Pride is a time in which everyone under the LGBTQ umbrella is encouraged to come out and wave their flag in spectacular parades. But for every wild night out, we might need a cozy night in, perhaps with a movie that keeps the party going?
Many a streaming service will make a rainbow show of their LGBTQ titles in June. Let us be your guide through the essentials, highlighting movies across Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Max, Kanopy, and beyond.
Whether you’re in the mood for a thigh-slapping comedy, a heart-wrenching drama, a pulse-pounding romance, a mind-expanding documentary, or spine-tingling horror, we’ve got you covered.
Here is a sensational selection of LGBTQ movies to watch this Pride and beyond.
1. The Queen (1968)
You may have seen Paris Is Burning, but have you seen The Queen? Frank Simon’s seminal 1968 documentary details the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant, a competitive drag pageant put together by trans and drag icon Flawless Sabrina. Simon’s recently restored doc is so many things at once: an archival treasure of early drag performances, an intimate look at the lives of queer men and trans women offstage, and, most famously, a record of one infamous incident that would later give way to the birth of house culture and the ballroom scene: Crystal LaBeija’s scorching tirade to the camera after losing to a white queen. LaBeija later went on to found the seminal House of LaBeija, which led to the very inception of ball culture we see in Paris is Burning, and has been massively influential to Black queer culture today. As an artifact of lost and, to many, largely unknown queer history, The Queen is essential Pride viewing, and honestly, essential every damn day viewing. —Oliver Whitney, Contributing Writer
How to Watch: The Queen is available to stream for free on Kanopy(opens in a new tab) or for rent or purchase on Kino Now(opens in a new tab), Prime Video(opens in a new tab), and iTunes.(opens in a new tab)
2. Rope (1948)
Rope may be known to most as Hitchcock’s experimental attempt to shoot an entire film in what appears to be a single shot, but it’s also the filmmaker’s gayest. The classic psychological thriller is about a gay couple who murders a man, then throws a dinner party using the dead body’s trunk as the buffet — quite literally “be gay, do crime,” Hitchcock-style. Of course, this was 1948, and that queerness is all subtext, but it roars to the surface thanks to gay screenwriter Arthur Laurents’s script and performances by its notably gay leads, Farley Granger who plays Phillip Morgan with an anxious flamboyance, and John Dall, whose Brandon Shaw embodies a more reserved, posh queerness. That’s not even to mention the oozing eroticism of the opening scene(opens in a new tab) — a closed curtain, a roaring scream, a shot of man sandwiched between two others, with a rope around his neck; oh, the abhorrent perversions two (or more) men commit behind closed doors! —O.W.
How to Watch: Rope is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab), iTunes(opens in a new tab), and Google Play(opens in a new tab).
3. The Living End (1992)
Often dubbed the gay Thelma & Louise, Gregg Araki’s The Living End follows the reckless road trip of two HIV-positive, anti-establishment gay men who go on the run after killing a homophobic cop. There’s Jon (Craig Gilmore), a slender, downbeat film critic who just found out his HIV status, and Luke (Mike Dytri), a hustler hunk who looks like he walked right out of Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising(opens in a new tab). The two become lovers and quickly set out on a fuck-everything crime spree across California. A fixture of New Queer Cinema that put Araki on the map, this low-budget punk queer road movie is sizzling with radical rage, and feels as fresh as ever today. —O.W.
How to Watch: The Living End is streaming on Kanopy(opens in a new tab) and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
4. The Stroll (2023)
Credit: HBO Documentary Films
There’s nothing more powerful and more urgently needed than trans people telling their own stories. In The Stroll, filmmaker Kristen Lovell (making her directorial debut alongside co-director Zackary Drucker) does exactly that, gathering the trans folks she worked with in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District to recount the history of what was once a hub for trans sex workers from the 1970s through the early 2000s. The women and nonbinary interviewees recount not only the horrific police violence and neighborhood harassment they constantly faced, but, and perhaps most significantly, they speak to how The Stroll helped them find a resilient community that enabled them to survive.
Through a mix of interviews, collage-style animation, and archival footage — including some possibly never-before-seen late footage of trans heroine Sylvia Rivera and an ultra-cringe clip from The RuPaul Show — Lovell and Drucker, who are both trans, achieve something beyond the reach of most cis filmmakers. In place of sorrowful trauma porn, the directing duo create a stunning ode to the power and resilience of trans sisterhood. The Stroll isn’t only an essential document of trans history; it’s a revitalizing reminder for trans folks that together we have the power to pave a path for a better trans future. —O.W.
How to Watch: The Stroll will premiere on Max(opens in a new tab) June 21.
5. Imagine Me and You (2005)
There are two types of queers: ones who saw beloved lesbian rom-com Imagine Me and You early in their queerness and were forever changed, and ones who’ve never heard of the undersung British movie. If you’re in the latter camp, I’m so thrilled to finally introduce you to this silly, charming romance. Rachel (Piper Perabo donning a British accent) is about to marry her best friend, Heck (Matthew Goode), but as she’s walking down the aisle, her eyes catch a woman named Luce (Lena Headey), and something indescribable happens. It’s love at first sight, as they say, and thus begins a sweet love story between Rachel, who’s only ever dated men, and Luce, an openly gay florist in the most ’00s lesbian wardrobe you’ve ever seen. It’s delightfully cheery and has an ending that will, shockingly, leave you teary-eyed with joy. A queer rom-com classic through and through. —O.W.
How to Watch: Imagine Me and You is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab), iTunes(opens in a new tab), and YouTube(opens in a new tab).
6. Dressed in Blue (1983)
Watching Dressed in Blue for the first time feels like discovering a long-lost treasure, one you almost can’t believe exists and which you only wish you’d seen sooner. This docudrama from Antonio Giménez-Rico mixes docu-style interviews with narrative reenactments to tell the life stories of six Spanish trans women living in post-Franco Madrid. Josette, Loren, René, Eva, Nacha, and Tamara gather in the dazzling Palacio de Cristal in Madrid to trade stories, gossip, bicker, giggle, and gossip some more as Giménez-Rico jumps in and out of scripted moments of their pasts. The unique framing gives the film something of an ethereal quality, especially paired with Teo Escamilla’s dreamy cinematography that imbues each woman with a glowy, almost goddess-like quality. Depictions of trans life have long been victim to the gaze of cis creators, and though this film from a cis male director is no exception, Dressed in Blue does feel like something of an anomaly, especially for its time, by allowing these women more agency in recounting their most private memories. —O.W.
How to Watch: Dressed In Blue is streaming on The Criterion Channel(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab), iTunes(opens in a new tab), and YouTube(opens in a new tab).
7. Born in Flames (1983)
Credit: First Run Features/Kobal/Shutterstock
For anyone in need of some radical-as-hell queer dystopian fiction during these increasingly dark and fascistic political times, Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames will prove to be a most satisfying balm. Set in a futuristic New York City after a socialist revolution, the film imagines America living under democratic socialism, but where the promises of that society are proving unfulfilled. Droves of women are losing their jobs, sexism and racism run rampant, and a queer Black revolutionary has just been captured and murdered by the state. This kicks off a new fiery revolt where feminist groups led by two radical radio hosts team up to take action into their own hands, from plotting direct action in underground meetings to teaching squads of women how to shoot rifles.
This seering anti-capitalist, anti-racist, pro-feminist treatise is as relevant today as ever. Hearing one queer radio DJ shout, “We’re being murdered out there in the streets. Wake up, it’s time to fight!” you can’t help but feel the parallels to the current attacks on queer and trans life and bodily autonomy happening in this country today. —O.W.
How to Watch: Born in Flames is streaming on Kanopy(opens in a new tab) and OVID.tv(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on iTunes(opens in a new tab) and Fandor(opens in a new tab).
8. Bound (1996)
A lesbian neo-noir directed by two trans women — there has never been a better combination of words. Bound, the debut feature from Lilly and Lana Wachowski, is a cult favorite for a reason, or maybe 10. It features Gina Gershon playing a tough-as-nails butch lesbian named Corky (just a year after Showgirls‘ Cristal Connors, mind you), who falls for her sultry femme fatale neighbor, Violet (Jennifer Tilly). This is no mere queer romance though, but a razor-sharp crime thriller where two ordinary women decide to rip off the mob. Violet’s abusive boyfriend (a perfect Joe Pantoliano) is about to come into a load of cash, so why not steal it, frame him, and make a getaway for it? Any casual Wachowskis fan can see the sisters’ stylistic fingerprints all over Bound, but it’s especially a pleasure to see the ways the two spice up classic noir genre conventions with queer sex, startling violence, and a whole lot of queer badassery. —O.W.
How to Watch: Bound is streaming on Paramount+(opens in a new tab), Prime Video(opens in a new tab), MGM+(opens in a new tab), and available for rent or purchase on iTunes(opens in a new tab).
9. No Ordinary Man (2020)
There are myriad ways to make a documentary about historical figures, but in No Ordinary Man, Chase Joynt and Aisling Chin-Yee take a unique and even risky creative approach that lands beautifully. To tell the story of Billy Tipton, a jazz musician whose stealth trans status was outed after his death and grossly mistreated for years in the press, No Ordinary Man looks to today’s trans community to search for the lost and ignored truths of his life. Joynt and Chin-Yee invite a collection of transmasculine actors to read scenes from a narrative script about Tipton’s life. This manifests into something profound, with each actor wrestling with how to portray a man who lived at a time where his transness had to remain secret, and with close to no models to shape himself after. It’s a fascinating and incredibly moving creative exercise that both attempts to repair the painful history attached to Tipton’s legacy, and showcases the necessity for trans performers to embody the roles of trans characters. —O.W.
How to Watch: No Ordinary Man is streaming on The Criterion Channel(opens in a new tab) and Kanopy(opens in a new tab), and available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab).
10. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (2022)
One of the absolute best films of 2022, Laura Poitras’s Oscar-nominated documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed manages to accomplish multiple things: documenting the activism of acclaimed photographer Nan Goldin in a tireless pursuit to takedown the wealthy family responsible for the opioid epidemic, commemorating the vast cultural significance of Goldin’s art, and detailing the personal life of the woman behind the camera. A prominent name in the 1980s New York City art scene, Goldin, who identifies as queer, is most known for her visceral, probing photography that captured a community ignored not just by the art world but by the entire world — queer and trans folks, sex workers, and those living with and dying from HIV/AIDS. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed fuses past and present, the individual and the collective, to tell a story that’s achingly human, searing with urgency and rage yet still simmering with hope. —O.W.
How to Watch: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is streaming on Max(opens in a new tab), and is available to rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab).
11. By Hook or by Crook (2001)
A brazenly punk, DIY, queer buddy dramedy about an unlikely pair of butch trans outcasts, By Hook or by Crook is something of a miracle for existing. This ultra-indie, ultra-low budget 2001 film from Silas Howard and Harry Dodge is a rare narrative depiction of queerness and transness that refuses to label its characters in any particular way, instead allowing them to exist as their own wacky, genderqueer selves living on their terms on the fringes of society. After facing an eviction in Kansas, the suit-donning Shy (Howard) runs away to San Francisco where they meet the eccentric Valentine (Dodge), who sports a braided beard. The two become fast friends and, in an effort to eventually rob a bank, pull off a series of petty crimes to get quick cash. By Hook or by Crook is as buoyant and playful as it is earnest, telling a heartfelt story about friendship, mental illness, and living a life of crime in a world that deems queerness criminal from the jump — and all with practically no budget. —O.W.
How to Watch: By Hook or by Crook is streaming on The Criterion Channel(opens in a new tab) and is available for rent on Prime Video.(opens in a new tab)
12. Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)
Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses is an absolute trip, and it might be one of the most enthralling pieces of filmmaking about trans femininity. This 1969 Japanese New Wave film fuses avant-garde editing with meta-documentary style filmmaking and non-linear storytelling to follow Eddie (played by androgynous cis actor Peter), a trans woman who works as a hostess as a gay bar — the lines between trans and gay identity are messy at best, given when this was made. With jarring editing, we’re torn between Eddie’s love triangle with the bar’s owner and his other mistress, fragmented memories of a traumatic childhood incident, and meta-interviews with the other trans bar hostesses. It’s all quite disturbing and disorienting, both aesthetically and thematically, and that’s kinda of the point — as critic Willow Maclay has written(opens in a new tab), Matsumoto’s film “mirrors the breaking down of gendered perception through the destruction of cinematic form.” It’s the kinda thing you just need to watch to get, and maybe more than once. —O.W.
How to Watch: Funeral Parade of Roses is streaming in Kanopy(opens in a new tab) and Night Flight+(opens in a new tab).
13. God’s Own Country (2017)
Sometimes gay romance dramas are tender, and sometimes they’re just super hot. God’s Own Country holds the honor of being both, leaving you crying one moment and indescribably turned on the next. Set on a farm in the Yorkshire countryside, Francis Lee’s film traces the lonely and pained day-to-day life of Johnny (Josh O’Connor), a young gay man who buries his anger at his father with binge drinking and anonymous hookups. But when Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu) arrives for a short stint to work at the farm, something shifts, and the newcomer’s presence begins to melt Johnny’s hardened aggression. A sweet gentleness blossoms, along with one of the hottest (and muddiest) sex scenes in recent memory. If sexy emotional gay farmcore was a movie, this would be it. —O.W.
How to Watch: God’s Own Country is streaming on Kanopy,(opens in a new tab) and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
14. Shinjuku Boys (1995)
It’s the mid-’90s in Tokyo, and you walk into the New Marilyn nightclub. You’re suddenly charmed by a flock of dapper studs in flashy suits with cool-as-ever haircuts. It’s a paradise of transmasc cuties.
In Shinjuku Boys, a short documentary from Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams, we meet three transmasculine folks who work at a nightclub that caters to doting female customers. Tatsu, Gaish, and Kazuki, who all use he/him pronouns, describe themselves as “onabe,” a broad Japanese term that’s been used to describe a variety of identities from trans man to butch lesbian. The doc captures a rarely seen slice of transmasc life (including some not-so-great toxic masc behavior), and offers a series of incredibly raw interviews that speak to things not often shown in film. From personal disclosures about sex and dysphoria to a T4T couple lovingly gushing over how seen they feel by one another, Shinjuku Boys is a snapshot of a unique and little-known piece of Japanese trans history. —O.W.
How to Watch: Shinjuku Boys is streaming on The Criterion Channel(opens in a new tab) and Kanopy(opens in a new tab).
15. Lingua Franca (2019)
In the remarkable Lingua Franca, Isabel Sandoval plays Olivia, an undocumented Filipina trans caregiver who lives under a constant wave of fear of being deported from her Brooklyn neighborhood. Sandoval, who also wrote, directed, produced, and edited the film, brings a delicate touch to a beautifully understated story that traces intimate moments in Olivia’s day to day as she attempts to secure a green card. Drawing inspiration from filmmakers like Chantal Akerman, Wong Kar-wai, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Sandoval’s film is a quietly gentle study of longing, tenderness, and desire. It’s also one of the most beautifully photographed stories about a trans woman, and well worth a watch for any devout cinephile. —O.W.
How to Watch: Lingua Franca is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)
16. Sylvia Scarlett (1935)
It’s Katharine Hepburn in masc drag, what more could you need? How about her looking as dashing as ever in a fedora and popped collar, flirting with Cary Grant and Brian Aherne and confusing the hell out of them both? In this 1935 film that marks the first collaboration between Hollywood gay icons Hepburn, Grant, and director George Cukor, Hepburn plays Sylvia, the meek daughter of a bookkeeper who disguises herself as a boy to help her father flee gambling debts. Now going by the name Sylvester, Hepburn’s character finds a swaggering confidence around other men while passing as one. Released during the start of the Hays Code, Sylvia Scarlett was a daring risk, and today remains a fascinating exploration of gender play, queer desire, and the inner empowerment one can discover in distorting gender expectations. —O.W.
How to Watch: Sylvia Scarlett is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab), iTunes(opens in a new tab), and VUDU(opens in a new tab).
17. Changing the Game (2021)
When Changing the Game was released in 2021, it felt like a dire time for trans athletes in America — at the time, 17 anti-LGBTQ bills(opens in a new tab) had been passed. Today, of the current proposed 530 anti-trans bills(opens in a new tab), 79 have passed(opens in a new tab) at the time of this writing. A large chunk of those specifically target trans kids who just want to play sports, and more than ever, Changing the Game remains a crucial film that highlights the experiences of young trans athletes.
The doc from Michael Barnett follows Mack, a trans boy who’s the Texas state wrestling champion…of girls’ wrestling; Andraya, a Connecticut track star who, though able to compete on her school’s girls team, is met with harassment from parents; and Sarah, an alpine skier who splits her free time between activism and a makeup vlog. While circumstances have only gotten horrifically worse for trans youth, Changing the Game is a reminder that the resilience and diehard activism of younger trans generations hasn’t and won’t be dying down anytime soon. —O.W.
How to Watch: Changing the Game is streaming on Hulu(opens in a new tab).
18. Desert Hearts (1985)
Set in 1959, Donna Deitch’s indie classic Desert Hearts finds Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver), a straight-laced English professor dressed in pearls and a skirt suit, arriving in dusty Reno to file for a quick divorce. The first time she meets Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), an openly queer, free-wheeling local, Cay’s riotously racing down the highway backwards, like something of a lesbian James Dean straight out of Rebel Without A Cause. It’s a classic story of opposites attracting as Cay begins to pursue the hesitant and old-fashioned Vivian. Brimming with quiet passion and yearning, and lit stunningly by master cinematographer Robert Elswit, Desert Hearts is a must-watch for any lover of queer cinema. —O.W.
How to Watch: Desert Hearts is streaming on The Criterion Channel(opens in a new tab) and Max(opens in a new tab).
19. Adam (2019)
Filmmaker Rhys Ernst’s directorial debut does something unexpected and controversial: It portrays an authentic transmasculine experience, but without a trans character as the lead. In Adam, Nicholas Alexander (a cis male actor) plays Adam, a cis male character who, after stumbling into New York City’s queer scene, winds up pretending to be a trans guy. It sounds terrible, I know! But hear me out — Adam uses this scenario to flip expectations and, in the process, center transness while putting cis perspectives on the sidelines. Ernst (a trans man) does this through the friendship between Adam and trans man Ethan (The L Word: Gen Q‘s Leo Sheng). Their relationship proposes an alternative to a world where trans men grow up learning about masculinity (very often toxic) and sexuality (also often toxic) from a cis-centric perspective. Here, Adam comes of age through the wisdom of a man who has deeply investigated his relationship to conventional masculinity. Though a divisive film, Adam’s worth seeing for the complex conversations it’ll give way to. —O.W.
How to Watch: Adam is streaming on Kanopy(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
20. Colette (2018)
Credit: Bleeker Street Media/Moviestore/Shutterstock
The only thing better than a Keira Knightley period piece? An unabashedly queer one. In Colette, Knightley portrays the titular famous French novelist best known for her 1944 work Gigi, but who for years was the ghostwriter of novels her husband took credit for. Wash Westmoreland’s film isn’t most interesting as a literary biopic though, but for the way it spotlights how Colette was openly and radically queer, especially for the early 20th century. Knightley’s Colette has affairs with women, including a long relationship with Mathilde De Morny, a French trans man and aristocrat referred to as Max and Missy throughout history (though played here by cis actress Denise Gough). Their onstage kiss at the Moulin Rouge in 1907 famously sparked a riot. —O.W.
How to Watch: Colette is streaming on Netflix(opens in a new tab) and Kanopy(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
21. The Aggressives (2005)
In Daniel Peddle’s documentary, there’s one thing that each of his five subjects has in common: They all identify as “Aggressives,” or “AG.” That term can mean vastly different things from one person to the next. For Octavia, they’re just a person who dresses like a dude with dude ways, while to Tiffany, it means carrying a femme-aggressive attitude and acting more like a gay guy. Rjai, on the other hand, is a ballroom champ with rows of trophies for walking in both masc and butch categories. And then there’s Marquise Vilson, who binds his chest and describes himself as a trans lesbian; he’s gone on to become a notable trans actor. Peddle’s film is a rare document of Black and brown butch, transmasc, and gender nonconforming folks in early aughts New York City that remains a beautiful showcase of the expansiveness of gender identity and expression outside the binary. —O.W.
How to Watch: The Aggressives is streaming on The Criterion Channel(opens in a new tab) and Kanopy(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
22. Caravaggio (1986)
If you like your historical dramas ripe with unabashed queerness, look no further than the work of master British filmmaker Derek Jarman. In Caravaggio, Jarman queers the history of the Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio by taking the highly homoerotic subtext of his work (along with age-old suspicions about his sexuality) and injecting it right into the text, reimagining the artist in openly gay affairs. This dazzling and layered meditation, with a mise en scène that evokes the compositions of a Caravaggio painting, finds the artist (played by Nigel Terry) engaged in romances with a street fighter (Sean Bean) and his girlfriend (Tilda Swinton). Even with no knowledge of Caravaggio or art history, Jarman’s film is quite a trip, and one bubbling with queer desire. —O.W.
How to Watch: Caravaggio is streaming on The Criterion Channel(opens in a new tab), Metrograph at Home(opens in a new tab), and Kanopy(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Kino Now(opens in a new tab).
23. Anything’s Possible (2022)
A sweet coming-of-age romantic comedy where a young trans girl gets to be charmed and loved and swept off her feet like every other woman of rom-coms’ past? Yes, please! Anything’s Possible is the directorial debut from Billy Porter, with a script by trans screenwriter Ximena García Lecuona. Eva Reign stars as Kelsa, a high school senior who starts crushing on Khal (Abubakr Ali). The two flirt, go on a cute first date, and romance begins to brew. But jealousy and backlash from Kelsa’s friend group gets ignited, and for the first time, Kelsa’s transness becomes a topic of fiery attention at her school — and in her relationship. Anything’s Possible has all the charm of a teen rom-com like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but centers the story on a trans girl without making her identity the sole focus of her character. —O.W.
How to Watch: Anything’s Possible is streaming on Prime Video(opens in a new tab).
24. Disclosure (2020)
Ask anyone over 20 to name the first time they saw a trans character portrayed on screen, and it’ll likely fall into one of the following categories: a villainous monster, a mocked disgrace, or a sad tragedy ending in death. Sam Feder’s documentary Disclosure charts the history of transness depicted across film and TV, showing that from cinema’s silent origins to the modern series of today, trans people have always been present, but largely only to be derided, misrepresented, and gawked at. With a mix of archival footage and talking head interviews with dozens of trans actors, directors, and authors, Disclosure offers a rare glimpse of a trans perspective on the painful history of representation in media. It’s vital educational viewing for cis audiences. For trans folks, it provides a cathartic look back on an ugly history, but with a hopeful promise of what visibility can look like. —O.W.
How to Watch: Disclosure is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)
25. The Matrix (1999)
What better way to celebrate Pride than by watching the most famous trans movie of all time, The Matrix? (It’s canon(opens in a new tab), deal with it.) The sci-fi action epic may not be explicitly trans on the surface, but as trans critics and audiences(opens in a new tab) over the years(opens in a new tab) have observed, Neo’s tale down the rabbit hole is littered with subtextual allusions to trans identity. There’s the red/blue pill “splinter in your mind” metaphor for hormone therapy, the “waking up” and “unplugging” from the Matrix as a realization of one’s gender when the egg shell cracks(opens in a new tab), the fact that Neo keeps getting deadnamed by Agent Smith, the whole essence of Trinity — you can go on and on. Read this sci-fi classic how you will, but once you start spotting all the trans symbolism, in the words of Morpheus, “There’s no turning back.” —O.W.
How to watch: The Matrix is streaming on Max(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
26. Before Stonewall (1984)
Filmmakers Greta Schiller and Robert Rosenberg did a public service in their creation of the seminal documentary Before Stonewall. An educational yet humorous work that provides essential context to the LGBTQ community’s long-fought campaign for civil rights, this is a great starting place for anyone eager to better appreciate just how far acceptance has come and how far it still has to go. —Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter
How to watch: Before Stonewall is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
27. Swan Song (2021)
Credit: Chris Stephens / Magnolia Pictures
Inspired by the real-life “Liberace of Sandusky, [Ohio],” Swan Song stars heralded character actor Udo Kier as a Mr. Pat, a retired and unapologetically flamboyant hairdresser out to secure his legacy with one last hurrah of a hairdo. Striding back into his old haunts to reconcile with his past, this wickedly funny hero finds new friends, old foes, and the glory of a mint-green vintage suit. With a fine wit, bold style, and a big heart, writer/director Todd Stephens’s film pays dazzling tribute to a generation of gay men who were decimated by AIDS and societal indifference. Swirling together rage and gratitude into an intoxicating cocktail, Kier gives the best performance of his long and storied career.* —Kristy Puchko, Film Reporter
How to watch: Swan Song (opens in a new tab)is now streaming on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
28. Moonlight (2016)
Credit: David Bornfriend/A24/Kobal/Shutterstock
Director Barry Jenkins’s Academy Award-winning Best Picture may use some of the formulaic components seen in other coming-of-age stories, but it imbues them with such immense inventiveness and originality that to compare Moonlight to anything else feels like an insult. This film has rightly been called some of the most impactful filmmaking in history, a perennial meditation on abuse, regret, pain, and acceptance. —A.F.
How to watch: Moonlight is streaming on Max(opens in a new tab) and Kanopy(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
29. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is always best enjoyed on the stage. But when a visit to the theater isn’t an option, director and star John Cameron Mitchell’s screen adaptation more than does the trick. In this musical dramedy, Stephen Trask’s spectacular songs once again come to life as the titular and iconic East German rock singer explores revenge, betrayal, and acceptance. —A.F.
How to watch: Hedwig and the Angry Inch is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
30-32. The Fear Street Trilogy (2021)
A stellar example of queer horror hit in three parts in 2021, when R.L. Stine’s beloved YA book series inspired a slasher trilogy centered on a lesbian couple. Kiana Madeira and Olivia Scott Welch are suffering the standard torments of teendom when the local legend of a vicious witch upends their lives — and may end them! Director Leigh Janiak ushers audiences through three eras of terror, chasing her heroes through shopping malls, summer camps, and colonial forests to unearth the dark truth of Shadyside. —K.P.
How to watch: Fear Street: Part One: 1994 is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)
How to watch: Fear Street: Part Two: 1978 is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)
How to watch: Fear Street: Part Three: 1666 is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)
Netflix kicks off R.L. Stine’s ‘Fear Street’ saga with a splash
33. The Watermelon Woman (1996)
Credit: Dancing Girl/Kobal/Shutterstock
Director Cheryl Dunye’s cinematic debut brings utter fearlessness to righting wrongs. In this romantic comedy, Dunye plays a pseudo-autobiographical version of herself intent on giving credit to the Black actors and filmmakers that came before her but were too often left unnamed in their works. Widely regarded as the first feature-length film directed by an openly lesbian Black woman, The Watermelon Woman remains a triumph almost 30 years later. —A.F.
How to watch: The Watermelon Woman is streaming on Showtime(opens in a new tab), Paramount+,(opens in a new tab) and Kanopy(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on iTunes(opens in a new tab).
34. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
In this charming, sexy, and silly comedy from Stephen Frears, Gordon Warnecke and Daniel Day-Lewis play childhood friends-turned-lovers struggling to make the most of their meager means. When the pair take over a laundromat together, they must face the normal pitfalls of operating a business as well as battle the political climate surrounding immigrants in ’80s Great Britain. —A.F.
How to watch: My Beautiful Laundrette is streaming on Hulu(opens in a new tab), Max(opens in a new tab), and Pluto TV(opens in a new tab), and available to rent or purchase on iTunes(opens in a new tab).
35. Rift (2017)
Want something uniquely chilling? Then check out this 2017 Icelandic thriller set in a frigid and frightful landscape. Written and directed by Erlingur Thoroddsen, Rift follows a man (Björn Stefánsson) to a remote cabin, where he hopes to help his distraught ex-boyfriend (Sigurður Þór Óskarsson) and maybe find some closure over their breakup. However, their reunion is rattled by a series of strange events that suggest they aren’t alone. Something is in the darkness, watching and waiting. This fantastic film lures you in with beautiful vistas and a slow-burn pace, then spirals into scares sure to linger like a cold shiver down your spine.* —K.P.
How to watch: Rift is streaming on Kanopy(opens in a new tab) and Shudder(opens in a new tab), and is available to rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab).
36. Carol (2016)
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s groundbreaking 1952 novel, Todd Haynes’s Carol brings the lives of Carol Aird and Therese Belivet to the screen through actors Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. This masterful rendition of a Christmas-set romance will pull at your heartstrings in all of the right ways, permanently nestling into a corner of your soul. —A.F.
How to watch: Carol is streaming on Netflix(opens in a new tab) and available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
‘Carol’ censored on airlines to exclude all lesbian intimacy
37. Benedetta (2021)
Credit: IFC Films
When you hear that the director of Showgirls made a movie about lesbian nuns, you might suspect Benedetta to be outlandishly raunchy and ferociously campy, reveling in the trashy tropes. However, Paul Verhoeven brings exquisite artistry to this stranger-than-fiction tale, delivering a biopic full of outrageous moments with a sophisticated yet wicked wit. Virginie Efira stars as 17th-century Italian nun Benedetta Carlini, who rose eyebrows in her convent not only because of the miracles she seemed to perform but also because of her romance with a fellow sister (Daphne Patakia). —K.P.
How to watch: Benedetta is streaming on Hulu(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
‘Benedetta’ is a sexy nun biopic with wicked wit
38. Weekend (2011)
Tom Cullen and Chris New redefine the chance encounter in director Andrew Haigh’s Weekend. Told over the course of a 48-hour period, this stirring, passionate romance considers the impacts strangers can have on one another — even when their time together is cut all too short. —A.F.
How to watch: Weekend is streaming on The (opens in a new tab)Criterion Channel(opens in a new tab) and Kanopy(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
39. Tongues Untied (1989)
Artist Marlon Riggs’s experimental film Tongues Untied addresses the onslaught of racist and homophobic prejudices Black gay men have been forced to endure and navigate for decades. Combining documentary footage with scripted personal accounts, this 55-minute film remains an impactful and relevant point of reference in intersectional LGBTQ activism. —A.F.
How to watch: Tongues Untied is streaming on Kanopy.(opens in a new tab)
40. Love, Simon (2018)
Folks looking for a heartwarming, sweet, and goofy romp to accompany the perfect at-home Pride celebration can stop their search. Love, Simon, starring the always charming Nick Robinson, broke ground as the first major studio film to focus on a gay teen romance. Delightful as it is important, this movie combines the best of rom-coms and coming out stories to check every box on a movie lover’s list. —A.F.
How to watch: Love, Simon is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab), iTunes(opens in a new tab), YouTube(opens in a new tab), and Google Play(opens in a new tab).
‘Love, Simon’ is a gotdamn delightful rom-com, and it’s gay as hell
41. Shiva Baby (2021)
Here’s a nightmare scenario: You’re a young, bi Jewish woman (Rachel Sennott) who just finished hooking up with one of your sex-work clients — he’s rich and cute and, hey, maybe you kinda like him. You show up at the shiva your parents dragged you to, and oh fuck, Sugar Daddy walks in…with a hot wife…holding a newborn baby. And he knows your parents. Oh, and your ex-girlfriend, who’s been a total flake lately, is there too. Emma Seligman’s debut feature is like the Jewish comedic version of Trey Edward Schults’s Krisha, only it finds the humor (and the suffocating anxiety) in the chaos. Even better, it’s only an hour and 17 minutes.* — O.W.
How to watch: Shiva Baby is streaming on Kanopy(opens in a new tab) and Max(opens in a new tab), and is available to rent or buy on iTunes(opens in a new tab).
The 15 best films of 2021
42. Happy Together (1997)
Block 2 Pics/Kobal/Shutterstock
Credit: Block 2 Pics/Kobal/Shutterstock
Directed by Wong Kar-wai, this nail-biting romantic saga depicts a tumultuous relationship on the brink of collapse. The film’s leads, Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-wai, explore passion and its limitations as Happy Together provides a unique, if not jarring, glimpse into affairs of the heart. —A.F.
How to watch: Happy Together is streaming on Kanopy(opens in a new tab) and Max(opens in a new tab).
43. But I’m a Cheerleader (2000)
Natasha Lyonne stars as a cheerleader forced to attend a conversion therapy camp in what may very well be the greatest lesbian fairytale of all time. Directed by Jamie Babbit, But I’m a Cheerleader was met with lukewarm reviews in 2000 but has since garnered a well-deserved cult following. Come for the promise of RuPaul trying to pretend he’s straight; stay for a first kiss scene featuring Clea DuVall that will knock your pom-poms off. —A.F.
How to watch: But I’m a Cheerleader is streaming on Tubi(opens in a new tab), and Pluto TV(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
21 years later, ‘But I’m a Cheerleader’ is still the perfect fairytale
44. Wig (2019)
One of the most iconic events of New York City Pride, Wigstock has taken many forms over the years. Watch as director Chris Moukarbel follows present-day queens as they attempt to revitalize the festival made popular by legends, like Lady Bunny, in 2018. —A.F.
How to watch: Wig is available to stream on Max.(opens in a new tab)
45. Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Credit: Peter Mountain / Zenith / Killer / Kobal / Shutterstock
Another glittering gift from Todd Haynes, this ’70s-set drama plays like fan fiction, penned about queer icons like David Bowie, Lou Reed, and Oscar Wilde. Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as a glam rock star who wins the heart of a headstrong American punk (Ewan McGregor), a glitzy party girl (Toni Collette), and the devotion of a young teen coming into his own (Christian Bale). Stuffed with incredible music, scintillating spectacle, and unapologetically queer lust, Velvet Goldmine is beautiful and bold even before you realize Haynes mopped its narrative structure from Citizen Kane. —K.P.
How to watch: Velvet Goldmine is now available for rent or purchase on Prime Video.(opens in a new tab)
46. Paris Is Burning (1990)
It’s the film you knew had to be on this list. Director Jennie Livingston’s unparalleled documentary Paris Is Burning captures the New York City drag ball culture of the late ’80s with style, grace, and intelligence. It’s a powerful reflection on wealth disparity, race discrimination, and stigma surrounding the LGBTQ community — a must-see if there’s ever been one. —A.F.
How to watch: Paris Is Burning is now streaming on The Criterion Channel(opens in a new tab) and on Max(opens in a new tab), and available for rent or purchase on iTunes(opens in a new tab).
47. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger shepherd a nuanced narrative of passion, fear, romance, and shame in director Ang Lee’s tale of star-crossed lovers in rural Wyoming and Texas. A timeless reflection on what it takes to unite who you are expected to be with who you really are, Brokeback Mountain can be a little sappy — but its faultless message always lands. —A.F.
How to watch: Brokeback Mountain is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
48. How to Survive a Plague (2012)
Reporter David France looks back on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this riveting, comprehensive documentary. Weaving hundreds of hours of archival footage into a cohesive narrative on the LGBTQ community’s fight against biased healthcare practices, How to Survive a Plague bottles what it means to make societal change happen before it’s too late. —A.F.
How to watch: How to Survive a Plague is streaming on Pluto.tv(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
49. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Writer-director Céline Sciamma will blow you away with this historical French drama. Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel lead as a painter and her unwilling subject whose intimate time together begins a secret romance that threatens to unravel them both. Painful and poetic, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is the under-appreciated watch you need to make time for. —A.F.
How to watch: Portrait of a Lady on Fire is streaming on Hulu,(opens in a new tab) and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
50. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Few things are as unspeakably fun as The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, and Guy Pearce star as drag performers traveling the Australian outback in this heartfelt comedy packed with iconic one-liners and costume changes. (It should be noted that this film contains some outdated, racist portrayals of non-white characters. Many argue the film remains a historic text(opens in a new tab) for the changes it brought about in mainstream acceptance of LGBTQ art.) —A.F.
How to watch: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab), iTunes(opens in a new tab), YouTube(opens in a new tab), and Google Play(opens in a new tab).
51. Upstairs Inferno (2015)
Documentarian Robert L. Camina remembers the catastrophic fire that took the lives of 32 people at New Orleans gay bar UpStairs Lounge on June 24, 1973. Witnesses to the tragedy reflect on the lives lost, the expected arsonist behind the attack, and the city’s lacking response to community devastation. This is a heartbreaking but essential chapter in any LGBTQ history book. —A.F.
How to watch: Upstairs Inferno is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
52. Kiki (2016)
There has never been a better time to revisit Sara Jordenö’s breathtaking Kiki. Centered on the drag and ballroom scene of New York City and those communities’ roles in rebuffing systemic intersectional bias, this documentary is an inspiring reminder that joy and love can bring about lasting change — but not without profound struggle. —A.F.
How to watch: Kiki is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
53. Pariah (2011)
Credit: Chicken and Egg / MBK / Northstar / Kobal / Shutterstock
Adepero Oduye devastates in this coming-of-age story. A cinematic journey that leaps from the screen straight to your soul, Pariah follows a 17-year-old Black girl as she fights to accept her lesbian identity and reconcile her sexual orientation with her family’s vision of the future. —A.F.
How to watch: Pariah is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
54. Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)
Queer horror is a genre full of cringeworthy moves. But fans of the much-maligned A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge came to embrace its quirky dance number and its groundbreaking scream queen, Mark Patton. Teaming with documentarians Tyler Jensen and Roman Chimienti, this fascinating leading man steps back into the spotlight to share his story as a closeted gay actor who survived public mockery and the AIDS crisis to find a love and community that takes pride in him. —K.P.
How to watch: Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street is streaming on Shudder(opens in a new tab) and AMC+,(opens in a new tab) and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
10 hidden gems of horror found on Shudder
55. The Favourite (2018)
Only star Olivia Colman walked away with an Oscar for her work on The Favourite, but the 2018 historical black comedy more than earned its fair share of praise. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, this Best Picture nominee tells the story of two courtiers, played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, vying for the favor of Queen Anne (Colman). An excellent argument against aristocracies — and owning too many rabbits — this darkly hilarious and queer romp is well worth a watch. —A.F.
How to watch: The Favourite is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab), iTunes(opens in a new tab), YouTube(opens in a new tab), and Google Play(opens in a new tab).
56. We Were Here (2011)
Director David Weissman’s documentary We Were Here transports viewers back to the San Francisco LGBTQ scene of the ’80s and ’90s as interview subjects relive their struggle to contend with the unfathomable HIV/AIDS crisis. A testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of community, this is a history lesson worth paying attention to. —A.F.
How to watch: We Were Here is streaming Kanopy(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
57. Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Timothée Chalamet leads in director Luca Guadagnino’s stunning coming-of-age romance. Winner of Best Adapted Screenplay at the 90th Academy Awards, Call Me By Your Name approaches its starring couple with tenderness, understanding, and unshakable warmth. This is the perfect pick for a cozy-yet-ethereal night in. —A.F.
How to watch: Call Me By Your Name is streaming on Netflix(opens in a new tab) and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
‘Call Me By Your Name’ is the rare case where you should watch the movie before reading the book
58. Tomboy (2011)
Another installment from writer-director Céline Sciamma. Tomboy paints a staggering portrait of a gender non-conforming child grappling with societal expectations in a new environment. Full of hope but grounded in its true-to-life performances, this film exists as a testament to becoming who you really are at any age. Then-10-year-old Zoé Héran positively dazzles with her lead role. —A.F.
How to watch: Tomboy is streaming on The Criterion Channel.(opens in a new tab)
59. A Fantastic Woman (2017)
Credit: Sony Classics / TIFF
Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, director Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman is a tragedy and triumph for the ages. Daniela Vega plays a woman who loses her partner unexpectedly. Amidst her grief, she must contend with her late partner’s family and their transphobia. This film offers exquisite cognizance of the pain prejudice can add to existing loss. —A.F.
How to watch: A Fantastic Woman is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
Why ‘A Fantastic Woman’ star Daniela Vega should be the first trans performer nominated for Best Actress
60. My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Keanu Reeves and the late River Phoenix star in this 20th-century retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V. Director Gus Van Sant guides his leads through a tense, melancholy exploration of intimacy, power, and uncertainty that never fails to deliver poignant reflection despite its adventure-fueled storyline. Oh, and the pair’s chemistry is…searing. —A.F.
How to watch: My Own Private Idaho is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab), iTunes(opens in a new tab), and Google Play(opens in a new tab).
61. The Half of It (2020)
Credit: KC Bailey / Netflix
Since arriving on Netflix last year, The Half of It has quietly built a following of young queer people enchanted by its presentation of coming out. Starring Leah Lewis as Ellie Chu, an introverted Chinese-American high schooler, this romantic comedy is yet another retelling of the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac, but with an intense honesty to its subject that makes it stand out. —A.F.
How to watch: The Half of It (opens in a new tab)is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)
Netflix’s ‘The Half of It’ is a pretty good rom-com that could’ve been a great one
62. A(sexual) (2011)
Director Angela Tucker’s debut documentary offers a thorough, albeit imperfect, examination of what it means to be asexual in our often sex- and romance-obsessed culture. A(sexual) offers profound insight into what it means for asexual people to fight for their right to not partake in normalized relationship rituals and define their own spaces within the LGBTQ community. —A.F.
How to watch: A(sexual) is now streaming on Plex. (opens in a new tab)
63. Milk (2008)
In director Gus Van Sant’s astounding biopic, Sean Penn stars as activist and politician Harvey Milk. The first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, Milk progressed the rights of LGBTQ Americans by unprecedented leaps and bounds. Milk honors that legacy with its heartfelt imagining of an icon. Penn won Best Actor for his portrayal of Milk at the 81st Academy Awards. —A.F.
How to watch: Milk is streaming on Max(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
64. Tangerine (2015)
Credit: Augustas Quirk / Magnolia / Duplass Brothers Prods / Kobal / Shutterstock
Director Sean Baker’s low-budget tour de force follows transgender sex worker Sin-Dee Rella (played by the effervescent Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) as she seeks to enact revenge on the man who cheated on her and the cisgender woman he cheated with. Bittersweet and hysterical, Tangerine is a one-of-a-kind viewing experience you’ll cherish forever. —A.F.
How to watch: Tangerine is streaming on Max(opens in a new tab) and Kanopy,(opens in a new tab) and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
65. The Birdcage (1996)
Credit: Lorey Sebastian/United Artists/Kobal/Shutterstock
In the wake of an unexpected wedding, The Birdcage chronicles the chaotic blending of two very different families. Along the way, Nathan Lane dons full drag, Robin Williams dances his pleated pants off, and Gene Hackman brings remarkable depth to his straight-man role. This is the perfect pick if you want something light and fun to watch with your chosen family. —A.F.
How to watch: The Birdcage is streaming on Paramount+(opens in a new tab), and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
The 10 best comedies on HBO Max
66. Rafiki (2018)
Starring Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva as burgeoning lovers, Rafiki was banned in Kenya(opens in a new tab) “due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law.” As a result, of course, much of the rest of the queer world embraced it as a symbol against censorship. Director Wanuri Kahiu treats those viewers to a positively enchanting romance, one that only emphasizes the need for LGBTQ equality everywhere. —A.F.
How to watch: Rafiki is streaming on Kanopy,(opens in a new tab) and is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video(opens in a new tab) and iTunes(opens in a new tab).
67. Welcome to Chechnya (2020)
The third film from Academy Award-nominated documentarian David France, Welcome to Chechnya takes viewers on a guerilla-style investigation into the anti-gay purges that still plague the constituent republic of Russia.
Not only does the explosive project detail the abhorrent policies created by Vladimir Putin and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to criminalize homosexuality, it also delves into the insidious culture the government has instilled in its citizens to encourage hate crimes. It’s a painful watch that demands attention from viewers, focusing in large part on the courageous efforts of underground networks working to help LGBTQ people escape the region.* —A.F.
How to watch: Welcome to Chechnya is streaming on Max(opens in a new tab), or is available to purchase on iTunes(opens in a new tab)
HBO’s ‘Welcome to Chechnya’ sheds agonizing light on LGBTQ genocide
Asterisks (*) indicate the write-up comes from a previous Mashable list.
UPDATE: Jun. 1, 2023, 2:57 p.m. EDT This list has been updated with active links and additional movie recommendations.