As pride month is now in full swing, many people continue to celebrate by watching queer films. Therefore, in honor of the filmmakers who have brought LGBTQ+ characters and stories to the screen, we have compiled a list of films, one for each of the 6 first letters of the LGBTQI acronym, that feature prominently queer characters. Happy Pride watching!
L is for Lesbian:
RAFIKI (2018) Directed by Wanuri Kahiu is a beautifully told lesbian love story between two Kenyan women in Nairobi, a place where homosexuality is still illegal. This charmingly colorful and vibrant love story is a brutal yet still hopeful addition to your pride watch list and a wonderful way to celebrate the lesbian community. Although ironically the national Kenyan motto is ‘Peace, Love, and Unity’, this film was banned in Kenya by the Classification Board for its homosexual content. However, because of the ban the film garnered a lot of attention. Eventually it was released to the rest of the world, becoming the first Kenyan film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
Other great lesbian films: PARIAH (2018), THE WATERMELON WOMAN (1996), PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (2019), and the MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST (2017) (also features a two-spirit character)
G is for Gay:
Winner of best picture at the 2018 Oscars, MOONLIGHT directed by Barry Jenkins is a gorgeously shot masterpiece that follows Chiron, a young, gay, African-American man, as he grows up in 1980’s Miami. What is unique about the film is that it is separated into three distinct segments displaying Chiron’s childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Paired with an engaging and intense classical score by Nicholas Britell, this film is a truly breathtaking story and considered one of the best films of the decade.
Other great gay films: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005), MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO (1991), BOY ERASED (2018), and TROPICAL MALADY (2004)
B is for bisexual
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is a cult classic science fiction musical following the story of a conservative, small town couple and their encounter with a ‘sweet transvestite’ scientist from Transylvania. This film is a lot of fun with elaborate dance numbers, catchy music, a wacko story-line, and an epic performance by Meatloaf. Although not specifically a bisexual film, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is all about a liberatingly fluid approach to sexuality as well as gender identity and expression.
Other bisexual films: APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR (2014) and SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY (1971)
T is for Transgender:
Though the film unfortunately does not star a trans actor, LAURENCE ANYWAYS (2015) directed by Xavier Dolan is a wonderfully creative look at the transition process. The story centers around a transgender woman, Laurence, and her partner Fred as they both come to terms with the fact that Laurence is a woman. This story is a very interesting one because it not only explores the process of coming out to yourself, but also to those you love and the effects that this may have on romantic relationships. It is a story told with decadent style and very interesting surrealistic moments that elegantly elevate the themes. What sticks out about this film is that it tells the story of a transition with a sense of hope while still exposing the unique challenges the protagonist faces because of her gender identity.
Other great transgender films: CALL HER GANDA (2018), BOYS DON’T CRY (1999), THE DANISH GIRL (2015), TANGERINE (2015), THE CRYING GAME (1992) and A FANTASTIC WOMAN (2017)
Q is for Queer and Questioning:
This category is a bit harder to define because of how many different types of people fall into it. However, because it follows a variety of queer characters who are all exploring their identities in different ways, I’d recommend the film HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2001) directed by John Cameron Mitchell. This rock musical features a transgender woman from Berlin as she follows her ex-boyfriend’s musical tour after he steals her songs. Throughout the film she performs musical numbers about her life from when she was a kid, to the present. This film is witty, entertaining, experimentally executed, and fun. While there are some serious moments, the film is still chock-full of funny dialogue and most importantly, really awesome music.
Other great queer and questioning films: THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT (2010), THE WAY HE LOOKS (2014), and CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (2017)
I is for intersex:
This category, unfortunately, is very hard to find because there aren’t many films about intersex individuals. However, I did manage to find a truly fantastic 2007 Argentinian film by director Lucia Puenzo, XXY. This film follows Alex, an intersex teenager, as they struggle with their gender identity, sexuality, and the pressures that come from a bigotted community. This film is beautiful, simple, and doesn’t overintellectualize the struggles of an intersex person. It also explores family dynamics and how important family acceptance is for someone in the LGBTQ+ community. This is a great film to add to your pride list as there aren’t many opportunities in fiction film to witness an intersex character, especially one that is so endearingly true to themself as Alex is.
Other great intersex films: PONYBOI (2018), and INTERSEXION (2012)
It can be shockingly hard to find films that reflect your gender identity or sexual orientation but I hope this list helped! Happy Pride everyone and remember what this month is all about: learning queer history, recognizing those who’ve fought and continue to fight for equality, and spreading love and acceptance. Stay strong and stay proud!
Honorable mentions: TWO SPIRITS (2009), TWO SPIRIT PEOPLE (1991), ACE AND ANXIOUS (2017), FIRE SONG (2015)