16 LGBTQ Movies to Watch This Pride Month

Pride is upon us once again, and that means it’s time for rainbow flags (and rainbow ads), flings, flounces, firm reminders that the first Pride was a riot and that the fight for queer liberation continues today, and finally, films. Have you already watched? Fire Island and want to know what’s next? These 16 ideas are for you to keep an eye on during Pride Month.

Paris is Burning (1991)

Paris is Burning (directed by Jennie Livingston) documents New York City’s ballroom scene during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and the Black and Latine gay and trans ball walkers, queens, and forged families at its heart. Its exploration of gender, sexuality, race, and class has made it a classroom staple, but those featured were living and discussing those intersections long before people with more privilege got interested—a fact that’s led to contention about the pittance of payment those in the film received. You will be amazed at the amazing drag performances and the shining displays of the cultural debt that Black, brown and trans people owe.

Late Bloomers (1996)

This sweet coming-of-age-in-middle-age film, directed by Julia Dyer and written by her sister Gretchen Dyer, follows math teacher Dinah (Connie Nelson) and secretary Carly (Dee Hennigan), who unexpectedly fall in love over basketball lessons while working at the same Texas high school. The romance wreaks havoc on their tiny town, as Carly cheats on her husband. Both women are fired. This subtly Wes Anderson-esque romance is also a powerful story of familial and community love—with a big, gay wedding as the cherry on top.

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

A major contributor to Natasha Lyonne’s legacy as a “straight gay icon,” and an essential part of queer canon, But I’m a Cheerleader This is an unusual story about a camp for gay conversion camps in pastel hues. It was directed by Jamie Babbit, written by Babbit, and directed by Brian Peterson. Megan (Lyonne), a high school cheerleader, is sent to the camp when her parents become suspicious of her passion for vegetarianism and Melissa Etheridge—only to find herself falling in love while she’s there. But I’m a CheerleaderIt is a touching and encouraging story of family being forced to bond under pressure. The premise, however, still resonates today.

Brokeback mountain (2005)

You might be able to Brokeback has become something of a cliché since its record-breaking premiere—but should that stop you from experiencing this piece of cinematic history, and getting a good, gay cry going to boot? It’s not. Based upon the short story of the same name from Annie Proulx’s collection Brokeback Mountain, Short Range Follow Ennis (Heath Ledger), and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal), as they navigate their tragic, often violent lives over decades. It’s as stunning now as it was when it was made, thanks to masterful performances from all involved, as well as Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning direction.

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Initially a flop due to a misguided ad campaign attempting to cater a movie about the all-consuming inferno of female “friendship,” mysticism-tinted misogyny, and cannibalizing your friend’s whiny boyfriend to an audience of teenage boys, Jennifer’s BodyThis movie has gone on to become an iconic sapphic cult favorite. Starring Amanda Seyfried as the beleaguered Needy, and Megan Fox as the titular Jennifer—and written by the incomparable Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama—Jennifer’s Body This is an essential entry in any Pride watchlist.

Pariah (2011)

Dee Rees wrote and directed this film, starring Adeperoo Oduye in the role of 17-year old Alike. PariahIt is a masterwork that captures both joy and sadness of self-discovery. Alike lives a double life, dressing femininely at home under her mother Audrey’s (Kim Wayans) watchful, at-times wrathful eye, and exploring masculine presentation and Black lesbian culture at the clubs she visits with her friend Laura (Pernell Walker). When Alike starts spending time with Bina (Aasha Davis), a girl from church, at her mother’s insistence, she discovers they have more in common than expected. Featuring a nuanced family dynamic—including an arresting performance by Charles Parnell as Alike’s father Arthur—and the show-stopping line, “I’m not running, I’m choosing,” PariahIt is an integral part of the queer cinematic canon.

He Looks Amazing (2014)

This sun-dappled Brazilian romance written and directed by Daniel Ribeiro follows Leo (Ghilherme Lobo) and Gabriel (Fábio Audi), teenagers navigating the sweet awkwardness of first love. Leo (who is blind) walks to school every day with Giovana Tess Amorim, his best friend. The romance blooms when Gabriel comes to town with them and starts accompanying them. The stories of people who are disabled are rarely told in movies or TV. He Looks Amazing is a meaningful moment of representation, though it’s always worth noting that disabled actors play disabled characters best. Endearing and big-hearted, this adorable film gets bonus points for introducing this list writer to Belle & Sebastian.

Tangerine (2015)

Tangerine An incandescent drama comedy about Sin-Dee Rella, a trans sex worker. Alexandra Taylor (Mya) helps her to find her cheating husband. Tangerine The film received mixed reactions from trans people of color. Many found it inspiring and authentic, but others felt that the movie relied too heavily on trauma. The film, directed by Sean Baker and written by Baker and Chris Bergoch, is noteworthy for its portrayal of trans characters by trans actors—still, unfortunately, a rarity—and for being shot entirely on a cell phone.

Moonlight (2016)

This is both visually stunning and heartbreaking. Moonlight follows protagonist Chiron, played by Travante Rhodes as an adult, Ashton Sanders as a teen, and Alex Hibbert as a child, through three stages of his life—as a young boy and teenager in Miami, and then as an adult in Atlanta. Barry Jenkins directed the film. Moonlight This is the first LGBTQ film to be nominated for Best Picture. It explores sexuality and masculinity in a sensitive and humane way. If you somehow haven’t seen it yet, this Pride is the time.

The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden The film is an unnerving psychological thriller about forced marriage and sexual exploitation. Thank you Con. Park Chan-wook wrote and directed the film. It is set (mostly), in 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea. The fact that it’s also a gay love story between Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) and her handmaiden Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri)—albeit one that’s both sexy and kind of gross, received by some as self-referentially playful and others as “disappointingly boilerplate”—is just gravy.

Rafiki (2018)

Kena (Samantha Mugatsia), Ziki (Sheila Munyiva), daughters of political opponents who are in an unexpected, reckless, and vibrant relationship. Rafiki Brilliantly, it shows the peril and joy of gay love in Kenya. Directed by Wanuri Kahiu, written by Jenna Cato Bass and Kahiu, and inspired by the Caine Prize-winning short story “Jambula Tree” by Monica Arac de Nyeko, RafikiBefore Kahiu filed for, and received a one-week theatrical release on free speech grounds, the film was originally banned in Kenya.

Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen (2020)

Writers, actors and creators who are transgender share their Hollywood experiences, as well as the social impact, in this documentary. Sam Feder along with Amy Scholder directed the production. The film features Laverne, Chaz Bono and Lilly Wachowski as executive producers. Disclosure is a landmark exploration of trans representation—and misrepresentation—on and off screen. In a time of legislation targeting trans people, and especially trans kids, it’s an important snapshot of cultural attitudes, and one of many reminders of how far we have to go.

Kajillionaire (2020)

If you are within the first twenty minutes Kajillionaire are among the bleakest things you’ve seen, the rest is an increasingly gorgeous and colorful romp about discovering you have the power to decide who you will become, breaking cycles of generational trauma, and the healing force of love—especially gay love with Gina Rodriguez-LoCicero. Written and directed by the inimitable Miranda July and starring Evan Rachel Wood opposite Rodriguez-LoCicero as Old Dolio, depressed daughter of LA’s least successful con artists, this film is flight of whimsy with more than enough heart to keep it grounded.

Flee (2021)

Flee is an animated docudrama directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen and written by Rasmussen and Amin Nawabi (a pseudonym), telling the true story of Nawabi’s journey as a young refugee from Afghanistan to Denmark. As he prepares to marry his longtime boyfriend, Nawabi finds himself preoccupied with painful memories of a complex past he’s become accustomed to keeping to himself. NPR interviewed Nawabi, who said that he wanted to be a journalist. Flee would showcase the human reality behind the refugee experience of being forced to leave the only home you’ve ever known.

You Can Have Everything at Once (2022)

If you somehow haven’t already seen Daniels’ mind-bending blockbuster Everything at once, Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu in a multiverse-hopping mother/daughter couple. This is a sign. Pride Month is a great time to watch this tale about how accepting your child gay can have devastating consequences. Star performances by Ke Huy Quan and James Hong as well as maximalist fashion and familial love and the stunning beauty of mundanity are also featured.

Crush (2022)

Crush is a sapphic delight—written by Kirsten King and Casey Rackham and directed by Sammi Cohen—that follows high-school romance tropes to a tee—and that’s what makes it so much fun. In a time of queer cinema that’s positively saturated with coming-out stories, Crush is a breath of fresh, frothy air that says, “gimme a teen rom-com, but make it gay!” Awkward artist Paige (Rowan Blanchard) and inscrutably cool jock AJ (Auli’i Cravalho) must work together to catch a mysterious guerilla artist in this adorable triumph for sappy gays, people who had their first kiss on a school trip, decidedly unathletic people forced to play sports against their will, and, frankly, everyone else, too.

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