We’re well into June now, and even though some states have phased in reopening, many of us are still in the house. If your nights and weekends are still mostly made up of watching TV on the couch, why not incorporate Pride month into that routine? Our movies and TV shows have historically done a pretty sh*tty job of portraying well-rounded LGBTQ characters, but that’s starting to change. More diverse queer stories are being told than ever, and many of them are available on the streaming services you probably already have.
Whether you want to learn something or just watch a good movie that happens to be about gay people, here are 12 movies that tell LGBTQ stories that are available to stream right now.
‘Moonlight’ – Netflix
How has it been over three years since Moonlight almost didn’t win Best Picture? Time flies when the world is ending. If you still haven’t seen it, it’s on Netflix, so there’s really no excuse at this point. Told in three distinct parts, this film follows one young Black man’s life over two decades. Moonlight deals with the intersection of sexuality, race, and masculinity in a specific community, but the themes are applicable to everyone, and you’ll definitely cry. Like, a lot.
‘The Half of It’ – Netflix
If your preferred genre of movie is “mediocre Netflix original teen rom-com,” this one should be at the top of your Pride list. Directed by Alice Wu, a Taiwanese-American lesbian woman, The Half of It tells the story of Ellie Chu, who is coming to terms with her sexuality while getting paid to write love letters for a dumb jock. It’s a classic Netflix teen situation, but with more complex societal layers than you get from any Noah Centineo movie.
‘A Single Man’ – Netflix
A Single Man takes place in the 1960s and was directed by fashion designer Tom Ford, so the aesthetic here is off the charts. Colin Firth plays a closeted gay professor, who is struggling to cope after losing his partner. A Single Man deals with tough topics like mental health, grief, and when to move on after the loss of a loved one.
‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ – Netflix
This one is in French and is like three hours long, so watch it when you can actually pay attention, not in the background while you “work.” Based on a graphic novel, the story follows Emma and Adèle’s relationship over the course of several years, with lots of ups and downs. Blue Is The Warmest Color is known for its graphic sex scenes (don’t it watch with parents) and its captivating love story, and it’s totally worth the time commitment. Also, it will 100% make you crave pasta—you’ll get it once you watch.
‘Tangerine’ – Hulu
Tangerine follows two transgender sex workers, Sin-Dee and Alexandra, over the course of one eventful day in Los Angeles. The day starts with Sin-Dee getting released from prison, and things only get crazier from there. Tangerine is both hilarious and emotional, and it’s one of the few movies that features multiple trans actors in real, interesting roles.
‘BPM (Beats per Minute)’ – Hulu
Another French movie, BPM tells the story of the AIDS activism movement in Paris in the ’90s. Specifically, it focuses on the group ACT UP and the lives of the people involved with the movement. Considering that we’re currently in the midst of a pandemic, maybe we should all take a minute to learn more about the AIDS crisis of the ’80s and ’90s. It wasn’t that long ago, and we certainly don’t learn much about it in school.
‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ – Hulu
I know, I know, again with the French movies—I promise this is the last one. But seriously, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is SO good. Set in a rural part of France in the 18th century, it’s a deeply intimate story of two women’s forbidden love. After Marianne is secretly hired to paint Héloïse’s portrait in order to find her a husband, they build a subtle connection that becomes more and more powerful. Tissues are a must for this one.
‘Rocketman’ – Hulu & Amazon Prime
Who doesn’t love Elton John? This musical biopic does a great job of incorporating all his hits with his life story, and overall it’s just a lot of fun. From John’s childhood to present life, Rocketman pretty much covers it all, including his struggles with being gay when it was very frowned upon. The music is great, the costumes are great, and again, you’ll def cry.
‘The Watermelon Woman’ – Amazon Prime
With this 1996 movie, Cheryl Dunye became the first out Black lesbian to direct a feature film. The Watermelon Woman is a semi-biographical film about Cheryl trying to uncover the forgotten history of the Watermelon Woman, an early Black film actress, who also happened to be a lesbian. The Watermelon Woman is fictional, but the movie sheds light on how many Black actors in early Hollywood were never given a voice, and were so often relegated to playing offensive stereotypes.
‘Disobedience’ – Amazon Prime
Nothing goes together like hot lesbian sex and…Orthodox Judaism? Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams (two of my favorite Rachels) play Ronit and Esti, two former lovers who are reunited years after Ronit left their tight-knit religious community. As they reconnect, they’re forced to navigate their complicated past—and equally complicated present. In case you’re not sensing a theme, you’ll probably cry during this one, too.
‘Dirty Computer’ – Amazon Prime
Okay but actually, is there anything Janelle Monáe can’t do? Alongside her 2018 album Dirty Computer, she released a short film in which she plays a woman trying to break free of a dystopian homophobic society. Set to the songs of the accompanying album, it’s a colorful futuristic take on trying to escape oppression, which feels pretty relevant in 2020. And Tessa Thompson is in it, so now you really have to watch.
‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ – HBO Max
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a weird, wild musical about a genderqueer rock musician from East Germany trying to get revenge after their ex stole their songs and got famous. Written by and starring John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig f*cks with society’s gender norms, and isn’t what most people expect from a musical. This one probably isn’t for everyone, but it’s gained a cult following and had a hit revival on Broadway a few years ago.
For more LGBTQ stories, check out our Queerantine History series:
Images: Stavrialena Gontzou / Unsplash; Giphy (4)