Movies with authentic LGBTQIA+ stories at the forefront were once a rarity in the entertainment industry. While the big screen is still dominated by the straights, more films than ever are embracing queer narratives and telling stories that aren’t solely about death and despair. What! A! Concept! Like our extensive listicle for Netflix’s LGBTQIA+ shows, we’ve collected some of the best queer movies that you can watch right now on the (UK) streaming service, from the black comedy stylings of Do Revenge to the romantic rugby romp In From the Side.
I Am Jonas (2019)
I Am Jonas is a French coming-of-age drama that intertwines two moments in the life of a man called Jonas (Félix Maritaud): in 1995, when he was a secretive and closeted teen, and 18 years later, as a self-destructive thirty-something with an addiction to cigarettes and Tetris. The emotionally tense film tackles themes surrounding identity, addiction, acceptance, internalised homophobia and toxic masculinity.
Starring Jack Lowden (and later Peter Capaldi) as Siegfried Sassoon, Benediction tells the story of the famed British poet whose anti-war stance notoriously culminated in his admission to a military psychiatric hospital. The melancholic biographical drama, directed by acclaimed British filmmaker Terence Davies, doesn’t shy away from Sassoon’s queerness as it hones in on the combat veteran’s gay love affairs with Ivor Novello (Jeremy Irvine), Stephen Tennant (Calam Lynch) and Glen Byam Shaw (Tom Blyth), as well as his conversion to Catholicism. Thanks to Lowden’s tender and complex performance, we come to understand his inner conflict with his sexuality and art at a time that rejected the very existence of LGBTQIA+ identities, while Capaldi shines as a tormented older version of Sassoon who’s turned to religion for meaning. Davies has always injected himself into his works, but it’s Sassoon’s need for redemption that makes Benediction one of his most autobiographical films to date.
The Boys in the Band (2020)
Directed by Joe Mantello and produced by Ryan Murphy, David Stone and Ned Martel, The Boys in the Band is based on the 1968 off-Broadway production of the same name from the late Mart Crowley. Stars from the 2018 Broadway revival who reprise their roles in the film include Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington, Robin de Jesús and Tuc Watkins. Although the film is set in 1968, it surprisingly holds modern relevance as the characters delve into issues that still plague the LGBTQIA+ community today, such as shame, self-hatred and internalised homophobia. The 2020 adaptation continues to tell the story of several gay men at a house party, whose evenings are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of an unexpected guest.
Circus of Books (2020)
Directed by Rachel Mason, Circus of Books tells the story of her conservative Jewish parents who operated one of the most prolific gay porn empires in the United States for more than 30 years. The film showcases how the Masons dealt with their son coming out as gay and how their store provided the LGBTQIA+ community in Los Angeles a space to socialise and celebrate themselves without judgement. It’s a story that hasn’t been told, and reminded us all of the power of safe spaces and chosen families.
The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson (2017)
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson follows American LGBTQIA+ rights activist and retired domestic violence counsellor, Victoria Cruz, as she investigates the death of Marsha P. Johnson, one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. A founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, Marsha devoted her life as an outspoken advocate for trans people of colour, and established STAR (Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries) alongside fellow activist Sylvia Rivera to help homeless transgender youth in New York City. In 1992, at the age of 46, Marsha was found dead in the Hudson river, which police ruled as a suicide. However, Marsha’s friends, including Sylvia, believe that she was murdered.
Disclosure created a much-discussed discussion around trans visibility, exploring Hollywood’s depiction of the community and the impact of their stories on transgender lives and American culture. Featuring stars such as Laverne Cox, Trace Lysette, Angelica Ross, Rain Valdez, Jen Richards, Candis Cayne and Brian Michael Smith, the documentary unpacks decades of inauthentic representation while outlining how much progress still needs to be made.
Do Revenge (2022)
An homage to teen classics like Cruel Intentions, Jawbreaker and Mean Girls, Netflix’s black comedy Do Revenge immediately captured the attention of viewers – particularly Gay Twitter – thanks to the bonkers twists, 90s-inspired aesthetic and sapphic chemistry between leads Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke. Buffy the Vampire Slayer stans also united with Sarah Michelle Gellar’s long-awaited screen comeback as the scene-stealing Headmaster, who was – fun fact – based on her iconic Cruel Intentions villain Kathryn Merteuil. SMG trimming her bonsai tree to relieve stress was high camp at its finest! The Netflix film also contributed some much-needed queer rep to mainstream teen flicks with Hawke’s fan-favourite con-woman Eleanor, who teams up with queen bee Drea (Mendes) to enact vengeance against their tormentors. Drea wants to punish her ex-boyfriend for leaking an intimate video while Eleanor is determined to destroy the girl who spread a false rumour that she forcibly kissed her. Do Revenge is the best queer teen film since 2019’s Booksmart, and will deservedly be recognised as a classic of the genre in years to come.
In From The Side (2022)
We received the gay rugby drama we need and deserve thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and the vision of director/writer and former rugby coach Matt Carter. In From The Side stars Emmerdale’s Alexander Lincoln as Mark, an inexperienced new recruit on the B team at a gay rugby club who has a drunken encounter with Warren (Alexander King), the star player on the A team. With both men in long-term relationships and Warren’s partner on the same team, he and Mark inadvertently put the future of the rugby club at risk as they embark on a steamy, passionate affair. Carter’s directorial boasts well-written characters and strong performances from the two leads, and refreshingly, doesn’t conform to tropes normally associated with queerness and sports. Forbidden romance aside, In From The Side simply depicts the lives of people who play rugby together and just-so happen to be gay. No homophobia. No dramatic coming-out sequence. In 2022, that’s still – sadly – quite rare.
The Inspection (2022)
In one of 2022’s most compelling and raw performances, Jeremy Pope stars in The Inspection as a Black gay man who becomes homeless after his homophobic mother (played to perfection by Gabrielle Union) disowns him. Based on the real-life experiences of writer and director Elegance Bratton, who makes his feature-length directorial debut here, Ellis is forced to enlist in the Marines and conceal his sexuality at a time when the military still operated under Clinton’s archaic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. While the narrative feels familiar – a troubled person enters the military, is cruelly targeted by a senior soldier, considers leaving but perseveres and feels more complete as a result – The Inspection’s emphasis on the Black LGBTQIA+ experience and years of institutionalised homophobia in the military distincts itself from others in the same genre. Pope deservedly received his first-ever Golden Globe nomination for the performance.
Fear Street (2021)
The horror genre received a much-needed queer makeover with the arrival of Leigh Janiak’s blockbuster trio of Fear Street films, based on R. L. Stine’s beloved teenage novels of the same name. The fantasy-slashers, released over a span of three weeks on Netflix, stars Kiana Madeira and Olivia Scott Welch as Deena and Sam, star-crossed lesbian lovers who attempt to break an ancient curse that has doomed their hometown of Shadyside for centuries. The series received widespread acclaim for its performances, writing and entertainment value, but it was ultimately Madeira and Welch’s groundbreaking couple that was singled out for praise by critics and viewers due to the notorious lack of mainstream LGBTQIA+ representation in the horror genre. Additional stars include Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke and Sadie Sink.
The Half Of It (2020)
Nancy Drew’s Leah Lewis stars as Ellie Chu, a shy and introverted Asian-American student who agrees to help the school jock (Daniel Diemer) woo his crush. Plot twist alert: Ellie likes her too. Netflix’s official synopsis states: “In the process, each teaches the other about the nature of love as they find connection in the most unlikely of places.” The Half Of It received highly positive reviews upon release and won the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.
Based on ND Stevenson’s graphic novel, Nimona is set in a Middle Ages-inspired world. Riz Ahmed voices Ballister Boldheart, a knight who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit. He teams up with Nimona, a chaotic teen and shapeshifting creature who is his best chance at redeeming his name. Twist is, Nimona is the kind of creature that Ballister has been trained to destroy. The animated epic features various LGBTQIA+ themes: Ballister is a gay and in a relationship with fellow knight Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Lee Yang), while Nimona’s abilities are widely seen as an allegory for trans identity.
The Old Guard (2020)
The Old Guard focuses on a squad of centuries-old immortals and mercenaries – led by a hardened warrior called Andy (Charlize Theron) – who have the mysterious inability to die. The team’s mission of protecting the mortal world is thrown off balance with the awakening of the first new immortal in centuries (Kiki Layne), and the emergence of a new threat seeking to replicate and monetize their power. The Old Guard received praise from critics for Theron’s leading performance and the same-sex storyline between Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli’s characters, Joe and Nicky, due to the significant lack of LGBTQIA+ representation in the action genre.
Other People (2016)
A semi-autobiographical look at director Chris Kelly’s family, Other People focuses on David Mulcahey (Jesse Plemons), a 29-year-old gay man who moves back home to Sacramento to take care of his mother, Joanne (Molly Shannon), who is in the advanced stages of leiomyosarcoma. There, he faces the homophobia of his religious and ultra-conservative family while dealing with the inevitable death of his mother.
The Perfection (2019)
Get Out and Girls alum Allison Williams returns to the horror genre as Charlotte, a talented but troubled cellist who travels to Shanghai to reconnect with her former mentor Anton (Steven Weber), who runs a cello competition alongside his wife Paloma (Alaina Huffman). There, she meets another of Anton’s students Lizzie (Logan Browning), and the two quickly become friends. After forming a sexual relationship, Charlotte agrees to accompany Lizzie across rural China, which is soon followed by gore and terror. If you’re squeamish, don’t watch. If you’re not, enjoy!
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire made history when it screened at the Cannes Film Festival, with Céline Sciamma becoming the first ever female director to win the coveted Queer Palm award. Set in France in the late 18th century, the historical drama tells the story of a forbidden love affair between Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) an aristocrat, and Marianne (Noemie Merlant), a painter commissioned to paint her portrait. Sciamma’s minimalist storytelling really pays off in a moving film that explores the forbidden relationship between the two women, from Marianne painting Héloïse before the couple’s first kiss as their relationship steadily grows more intense.
Pray Away (2021)
Produced and directed by Kristine Stolakis, with Jason Blum and Ryan Murphy on executive producer duties, Pray Away follows survivors and former leaders of LGBTQIA+ conversion therapy – which refers to any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and often involves cruel techniques such as electroshock therapy or prayer. The powerful film exposes the lies of the harmful practice, the immeasurable power of religious belief and its power to destroy countless lives – in this case, the lives of those within the LGBTQIA+ community.
The Prom (2020)
This Broadway adaptation follows four struggling actors as they travel to the conservative town of Edgewater, Indiana, to help a lesbian student (Jo Ellen Pellman) who has been banned from bringing her girlfriend (Ariana DeBose) to prom. It’s not as simple as that, however, as their main objective is to repair their scorned public image and renew interest in their flailing careers. Meryl Streep leads the cast as Dee Dee Allen, a narcissistic Tony Award-winning actress, Nicole Kidman follows suit as Angie Dickinson, a life-long chorus girl craving more, Andrew Rannells as Trent Oliver, a Juilliard-actor-turned-bartender, and James Corden as an actor in financial ruin.
A Secret Love (2020)
This emotional documentary focuses on the 65-year-long secret relationship between baseball star Terry Donahue and her partner Pat Henschel, as well as the challenges they face coming out later in life. It recalls when Terry and Pat met for the first time, through their professional lives in Chicago, coming out to their conservative families and deciding whether or not to get married. “Facing the hardships of ageing and illness,” the synopsis reads, “their love proves resilient as they enter the home stretch.”
Single All The Way (2021)
Netflix made history with Single All The Way, their first ever Christmas film focusing on a gay romance. The rom-com follows Peter (Michael Urie) as he persuades his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to pose as his boyfriend on a trip home for the holidays to avoid his family’s judgement about his perpetual single status. With no presence of homophobia in the storyline and hilarious supporting performances from Kathy Najimy and Jennifer Coolidge, Single All The Way is on its way to becoming an LGBTQIA+ Christmas classic.