming out any easier. Featuring a queer actor as one of the main love interests, and a gay director, Love, Simon is a movie that will likely have you crying and clapping through scenes as you watch.


Desert Hearts (1985)

Desert Hearts is widely considered the first film with a lesbian story line where the women end up together. The critically acclaimed film is notable in woman-loving-woman history for its positive portrayal of a lesbian relationship. Directed by out filmmaker Donna Deitch, the story follows Vivian (Helen Shaver), a mid-30s professor who stays at a ranch in Reno, Nevada, that houses women waiting for their divorces to finalize. There she falls for Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), a young artist who works at one of the casinos, and a turbulent affair ensues.


Tangerine (2015)

Tangerine was released to much critical praise for its portrayal of transgender characters. Set in West Hollywood, the movie follows the friendship between a pair of sex workers played by Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. Tangerine is explosive, dark, dirty, and sharp. Finding a movie about transgender men or women is rare; finding one that’s good is even harder to come by — but finding one that’s authentic and has trans actors playing trans characters is, well, you’re catching on. Transgender people are vastly underrepresented in Hollywood, but thanks to films like Tangerine, that’s finally changing. And get this: Tangerine was shot entirely on an iPhone 5s.


Milk (2008)

Gus Van Sant directed Milk, a film based on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. The first openly gay man to get elected to public office in California, in 1977, Milk was, and is, a gay icon. The film follows the life, romantic relationships, political ascendancy, and his eventual assassination. Milk won two Academy Awards: one for Best Leading Actor (Sean Penn) and the other for Best Original Screenplay (written by Dustin Lance Black). It’s nothing short of an iconic American film.


Brokeback Mountain (2005)

As far as good movies go — like critically acclaimed, Oscar-winning movies — Brokeback Mountain is a solid place to start. Although it falls short on LGBTQ cast and crew, the movie pushed conservative boundaries and broke barriers, thus crowning it an influential moment in LGBTQ filmmaking. The story follows Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger), two cowboys who meet in the early 1960s and fall madly in love — and who would have been crucified by society if they’d made their love known. The shame these two characters feel for the love they share will put your heart through a shredder, empty it out, put it in a blender, dump it out, and then force you to pour it over your head…. But the film is beautifully written, performed, made, and scored.


Other People (2016)

Other People is an extremely dark comedy that follows David (Jesse Plemons), a struggling comedy writer who moves home to live with his terminally ill mother (Molly Shannon). Written and directed by Saturday Night Live’s Chris Kelly, this movie will make you ugly-cry and then laugh at yourself for doing so. Among the infinite reasons to love Other People is that it features a gay protagonist even though the movie isn’t about his sexuality. It’s always refreshing to see gay characters going about their daily lives as people who do things other than just date each other! Plus, 15-year-old J.J. Totah is the breakout star of this movie. He plays a hilarious, overwhelmingly flamboyant preteen who steals the show. Basically he’s you — no, he’s us.


The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Julianne Moore and Annette Bening portray a lesbian couple, Jules and Nic, whose family is turned upside down when their children (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) seek to make a connection with their sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo). Things get even more twisted when Jules, who at the time identifies as a lesbian, enjoys some late-in-life sexual exploration at the expense of her family. Intricately written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko (one of the best lesbian filmmakers out there), the hilarious and heartwarming The Kids Are All Right features real-life struggles that so many modern couples endure. Warning: You might fall in love with Julianne Moore (if you haven’t already). Also, it’s worth a watch to see baby Josh Hutcherson with a bowl cut.

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