30 Must-Watch LGBTQ+ Cinema Classics That Define the Genre


We’ve come a long way since the days of black-and-white movies. As we venture into the world of technicolor rainbows and acceptance, the LGBT movie genre remains unexplored in the mainstream.

If it was up to me, every movie with an ounce of a queer storyline is the greatest ever made, but I have to draw the line somewhere. 

Here’s my list of the 30 best LGBT films ever made. If you disagree with me, sound off in the comments. We love a good protest in this part of the world.

30. My Own Private Idaho (1993)

“This road has no end. It probably goes all the way round the world.”

Michael Waters

Genre: Adventure Drama

Director: Gus Van Sant

Screenwriter: Gus Van Sant

Starring: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves

Description: Street hustler Mike “Mikey” Waters (River Phoenix) survives the struggles of city life, selling himself for sex while struggling with narcolepsy. When he’s reunited with his best friend and fellow street hustler, Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves), heir to a wealthy politician fortune, they run away together on a road trip to Idaho in search of Mikey’s estranged mother.

The rebellious adventure leads to startling revelations at every turn, eventually sealing the fates of Mikey and Scott’s future place in the world. Mikey’s unrequited love is one of the earliest celebrated depictions in popular cinema. My Own Private Idaho is one of River Phoenix’s last films before his untimely death 1993 at 23.

29. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Dorothy Gale

Genre: Musical Fantasy

Director: Victor Fleming

Screenwriters: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf

Starring: Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Margaret Hamilton

Description: Ahead of its time, one of the earliest Technicolor films brings Frank L. Baum’s literary masterpiece to life with music, special effects, and some of the most lavish costumes and designs in cinematic history. Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) is swept away by a tornado from her simple life in Kansas into the Land of Oz, where the only thing standing in her way of returning home is the evil Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton).

A rag-tag group of friends, each troubled by their desires, Tin Woodman (Jack Haley), Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), and Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), join Dorothy’s adventure down the yellow brick road in search of the aid of the mysterious Wizard of Oz. The film’s colorful themes and style made it an LGBT staple, coining the term “Friend of Dorothy.”

28. God’s Own Country (2017)

“In my country, spring is the most beautiful. The sun. The flowers.”

– Gheorghe

Genre: Romantic Drama

Director: Francis Lee

Screenwriter: Francis Lee

Starring: Josh O’Connor, Alec Secăreanu, Gemma Jones, Ian Hart

Description: On a Yorkshire farm, Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) lives with his grandmother (Gemma Jones) and father Martin (Ian Hart). After his father suffers a stroke, he must control the farm due to his grandmother’s age. Johnny rebels into a life of debauchery until Gheorghe Ionescu (Alec Secăreanu), a Romanian migrant worker, is hired as a farmhand for the next season. Instantly, a feud between the men develops, and the fiery passion evolves into a relationship no one on the farm could’ve predicted.

27. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

“In this damn country, which we hate and love, you can get anything you want. It’s all spread out and available. That’s why I believe in England. Only you need to know how to squeeze the tits of the system.”

Uncle Nasser

Genre: Comedy Drama

Director: Stephen Frears

Screenwriter: Sarah Radclyffe

Starring: Gordon Warnecke, Daniel Day-Lewis, Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth

Description: The troubled caretaker of his disgraced Pakistani father, Omar Ali (Gordon Warnecke), looks to his successful uncle Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey) for help. After working for his uncle, he manages a rundown laundrette, hoping to bring it back to life. Between juggling the family drama and the ill dealings of drug dealers, all hopes seem lost. 

One day, Omar reunites with the leader of the street punks, his childhood friend Johnny Burfoot (Daniel Day-Lewis). Immediately, they rekindle their long-lost love, and at Omar’s behest, Johnny agrees to help him improve the laundrette. Unfortunately, the stakes are even higher considering the drama Johnny’s past brings into the situation.

26. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

“Not everything is fleeting. Some feelings are deep. The fact it isn’t close to me, that I can understand. But I find it sad it isn’t close to you.”


Genre: Historical Romantic Drama

Director: Céline Sclamma

Screenwriter: Céline Sclamma

Starring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino

Description: A historical tale of star-crossed lovers taking place at the end of the 18th century, the beautiful painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant) arrives on the island of Brittany with a single assignment. Marianne receives a commission to paint a portrait of the hopeful bride-to-be Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) at her mother’s request, the Countess (Valeria Golino). Héloïse refuses her wedding and portrait painting. The Countess enlists Marianne to pose as her companion to paint Héloïse in secret. It is only a matter of time before the days spent together become more than just a painted picture. 

25. But, I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

“It’s your choice: you can run off with Megan and turn into a raging bull-dyke, or you can do the simulation and graduate and lead a normal life.”

Mary Brown

Genre: Satirical Romantic Comedy

Director: James Babbit

Screenwriter: Brian Wayne Peterson

Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Dante Basco, RuPaul

Description: This LGBT cult classic pushed the envelope years ahead. Seventeen-year-old Megan Bloomfield (Natasha Lyonne) is the perfect, perky little high school cheerleader with a football-playing boyfriend. The only problem is she doesn’t like him or this lifestyle. Megan’s stereotypical interests in cheerleaders, angry music, and vegetarianism force her parents to send her away to True Directions, a conversion camp at the direction of Mike (RuPaul), an ex-gay with all the answers.

Despite the problematic five-step program to turn her heterosexual at camp, Megan falls in love with another girl, Graham Eaton (Clea DuVall). Together with their fellow campmates, they battle their greatest insecurities, the social order of True Directions, and their families.

24. Hearts Beat Loud (2018)

“Every now and then, Frankie, we have to accept our circumstances and adapt accordingly.”


Genre: Music Comedy Drama

Director: Brett Haley

Screenwriters: Brett Haley, Marc Basc

Starring: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner

Description: A true family love story between a father and daughter, widower Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) is a former musician and owner of a failing record store in Brooklyn, New York. His daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) is bound for college, but everything stops when they reluctantly share a musical moment. 

To their surprise, the song is fantastic. Frank releases the music to the world, and it becomes an instant hit, putting everything they planned for up in the air. The success forces Sam to decide what’s most important in her life– her girlfriend, her father’s happiness, or her future. 

23. Pariah (2011)

“Breaking is opening, and I am broken. I am open.”


Genre: Drama

Director: Dee Rees

Screenwriter: Dee Rees

Starring: Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis

Description: 17-year-old Alike (Adepero Oduye) struggles to discover herself despite the strict upbringing of her parents, especially her mother, Audrey (Kim Wayans). Fortunately, Alike can escape and live her truth through the eyes of her butch lesbian friend. The problem arises when Audrey forces her daughter to befriend the more feminine, church-going Bina (Aasha Davis). 

Alike develops more than a friendship with Bina. Everything she ran from in the past arrives at her front door immediately. Now, she must choose between fully living her truth or the shadow of her mother’s shame.

22. Milk (2008)

“All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words.”

Harvey Milk

Genre: Biographical

Director: Gus Van Sant

Screenwriter: Dustin Lance Black

Starring: Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, James Franco

Description: Gus Van Sant’s biographical drama is a brilliant homage to the political champion and LGBT activist Harvey Milk (Sean Penn). Milk and his partner Scott Smith (James Franco) move to San Francisco for acceptance. The new city inspired the beginning of Harvey Milk’s political career and his bitter rivalry with the conservative Dan White (Josh Brolin). 

Milk sacrifices an average life of peace and happiness to end the struggle of others. This biopic is a poetic retelling of the rise and fall of one of the most prominent and influential gay activists in American history. 

21. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

“Dear Lana, by the time you read this I’ll be back home in Lincoln. I’m scared of what’s ahead, but when I think of you I know I’ll be able to go on.”

Brandon Teena

Genre: Biographical

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Screenwriters: Kimberly Peirce, Andy Bienen

Starring: Hillary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard

Description: Boys Don’t Cry (1999) is a heartbreaking retelling of the tragic life of Brandon Teena (Hillary Swank), a young transgender man with a troubled past. A fight leads to Brandon’s eviction, and he finds himself in Fall City, Nevada. In this city, trouble doesn’t escape Brandon as he befriends two ex-convicts, John Lotter (Peter Sarsgaard) and Tom Nissen (Brendan Sexton), and their friends, Candace and Lana Tisdel (Chloë Sevigny). Brandon becomes romantically involved with Lana, which makes keeping his past a more complicated secret. 

20. The Hours (2002)

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It’s contrast.”

Virginia Woolf

Genre: Psychological Drama

Director: Stephen Daldry

Screenwriter: David Hare

Starring: Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris

Description: The Hours is a story of three generations of troubled women whose lives are intertwined by the Virginia Woolf novel Mrs. Dalloway. In 2001, Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) was an accomplished New York editor living with her partner, stressed with preparing an award party for her AIDS-stricken friend, the poet Richard (Ed Harris). In the 1950s, an unhappy California housewife, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), grapples with the sacrifices necessary to care for her small son, unsuspecting husband, and unborn child. Furthest back in 1920s England, Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) struggles with her mental health and status while writing the novel that interconnects the women’s lives.         

19. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

“These days gentlemen are an endangered species. Unlike bloody drag queens who just keep breeding like rabbits.”

Bernadette Bassenger

Genre: Road Comedy

Director: Stephan Elliott

Screenwriter: Stephan Elliott

Starring: Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, Bill Hunter

Description: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a comedy of two drag queens, Anthony “Tick” a.k.a. Mitzi Del Bra (Hugo Weaving) and Adam Whitely, a.k.a. Felicia Jollygoodfellow (Guy Pearce), and a transgender woman Bernadette Bassenger (Terrance Stamp) on a rainbow-filled vision quest across the Australian Outback on a tour bus named Priscilla. Mitzi Del Bra is set to perform in Alice Springs and recruits his friends and fellow performers to join him on the quest. 

As they travel from Sydney to Alice Springs, they encounter a handful of colorful characters that mimic the whimsical adventures of the Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland. The film is one of the earliest positive portrayals of LGBT characters in popular mainstream media.

18. Saving Face (2004)

“Fifty-three, unmarried. Thyroid levels aren’t where I’d like to see them, but overall pretty healthy. Okay. Be discrete but ask him if he’s free Friday.”

Dr.  Wilhelmina Pang

Genre: Romantic Comedy Drama

Director: Alice Wu

Screenwriter: Alice Wu

Starring: Michelle Krusiec, Joan Chen, Lynn Chen

Description: Young Chinese-American surgeon Dr. Wilhelmina “Wil” Pang (Michelle Krusiec) is hiding in the closet from her mother, Hwei-lang Gao (Joan Chen). When her mother unsuccessfully attempts to set her up with a friend’s son, Wil falls for the beautiful dancer Vivian Shing (Lynn Chen). Before Wil can fully grasp the complications of her drama, she discovers that her mother has life-changing secrets of her own. Together, mother and daughter battle with the expectations of the traditional Chinese-American woman. It’s a groundbreaking film for portraying Asian female characters not readily seen on screen by a director with her own experiences as a member of the LGBT community.

17. Love, Simon (2018)

“You get to exhale now, Simon.”

Emily Spier

Genre: Romantic Comedy Drama

Director: Greg Berlanti

Screenwriter: Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger

Starring: Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Keiynan Lonsdale

Description: Closeted teen Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) must navigate his friendships and family while keeping his secret. When his best friend tells him about the online gay confession of a mysterious person named Blue, Simon responds to him with his pseudonym, and the two begin a pen-pal relationship. It’s not until people start to catch onto Simon’s secret friendship that he must face his parents, Jack and Emily Spier (Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner), and his best friends and make his secret life his reality. 

The film was applauded as one of the first major motion pictures to portray a clear portrayal of gay teenage love, a theme normally subtly or negatively addressed in the film.

16. Booksmart (2019)

“What took them four years, we are doing in one night!”

Molly Davidson

Genre: Coming-of-Age Buddy Comedy

Director: Olivia Wilde

Screenwriter: Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, Katie Silberman

Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams

When high school seniors Molly Davidson (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy Antler (Kaitlyn Dever) realize they spent their entire lives striving to be the best academically, they know they missed everything fun. Racing against the clock for graduation day, Amy and Molly make a pact to make up for the lost time by having the best party night of their lives on their last night as seniors. The only problem is they take school too seriously, so nobody invited them to the biggest party of the year. The girls must use all their book smarts to search the streets for the best party ever. Each of the girls faces realizing who they are and what they want. It’s one of the few young buddy comedies led by young women.

15. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”

Jack Twist

Genre: Neo Western Romantic Drama

Director: Ang Lee

Screenwriters: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana

Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams

Description: In the 1960s countryside of Wyoming, two cowboys, Ennis Del (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), are hired by Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) to herd his sheep throughout the summer on Brokeback Mountain. The two reluctantly develop a passionate love strained by their lifestyles as cowboys and eventually their relationships with their future wives, Alma Beers (Michelle Williams) and Laureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway). 

The passion and secret of their love remain in the place they met, Brokeback Mountain, and they fear it can exist nowhere else. Brokeback Mountain was one of the most celebrated LGBT major motion pictures, winning three Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and four British Academy Film Awards.

14. Unfreedom (2015)

“It’s the choice we make when we are most cornered in life that defines who we are. I have made mine, you make yours.”


Genre: Drama

Director: Raj Amit Kumar

Screenwriters: Raj Amit Kumar, Damon J. Taylor

Starring: Victor Banerjee, Adil Hussain, Bhanu Uday, Preeti Gupta

Description: It’s a controversial tale of rebellion against politics, religion, and sex. Crossing between two worlds, New York and New Delhi, the film portrays two stories of religious intolerance. The first, a fundamentalist Hussain (Bhanu Uday), attempts to silence a liberal scholar, Fareed Rahmani (Victor Banerjee). The other is about a young woman, Leela Singh (Preeti Gupta), abandoning Devraj, her police officer father’s (Adil Hussain) arranged marriage for taboo lesbian romance. 

The film is a suspenseful ride into the lengths each character will go to preserve their unwavering views on faith, freedom, and love. Due to its challenging themes, it’s considered a highly controversial film in many countries.

13. Pink Flamingoes (1972)

“Connie Marble, you stand convicted of assholeism! Your proper punishment will now take place. Look pretty for the picture, Connie!”


Genre: Exploitation Comedy

Director: John Waters

Screenwriter: John Waters

Starring: Divine, David Lochary, Mink Stole, Mary Vivian Pearce, Edith Massey

Description: If there was ever a line to cross, director John Waters took the hugest leap over it with his 1972 film Pink Flamingoes. The controversial film stars the infamous character actor and drag queen Divine as Babs Johnson, who earns “the filthiest person alive.” Raymond and Connie Marble (David Lochary and Mink Stole) want to take away her title and do whatever it takes to earn it. 

Every aspect of this film pushed the envelope and eventually became a cult classic and staple of counter-culture.

12. Pride (2014)

“When you’re in a battle with an enemy that’s so much bigger, so much stronger than you, to find out you had a friend you never knew existed, well that’s the best feeling in the world. Can you see what we’ve done here, by coming together all of us? We made history!”


Genre: Historical Comedy Drama

Director: Matthew Warchus

Screenwriter: David Livingstone

Starring: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Paddy Considine, Ben Schnetzer

Description: When gay activist Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) discovers the police’s harassment isn’t focused on the gay community in London but instead on the miners, he organizes a fundraiser in their honor. After a win, he established the “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” (LGSM), to the dismay of the miner community, who didn’t want to associate with them. The group takes their activism instead to the small mining village in Wales. With the help of the local Women’s Support Group led by Hefina Headon (Imelda Staunton), the group fights to support the cause they’re fighting.

11. Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen (2020)

“I never thought I would live in a world where trans people would be celebrated on or off the screen.” 

Laverne Cox

Genre: Documentary

Director: Sam Feder

Screenwriters: Sam Feder, Amy Scholder

Starring: Laverne Cox, Susan Stryker, Alexandra Billings, Mj Rodriquez

Description: The 2020 Netflix documentary follows an intimate look at Hollywood’s troubled past with the representation of the transgender community. As visibility increases and we hear authentic voices, American culture finally recognizes the impact of transgender stories and their worth. The documentary film interviews different generations of prominent transgender celebrities who map the trajectory of their plight, misrepresentation, and road to redemption.

10. The Color Purple (1985)

“I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”

Shug Avery

Genre: Coming-of-age Period Drama

Director: Steven Spielberg

Screenwriter: Menno Meyjes

Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery

Description: Set in the early 20th century, the adaptation of the Alice Walker novel follows Celie Harris (Whoopi Goldberg), a young black woman burdened by the struggles and abuse of black womanhood in the Deep South. Against her husband’s neglect, Albert Harris (Danny Glover), Celie longs for a genuine love of herself and others. A host of strong females in her life, including the infamous showgirl Shug Avery (Margaret Avery) and iron-willed daughter-in-law Sofia (Oprah Winfrey), show Celie that she can claim her happiness. 

9. Paris is Burning (1990)

“Black people have a hard time getting anywhere and those that do are usually straight. In a ballroom, you can be anything you want. You’re not really an executive but you’re looking like an executive.”

Dorian Corey

Genre: Documentary

Director: Jennie Livingston

Screenwriter: Jennie Livingston

Starring: Dorian Corey, Angie Xtravaganza, Pepper Lebeija, Willi Ninja

Description: The documentary explores the underground LGBT ballroom culture. Drawing themes and styles from fashion runway models and Broadway theatrics, the ballroom scene was a haven of expression and art for the LGBT community decades before inclusion in mainstream media. The film uses footage of popular ballroom performances and interviews with prominent figures in the scene, including Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, Willi Ninja, and Angie Xtravaganza.

8. Boy Erased (2018)

“I think we’re our own God. I mean, I think he’s in us. In all of us, not, you know, somewhere hiding and watching.”


Genre: Biographical Drama

Director: Joel Edgerton

Screenwriter: Joel Edgerton

Starring: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton, Russell Crowe

Description: Based on actual events, when successful Arkansas Baptist preacher Marshall Eamons (Russell Crowe) discovers his son Jared (Lucas Hedges) is gay, he enrolls his son into a gay conversion therapy assessment program in Memphis, Tennessee. Through his eyes, Jared exposes the true horrors of the conversion assessment program led by Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton), and it’s only through his strong will and the love of his mother, Nancy (Nicole Kidman), that he’s able to tell his story and live his truth. 

7. The Watermelon Woman (1996)

 “Spiritual is not the world. Heavy, Afro, Fem-centric is the word.”


Genre: Romantic Comedy Drama

Director: Cheryl Dunye

Screenwriter: Cheryl Dunye

Starring: Cheryl Dunye, Guinevere Turner

Description: While working at a video rental store, 25-year-old African-American lesbian Cheryl (Cheryl Dunye) indulges in her love for the 1930s and 1940s films featuring black actresses. When she watches Plantation Memories, she discovers the not-credited actress known only as “The Watermelon Woman.” Cheryl decides to produce a documentary to uncover the real identity of the Watermelon Woman through interviews with her family, local experts, and the people connected to the mysterious lesbian lover of the uncredited black actress.

6. Tangerine (2015)

“LA is a beautifully wrapped lie.”


Genre: Comedy Drama

Director: Sean Baker

Screenwriters: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch

Starring: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, James Ransone

Description: Fresh off a month-long prison sentence, a transgender sex worker, Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), learns from her best friend, Alexandra (Mya Taylor), that her boyfriend and pimp Chester (James Ransone) is cheating on her. Unable to back down from the situation, Sin-Dee goes on an all-day hunt across the city to confront her cheating boyfriend and the woman coming into her relationship. 

Tangerine was groundbreaking in its storytelling nature, including the fact it was shot on Los Angeles streets using only iPhone 5S smartphones. Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez were the first openly transgender actress supported by an Academy Award campaign but did not receive a nomination.

5. Gay Chorus Deep South (2019)

“The music going to soothe the people’s soul and they’re going to see bridges all over the south.” 

Dr. Tim Seelig

Genre: Documentary

Director: David Charles Rodrigues

Screenwriter: Jeff Seymann Gilbert, David Charles Rodrigues

Starring: San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir

Founded by gay music pioneer Jon Reed Sims, this made-for-television documentary follows the San Francisco award-winning Gay Men’s Chorus and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir’s 2017 tour in the southern states of Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and the Carolinas. Led by Dr. Tim Seelig, the chorus’ incredible musical journey is an excellent depiction of how live music and performance serve as a bridge between the LGBT community’s divide and the intolerance of its conservative opposers in the deep South. 

4. The Birdcage (1996)

“I’ve never felt such tension. It’s like riding a psychotic horse towards a burning stable.”


Genre: Comedy

Director: Mike Nichols

Screenwriter: Elaine May

Starring: Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, Dianne Wiest

Background: A modern remake of the 1973 French-Italian comedy La Cage aux Folles is a tour-de-force of hilarious one-liners and witty banter. Armand Goldman (Robin Williams), the gay owner of a South Beach drag club called The Birdcage, is put in an impossible position when his son confesses that he’s getting married to the conservative Republican senator Kevin Keeley (Gene Hackman). Strange circumstances force the senator to plan a trip with his wife (Dianne Wiest) to meet the parents of his daughter’s future husband. Only luck and Armand’s flamboyant cross-dressing partner Albert (Nathan Lane) can save them. 

3. Moonlight (2016)

“At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you gonna be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.”


Genre: Coming-of-age Drama

Director: Barry Jenkins

Screenwriter: Barry Jenkins

Starring:  Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae

Description: Moonlight is Barry Jenkin’s three-act modern-day odyssey of a young boy’s journey into adulthood. Living with his troubled, drug-addict mother (Naomie Harris), the young boy finds solace in a local drug dealer (Mahershala Ali) and his motherly girlfriend (Janelle Monae). Throughout his life, he battles the demons of society that fight to keep him in poverty and pain. Underneath it all, Chiron (portrayed by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes) is dealing with the shame of his sexuality. The groundbreaking film was the first LGBTQ film to win Oscar for Best Picture.

2. Beautiful Thing (1996)

“A place is just somewhere where shit happens.”


Genre: Romantic Comedy

Director: Hettie MacDonald

Screenwriter: Jonathan Harvey

Starring: Linda Henry, Glen Berry, Scott Neal, Tameka Empson

Young Jamie Gangel (Glen Berry) lives in working-class London with his mother, Sandra (Linda Henry). In their flat of colorful characters, Sandra ambitiously works toward running her pub while Jamie tries to conceal his love for his neighbor, Ste Pearce (Scott Neal). The nosey and rambunctious Leah Russell (Tameka Empson), a neighborhood girl with an obnoxious obsession with Mama Cass Elliot, brings everyone’s insecurities and hopes to a boiling point. 

1. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

“I feel like I’m pretending. About everything.”

– Adele

Genre: Drama

Director: Abdellatif Kechiche

Screenwriters: Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix

Starring: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos

Description: Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a quiet, keep-to-herself teenager who crosses paths with the enigmatic beauty of a short blue-haired woman. When Adèle discovers that her admiration is more than just fascination, she struggles with accepting her sexuality until she finally meets Emma (Léa Seydoux) in person. The two represent different worlds of freedom, conformity, and artistic and conservative. Time tests their relationship and realities. The symbolism of the color blue creates a poetic experience similar to Pablo Picasso’s famous Blue Period

The movie has been criticized for its graphic scenes—not because of the scenes themselves but because of the working conditions under which they were filmed. Kechiche went even further in Mektoub’s My Love: Intermezzo, where he allegedly wanted to capture an unsimulated scene (something the actors refused to do) and eventually got what he wanted by getting them drunk. Actors working on his films would benefit from an intimacy coordinator on set.

Closing Thoughts

So there you have it! Groundbreaking LGBTQ+ films that tell stories about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer characters in a world that still considers these stories taboo.

Every story deserves to be told, and I think these are some of the greatest LGBT movies of all time.

And yes, a few of these films are directed by non-LGBT directors or star actors pretending to be something they’re not, but the stories are influential to the community nonetheless.

Please comment below if you have any other recommendations for good LGBTQ+ movies. We’d love to hear from you!

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