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Composing a list like this a decade ago would’ve been… difficult. In recent years, however, representation for the LGBTQ+ community has grown exponentially on the big-screen with numerous high-profile productions boasting A-List talent, box office galore and accolades at prestigious awards ceremonies such as the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. While authentic representation isn’t quite there, with heterosexual actors still taking on roles that could’ve spotlighted the talents of a struggling slash emerging LGBTQ+ entertainer, it’s important to recognise the strides that have been made in cinema when it comes to more diverse and inclusive storytelling. Gone are the days when the LGBTQ+ characters were the sidekick, the stereotypical depiction of a queer person who made a fleeting appearance for comedic effect. Now, we’re centre stage. We’ve curated a list of the 22 best LGBTQ+ films you need to watch right now.

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

Cast: Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, Bill Hunter, Sarah Chadwick

Directed by Stephan Elliott, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert follows drag queens Anthony (Hugo Weaving) and Adam (Guy Pearce) and transgender woman Bernadette (Terrence Stamp) as they travel across the Australian desert in Priscilla, a lavender tour bus, to perform a drag show in Alice Springs. Along the way, they encounter a number of obstacles including homophobic abuse, violence and, of course, other drag-related shenanigans. The Australian comedy film was lauded at the time of release for helping introduce LGBTQ+ themes to mainstream audiences. The storyline serves as the basis for a musical of the same name, which has since toured in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the US.


Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

Cast: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche, Aurélien Recoing, Catherine Salée, Benjamin Siksou

After meeting in a gay bar, French teenager Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) falls in love with a blue-haired art student called Emma (Léa Seydoux). The romantic drama follows their relationship from Adèle’s high school years until her adult life as a school teacher. Based on the 2010 graphic novel of the same name from Jul Maroh, Blue is the Warmest Colour received widespread critical acclaim and nominations at the Golden Globe Awards and the BAFTAs. It also won the Palme d’Or from the official jury and the FIPRESCI Prize, becoming the first film in history to win the Palme d’Or for both the director and lead actresses.


Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Cast: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, Randy Quaid, Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris

Ang Lee’s celebrated same-sex romance Brokeback Mountain stars Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, cowboy lovers in the American West in the 60s. The film became a critical and commercial success when it was released in 2005, and went on to win three Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, with further acting nominations for Ledger, Gyllenhaal and Williams. The film memorably lost Best Picture to Paul Haggis’ drama Crash, which is widely regarded as one of the worst decisions in Oscar history. Despite this, Brokeback Mountain is widely regarded as a turning point for the advancement of LGBTQ+ stories in mainstream cinema.

Bros (2022)

Cast: Billy Eichner, Luke Macfarlane, Ts Madison, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Díaz, Guy Branum, Amanda Bearse, Jim Rash, Miss Lawrence, Dot-Marie Jones, Jai Rodriguez, Harvey Fierstein, Bowen Yang, Debra Messing, Symone, Ryan Faucett

The first gay romantic comedy from a major studio, Bros marked a historic moment for queer cinema with its principal LGBTQ+ cast – even the heterosexual roles were played by actors of the LGBTQ+ experience. This alone is enough reason for Bros to be included on this list, but it has a plethora of factors going for it besides its historic feats. Following Billy Eichner’s character Bobby Lieber as a podcaster and radio show host as he falls for a ‘masc4masc’ gay (played by Luke Macfarlane), Bros is one of the most outrageously funny comedies of the decade and is, thankfully, not straightwashed to appeal to cis-het audiences. From Bobby snapping a pic of his butt for a Grindr hook-up (who subsequently blocks him) to the two lead characters bringing the foot fetish industry to the big screen, Bros is g-g-g-gay. While it didn’t make a splash at the box office, Bros reinvigorated a genre that hasn’t felt fresh in years and proved that rom-com’s are in dire need of more queer narratives. As Eichner told us, it was about damn time that we saw “accurate, multi-dimensional and genuinely funny and genuinely smart depictions of ourselves that we don’t get.”

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, RuPaul, Melanie Lynskey, Eddie Cibrian, Katrina Phillips, Michelle Williams

Orange is the New Black star Natasha Lyonne stars as Megan Bloomfield, a popular high school cheerleader who is shipped off to conversion therapy camp after her parents discover her lesbianism. But I’m a Cheerleader received negative reviews at the time of its release because of its stereotypical portrayal of gay men and women, as well as similarities to John Waters’ films, but later reassessments have appreciated his influence and its deliberately satirical and campy themes. It has since developed a cult following in the LGBTQ+ community, particularly amongst queer women.

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel

Since its release six years ago, Call Me By Your Name has become one of the most beloved gay romances of all time. The themes of first love and heartbreak, as well as the dreamy and idyllic world created by director Luca Guadagnino has evoked such a strong and impassioned emotion in viewers around the world. Based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman, the film is set in 1983 in Northern Italy and chronicles the brewing relationship between 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothee Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Harmer), a 24-year-old graduate assistant to Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg). Call Me By Your Name earned numerous accolades including four nominations at the Academy Awards, winning for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Carol (2015)

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler, John Magaro, Cory Michael Smith

Set in the 1950s, Carol stars Cate Blanchett as an older woman navigating a difficult divorce who embarks on a forbidden affair with an aspiring female photographer (Rooney Mara). Watching the effects of homophobia and a jealous soon-to-be-ex-husband on their relationship is heartbreaking, and if nothing else, the pure melodrama of it all will get you in a state of melancholy. After making audiences sob throughout most of the film with its beautiful portrayal of queer heartbreak, wistful cinematography and evocative soundtrack, the final shot signals that there’s hope yet for the title character’s romance, helping challenge the notion that all queer stories end in tragedy. We challenge you to find a film more breathtaking than Carol.

Close (2022)

Cast: Eden Dambrine, Gustav de Waele, Émilie Dequenne, Léa Drucker, Kevin Janssens, Marc Weiss, Igor van Dessel, Léon Bataille

(Spoilers ahead.) Based on director Lukas Dhont’s own experiences at school, Close tells the story of the passionate friendship between two 13-year-old boys who begin to question their identities and relationship with masculinity when their peers “accuse” them of being romantically involved. The coming-of-age drama offers a powerful analysis on the harmful assumptions about masculinity and heteronormative ideals that are still deeply rooted in society; male friendships mustn’t be the same as female friendships, physically, nor should they express themselves emotionally, etc. Watching Léo (Eden Dambrine) distance himself from Rémi (Gustav de Waele) as a result of the homophobia of others is an excruciating watch, and the Belgian drama’s switch from buddy film to one about teen suicide is equally as devastating. While many criticised the film for its trauma porn elements, particularly after Dhont’s directorial debut Girl (2018) was slated by queer critics for its depiction of gender dysphoria and self-harm, Close is a compelling, yet painful, examination on masculinity, sexuality and grief.

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., Tallie Medel

Hot dog fingers! Googly-eyed rocks! BAGEL! The multiverse has never been as wild than in Everything Everywhere All At Once, the Daniels’ absurdist sci-fi epic about a Chinese immigrant (Michelle Yeoh) who must connect with parallel universe versions of herself to prevent an evil entity from causing multiversal destruction. While it wasn’t necessarily marketed as queer, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a queer film. Yes, it’s a deep dive into existentialism, nihilism and Asian-American identity with fanny pack brawls, mind-blowing martial arts choreo and a bizarre yet brilliant homage to Pixar’s Ratatouille, but above all, the film is a love story between a mother and her queer daughter. The dynamic between Evelyn (Yeoh) and Joy (Stephanie Wsu) is one that all queer kids can relate to, particularly those from immigrant families: Evelyn’s sense of shame around her daughter’s sexuality means she can tolerate it but she doesn’t want to burden others with it – including her elderly father. Their strained relationship ultimately sets the film into motion, bringing a plethora of other queer elements with it including the villain (if you haven’t seen it, the less said the better) and the instantly iconic romance between Evelyn and her IRS inspector Deidre (Jamie Lee Curtis). If this doesn’t take Best Picture at the Oscars, expect multiversal queer rage.

A Fantastic Woman (2017)

Cast: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Küppenheim, Nicolás Saavedra

Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman won Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, and for good reason. The film follows young trans woman Marina – played expertly by Daniela Vega – who’s working as a singer and waitress in Santiago when her older boyfriend Orlando (Francisco Reyes) dies unexpectedly. The subsequent events highlight the struggles of living as a trans woman in a conservative society, as Marina faces investigation from detectives, loses her home and pet dog, and faces transphobia and abuse from Orlando’s family. The film raised awareness of trans experiences and was utilised by LGBTQ+ activists in Chile to help push through a gender identity bill which the government eventually approved of in 2018, allowing trans people to update their name and gender identity on official documents.

Fire Island (2022)

Cast: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Conrad Ricamora, James Scully, Margaret Cho, Matt Rogers, Tomás Matos, Torian Miller, Nick Adams, Zane Phillips

Hailed by critics and viewers as an instant queer classic, Fire Island follows two best friends (Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang) as they embark on their annual weeklong vacation to the titular gay hotspot. Written by Booster and directed by Andrew Ahn, the Pride and Prejudice-inspired rom-com puts queer Asian-American narratives at the forefront whilst celebrating and glorifying LGBTQ+ culture like no other film before it. Although Fire Island explores issues such as body image, wealth, race and how the queer community can, at times, tear each other apart, it’s saturated with moments that capture the unequivocal joy that comes with being queer – instead of the constant strife that’s historically been depicted in mainstream media. No death! No despair! No desolation! Here, queers have sex, attend underwear parties and scold one another for their lack of knowledge on Marisa Tomei’s Oscar-winning role in My Cousin Vinny. Sequel slash spin-off, when?


God’s Own Country (2017)

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

This same-sex British love drama, which takes place in the Yorkshire highlands, tells the story of sheep farmer Johnny (Josh O’Connor) whose life changes with the arrival of Romanian migrant Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu). Having received almost universal acclaim (and currently holding a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), with praise aimed at the direction of Francis Lee (in his directorial debut) and the performances of O’Connor and Secăreanu, God’s Own Country is a must-see for lovers of queer cinema.

The Inspection

Cast: Jeremy Pope, Raúl Castillo, Bokeem Woodbine, Gabrielle Union, McCaul Lombardi, Aaron Dominguez, Nicholas Logan, Eman Esfandi, Andrew Kai, Aubrey Joseph

In one of the year’s most compelling and raw performances, Jeremy Pope stars in The Inspection as a Black gay man who becomes homeless after his homophobic mother (played to perfection by Gabrielle Union) disowns him. Based on the real-life experiences of writer and director Elegance Bratton, who makes his feature-length directorial debut here, Ellis is forced to enlist in the Marines and conceal his sexuality at a time when the military still operated under Clinton’s archaic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. While the narrative feels familiar – a troubled person enters the military, is cruelly targeted by a senior soldier, considers leaving but perseveres and feels more complete as a result – The Inspection’s emphasis on the Black LGBTQ+ experience and years of institutionalised homophobia in the military distincts itself from others in the same genre. Pope deservedly received his first-ever Golden Globe nomination for the performance.

Loev (2015)

Cast: Dhruv Ganesh, Shiv Pandit, Siddharth Menon, Rishabh J. Chaddha

Indian romantic drama film Loev explores the relationship between Wall Street deal maker Jai (Shiv Pandit) and Mumbai-based music producer Sahil (Dhruv Ganesh), two friends with a complicated past who set off to the Western Ghats for the weekend. Loev, pronounced as ‘love’, received unanimous praise from critics for its depiction of same-sex love in India – winning the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the 2016 Tel Aviv International Film Festival. It has been one of Netflix’s biggest queer hits since it premiered on the streaming service in 2017.

Love, Simon (2018)

Cast: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Keiynan Lonsdale

Marketed as the first major studio romantic comedy featuring two gay lead characters and a same-sex love storyline, Love, Simon was a momentous achievement in queer cinema history. Not only did it mark the first time LGBTQ+ people saw themselves represented properly in this very mainstream genre, it also proved that yes, queer stories can make a profit too, putting to bed any myths that had previously suggested otherwise. Based on Becky Albertalli’s brilliant novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda, the film follows Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a closeted gay high schooler who struggles to balance his friends and family, as well as the blackmailer threatening to out him to the entire school. Paired with incredible performances from the diverse and talented cast (that scene with Jennifer Garner’s speech gets us every time), it felt like a real moment not only for the community, but pop culture in general.

Milk (2008)

Cast: Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, James Franco, Alison Pill, Victor Garber, Denis O’Hare

Directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Dustin Lance Black, Milk chronicles the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, who memorably made history as the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. Portrayed by Sean Penn, the drama explores his move from New York to San Francisco, where he settles in the Castro District and opens a camera shop as a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as his murder at the hands of Dan White (Josh Brolin). The biopic received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, winning two for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Penn and Best Original Screenplay for Black.

Moonlight (2017)

Cast: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monáe, Mahershala Ali

This groundbreaking queer coming-of-age tale that charts the life of disenfranchised African-American man Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) and takes viewers through three pivotal chapters in his life. Little follows a young nine-year-old Chiron as he grows up with a drug addict mother in a rough neighbourhood in Miami; Chiron shows his awkward and painful teenage years, including bullying he experienced at school; and finally Black, which shows how he’s developed as a fully-grown man, and the internalisation of his sexuality. The film was rewarded for its brilliance with three Oscars back in 2017. It’s an emotional rollercoaster for any viewer, but especially anyone who’s struggled to accept themselves for who they really are. Most importantly, it offered a rare chance for Black gay men to see themselves reflected on screen.

The Normal Heart (2014)

Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, Julia Roberts

From queer mastermind Ryan Murphy, best known for creating beloved shows such as American Horror Story, Glee and Pose, The Normal Heart is an adaptation of Larry Kramer’s award-winning play of the same name. Told through the eyes of Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo), the founder of a prominent HIV/AIDS advocacy group, the film depicts the rise of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City between 1981 and 1984. With career-high performances from Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons, The Normal Heart is one of the most devastating LGBTQ+ films of all time and a reminder of those who paved the way for the LGBTQ+ community today.

Philadelphia (1993)

Cast: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, Antonio Banderas, Joanne Woodward

One of the first films in history to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality and homophobia, Philadelphia stars Tom Hanks as Andrew “Andy” Beckett, a closeted gay man who hides his status from his co-workers at a prestigious corporate law firm. It was a monumental success at the worldwide box office, grossing over 200 million (adjusted for inflation, it would rank as the second highest-grossing LGBTQ+ film ever) and earned Hanks his first of two consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actor. Over 20 years after its release, Philadelphia is still widely regarded as one of the most impactful films in queer cinema.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

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

Set in France in the late 18th century, Portrait of a Lady on Fire tells the story of a forbidden love affair between Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) an aristocrat, and Marianne (Noemie Merlant), an artist commissioned to paint her portrait. The historical drama made history when it screened at the Cannes Film Festival, with Céline Sciamma becoming the first ever female director to win the coveted Queer Palm award. It earned further nominations at the Critics’ Choice Awards and Golden Globe Awards, and became the second highest-reviewed film on Rotten Tomatoes in 2019.

Prayers for Bobby (2009)

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Henry Czerny, Ryan Kelley, Austin Nichols, Dan Butler, Carly Schroeder

Oscar-nominated actress Sigourney Weaver plays Mary Griffith, whose son Bobby (Ryan Kelly) commits suicide due to her intolerance over his homosexuality. Following his death, Mary questions herself and revaluates her religious beliefs, before committing the rest of her life to supporting the LGBTQ+ community in their fight towards equality. The Lifetime drama is based on a true story and adapts the book written by Leroy F. Aarons, titled Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son. Weaver earned nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards for her performance as the LGBTQ+ activist, who sadly passed away in 2020.

Pride (2014)

Cast: Ben Schnetzer, Joe Gilgun, Faye Marsay, Dominic West, Andrew Scott, Freddie Fox, Chris Overton, Imelda Staunton, Jessica Gunning, Liz White, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, Rhodri Meilir

It may not be a traditional tear-jerker, but this feel-good story of community – based on true events and featuring an all-star cast – will leave you weeping with pride. A group of lesbian and gay activists come together to raise money for families affected by the 1984 British miners’ strike, which ultimately formed the highly successful Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign. It was instrumental in the progression of LGBTQ+ issues in the United Kingdom. Featuring an incredible cast of British heavyweights including Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy and Andrew Scott, the film is a must-watch for anyone LGBTQ+ or simply interested in queer British history.

Rafiki (2018)

Cast: Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva, Neville Misati, Nini Wacera

Tensions run high when Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) start a same-sex love affair and are forced to hide their affection from the Kenyan locals. Homosexuality is still illegal in the African nation, and when they are caught, they are confronted by an angry mob. However, with this film the fictional discrimination on screen shone a harsh spotlight on the reality queer people in Kenya face when the Kenya Film Classification Board banned its release because of its “homosexual theme”. Director Wanuri Kahiu sued the Kenyan government to get the film released so it could be submitted as the country’s entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The ban was lifted for seven days and went on to sell out cinemas, becoming the second highest-grossing Kenyan film of all time.

Tangerine (2015)

Cast: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O’Hagan, Alla Tumanian, James Ransone

Filmed using only three iPhone 5S smartphones, Tangerine follows Los Angeles-based transgender sex worker Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), who finds out that from her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) that her boyfriend and drug dealer Chester (James Ransome) has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman while she’s been in prison. What follows is a hilarious buddy-comedy that puts trans narratives at the forefront without reducing them to victims or forcing sympathy from viewers. Director Sean Baker spent eight months on the streets with his team getting to know the area and its people, while stars Taylor and Rodriguez provided an authentic insight into life for trans sex workers. Tangerine also (importantly) set a precedent for casting trans actors in trans roles.

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)

Cast: Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, Stockard Channing, RuPaul, Blythe Danner

Arguably one of the most iconic LGBTQ+ comedies of all time, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar stars the late Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo as Vida, Noxeema and Chi-Chi, three fierce drag queens who embark on a road trip from New York City to Los Angeles for the Miss Drag Queen of America Pageant – accompanied by an autographed photo of Julie Newmar. During the journey, their car breaks down, leaving them stranded in a small town. Despite its measly 41% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, To Wong Foo was nominated for Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor (Swayze) and Best Supporting Actor (Leguizamo), and is regarded as a cult classic.