131 Best LGBTQ+ Stories to Watch (Page 9)

Staff & contributors

This section includes movies where at least one of the main characters doesn’t identify as heterosexual or cisgender. Our goal is to showcase movies on popular streaming services that portray the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ communities across the world. These experiences are an integral part of human history but only recently are starting to be told in mainstream film.

Esteros revolves around the childhood friends Matías and Jerónimo, who reach adolescence and experience sexual attraction to each other before being separated by circumstance. When they meet again ten years later, they explore their long-repressed feelings for each other. 

This moving and emotionally satisfying love story is shot against the backdrop of the Argentinian countryside whose glories are beautifully captured throughout the movie. The performance of the two leads is excellent and the chemistry between them is almost palpable. 

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Blas Finardi Niz, Esteban Masturini, Felipe Titto, Ignacio Rogers, Joaquín Parada, Marcelo Subiotto, María Merlino, Mariana Martinez, Renata Calmon

Director: Papu Curotto

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Director Rachel Mason’s first documentary is an amusing study of accidental allies. Her mother Karen insists that there are better subjects for the film, but what would be better than the mom-and-pop bookstore that sells sex toys and gay pornography? The subject alone is inherently interesting, as these mild-mannered Jewish parents describe their unintentional journey through day-to-day selling and distribution. However, Mason is able to expand her discussion by contrasting her parents’ actions against the wider conservative moves done by the US government in the 1980s. Amidst censorship and epidemics, Circus of Books stood as a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community, made possible by her parents. In learning about the store, we (and Mason) learn more about her parents. While their job choice was unplanned, the journey of accepting those other than themselves is one that we all should take.

Genre: Documentary, Drama, History

Actor: Alaska Thunderfuck, Jeff Stryker, Larry Flynt

Director: Rachel Mason

Rating: Not Rated

Bree (Felicity Huffman) is an uptight transwoman who gets a phone call from her long lost son who is in trouble. She does not tell him she is his father but bails him out of jail and they end up on a long road trip to LA. Bree's high strung conservative personality intersecting with a wild young man and people they meet along the way leads to some comical situations. Felicity Huffman's performance is excellent. It is enjoyable to watch the characters develop over the film.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Amy Povich, Andrea James, Bianca Leigh, Burt Young, Calpernia Addams, Carrie Preston, Craig Bockhorn, Danny Burstein, Elizabeth Peña, Elizabeth Peña, Felicity Huffman, Fionnula Flanagan, Forrie J. Smith, Graham Greene, Grant Monohon, Jim Frangione, Jon Budinoff, Kevin Zegers, Maurice Orozco, Paul Borghese, Raynor Scheine, Richard Poe, Stella Maeve, Steve Hurwitz, Teala Dunn, Venida Evans

Director: Duncan Tucker

Rating: R

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A beautiful and subtle masterpiece exploring the life of Alike, a teen in Brooklyn navigating her identity as a gay black girl. Caught between the traditional world of her family and the butch and sexual world of her friend who has already come out, director Dee Rees allows the audience to see the trials and tribulations of Alike's attempts to be comfortable and sure of herself.  It's a moving and raw coming-of-age story with many characters in the film being quite lovable and relatable making it easy for the viewer to become attached.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Aasha Davis, Adepero Oduye, Afton Williamson, Charles Parnell, Jeremie Harris, Joey Auzenne, Kim Sykes, Kim Wayans, Ozzie Stewart, Pernell Walker, Raymond Anthony Thomas, Rob Morgan, Sahra Mellesse, Samuel Encarnacion, Shamika Cotton, Stephanie Andujar, Zabryna Guevara

Director: Dee Rees

Rating: R

Shot as a single day, it tells the story of college professor George (Colin Firth) who, unable to cope with the death of his partner months prior, resolves to commit suicide. The movie is not all dark, however, there are moving, deeply human encounters as George moves through his last day. Fashion designer Tom Ford's directorial debut and set in 1960s Los Angeles, it speaks powerfully of the colour-stripping effects of grief and loneliness. Fantastic performance also by Julianne Moore as Charley, an equally lonely and desperate character, but with a markedly different story. A Single Man is a gorgeous film in every sense of the word.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Aaron Sanders, Adam Shapiro, Colin Firth, Elisabeth Harnois, Erin Daniels, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jenna Gavigan, Jon Hamm, Jon Kortajarena, Julianne Moore, Keri Lynn Pratt, Lee Pace, Matthew Goode, Melissa Goodwin Shepherd, Nicholas Hoult, Nicole Steinwedell, Paul Butler, Paulette Lamori, Ridge Canipe, Ryan Simpkins, Teddy Sears, Tricia Munford

Director: Tom Ford

Rating: R

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The atmosphere communicated within the title Hurricane Season comes off incredibly clearly on screen: this is a film that just feels humid and full of foreboding for a coming storm, with people feeling all manner of guilt while secluded in their own homes. Cinematographer María Secco's gorgeous colors and brown tones fill the 4:3 aspect ratio nicely, and director Elisa Miller lets events unfold with the stately pace of a long novel. There's something fascinating here about how each new "chapter" or perspective doesn't really lead to more answers, but simply to more anguish closing in from all sides.

So it would be understandable if some may be put off by how unrelentingly dark Hurricane Season is, especially as the trans woman whose death becomes the central event never enjoys the kind of characterization everybody around her gets. Apart from how the film illustrates that discrimination against women, against repressed "taboo" sexuality, and against access to proper reproductive health only threatens to grow under poverty, it can be difficult to grasp what point the movie is trying to make. Social realism certainly has its place in cinema, but the different perspective in this particular film still don't add up to more than the sum of its parts.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Andrés Cordaz, Edgar Treviño, Flor Eduarda Gurrola, Guss Morales, Kat Rigoni, Paloma Alvamar, Said Sandoval

Director: Elisa Miller

Rating: R

Right off the bat, Bad Things looks gorgeous. Shot in 16mm, it plays with dreamy pastels and 1970s aesthetics, all while having its all-queer cast roam around the hotel’s haunted halls in mesmerizing ways. The setup is straightforward, but not too obvious: Ruthie’s problems with her girlfriend and her mother are exacerbated by the hotel’s strange and haunted aura. At this point, Bad Things hints at being an arthouse, slasher, and psychological thriller all at once, fueling anticipation for what’s to come. But as it moves along, nothing noteworthy happens. The awkward chase scenes and the overdramatic reveals kill whatever momentum the film has built, but the real problem is that it tries to juggle too many things at once. It’s creepy, but never achieves true-fright status. It’s bloody, but never fully commits to the gore. It’s smart and weird, but never goes beyond answering the very questions it poses. It’s happy to leave a lot of things unanswered, which in turn leaves us all confused, much less satisfied with what we’ve just sat through. 

Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller

Actor: Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Gayle Rankin, Hari Nef, Jared Abrahamson, Molly Ringwald

Director: Stewart Thorndike

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Nuovo Olimpo is stunning, atmospheric, and the very concept of the film – where lost love intersects with Italian cinema – is an interesting one. Starting the film’s relationship at a specific movie theater feels reminiscent of Cinema Paradiso, especially as Enea’s path mirrors Salvatore becoming a famous director. However, the film doesn’t really dive deep into this concept, nor does it add much to say with its gay romance. There’s something here about the relationship between the creator and the viewer that is undeniably interlinked, and there’s a hope that they can meet in the middle. But when the film doesn’t care about the couple’s individual paths, there are times it feels like it’s just going through the motions.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Aglaia Mora, Andrea Di Luigi, Aurora Giovinazzo, Damiano Gavino, Giancarlo Commare, Greta Scarano, Loredana Cannata, Luisa Ranieri

Director: Ferzan Özpetek

Rating: R

Composed of archival footage of the titular musical legend and testimonials from those who worked with him or whose lives were profoundly impacted by his courage, Little Richard: I Am Everything feels comprehensive but is also oddly lacking. The documentary makes a bold, confident claim: that all popular music today can be directly traced to his work. And when the film lets itself get into full music nerd mode, it's easy to be convinced. But after you accept that perspective on Little Richard, the rest of the movie seems like it's just spinning its wheels, covering key moments in the artist's life and career without really challenging or substantiating long-held ideas about him.

Chief among these is Little Richard's shifting feelings toward his own queerness—proudly expressing his true self one year, then openly denouncing his own homosexuality the next. This subject matter is ripe for difficult but insightful analysis, which the film just never gets around to. It begins to feel like the believes there is no more discussion to be had about him. And that may very well be true; he deserves the flowers that were denied him for so long. But this attitude doesn't necessarily make for the best documentary.

Genre: Documentary, Music

Actor: Alan Freed, Billy Porter, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, John Waters, Little Richard, Mick Jagger, Pat Boone, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Valerie June

Director: Lisa Cortés

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While the film attempts to depict teenage sexuality, Dear David misses the mark due to certain plot points. At the heart of the film, Dear David is all about expression – that teenagers actively seek for ways to explore their sexuality like fanfiction, photos, and clothing. In taking on this premise, the hope for these kids would be to be able to to express these feelings through safe and constructive spaces. But because the film only presents Laras’ work as porn without plot, her relationship with David doesn’t feel like it stems from genuine affection. David isn’t characterized as popular enough for everyone to have a good concept of him, to have a positive canon narrative about him, and so, as Laras’ work spreads, it’s only his objectified self people have in mind. Her creative work comes across as some form of sexual harassment, rather than innocent expression.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Agnes Naomi, Caitlin North Lewis, Chanceline Ebel, Claudy Putri, Emir Mahira, Frans Nicholas, Izabel Jahja, Jenny Zhang, Lutesha, Natalius Chendana, Palestina Irtiza, Restu Sinaga, Ricky Saldan, Shenina Cinnamon

Director: Lucky Kuswandi