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 which have impressed us with their stories. Many of these LGBTQ films have even turned out to be cult classics. It would also be noteworthy to mention here that many of these flicks have hit the screens only post 2010s, thus making this a golden era for LGBTQ movies.
However, most of them explore the simple (yet not so simple at times) question 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:
29. Evening Shadows (2018)
This 2018 film is set deep inside South India where 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 homosexual orientation, and naturally faces a massive backlash from his family. Even though the mother can accept this situation because of her love of her son, but her husband, their extended family, and the conservative society that they belong to would never accept Kartik’s homosexuality. This 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.
28. Growing Up Coy (2016)
One of the most moving documentaries in recent times, ‘Growing Up Coy’ centers around a little girl called Coy who had come out as a transgender when she was in kindergarten. Her parents were always very supportive of her, but the problem came from her school authorities when they restricted her rights to use the girls’ bathroom and instead wanted her to use the boys’ bathroom. The parents wouldn’t have any of this, and seeing no other way forward, the took the legal route. This caused them to come to the center of attention from international media, and the ruling ultimately came out in their favor. This documentary portrays their struggle with a lot of understanding and compassion, and makes their problem a talking point in the mainstream culture.
27. Below Her Mouth (2016)
Although many have termed ‘Below Her Mouth’ as only sexually motivated, it still makes a cut for one of the most popular and watched LGBT movies – mostly for the sexually explicit scenes, though. ‘Below Her Mouth’ is the narrative of two women – Jasmine and Dallas – who have a lesbian relationship and are neck deep into their worlds filled with sex, passion and an undying lust for each other. However self-indulgent the movie might seem, ‘Below Her Mouth’ still stands up to the sub-genre and is a definitive watch, for the viewers want to know which direction the story is moving towards. The film was widely slammed for being a directionless venture and for having a confusing, vague title, but it still has several memorable moments.
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26. I Am Michael (2015)
With an amazing performance by James Franco, this film holds a topic quite different and unconventional than most movies about homosexuality, whether man or woman. Here the character does the opposite journey we expect to see when thinking of sexual awakening and intimate understanding of oneself. In a way. 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. 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 chose and accept what to be or not to be.
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25. Strike A Pose (2016)
Madonna has always been known as controversy’s favorite child. She has defied expectations throughout her career and has always done things which kept her at the center of attention for the many decades that she has been reigning as the Queen of Pop. In this 2016 documentary, we take a look at Madonna’s infamous Blond Ambition World Tour of 1990 where she took along seven male dancers who performed with her all over the world. In the course of the tour, Madonna made her support of the gay movement known to her fans in whichever city she performed. Little did those seven dancers (six of whom belong to the LGBTQ community) know that back home, they would become icons of their community and inspirations for people to come out of their shells. This documentary takes a look at their lives 25 years after the tour. They have dealt with a number of issues which include homelessness and death even after achieving such fame.
24. 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. David’s mother is suffering from cancer and there is no one else in the house who can look after her like David. The biggest challenge for David to live with his family 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 with the kind of themes it is dealing with, it is very easy to fall into the trap of melodrama. But the film beautifully avoids that and manages to give the audience a wholesome experience.
23. People You May Know (2016)
A movie surrounding four individuals – Joe, Rodrigo, Delia and Herbert – and their off-again on-again relationships among each other, ‘People You May Know’ closely examines the sensitivity of gay and lesbian relationships and how heterosexuality causes a turmoil in between them. Delia and Rodrigo have been married to each other while Joe is gay and was in a relationship with Delia. Herbert is also gay and is having a relationship with another man. Soon, as it turns out, Joe and Delia hook up again, Rodrigo is infertile, Delia becomes pregnant with Joe’s child and Joe is dating another man named Tom. ‘People You May Know’ is one of the movies with relatable characters having fledgling trust and diminishing ties among each other.
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22. Paris Is Burning (1990)
One of the most famous and important documentaries on the LGBTQ community, 1990’s ‘Paris Is Burning’ chronicles the ball culture which became quite popular in New York in the 1980s. The ball culture is something that became quite popular with the LGBTQ community of the racial minorities of America, and it is this underground culture into which we get an all-penetrating look thanks to the efforts of Jennie Livingston, the director of this film. Surprisingly enough, the film received widely positive reviews from most publications, which was a rarity for films about the gay culture during the time when ‘Paris Is Burning’ released. The film is a very important document about the LGBTQ movement in America, as it gives a voice to the people who have been marginalized to the extreme.
21. 3 Generations (2015)
The title really emphasizes the number of troubled generations living within a house who badly miss the need for a manly presence in the house. Ray is a transgender female who is about to undergo a transition to the male gender. She lives in a house with her mother Maggie, who supports the transition, her grandma Dolly, who lives along with her lesbian partner in the same house. While Dolly is unsupportive of Ray’s transition initially, she later relents, feigning a man’s support is needed in the house.
To undergo the process of transition, Ray would also need the consent of her separated father, Craig, who she later finds out, is having a family of his own, away from his first family. Also, Ray comes to know that Craig couldn’t be her real father as Maggie also had a relationship with her uncle Matthew when she got pregnant. Towards the end, the family reconciles and Ray gets to go through the process of gender transition. ‘3 Generations’ highlights a very different aspect of one’s sexual orientation and is out of the league as far as LGBT movies are concerned.
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20. 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, in the past, they both have gone through a failed relationship and the weekend getaway gives them a perfect chance to bind together yet 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. With looming awkwardness, Jai decides to fly back to NYC, only after confessing his love for Sahil while Sahil reconciles with Alex. 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.
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19. To Each Her Own (2018)
A French original Netflix film, ‘To Each Her Own’ is the story of a woman called Simone who is yet to come out to her family after being in a lesbian relationship for three years. Simone’s father is someone quite conservative, while her brothers are always looking for potential boyfriends for her. In such a scenario, Simone finds it really difficult to even 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 in one hand, and with her parents and the new feelings of heterosexual love she has developed, Simone does not really know where to go. Despite trying hard, the film fails to make a mark upon the audiences because of its lazy writing. The film seems like a package of cliches, all of which have been poured into one container, churned up, and presented to the audience.
18. All In My Family (2019)
Documentary filmmaker Hao Wu has made his own family the subject of this 40-minute long 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.
17. 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 teenaged 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 found out that the father did not leave any money for his wife, and instead this money is to go to his same-sex partner. His wife is naturally furious with the entire thing and starts a quarrel with her husband’s same-sex partner. However, the son refuses to stand up for 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 which is close to reality.
16. 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 cross-dresser and 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 out the time from which she began discovering who she actually is. From the new clothes she 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.
15. 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’s been diagnosed with cancer, he 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, and he comes to know that Elliot is gay. Alex, while being doubtful about his own sexual orientation, comes out as gay in front of Claire, who decides to go with Alex on prom anyway. In the prom, Claire reveals that she had asked Elliot to be Alex’s date and they kiss each other for the first time. A coming-of-age film which is also inspiring for those who don’t want to be closeted anymore, ‘Alex Strangelove’ is going to melt your heart.
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14. Head On (1998)
A novel-based movie, ‘Head On’ describes the story of Ari, a sexually extroverted, yet closeted Greek gay man who lives in Melbourne. While Ari hates his parents, he also loathes the fact that they have been obsessive through his formative years. His perverse obsession for gay sex makes him go places and form sexual relationships with men and women alike, while his traditional parents are kept in dark continuously. Seemingly, there’s no end to his consistent abuse of sex and drugs. ‘Head On’ is often regarded as an awakening film for the Greeks and people of Greek descent and has thus far helped a lot of closeted teenagers come out openly as gay and lesbian.
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13. 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 gay rights activist Martha P. Johnson, while also examining her death in 1992 which is still clouded in mystery. Johnson was one of the most outspoken and popular gay rights activists in the movement’s history in the United States. She was also one of the leaders of the 1969 Stonewall uprisings where members of the LGBTQ community took to violence after police carried out raids at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. 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, 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.
12. Loving Annabelle (2006)
One of the rare teacher-student love stories, albeit in a lesbian context, ‘Loving Annabelle’ revolves around Annabelle, a belligerent daughter of a senator who is the newest entrant at a Catholic boarding school. Her dorm mates share varied personas and given her rule-breaking and outgoing nature, she begins to like her timid and introverted teacher Simone. While Simone is shown as a person who cares for her students and is very protective of them against the rules laid down by the Principal and the school, she is not very keen on Annabelle initially. After the spring break when Annabelle and Simone share some moments together, Simone could no longer hold her urges and her attraction towards Annabelle, who in turn is equally into her.
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11. 4th Man Out (2015)
A story revolving four men who are celebrating the 24th birthday of one of their friends, Adam, ‘4th Man Out’ is a hilarious take on friendships and how things transpire when one of them comes out as a gay. The “one of them” in the present case, a.k.a. the 4th Man Out is none other than Adam. Despite his initial reluctance, Adam manages to confess his sexuality to his friends and his friends find it difficult to accept initially and carefully weigh their mutual friendships which could take an ugly turn any moment. Hilarious and relatable, ‘4th Man Out’ is a promising story full of surprises.
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10. Princess Cyd (2017)
And now to one of the most acclaimed movies on this list, ‘Princess Cyd’ hits all the right notes throughout its length and doesn’t fail to impress. With a staggering score of 3.5 at Roger Ebert, the movie begins with a 16-year-old teenager named Cyd who leads a laid-back life along with her single father. During summer, she decides to take a break and visits her aunt Miranda in Chicago, who also happens to be a writer. When she reaches her aunt’s place, she meets up with Katie who works at a coffee bar. Soon, Cyd and Katie enter a relationship, with complete and unconditional support from Cyd’s aunt Miranda, who plays her part really well. ‘Princess Cyd’ not only opens the avenues of sexuality and sexual exploration to the viewers, but its portrayals are also realistic to the core – the most noteworthy aspect of the film.
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9. 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 that they plan to spend together, they are to have sex in every hour. Though the experiment starts off as planned, soon enough they realize that intimacy is something that cannot be created by such methods. Minimalistic in approach, the entire movie is shot within a single house and with mainly two characters. The movie has some of the most exquisitely shot lesbian sex scenes you will ever come across in film history. Despite all this, the film falls on its face as it is unable to hold on to a certain pace which is a prerequisite given there are so few things in the plot to work on.
8. Handsome Devil (2016)
In the midst of the profound and tragically dramatising films that deal with homosexuality, this one is a lighter drama with a heart-warming feeling that concludes with a happy ending and leaves the intimate sexual exploration aside. Ned, an outcasted bullied teenager, lives in a rugby-focused all boys boarding school and if that 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 won’t be accepted by the boys around them. The movie focuses on the different ways of dealing with oneself and the effects one’s surroundings can have, negatively and positively. A wonderful film topped with that enchanting Irish charm and a terrific performance by the lead actors, Fionn O’Shea and Nicholas Galitzine.
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7. Ana e Vitória (2018)
Ana and Vitória are two girls set in the backdrop of a musical extravaganza, 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 of 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.
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6. 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. The two historical characters in question, Elisa and Marcela are portrayed by Natalia de Molina and Greta Fernández. The story is set in the later years of the 19th century when these two women became friends and eventually started falling in love with each other. They spent a long time keeping their relationship a secret. It was only in 1901 that Elisa took 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 wer married to each other. Despite the premise of the film being so interesting and important, the treatment this story received at the hands of writer-director Isabel Coixet is underwhelming, to say the least. With half-baked characters and predictable scenes, she completely fails to engage the audiences into the lives of her two protagonists.
5. Holding The Man (2015)
Perhaps the LGBT sub genre’s equivalent of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, ‘Holding the Man’ is set between the late ’70s through the early ’90s and tells the story of John and Tim – two teenage boys who have been in love since their early adulthood. Based on a heart wrenching true love story, John and Tim’s love stands tall amid all the discriminations, bullying, separations, ridicule and belittlement; but HIV succeeds in tearing them apart. As the disease strikes both of them, they refuse to separate till death do them part. ‘Hold The Man’ is the recipient of multiple awards and accolades, especially for the performances, direction and editing, along with the best feature. Watch it before it slips off your hands.
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4. Milk (2008)
Directed by Gus Van Sant, this biopic on Harvey Milk is simply a masterpiece for its cinematic and very important educational aspect that shares a historical moment of the past, which is still very much alive in the present days. Milk was an American, a gay rights activist who reached a milestone in the history of homosexual repression and limitation by fighting for equality and change. His battle leads him to be the first-ever openly gay individual to be elected to public office, in this case, California. Intelligently handled, it is an inspiring movie lead by an incredible lead performance by Sean Penn and a great story construction filled with variety, depth, strength, and energy.
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3. God’s Own Country (2017)
A British drama, ‘God’s Own Country’ went on to receive critical acclaim at the time of its release and is considered one of the benchmarks of LGBTQ cinema. Set in Yorkshire, often also known as United Kingdom’s ‘God’s Own Country’, the movie begins with Johnny, a young lad who works on a farm and lives with his ailing father and grandmother. He is an aficionado for sex and drinking and his ignorance costs him a calf when his father reprimands him and they hire Gheorghe, an immigrant worker from Romania to look after farm work.
While Johnny and Gheorghe spend time with the sheep during the lambing season, they engage in a verbal duel followed by rough sex. Slowly, their relationship starts to simmer while Johnny’s father’s health keeps deteriorating. As it turns out, Gheorghe and Johnny have a verbal spat and Gheorghe leaves the place, only to come back and reconcile towards the end. For many, ‘God’s Own Country’ is a silent reminiscent of another masterpiece on a similar subject that was ‘Brokeback Mountain’.
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2. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Although ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ is not an LGBTQ movie at the outset, the reason why this has been included in the list is that it touches upon various aspects of HIV and the lives of many gay people who were the victims of the dreaded disease back in the day. The movie begins in the 1980s with electrician-cowboy Ron Woodroof who has been diagnosed with AIDS and is told that he has a month to live. Notwithstanding the statement, he sets himself on a drug-hunting spree to Mexico in search of AZT – the antiretroviral drug which hasn’t been approved by FDA yet.
He smuggles the drug into the US and forms a club, and starts selling the drug to gay men and people affected with AIDS – most notably Rayon (Jared Leto), a trans woman addicted to drugs who helps him sell the drug. Woodroof later dies seven years after his predicted date of death, thus falsifying FDA’s claims. ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ went on to win multiple Oscars, including Best Actor (Matthew McConaughey) and Best Supporting Actor (Jared Leto). You can now decide for yourself whether you should watch the film or not.
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1. Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)
Be it one of the sexiest, explicit, emotional or sultriest movies on Netflix, ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ has the unique distinction of being all of them at once. This is an intense piece of a cinematic explosion that touches a deep spot, hard to attain by most movies in this world. There is simply nothing else to say about the two main actresses’ perfect performances other than the fact that they are what make this movie the masterpiece that it is.
The plot line is simple: it follows a teenage girl named Adèle who meets blue-haired and confident Emma, who will guide her in finding her true self. A love story at its purest. It explores the complexity of human beings on their own and affiliated with others, where Adèle suffers ups and downs on her journey as she seeks to understand herself and her life. The relationship between the two girls is strong, tumultuous, passionate, gentle and heartbreaking at once. Trust me when I say that the beauty in this movie has the incredible ability to leave a mark on its viewers for a long, long time.
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