Whether you’re a fan of queer cinema, you’re preparing yourself for this year’s Pride celebrations, or you’re simply looking to broaden your horizons with some LGBTQ stories, this is the post for you. Below you will discover a collection of the best LGBTQ films, ranging from the likes of Boys Don’t Cry and The Miseducation of Cameron Post, to Kinky Boots and Love, Simon.
Amongst the mix of movies, you will find hard-hitting dramas, wonderful love stories, informative docu-films, and some outrageous camp classics. You don’t have to be part of the LGBTQ community to enjoy these stories, you just need to love great movies.
There can only be one movie to kick-start a list of LGBTQ movies, and it has to be the brilliant British comedy-drama, Pride. Set during the 1980s, and based on a true story, Pride follows the tale of a group of gay and lesbian activists, who help raise money for families impacted by the British miners’ strike of 1984. The movie is filled with lots of laughs, some heartfelt scenes, and a truly uplifting story about minority groups standing together. Pride is directed by Matthew Warchus, stars Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Dominic West, Paddy Considine, and Andrew Scott, and is a must-watch.
Beautiful Thing (1996)
Another British movie, this time set on a council estate in the 1990s. Beautiful Thing depicts the relationship between two teens, Jamie and Ste, and their journey for acceptance.
The movie is based on a play of the same name by Jonathan Harvey, and stars Glen Berry, Scott Neal, Linda Henry, and Meera Syal.
Summer of ’85 (2020)
Summer of ’85 (aka Été 85) is a French-Belgian drama about two young men, Alexis and David, who develop a secret relationship filled with love and heartbreak. The film is based on Aidan Chambers’ novel, Dance on My Grave, and serves up a bittersweet story, backed by a great soundtrack including a fantastic use of Rod Stewart’s song, ‘Sailing’.
Get Real (1998)
Based on the play, What’s Wrong with Angry?, Get Real is another coming-of-age drama, this time about Steven Carter, a 16-year-old schoolboy who is still in the closet. The movie follows Steven’s story as he begins a relationship with a fellow student, who is also keeping his sexuality under the radar.
Humorous and touching, Get Real is a touching tale that demonstrates what life is like when you’ve got a big secret.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson is a docu-film, which chronicles the gay and transgender rights movement through the life of self-titled drag queen, Marsha P. Johnson. The film discusses Johnson’s importance in establishing gay and transgender rights, while framed around the circumstances of Johnson’s death.
Love, Simon (2018)
In this delightful teen comedy, Simon Spier is a closeted high school student who falls in love with a mystery boy he meets online. Unfortunately, a fellow classmate discovers Simon’s internet romance, and threatens to expose his secret to the whole school, leading to a big headache for Simon who is desperate to keep his sexuality under wraps.
Love, Simon is based on the novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli and is an engaging picture, guaranteed to reduce audiences to tears, as well as fits of laughter. Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, and Jennifer Garner star, while Greg Berlanti directs.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name is touching romantic drama about the relationship between a 17-year-old and a 24-year-old graduate student. Set during the 1980s, to the backdrop of a beautiful Italian summer, the movie looks at the highs and lows of a whirlwind romance.
Centre of My World (2016)
Centre of My World (aka Die Mitte der Welt) is a German coming-of-age movie, based on the bestselling novel, The Center of the World. The film revolves around 17-year-old Phil and his relationship with Nicholas – a fellow student who becomes a source of love and frustration.
Directed by Jakob M. Erwa, Centre of My World is a superb movie filled with neat touches and a great cast.
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Hilary Swank takes on the role of American transgender man, Brandon Teena for this real-life story which is steeped in tragedy. Boys Don’t Cry details Teena’s life, with a specific focus on the events that led to his death.
Due to its subject matter, Boys Don’t Cry is a difficult watch, but is an important film nonetheless. In 2019, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Based on Alan Turing: The Enigma, by Andrew Hodges, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the role of Turing in this historical drama about his life and work. The film highlights Turing’s importance in helping to bring an end to World War II, which in turn saved millions of lives.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
The Miseducation of Cameron Post looks at the horrendous practice of gay conversion therapy, through the eyes of three teenagers. The movie boasts excellent performances from the cast, in particular from Chloë Grace Moretz as the titular character.
Something a little different now, with a musical comedy-drama based on the life of singer-songwriter, Elton John. The movie features many of John’s hit songs, with Taron Egerton playing Elton, Jamie Bell as his writing partner, Bernie Taupin, and Dexter Fletcher on directing duties.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Sticking with the theme of musical-dramas, Bohemian Rhapsody is a song-packed bio-pic detailing the life of Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek takes on the role of Mercury, in a scene-stealing performance that shows the brilliance and creativity of the legendary singer.
In & Out (1997)
In & Out tells the story of a popular English literature teacher called Howard, who is suddenly outed by a former student. The only problem is, Howard isn’t gay – or at least, he doesn’t think he is.
Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck take the lead roles in this quirky ‘90s romantic comedy from director, Frank Oz. If you missed it the first time around, now is the time to give it a watch.
Gods and Monsters (1998)
Gods and Monsters is an Oscar-winning drama, which looks at the latter years of director James Whale. The movie details Whale’s decline in health, along with his relationship with gardener, Clayton Boone.
Directed by Bill Condon, Gods and Monsters is based on the book, Father of Frankenstein, by Christopher Bram. Sir Ian McKellen plays the role of Whale, with Brendan Fraser as Boone.
Hard hitting and boasting powerful performances from Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, Philadelphia follows the story of Andrew Beckett – a senior associate at a law firm, who is dismissed from his position when he contracts HIV. The movie highlights the discrimination Beckett faces, and the friendship he forges with personal injury lawyer, Joe Miller.
Behind the Candelabra (2013)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Behind the Candelabra is a biographical drama about the life of pianist, Liberace. The film spans a ten-year period and covers Liberace’s relationship with Scott Thorson.
Michael Douglas takes on the role of the famous entertainer, while Matt Damon plays Thorson.
In Transamerica, Felicity Huffman plays the role of Bree Osbourne – a trans woman, who suddenly discovers she has a son she knew nothing about. The pair meet for the first time, but Bree decides to keep some very important details from her son, leading to a bumpy relationship and some uncomfortable truths.
Stephen Fry takes centre stage in this bio-pic about the life of poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde. Directed by Brian Gilbert, the movie features a cast that includes Jude Law, Orlando Bloom, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Sheen, Tom Wilkinson, and Ioan Gruffudd.
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
A classic of British cinema, My Beautiful Laundrette stars Gordon Warnecke and Daniel Day-Lewis, as two lovers who run a London laundrette. The movie is often cited as one of the best-loved pieces of British queer cinema, and rightfully so.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
A stone-cold favourite amongst fans of LGBTQ movies, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert follows two drag queens, and a transgender woman, as they embark on a trip across the Outback of Australia. Stephen Elliott directs, while Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Bill Hunter star in this outrageously brilliant picture!
Kinky Boots (2005)
In Kinky Boots, a shoe maker attempting to save his ailing family business, enlists the help of a local drag queen to create a line of showstopping boots. Based on a true story, and directed by Julian Jarrold, Kinky Boots is a delight from start to finish with Chiwetel Ejiofor on fine form as drag queen, Lola.
The Way He Looks (2014)
Written and directed by Daniel Ribeiro, and based on his short film, I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone, The Way He Looks (aka Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho) is a Brazilian coming-of-age drama, about the relationship between two high school students, Leonardo and Gabriel. The movie serves up a beautiful and warm portrait of love, with excellent performances from the two leads.
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Directed by Gus Van Sant, My Own Private Idaho is a drama about two friends, played by Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix, who set out on a journey of self-discovery. Along the way, the pair deal with family issues, friendship, and unrequited love.
Connie and Carla (2004)
A hidden gem that few have seen, but everyone will love – Connie and Carla stars Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette as two singers who go on the run after witnessing a murder. To maintain their cover, the pair dress up as drag queens, while jokes and show tunes are thrown at the screen with careless abandon.
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)
Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo, star in this uplifting comedy about three drag queens on a road trip. To Wong Foo is loaded with heart, along with fantastic performances from the central trio.
The Birdcage (1996)
The Birdcage tells the story of a young man, keen to win over the hearts of his rather conservative future in-laws, with the help of his gay father and his father’s partner. Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest, star in this hilarious comedy from director Mike Nichols.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Based on the short story of the same name, Brokeback Mountain is a three-time Oscar-winning picture from director, Ang Lee. The movie – which stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal – tells the story of two cowboys who develop a physical and emotional relationship.
Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unpublished, semi-autobiographical play, Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, Moonlight is a coming-of-age drama starring Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali. The film – which picked up an Academy Award for Best Picture – follows the life story of a gay man, and covers his childhood, his adolescence, and his adult life.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
And finally, no list of queer movies would be complete without the hilarious camp-fest that is Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – a rip-roaring musical comedy starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams.
The film focuses on two Icelandic singers who pursue their dream of entering Eurovision, is loaded with great pop songs, various cameos, and a healthy dose of comedy. It also showcases the fabulous fun of the famously queer-friendly song contest.
I hope this post about the best LGBTQ movies has proved useful – and has inspired you to check out some of the titles listed above. To save you some time from scrolling back through this post to make some notes, here is the list in full:
- Pride (2014)
- Beautiful Thing (1996)
- Summer of ’85 (2020)
- Get Real (1998)
- The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)
- Love, Simon (2018)
- Call Me By Your Name (2017)
- Centre of My World (2016)
- Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
- The Imitation Game (2014)
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
- Rocketman (2019)
- Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
- In & Out (1997)
- Gods and Monsters (1998)
- Philadelphia (1993)
- Behind the Candelabra (2013)
- Transamerica (2005)
- Wilde (1997)
- My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
- The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
- Kinky Boots (2005)
- The Way He Looks (2014)
- My Own Private Idaho (1991)
- Connie and Carla (2004)
- Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)
- The Birdcage (1996)
- Brokeback Mountain (2005)
- Moonlight (2016)
- Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about LGBTQ movies on It’s A Stampede!. For more content, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.
- Review: Summer of ‘85
- Everyone should watch Queer Eye
- Love, Simon movie review round-up – What did the critics say?