Top 13 LGBTQ+ movies you need to see

“Boy Erased” embarks on its national expansion this month, but before you see the emotional true story about gay conversion therapy, there are some similar movies you should check out first.

The life and struggle of those in the LGBTQ community have been portrayed many ways over the years in Hollywood, especially as societal views have evolved. Many films that involve LGBTQ characters often have an important message to send, and here are 13 films that send those messages in unique ways.

Click on the film titles to view their respective trailers. This list, as most of its kind, is obviously subjective. If your order is different, or there are movies not included you think should be, let us know in the comments below!  

“Disobedience” (2017)

Exploring the boundaries between religion and homosexuality, “Disobedience” presents the narrative of two women in a Jewish community who face severe judgment from their families. Such a struggle unfortunately remains for many to this day. Just because this movie is No. 13 on our list does not degrade its value.

“Weekend” (2011)

Many expect a one-night stand to last for one night, but occasionally it can turn into something more, throwing a kink into one’s emotions. Such is the case with Russell and Glen, who meet and enjoy a memorable weekend together. Your heart will feel for both sides of this relationship, as the circumstances of their lives ultimately mean it will remain only a memory. This film is a good reminder to live in the moment, try to let go of the past and not worry about the future.


“Those People” (2015)

“Those People” is one of those films on a smaller scale that is not as widely known as others on this list, but is still worth viewing. Many people can relate to the characters in this film. At some point in our lives, we all express feelings greater than friendship toward someone who does not reciprocate. Such is the case with Charlie and Sebastian in this film, and while their friendship is tested, the connection the two share will always exist.


“Closet Monster” (2016)

Another less well-known but no less worthwhile movie is “Closet Monster.” This coming-of-age film is distinct due to its artistic expression, and it describes the story of a young man trying to explore his sexual identity while living with his homophobic father.


“Milk” (2008)

A very important film for everyone to see, “Milk” provides a look into the true struggle the gay rights movement went through to establish itself in the late 20th century. It also shows how far we still have to go. Harvey Milk is perhaps one of the most famous names of the gay rights movement, as he was the first openly gay person to be elected into public office in California. San Francisco and New York City are often referred to as the birthplace of the gay rights movement in the United States, and “Milk” shows you just why.


“Bohemian Rhapsody” (November)

Anyone who is a fan of Queen will be a fan of this film. An excellent performance by Rami Malek takes viewers back in time to witness the life and talent of Freddie Mercury. Mercury is an example of the sentiment that everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Unfortunately, there were multiple battles in his case, including AIDS. As it is important in life to make light out of dark situations, this movie mostly portrays the light. That light is bringing people of completely different backgrounds together through music. Music is a near-universal work of art that brings people together, but also brings people closer to themselves.


“Carol” (2015)

Quality lesbian films are still seldom made, but “Carol” defied that expectation and won its way toward six Academy Award nominations. Set in the 1950s, “Carol” is another reminder of where society was less than a century ago.


“The Way He Looks” (2014)

A more light-hearted tale, “The Way He Looks” shows that looks are not everything, and for young Leonardo, they are nothing. Living in Brazil, Leonardo is blind and struggling to gain independence from his family. He soon meets Gabriel, and feelings surface. Simply put, “The Way He Looks” is a heart-warming story that will probably bring you some happy tears.


“Call Me By Your Name” (2017)

Paired with enchanting music, the emotional storytelling and sophistication of “Call Me By Your Name” wins over anyone who sees it. Set in a progressive Italian culture in 1983, Elio and Oliver endure a summer of freedom, love and adventure. The film breaks down common stereotypes surrounding large age differences and shows the story of a sensitive young boy learning to handle his feelings. There is also one scene with Elio and his father you will never forget.


“Love, Simon” (March)

Another flick with enchanting music is “Love, Simon.” This is a movie with a modern feel of a senior in high school struggling to accept his sexuality. The situation is further complicated when Simon is forcibly outed to his school. This feel-good movie will make you laugh, smile, and perhaps shed another happy tear.


“Brokeback Mountain” (2005)

Starring the late Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, “Brokeback Mountain” shows the importance of seizing each and every moment in life alongside the difficulty of accepting oneself as gay in the 1960s. When the two work together over one summer herding sheep on Brokeback Mountain in rural Wyoming, they quickly fall in love with each other. However, they just as quickly become terrified of their feelings. As decades pass, both attempt to move on with their lives by means of marriage to women and raising kids, but this ultimately proves too heavy a task. You will leave this movie with a heavy heart, but will also feel compelled to embrace the present moment, loving one another free of judgment.


“Moonlight” (2016)

The cultural importance of this film is huge, and provides a look into stories not often told on the big screen. “Moonlight” tells the powerful story of the life of Chiron, a black man living in Florida, who struggles with balancing his sexuality against cultural acceptance. This film was the first LGBTQ production to achieve Best Picture at the annual Academy Awards.


“Holding The Man” (2015)

Topping our list is “Holding The Man.” Based on the memoir of Australian Timothy Conigrave, “Holding The Man” presents the exciting, emotional and ultimately heartbreaking love story between Tim and his husband John. The film is another sober but important reminder of the impact the AIDS epidemic had worldwide. “Holding The Man” tops this list due to its authentic, genuine, gut-wrenching audience experience that will leave you thinking about the film well after it is over.


by Trevor Gibbs

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