The Best LGBTQ+ Movies That Defined Queer Cinema

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 The Power of LGBTQ+ Films

In a time of increased visibility for sexual and gender minorities, movie-going audiences are being exposed to a variety of stories from the LGBTQ+ community at an unprecedented rate. Films like Brokeback Mountain, Milk, Call Me By Your Name, and Love Simon are some of the many titles that have portrayed the lives and identities of queer individuals in a powerful and meaningful manner. These titles have inspired countless people to embrace their sexuality and encouraged countless others to create similar works of art to push the envelope of what is traditionally accepted in mainstream cinema.

Given the growing number of locations and platforms where one can access LGBTQ+ films, it can be difficult to decide which ones are truly worth your limited time and money. For this reason, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling a comprehensive list of the best LGBTQ+ movies that have defined queer cinema over the years. This list contains titles from various decades, countries, genres, and directors that are an essential watch for anyone looking to expand their knowledge and understanding of LGBTQ+ cinema.

The History of LGBTQ+ Movies

Since the early days of cinema, LGBTQ+ people have been using the film medium to tell stories that were not often seen in other mediums. These pioneers used the power of cinema to bring visibility to the LGBTQ+ community and open up a much-needed dialogue around issues of sexuality and identity. While many of the earliest LGBTQ+ films were low-budget, underground movies created outside the Hollywood system, their impact was undeniable.

In the years following World War II, Hollywood began to invest more in queer cinema as a means to explore taboo themes and thought-provoking storylines. The 1960s saw the release of ground-breaking titles like The Killing of Sister George and The Children’s Hour, both of which featured prominent queer characters. The decade also saw the rise of progressive directors like John Schlesinger, whose Sunday Bloody Sunday was a landmark for its honest approach to the topic of homosexuality.

In the years that followed, LGBTQ+ cinema has seen an increase in mainstream acceptance. From the critical success of Brokeback Mountain to the record-breaking success of Love, Simon, queer cinema has become a powerful force in the industry. As the landscape continues to evolve, so too do the stories that are being told and the impact they have on audiences.

The Best LGBTQ+ Movies That Defined Queer Cinema

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, there have been a variety of LGBTQ+ films released that have made an impact on the genre. As we move into the era of queer cinema with more stories, characters, and perspectives than ever before, these titles remain essential watchings for anyone looking to explore the history and evolution of LGBTQ+ film.

  1. The Boys in the Band (1970)

Widely regarded as one of the first mainstream films to tackle the topic of homosexuality, The Boys in the Band is a monumental achievement that continues to fascinate audiences today. Directed by William Friedkin and adapted from the acclaimed stage play of the same name, the film follows nine gay friends who spend the evening getting to know each other and ultimately discover who they are. The Boys in the Band continues to be a powerful reminder of the experiences that queer people had to go through in order to be accepted in a world that was not yet ready for them.

  1. Paris Is Burning (1991)

This classic documentary chronicles the rise of the drag and voguing culture in the 1980s, making it a must-watch for anyone interested in the history of queer performance. The film, which was directed by Jennie Livingston, follows aspiring queer and trans performers in New York City as they compete in elaborate balls, working to earn their moment of fame and recognition in a culture that excluded them. Paris Is Burning remains an essential viewing experience for its cultural importance and powerful depiction of self-expression in the face of adversity.

  1. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

Directed by Stephen Frears, My Beautiful Laundrette follows a young Pakistani businessman who is trying to make a living by renovating a laundrette. As he works to get the business up and running, he is also drawn into a passionate romance with an unlikely partner. This film, which was written by Hanif Kureishi, is an influential work for its time for its nuanced approach to South Asian and LGBTQ+ identity.

  1. Happy Together (1997)

Directed by the acclaimed director Wong Kar Wai, Happy Together is a passionate story of two men who travel to Argentina in search of adventure. With each passing day, their relationship begins to unravel as they come to terms with their own insecurities while struggling with their cultural and social differences. Between its gorgeous visuals and painfully honest dialogue, Happy Together remains one of the most acclaimed and beloved queer films to ever be released.

  1. Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

Blue Is the Warmest Color is a vivid coming-of-age drama that follows a fifteen-year-old girl as she falls head-over-heels in love with an older blue-haired woman. This French romantic drama, which was directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, is notable for its unflinching exploration of adolescent sexuality, as well as its tenderness. Blue Is the Warmest Color is a landmark for its time for its honest and heart-wrenching portrayal of young queer love.

  1. Weekend (2011)

Weekend is a British drama that focuses on the unlikely and intimate connection between two men from the LGBTQ+ community. Through a series of intimate conversations and moments of connection, the two men open up about their respective pasts, dreams, disappointments and, ultimately, learn a great deal about themselves in the process. A powerful exploration of longing and connection, Weekend is a powerful celebration of queer love and desire.

  1. Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight is an Oscar-winning drama that follows a young black boy discovering his identity through an oppressive neighborhood, and later, through his powerful connection to a man who shelters him. Directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight uses a powerful blend of poignancy and grace to drive its narrative. This exquisite masterpiece was not only a commercial success but also a groundbreaking work for its tender and honest look at the experiences of queer people of color.

LGBTQ+ Films Push The Conversation Forward

From groundbreaking documentaries to heart-wrenching dramas, LGBTQ+ cinema has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the early twentieth century. While there is still much progress to be made, these films continue to push the conversation forward and give audiences a glimpse of the struggles and experiences of queer individuals around the world. We hope that this list of the best LGBTQ+ movies will provide you with a valuable perspective on LGBTQ+ cinema and its power to tell stories that challenge and engage.

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