These Are the 21 Best LGBTQ Movies You Can Stream on Netflix Right Now
Let’s be honest: LGBTQ+ representation in movies hasn’t always been exactly up to par. For so long, good queer cinema was virtually non-existent or played into tired, tokenizing tropes. Even with that in mind, most mainstream cinema has centered on heteronormative storylines for decades.
However, where such criticisms once arose from a near-barren canon, LGBTQ+ cinema has become widespread enough to bear some award-winning, prestige films. Sure, the scarcity still has you scavenging through some painful storylines from time to time, but with all that digging eventually comes gold. Luckily for you, when it comes to Netflix, we’ve done most of the digging for you.
The beauty of LGBTQ+ representation in film is that, just like the members of its community, there is no “one-size-fits-all” story. This means it’s not just about LGBTQ+ trauma anymore: there are comedies, compelling dramas, adventures, and a few documentaries scattered in, too. Here are the best LGBTQ+ films on Netflix.
Dees Rees’s coming of age drama Pariah beautifully captures the story of Alike, a young teenager in Brooklyn coming to terms with her identity as a queer woman. When Alike’s unaccepting mother suspects that her friend Laura, an out lesbian, might be influencing her, she forbids Alike from seeing Laura and forces her into friendship with fellow churchgoer Bina. But Alike’s world opens up when her companionship with Bina turns romantic.
Based on Shyam Selvadurai’s novel of the same name, Funny Boy follows Arjie, a young Tamil boy living in Sri Lanka amidst rising tensions leading up to the Sri Lankan Civil War. When Arjie begins to fall for a classmate, his internal awaking intertwines with escalating external conflict.
I Am Divine
I Am Divine is a show-stopping documentary on the iconic drag queen Divine, aka Glenn Milstead, and the path that led Milstead to becoming the muse of filmmaker John Waters. (Fun fact: Milstead’s drag persona Divine is said to have inspired The Little Mermaid’s Ursula.)
This Brazilian film is a refreshingly heartwarming coming-of-age film about a young transgender girl determined to land her first kiss while living in a small, conservative town. While on her pursuit, the lovable teenager and Youtuber Alice seeks more than just romance: she seeks acceptance and love.
Schitt’s Creek: Best Wishes, Warm Regards
Whether you’re a Schitt’s Creek fan hungry for more content, or a stranger to the fictional Rose family, this BTS documentary about the making of the final season of Schitt’s Creek is a unique addition to the LGBTQ+ Netflix library. Dealing heavily with queer representation in the series and its impact upon fans, the documentary features insightful perspectives from a variety of cultural commentators about the history and future of queer representation in media.
If you’re looking for a proper introduction into the life of trans people, start with Disclosure. While no one experience can sum up any one group, Disclosure offers an intimate, and hopeful, look at the progress the trans community has made in its journey to be visible, accepted, and respected for the humans they are.
The Boys in the Band
The trajectory of The Boys in the Band is one of the most beautiful parts to the story. The original, an Off-Broadway play from 1968, was revived and put on Broadway. It received critical acclaim. The same cast adapted it into a film, which now lives on Netflix and captures the essence of being a queer man in the ’60s—a time when too many people’s identities were erased from the public eyes.
I Care a Lot
Progress means that LGBTQ people can play any kind of role, meaning villains too! Cut to I Care a Lot, where Rosamund Pike plays an instant gay icon for how deliciously terrible she is as she takes advantage of the elderly… that is, until she gets ahold of the wrong target.
A Secret Love
Move over A League of Their Own: One All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player and her partner have love of their own not yet portrayed on-screen. Directed by the great-nephew of Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, A Secret Love uncovers the two women’s romantic relationship, spanning across decades of secrecy.
The Half of It
A perfect addition to any Baby Gay™’s coming-of-age canon, The Half Of It tells the tender story of Elie, a bookish high schooler who finds herself in an unlikely love triangle when a jock recruits her help in courting Aster, her own crush. Directed by Alice Wu and starring an Asian-American lead, the film displays some much-needed representation in young adult-oriented queer cinema.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (How I Felt When I Saw That Girl)
This heartwarming Bollywood romantic comedy-drama tells the story of Sweety, a young Punjabi woman and closeted lesbian, on her quest for acceptance from her family. In love with another woman but pressured by her family to marry a man, Sweety finds her fate ironically saved by a potential suitor who assists her coming-out by crafting a romantic play about the two women.
Circus of Books
Circus of Books is a documentary about the West Hollywood bookstore of the same name that became the largest U.S. distributor of gay porn in the 1980s, including its history as a queer social club, and the husband and wife owners who stayed library-hush through it all. A textbook example of allyship, pun intended.
Dear Ex (誰先愛上他的)
A teenaged boy named Song finds himself in a twisted triangle when it is revealed that his late father’s primary insurance beneficiary is his secret male lover. As Song finds his allegiance caught between the two battling widow and widower, his mother struggles with her grief and possession, determined not to lose another loved one’s favor to the elusive man.
A gay man (Jesse Plemons) returns home to his conservative family to be with his cancer-stricken mom (Molly Shannon) in this sweetly comic semi-autobiographical film written and directed by Chris Kelly.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
A lot of people have heard about Marsha P. Johnson… particularly as the rumored thrower of the first brick at Stonewall. But few people know the story of her death and how many believe it was unfairly ruled a suicide. A pillar of the LGBTQ community, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson is simply required viewing. And that’s not a cliché in this case.
The Perfection is one of those bizarro films that isn’t particularly the best-made feature, but damn if it isn’t a lot of fun to watch. Starring Allison Williams and Logan Browning, this queer horror film is all about psychological manipulation and a bit of campiness. Always worth it for that, if nothing else.
This starts out like any other teen movie: high schooler Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) wants to lose his virginity to his girlfriend. But this one has a twist. He ends up meeting Elliot (Antonio Marziale) and falling for him. Fear not though—this still has all the teen movie maxims: a little angst, cute moments, and exploration of sexuality.
Elisa & Marcela
This movie, from Spanish director Isabel Coixet, is about the first same-sex marraige in Spain. The harrowing true story follows Elisa Sanchez Loriga, who took on the identity of Mario Sánchez so she could marry her partner, Marcela Gracia Ibeas. This marriage, which took place on June 8, 1901, was later discovered, but the Catholic church never ended up denouncing the union. The couple did, however, spend the rest of their life running from persecution.
This documentary tells the story of lesbian comedian Tig Notaro, who turns a breast cancer diagnosis into a powerful comedy set. The smart comic’s journey is as hysterical as it is touching, and man if it doesn’t serve a lot of both.
A Single Man
In this Tom Ford film, Colin Firth plays George Falconer, an English professor in Los Angeles in 1962. He is grieving the death of his partner, Jim, but Jim’s family won’t acknowledge him. George decides to end his life, but as he prepares to do so, he comes across several significant people from his past who might just convince him that there’s more to live for.
Director Miguel Arteta co-wrote the screenplay for this comedy with Alia Shawkat, who stars as one half of a couple (alongside Laia Costa) that meets at a club and discovers intimacy through frequent sex.
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture.
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