The queers haven’t had it easy when it comes to representation. For the longest time, queer people only saw themselves on screen as the ‘sidekick’ character whose sexuality was undefined and sole purpose in the narrative was to bring in the laughs.
Now, the community are – we won’t say ‘thriving’ because so much more work needs to be done – able to sit down, watch a film and identify with a queer leading character. Finally!
Over the past few years, representation has dramatically improved – you can even find dedicated sections for LGBTQ+ films on streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video. Read ahead for 15 of the best romantic dramas and comedies that are a must-watch for all LGBTQ+ men.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Cast: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, Randy Quaid, Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris
Ang Lee’s celebrated same-sex romance Brokeback Mountain stars Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, cowboy lovers in the American West in the 60s. The film became a critical and commercial success when it was released in 2005, and went on to win three Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, with further acting nominations for Ledger, Gyllenhaal and Williams. The film memorably lost Best Picture to Paul Haggis’ drama Crash, which is unanimously regarded as one of the worst decisions in the history of the Academy Awards (apology, when?). Despite this, Brokeback Mountain has been hailed as a turning point for the advancement of LGBTQ+ stories in mainstream cinema.
Cast: Billy Eichner, Luke Macfarlane, Ts Madison, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Díaz, Guy Branum, Amanda Bearse, Jim Rash, Miss Lawrence, Dot-Marie Jones, Jai Rodriguez, Harvey Fierstein, Bowen Yang, Debra Messing, Symone, Ryan Faucett
The first gay romantic comedy from a major studio, Bros marked a historic moment for queer cinema with its principal LGBTQ+ cast – even the heterosexual roles were played by actors of the LGBTQ+ experience. This alone is enough reason for Bros to be included on this list, but it has a plethora of factors going for it besides its historic feats. Following Billy Eichner’s character Bobby Lieber as a podcaster and radio show host as he falls for a ‘masc4masc’ gay (played by Luke Macfarlane), Bros is one of the most outrageously funny comedies of the year and is, thankfully, not straightwashed to appeal to cis-het audiences. From Bobby snapping a pic of his butt for a Grindr hook-up (who subsequently blocks him) to the two lead characters bringing the foot fetish industry to the big screen, Bros is g-g-g-gay. While it didn’t make a splash at the box office, Bros reinvigorated a genre that hasn’t felt fresh in years and proved that rom-com’s are in dire need of more queer narratives. As Eichner told us, it was about damn time that we saw “accurate, multi-dimensional and genuinely funny and genuinely smart depictions of ourselves that we don’t get.”
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel
Call Me By Your Name has quickly become one of the most beloved romances of all time. An adaption of the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman, the film is set in 1983 in Northern Italy and chronicles the brewing relationship between 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothee Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Harmer), a 24-year-old graduate assistant to Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg). The themes of first love and heartbreak, as well as the dreamy and idyllic world created by director Luca Guadagnino, has evoked such a strong and impassioned emotion in LGBTQ+ viewers around the world. You’ll never be able to listen to Sufjan Stevens the same way again.
Cast: Matt Fifer, Sheldon D. Brown, Sandra Bauleo, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, Cobie Smulders, Scott Adsit, Michael Potts, David Burtka, Jo Firestone, Jason Greene
Cicada follows Ben (Matt Fifer), a bisexual thirty-something New Yorker wrestling with deep trauma who is – as his sister puts it – “back on the dick” after recently being engaged to a woman. Following a string of meaningless hook-ups, Ben forms an immediate connection with Sam (fellow co-writer Sheldon D. Brown), a closeted data analyst suffering with PTSD after being hospitalised in a drive-by shooting. Cicada delicately deals with complex themes rarely seen in queer cinema as Sam dives into the intersectionality of being a Black gay man in the United States while Ben reveals that his promiscuity and trauma stems from being molested by his step-father as a child. Initially released in 2020 at Outfest, Cicada – which has received universal critical acclaim – is finally available for UK audiences in cinemas and digital now.
Fire Island (2022)
Cast: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Conrad Ricamora, James Scully, Margaret Cho, Matt Rogers, Tomás Matos, Torian Miller, Nick Adams, Zane Phillips, Michael Graceffa, Aidan Wharton
Hailed by critics and viewers as an instant queer classic, Fire Island follows two best friends (Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang) as they embark on their annual weeklong vacation to the titular gay hotspot. Written by Booster and directed by Andrew Ahn, the Pride and Prejudice-inspired rom-com puts queer Asian-American narratives at the forefront whilst celebrating and glorifying LGBTQ+ culture like no other film before it. Although Fire Island explores issues such as body image, wealth, race and how the queer community can, at times, tear each other apart, it’s saturated with moments that capture the unequivocal joy that comes with being queer – instead of the constant strife that’s historically been depicted in mainstream media. No death! No despair! No desolation! Here, queers have sex, attend underwear parties and scold one another for their lack of knowledge on Marisa Tomei’s Oscar-winning role in My Cousin Vinny. Sequel slash spin-off, when?
God’s Own Country (2017)
Cast: Josh O’Connor, Alec Secăreanu, Ian Hart, Gemma Jones
Taking place in Yorkshire, this romantic drama tells the story of sheep farmer Johnny (played to perfection by Josh O’Connor), whose life changes with the arrival of Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu), a Romanian migrant worker who is hired as extra help for the lambing season. Partly based on the experiences of director Francis Lee (in his feature directorial debut), God’s Own Country was one of the most acclaimed films of the 2010s, with praise aimed at the performances of O’Connor and Secăreanu and its depiction of loneliness and intimacy. Hailed as Yorkshire’s answer to Brokeback Mountain, the film is a must-see for lovers of queer cinema.
Holding the Man (2015)
Cast: Ryan Corr, Craig Stott, Sarah Snook, Guy Pearce, Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Fox, Camilla Ah Kin
This tear-jerking drama adapts writer, actor, and activist Timothy Conigrave’s renowned 1995 memoir to the screen, one of Australia’s most iconic pieces of gay literature. Directed by Neil Armfield and set in 70s Australia, Holding the Man chronicles the beautiful yet painfully heartbreaking 15-year relationship of Timothy (Ryan Corr) and John Caleo (Craig Stott), the captain of his high school football team. Like we said, it’s an absolute tear-jerker, so make sure you’re stacked up on those tissues.
In From The Side (2022)
Cast: Alexander Lincoln, Alexander King, William Hearle, Christopher Sherwood, Peter McPherson, Pearse Egan, Ivan Comisso, Carl Loughlin, Alex Hammond, Chris Garner, Mary Lincoln,
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. Sadly, that’s still quite rare.
Cast: Dhruv Ganesh, Shiv Pandit, Siddharth Menon, Rishabh J. Chaddha
Indian romantic drama film Loev – pronounced as ‘love’ – explores the relationship between Wall Street deal maker Jai (Shiv Pandit) and Mumbai-based music producer Sahil (Dhruv Ganesh, who sadly passed away from tuberculosis before the release), two friends with a complicated past who set off to the Western Ghats for the weekend. Drawing heavily from the personal experiences of director Sudhanshu Saria, Loev came to fruition after months of crowdfunding, with its budget at just $1 million. Despite this, Saria managed to craft a stunning film thanks to its scenic Indian locations and unmatched chemistry between Pandit and the late Ganesh. Loev won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the 2016 Tel Aviv International Film Festival and later found mainstream popularity with its release on Netflix. (It has since been removed, boo.)
Love, Simon (2018)
Cast: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Keiynan Lonsdale
Marketed as the first major studio romantic comedy featuring two gay lead characters and a same-sex love storyline, Love, Simon was a momentous achievement in queer cinema history. Not only did it mark the first time LGBTQ+ people saw themselves represented properly in this very mainstream genre, it also proved that yes, queer stories can make a profit too, putting to bed any myths that had previously suggested otherwise. Based on Becky Albertalli’s brilliant novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda, the film follows Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a closeted gay high schooler who struggles to balance his friends and family, as well as the blackmailer threatening to out him to the entire school. Paired with incredible performances from the diverse and talented cast (that scene with Jennifer Garner’s speech gets us every time), it felt like a real moment not only for the community, but pop culture in general.
Cast: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monáe, Mahershala Ali
This trailblazing coming-of-age tale that charts the life of disenfranchised African-American man Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) and takes viewers through three pivotal chapters in his life. Little follows a young nine-year-old Chiron as he grows up with a drug addict mother in a rough neighbourhood in Miami; Chiron shows his awkward and painful teenage years, including bullying he experienced at school; and finally Black, which shows how he’s developed as a fully-grown man, and the internalisation of his sexuality. The film was rewarded for its brilliance with three Oscars back in 2017. It’s an emotional rollercoaster for any viewer, but especially anyone who’s struggled to accept themselves for who they really are. Most importantly, it offered a rare chance for Black gay men to see themselves reflected on screen.
Cast: Henry Golding, Parker Sawyers, David Tran, Molly Harris, Lâm Vissay
Hong Khaou’s second feature film is absolutely gorgeous, examining the intricate relationship that emigrants have with their birth country. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins star Henry Golding leads the film as Kit, a British-Vietnamese man who returns to Saigon for the first time in over 30 years to scatter his parents’ ashes. During his time in Saigon, Kit reconnects with his childhood friend Lee (David Tran), falls for Lewis (Parker Sawyers), an American whose father fought in the Vietnam War, and comes to terms with his loss.
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Cast: Gordon Warnecke, Daniel Day-Lewis, Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth, Derrick Branche
Before there was Call Me By Your Name, Moonlight and Brokeback Mountain, there was My Beautiful Laundrette. The film, which was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA, explores the complex relationships between Pakistani and English communities in the Thatcher years, and follows the romantic relationship between Omar (Gordon Warnecke) and street punk Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis) as they become joint managers of a family-owned laundrette in London.
Cast: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood, Peter MacQueen, James Dreyfus, Ian Drysdale, Sarah Woodward
Supernova, written and directed by Harry Macqueen, stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci as Sam and Tusker, partners of 20 years. Following Tusker’s diagnosis of young-onset dementia, the couple travel across England in their campervan where their individual ideas for their future begin to collide. One of the most tear-jerking films of the decade, Supernova boasts career-high performances from the aforementioned industry legends and is a devastating observation into the effects of dementia, as well as a moving portrait of a couple accepting mortality.
Cast: Tom Cullen, Chris New, Jonathan Race, Laura Freeman, Loretto Murray, Jonathan Wright, Sarah Churm, Vaxuhall Jermaine, Joe Doherty, Kieran Hardcastle
Before he worked on queer HBO series Looking, director Andrew Haigh helmed British romantic drama Weekend, which followed two men (Cullen, New) who meet and begin a short-but-sweet sexual relationship the weekend before one of them leaves the country. The film received universal acclaim after its release in 2011, largely for its realistic and documentary-like portrayal of a same-sex relationship, and for offering a queer romance that was mostly unaffected by the omnipresent threat of homophobia or judgement from the outside world. The nostalgia of fleeting romance and ‘what could have been’ is strong with this one.