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‘Dire’ is how we used to describe on-screen representation for people of the rainbow variety. For a long time (eons, really), stories about queerness often led to death and despair (hence the ‘Bury Your Gays trope) and, if a heterosexual series or movie featured a character of the LGBTQIA+ experience, they’d be the ‘sidekick’ whose sexuality was undefined and sole purpose in the narrative was to bring in the laughs. (We are funnier than cis-het people, but that’s besides the point.)

Representation has dramatically improved in recent years; queers can now identify with a leading character who doesn’t perish in the film’s final moments. (What a concept, huh?) Each year is getting better and better, too – here’s a preview of LGBTQIA+ films arriving this year. But for now, read ahead for 17 must-watch romances for the queer man, from the Oscar-winning stylings of Moonlight to Nicholas Galitzine and Taylor Zakhar Perez’s star-crossed royal romp in Red, White & Royal Blue. (Visit here for our list for queer women!)

All of Us Strangers (2024)

Cast: Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, Claire Foy

British director Andrew Haigh makes his first of two appearances on this list with All of Us Strangers, a gorgeous romantic fantasy that sees Fleabag star Andrew Scott fall head-over-heels in love with his neighbour Paul Mescal. That’s not all: Scott’s character Adam is pulled back to his childhood home, where he discovers that his deceased parents are seemingly alive and look the same as they did when they passed away 30 years prior. Describing All of Us Strangers as “universally-acclaimed” isn’t enough, really: with a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it sits comfortably as one of the most lauded LGBTQIA+ films in history.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

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

Ang Lee’s iconic same-sex romance Brokeback Mountain stars Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, star-crossed (yes, again) cowboy lovers in the American West in the 60s. Widely hailed as a turning point for LGBTQIA+ stories in mainstream cinema, the heart-wrenching drama won three Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, with further acting noms for Ledger, Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams. Brokeback Mountain lost out on Best Picture to Paul Haggis’ critically… reviewed drama Crash, a decision that is unanimously regarded as one of the Academy Awards’ most controversial (and dumbfounding).

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

Bros marked a historic moment for queer cinema as the first gay rom-com from a major studio. An outrageously funny queer romp, Bros follows Billy Eichner’s character Bobby Lieber, a podcaster and radio show host who falls for a ‘masc4masc’ gay (played by Luke Macfarlane). 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-coms are in dire need of more queer narratives. Fun fact: the principal cast were all of the LGBTQIA+ experience, and even played the heterosexual roles.

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

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

Call Me By Your Name has quickly become one of the most beloved romances of all time. An adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 novel, 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 Hammer), a 24-year-old graduate assistant to Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg). 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 LGBTQIA+ viewers around the world. You’ll never be able to listen to Sufjan Stevens the same way again.

Cicada (2020)

Cast: Matt Fifer, Sheldon D. Brown, Sandra Bauleo, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, Cobie Smulders, Scott Adsit, Michael Potts, David Burtka, Jo Firestone, Jason Greene

In Cicada, Ben (Matt Fifer), a bisexual thirty-something New Yorker wrestling with deep trauma is – as his sister puts it – “back on the dick” after recently being engaged to a woman. Following a string of meaningless hook-ups, Ben forms an immediate connection with Sam (fellow co-writer Sheldon D. Brown), a closeted data analyst suffering with PTSD after being hospitalised in a drive-by shooting. Cicada delicately deals with complex themes rarely seen in queer cinema: Sam dives into the intersectionality of being a Black gay man in the United States, while Ben realises that his promiscuity and trauma stems from being molested by his step-father as a child.

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, Michael Graceffa, Aidan Wharton

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 LGBTQIA+ 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

God’s Own Country is Yorkshire’s answer to Brokeback Mountain. The romantic drama tells the story of sheep farmer Johnny (played to perfection by Josh O’Connor), whose life changes with the arrival of Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu), a Romanian migrant worker who is hired as extra help for the lambing season. Partly based on the experiences of director Francis Lee (in his feature directorial debut), God’s Own Country was one of the decade’s most praised films, with critics highlighting the performances of O’Connor and Secăreanu and its depiction of loneliness and intimacy.

Holding the Man (2015)

Cast: Ryan Corr, Craig Stott, Sarah Snook, Guy Pearce, Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Fox, Camilla Ah Kin 

This tear-jerking drama adapts writer, actor, and activist Timothy Conigrave’s renowned 1995 memoir to the screen, one of Australia’s most iconic pieces of gay literature. Directed by Neil Armfield and set in 70s Australia, Holding the Man chronicles the beautiful yet heartbreaking 15-year relationship of Timothy (Ryan Corr) and John Caleo (Craig Stott), the captain of his high school football team. Like we said, it’s a blubber-fest, so make sure you’re stacked up on those tissues.

In From The Side (2022)

Cast: Alexander Lincoln, Alexander King, William Hearle, Christopher Sherwood, Peter McPherson, Pearse Egan, Ivan Comisso, Carl Loughlin, Alex Hammond, Chris Garner, Mary Lincoln, 

We received the gay rugby drama we need and deserve thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and the vision of director/writer and former rugby coach Matt Carter. In From The Side stars Emmerdale’s Alexander Lincoln as Mark, an inexperienced new recruit on the B team at a gay rugby club who has a drunken encounter with Warren (Alexander King), the A team’s star player. With both men in long-term relationships and Warren’s partner on the same team, he and Mark inadvertently put the future of the rugby club at risk as they embark on a steamy, passionate affair. Carter’s directorial debut boasts well-written characters and strong performances from the two leads, and refreshingly, doesn’t conform to tropes normally associated with queerness and sports. Forbidden romance aside, In From The Side simply depicts the lives of people who play rugby together and just-so happen to be gay. No homophobia. No dramatic coming-out sequence. Sadly, that’s still quite rare.

LOEV (2015)

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

Indian romance Loev – pronounced as ‘love’ – explores the relationship between Wall Street deal maker Jai (Shiv Pandit) and Mumbai-based music producer Sahil (Dhruv Ganesh, who tragically passed away from tuberculosis before the release), two friends with a complicated past who set off to the Western Ghats for the weekend. Drawing heavily from the personal experiences of director Sudhanshu Saria, Loev came to fruition after months of crowdfunding, with its budget at just $1 million. Despite this, Saria managed to craft a stunning film thanks to its scenic Indian locations and unmatched chemistry between Pandit and the late Ganesh. Loev won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the 2016 Tel Aviv International Film Festival and later found mainstream popularity with its release on Netflix. (It has since been removed, boo.)

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 for queer cinema. Not only did it mark the first time LGBTQIA+ 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.

Moonlight (2017)

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

This trailblazing coming-of-age tale 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. Moonlight was rewarded for its brilliance with three Oscars back in 2017, including Best Picture. 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.

Monsoon (2019)

Cast: Henry Golding, Parker Sawyers, David Tran, Molly Harris, Lâm Vissay

Hong Khaou’s second feature film is absolutely gorgeous, examining the intricate relationship that emigrants have with their birth country. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins star Henry Golding leads the film as Kit, a British-Vietnamese man who returns to Saigon for the first time in over 30 years to scatter his parents’ ashes. During his time in Saigon, Kit comes to terms with his loss, reconnects with his childhood friend Lee (David Tran) and falls for Lewis (Parker Sawyers), an American whose father fought in the Vietnam War.

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

Cast: Gordon Warnecke, Daniel Day-Lewis, Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth, Derrick Branche

Before there was Call Me By Your Name, Moonlight, Brokeback Mountain and all of the other modern queer romances we’ve already mentioned here, there was My Beautiful Laundrette. Nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA, the film explores the complex relationships between Pakistani and English communities in the Thatcher years, and follows the romantic relationship between Omar (Gordon Warnecke) and street punk Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis) as they become joint managers of a family-owned laundrette in London.

Red, White & Royal Blue (2023)

Cast: Taylor Zakhar Perez, Nicholas Galitzine, Clifton Collins. Jr, Sarah Shahi, Rachel Hilson, Stephen Fry, Uma Thurman, Ellie Bamber, Thomas Flynn, Malcolm Atobrah, Akshay Khanna, Sharon D. Clarke, Aneesh Sheth, Juan Castano

Nicholas Galitzine and Taylor Zakhar Perez’s “insane” chemistry in Red, White & Royal Blue caused heart palpitations in millions of queers around the world (including us). Based on Casey McQuiston’s treasured novel of the same name, the Prime Video rom-com follows the star-crossed romance between a British prince (Galitzine) and the son (Zakhar-Perez) of America’s first-ever female president (Kill Bill icon Uma Thurman). For its faithfulness to the source material and the aforementioned chemistry between the two leads, Red, White & Royal Blue has arguably become the decade’s most championed gay rom-com, with fans taking every available opportunity to demand a follow-up (again, that includes us). Visit here for everything we know so far about a potential sequel.

Supernova (2021)

CastColin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood, Peter MacQueen, James Dreyfus, Ian Drysdale, Sarah Woodward

Written and directed by Harry Macqueen, Supernova stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci as Sam and Tusker, partners of 20 years. Following Tusker’s diagnosis of young-onset dementia, the couple travel across England in their campervan where their individual ideas for their future begin to collide. A devastating observation into the effects of dementia, as well as a moving portrait of a couple accepting mortality, Supernova boasts career-high performances from the aforementioned industry legends.

Weekend (2011)

Cast: Tom Cullen, Chris New, Jonathan Race, Laura Freeman, Loretto Murray, Jonathan Wright, Sarah Churm, Vaxuhall Jermaine, Joe Doherty, Kieran Hardcastle

Before he worked on All of Us Strangers and queer HBO series Looking, director Andrew Haigh helmed British romantic drama Weekend, following two men (Tom Cullen, Chris New) who meet and begin a short-but-sweet sexual relationship the weekend before one of them leaves the country. The film was lauded for its realistic and documentary-like portrayal of a same-sex relationship, and for offering a queer romance that was mostly unaffected by the omnipresent threat of homophobia or judgement from the outside world. The nostalgia of fleeting romance and ‘what could have been’ is strong with this one.