LGBTQ movies have always had a wide spectrum — from teenage romances to high-school love interests to individuals on the verge of exploring their sexuality and orientation. Filmmakers have so far demonstrated a good understanding of the sensitivity of the subject matter. We’ve witnessed a great deal of LGBTQ movies that have impressed us with their stories. Many of these films have even become cult classics. It would also be noteworthy to mention that many of these flicks have hit the screens only post the 2010s, thus making this a golden era for LGBTQ movies.
However, most of them touch upon the simple (yet not so simple at times) theme of self-discovery and sexual identity that this subject naturally includes. The freedom in which some characters are luckily born into is, unfortunately, lower than the oppression and secrecy others have to face. Regardless, they all matter and deserve the viewer’s attention. With all that said, here’s the list of really good Lesbian and gay movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now:
20. Evening Shadows (2018)
The film is set deep inside South India, where many people live staunchly conservative lives and any kind of subversion from the same is considered a massive sin. In such a condition, the central character of the film, Kartik (Devansh Doshi), tells his mother about his sexual orientation, and naturally faces a massive backlash from his family. Even though the mother can accept this because of her love for her son, her husband, their extended family, and the conservative society would never accept Kartik’s sexuality.
The 2018 film becomes especially important in the Indian context because Indian families and neighborhoods are rather close-knit and someone’s personal decisions also get affected by what these people might think. ‘Evening Shadows’ is a very important film in the Indian context and deals with matters almost every Indian family has to deal with.
Read More: Best Christian Movies on Netflix
19. I Am Michael (2015)
This film holds a different and unconventional topic than most movies about sexual freedom. Here the character embarks on a journey opposite from what we expect to see when thinking of sexual exploration and intimate understanding of oneself. Based on a true-life story, Franco portrays the character of Michael Glatze, a gay activist who at first fought for this community’s right and position only to find himself rejecting this lifestyle and sexual orientation by changing and becoming a straight Christian pastor.
With an amazing performance by James Franco and Zachary Quinto, the movie portrays the story with dignity, without judging its characters, their motivations, and decisions. In the end, what matters is the freedom each one should have to choose and accept what to be or not to be.
Read More: Best Zombie Movies on Netflix
18. Other People (2016)
Written and directed by Chris Kelly, ‘Other People’ is a film starring Jesse Plemons as a comedy writer called David who has come home to live with his parents and siblings after breaking up with his boyfriend. His mother has cancer and there is no one else in the house who can look after her like David. The biggest challenge for David is the fact that his father is an extremely conservative man and has not yet been able to come to terms with David’s sexuality, even a decade after David came out to him.
We follow this family from close quarters as David’s mother’s health slowly deteriorates after she refuses chemotherapy. Grief and dissatisfaction manifest themselves in various ways in this film, and that is exactly what the filmmaker wishes to capture. The best thing about ‘Other People’ is that it is very easy to fall into the trap of melodrama with the kind of themes it is dealing with, but the film beautifully avoids that and manages to give the audience a wholesome experience.
Read More: Best 80s Movies on Netflix
17. Ride or Die (2021)
Inspired by Ching Nakamura’s manga series, ‘Ride or Die’ is a Japanese romance drama film that features stand-out performances by Kiko Mizuhara, Honami Sato, Yoko Maki, Shunsuke Tanaka, and Anne Suzuki. The Ryuichi Hiroki directorial Rei centers upon an attractive woman in her 20s who decides to help her friend Nanae. The latter is struggling with domestic abuse, but instead of seeking help from the law enforcement authorities, Rei kills her classmate’s husband. Although Nanae is initially disgusted by the heinous crime, she eventually turns to Rei for love and affection, which marks the beginning of an intense affair between the two women.
Read More: Worst Movies on Netflix
16. Loev (2015)
A crowdfunded Indian film made on a relatively paltry budget of a million dollars, ‘Loev’ is the story of Sahil and Jai, who’re childhood friends. While Sahil is a struggling musician, Jai is well-off with an offshore business to take care of. They both embark on a weekend getaway trip to the Western Ghats and Mahabaleshwar in India as Jai is in Mumbai on a business trip.
Apparently, they both have gone through a failed relationship in the past, and the weekend getaway gives them a perfect chance to bind their bond together again. After a set of initial quarrels, they meet over a dinner where Alex, Sahil’s boyfriend, also shows up, which complicates the matter further. One of the few handfuls of gay movies as far as Indian cinema is concerned, ‘Loev’ was praised by critics and audiences alike as a milestone and a benchmark feature film.
Read More: Best Stoner Movies on Netflix
15. To Each, Her Own (2018)
A French original Netflix film, ‘To Each, Her Own’ is the story of Simone, who has yet to come out to her family after being in a lesbian relationship for three years. Simone’s father is quite conservative, while her brothers are always looking for potential boyfriends for her. In such a scenario, Simone finds it really difficult even to start a conversation regarding her sexuality. The problems in her life only deepen when Simone falls in love with a brilliant Senegalese cook who is a man.
Now with her girlfriend of three years on the one hand and her parents and the new feelings of heterosexual love she has developed on the other, Simone does not really know where to go. The film seems like an entertaining package of cliches, all of which have been poured into one container, churned up, and presented to the audience.
14. All In My Family (2019)
Documentary filmmaker Hao Wu made his own family the subject of this 40-minute Netflix original documentary. The film centers around how he manages to introduce his boyfriend and their two children to his traditionalist Chinese family. We get one of the most intimate looks possible at a man coming out to his family and how they react to the situation. Hao’s family finds it difficult to adjust to the fact that their son now has a husband. But the two kids are so adorable that no one can turn their eyes away from them. Through someone’s personal experience, the film looks at a much larger problem in society.
Read More: Best Motivational Movies on Netflix
13. Dear Ex (2018)
A Taiwanese comedy-drama film, ‘Dear Ex’ is a Netflix original film directed by Mag Hsu and Hsu Chih-yen. The story of the film centers around a teenage boy whose mother asks him to help her revive the amount she thinks she owes from an insurance company after the death of her husband. However, it is soon revealed that the father did not leave any money for his wife, and this money is to go to his gay partner instead.
The wife is naturally furious with the entire thing and starts a quarrel with her husband’s lover. However, the son refuses to side with his mother and instead advocates the man’s claim to the money. The film is dramatic and funny at the same time and also boasts of some brilliant performances. The directors beautifully avoid melodrama and provide us with a film that is close to reality.
Read More: Best Stoner Movies on Netflix
12. Laerte-se (2016)
Laerte Coutinho is one of the most popular Brazilin cartoonists of all time, and this documentary takes a look at her life when finally, at the age of 58, she came out to the world as a transgender woman. Interestingly enough, the inner workings of the mind of Coutinho are depicted in the documentary using comic strips similar to her own works. The documentary takes a rather intimate look at her life, detailing the time she began embracing who she actually is.
From the new clothes Laerte chose to wear to the way she came out to the public in several interviews – all such details of her life are intricately laid out in this documentary. This is one of the most personal explorations of a person’s journey into accepting her sexuality and is a must-see for audiences who wish to gain more knowledge about the LGBTQ community and the movement in general.
11. Alex Strangelove (2018)
A comedy-drama at the outset, ‘Alex Strangelove’ is the story of Alex Truelove, a high school student who is best friends with his long-time acquaintance Claire. As he loses the support of his mother as she is diagnosed with cancer, Alex begins an affair with Claire, who in turn is seemingly interested in him as well. As they plan on having their first sexual encounter, Alex meets up with Elliot at a party.
Alex, who has been doubtful about his own sexual orientation, begins second-guessing his relationship with Claire upon learning that Elliot is gay. A coming-of-age film that is also inspiring, ‘Alex Strangelove’ is going to melt your heart.
Read More: Best Weird Movies on Netflix
10. Lovesong (2017)
So Yong Kim’s ‘Lovesong’ is a drama movie that revolves around Sarah, a married woman neglected by her husband, who decides to go on an adventurous trip with her daughter and a friend named Mindy. Sarah hopes that the experience will help her relax, but she gets much more than she had initially bargained for when the protagonist develops an attraction towards Mindy. Her feelings are reciprocated, but after the trip, the duo is pushed further apart because of their life situations. But several years down the line, with Mindy’s wedding just a few days away, Sarah tries to rekindle their relationship.
Read More: Best Holiday Movies on Netflix
9. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)
Directed by David France, this 2017 Netflix original documentary examines the life of the iconic New York LGBTQ+ rights activist Martha P. Johnson. It also throws light on her tragic death in 1992, which is still clouded in mystery. Johnson was one of the most outspoken and popular activists in the LGBTQ+ movement’s history in the United States. She was also one of the leaders of the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
Johnson’s corpse was found floating in the Hudson River on July 6, 1992. Although presumed to be a suicide, it is widely believed by many that she was actually murdered. In 2016, trans activist Victoria Cruz called for reopening the case after discovering some more details about the murder. It is her findings that have found their way to this documentary.
Read More: Sexiest Shows on Netflix
8. The Half of It (2020)
Directed, written, and co-produced by Alice Wu, ‘The Half of It’ is a coming-of-age comedy-drama film. The Leah Lewis and Daniel Diemer-starrer film follows Ellie Chu, an intelligent teenager who loves to make a quick buck by helping her fellow classmates with homework. Although she has no friends, the teenager is approached by the talented football player Paul Munsky with a strange assignment one day. He asks Ellie to write a love letter to Aster Flores, and the straight-A student eventually ends up helping him woo his love interest. But there is a twist; the protagonist also secretly develops a crush on Aster, which complicates her decision as Paul’s wingman.
Read More: Best Documentaries on Netflix
7. The Prom (2020)
Starring Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, and Keegan-Michael Key, ‘The Prom’ is a musical comedy film inspired by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin’s 2018 Broadway musical. The Ryan Murphy directorial follows down-on-luck Broadway stars struggling on personal and professional fronts but still have a deep desire to help others.
When the stars learn that a teenager named Emma Nolan has been blamed for the cancellation of the school prom because she wanted to bring a girl to the dance, these outspoken entertainers rally behind her to make her day. But can they force the school administration to twist the rules so that it can accommodate Emma?
Read More: Best Sci Fi Movies on Netflix
6. Duck Butter (2018)
An experimental romantic film, ‘Duck Butter’ is the story of two women who have decided to spice up their lives by going through all the nuances of a romantic relationship within the span of a single day. They want to execute this plan after having gone through several relationships which have ended on bitter notes for both of them. There is another interesting feature to their experiment – within the 24 hours they plan to spend together, they are to have sex every hour.
Though the experiment starts off as planned, the lovers soon realize that intimacy is something that such methods cannot create. Minimalistic in approach, the entire movie is shot within a single house with mainly two characters. Apart from the intriguing plot, the movie has some of the most exquisitely shot lesbian sex scenes you will ever come across in film history.
5. Handsome Devil (2016)
In the midst of the profound and tragically dramatizing films that deal with acceptance of one’s sexuality, this one is a lighter drama with a heart-warming feeling that concludes with a happy ending and leaves the intimate sexual exploration aside. It revolves around a social outcast teen named Ned who lives in a rugby-focused all-boys boarding school. If all the bullying wasn’t already enough, his life only gets worse when he is obliged to share a room with Conor, the new rugby star.
However, the two start bonding and form a friendship that the boys around them won’t accept. The movie focuses on the different ways of dealing with oneself and the effects one’s surroundings can have — negatively and positively. ‘Handsome Devil’ is a wonderful film topped with that enchanting Irish charm and a terrific performance by the lead actors, Fionn O’Shea and Nicholas Galitzine.
Read More: Best Teen Movies on Netflix
4. Ana e Vitória (2018)
Set in the backdrop of a musical extravaganza, the film centers upon Ana and Vitória who meet each other by chance and fall for each other almost instantaneously. Parties, dance, and music form an integral part of this lesbian romance which also comprises some steamy sequences and a few tragic overtures. Additionally, the beauty of the formative duration of a relationship is impeccably and convincingly portrayed throughout – perhaps the best feature of the film. Watch it for some of the best performances as far as South American Spanish movies are concerned.
Read More: Funniest Movies on Netflix
3. Elisa and Marcela (2019)
Based on a true story, this film tells one of the most important love stories in the history of the LGBTQ movement in Spain. It chronicles the forbidden love story of two historical characters in question — Elisa and Marcela. The story is set in the later years of the 19th century when these two women become friends and eventually start falling in love with each other. They spend a long time keeping their relationship a secret. It is only in 1901 that Elisa takes up the identity of a man in order to marry Marcela, thus marking their relationship as the first time in Spanish history that two women got married to each other.
Read More: Best Romantic Movies on Netflix
2. The Boys in the Band (2020)
Based on Mart Crowley’s play of the same name, ‘The Boys in the Band’ is a drama film that stars Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, and Andrew Rannells. The Joe Mantello directorial is set in late 60s New York and revolves around a group of men who gather for a raucous birthday party at a time when gay couples were discriminated against. While everything is going on just as the friends had planned, things take a turn for the worse when their college classmate shows up at the party. He forces everyone to confront their long-buried truths, which leads to several emotional and moving confessions.
Read More: Best Holocaust Movies on Netflix
1. Your Name Engraved Herein (2020)
Featuring talented actors like Edward Chen, Tseng Jing-Hua, and Leon Dai, ‘Your Name Engraved Herein’ is a Taiwanese romantic drama directed by Patrick Kuang-Hui Liu. The film is set in late 80s Hong Kong, where LGBTQ+ relationships are frowned upon, and people are even ostracized from society for it. However, when Jia-han and Birdy fall in love, they do not give in to the social and family pressure. But how long can their relationship survive the relentless scrutiny?
Read More: Best Transgender Movies of All Time