21 Incredible LGBTQ Movies (That Aren’t ‘Brokeback Mountain’ or ‘Call Me By Your Name’)

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editor@purewow.com (PureWow)
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When you think of queer films, you likely think of Brokeback Mountain, Call Me By Your Name, Carol or a handful of other super-buzzy examples. Absolutely no offense to those films (which are all incredible and deserve your streams), but there are tons of fantastic queer films that are a bit more under the radar. Here, 21 LGBTQ films—comedies, dramas, documentaries and everything in between—you must to add to your Netflix, Amazon and Hulu queues.

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1. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2020)

Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel star in this queer period piece set in France in the late 18th century. Directed by Célene Sciamma, a lesbian, this subtle yet irresistible love story is about the forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait.

Watch on Hulu or Amazon

2. Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen (2020)

With appearances by Laverne Cox (who also executive produced the film), Mj Rodriguez, Chaz Bono and more, this eye-opening documentary takes an in-depth look at Hollywood's depiction of transgender folks and the impact of their stories on trans lives and American culture. It’s an important reminder of how far we’ve come in terms of representation—and how far we still need to go.

Watch on Netflix

3. Pariah (2011)

Sometimes described as a lesbian Moonlight, Pariah tells the story of Alike (Adepero Oduye), a young Black girl in New York City embracing her identity as a lesbian. Harboring growing suspicions about Alike's sexuality, her mother, Audrey, forces Alike to wear feminine clothing and tries to push Alike to make friends with Bina, a young girl from her church. (Who, light spoiler, might not be as straight as Audrey thinks.)

Watch on Amazon

4. Tangerine (2015)

Transgender sex worker Sin-Dee leaves prison to meet her friend Alexandra, another trans sex worker, at a donut shop in Hollywood on Christmas Eve. Alexandra reveals that Sin-Dee's boyfriend and pimp, Chester, has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman. The two set out to find Chester and the woman. Refreshingly, Tangerine features trans actors playing trans characters (which is unfortunately rare). Also incredibly, the entire film was shot on three iPhones.

Watch on Amazon

5. Booksmart (2019)

In her directorial debut, Olivia Wilde tackles the bizarreness of young adulthood through a day in the lives of Molly and Amy (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, respectively) as they set out to break a few rules—for once—on their last day of high school. Dever is particularly fantastic as Amy, a young queer woman reckoning with her budding sexuality—including a hook up with a classmate that’s equal parts awkward and hilarious.

Watch on Hulu or Amazon

6. A Fantastic Woman (2018)

Marina (Daniela Vega) is a young transgender woman living in Santiago, Chile, who works as a singer and a waitress. After her older boyfriend, Orlando, suddenly dies of a brain aneurysm, Marina’s mourning process is ruined when she finds herself under intense scrutiny by her beloved partner’s family and much of society in general.

Watch on Amazon

7. How to Survive a Plague (2012)

Directed by journalist David France, this 2012 documentary covers the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and the efforts of activist groups ACT UP and TAG. The documentary was produced using more than 700 hours of archived footage, including news coverage, interviews and film of demonstrations, meetings and conferences taken by ACT UP members themselves. The result is unsurprisingly angering and powerful.

Watch on Amazon

8. Kiki (2017)

Even the most casual viewer of queer movies is familiar with the legendary 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning. This unofficial sequel focuses on the New York City drag and voguing scene and surveys the lives of LGBT youth of color at a time when Black Lives Matter and trans rights are making front-page headlines.

Watch on Amazon

9. God’s Own Country (2017)

Starring Josh O’Connor (The Crown’s Prince Charles) and Alec Secăreanu, God’s Own Country is the story of an English sheep farmer who falls in love with an immigrant. Quietly moving, it’s been described as a British Brokeback Mountain.

Watch on Hulu or Amazon

10. The Feels (2018)

Let’s be real: Most bachelor or bachelorette party movies are aggressively heterosexual. In this queer take on the trope, Andi (Constance Wu) and Lu (Angela Trimbur) gather with friends at a cabin to celebrate their upcoming wedding. Late one night—after plenty of drinks—Lu admits that she’s never had an orgasm, to Andi's complete surprise and dismay. The weekend is completely derailed, forcing everyone to reflect on trust, love and relationships.

Watch on Netflix

11. Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts (2019)

After a fairly unimpressive run on the seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Trixie Mattel went on to become one of the most popular drag performers in the world—a beloved comedian, celebrated folk musician and cosmetics entrepreneur. This super intimate documentary focuses on Mattel once the (delightfully heavy) makeup comes off: She reckons with her relationship with fame, an abusive childhood and her friendship with longtime creative partner, Katya, who, during the doc’s filming, relapsed into drug addiction.

Watch on Netflix

12. Moonlight (2016)

This Academy Award-winning coming-of-age drama, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, depicts three stages in the life of the main character, Chiron (Trevante Rhodes): his childhood, adolescence and early adult life. Directed by Barry Jenkins, the film explores the difficulties Chiron faces with his sexuality and identity, including the physical and emotional abuse he endures growing up. Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Janelle Monae also star in this stunning film.

Watch on Netflix

13. But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

Initially panned by critics, Jamie Babbit’s 1999 satire is about a high school senior (honorary lesbian Natasha Leone) who’s sent to a gay conversion camp by her family. Nowadays, But I’m a Cheerleader is lesbian cannon—joyous, campy and perfectly cast, featuring performances by Clea DuVall, RuPaul and more.

Watch on Amazon

14. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)

In 1993, teenager Cameron Post has a secret relationship with her girlfriend, Coley. On homecoming night, Cameron's boyfriend walks in on them having sex in Coley's car, outing them both. Cameron's devout Christian aunt sends Cameron to a gay conversion therapy center for teenagers where she forges a bond with Jane Fonda, who was raised in a hippie commune, and Adam Red Eagle, a Lakota two-spirit whose father has converted to Christianity.

Watch on Hulu or Amazon

15. Circus of Books (2019)

In 1976, straight couple Karen and Barry Mason took over Circus of Books, a West Hollywood adult bookstore that would soon become the biggest distributor of gay porn in the United States. The store, which closed in 2019, remained a secret from the Mason’s family, friends and synagogue. In this fascinating documentary, Circus of Books’ employees and customers reflect on the highs and lows of the store's run.

Watch on Netflix

16. The Favourite (2018)

Yorgos Lanthimos’ wacky (in an incredible way) reimagining of English royal history tells the story of the 18th-century court of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and the two female rivals for her affection, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and scheming up-and-comer Abigail (Emma Stone).

Watch on Amazon

17. Being 17 (2016)

Damien is a sensitive 17-year-old student who lives in France with his mother Marianne, a doctor. His father, Nathan, is a military pilot on a mission abroad. At school, he’s relentlessly picked on by fellow student Thomas. Thomas, the biracial adopted son of farmers, faces his own set of problems, so Marianne invites Thomas to come and stay with her family temporarily. Now living under the same roof, the two boys gradually come to realize that they have feelings for one another.

Watch on Amazon

18. Lovesong (2016)

Sarah (Riley Keough) is a stay-at-home mom whose husband frequently travels for work. Feeling lonely, she calls her best friend, Mindy (Jena Malone), whom she hasn’t seen in years, and the two depart on an impromptu road trip with Sarah’s daughter. They eventually have sex, the first in a series of relationship ups and downs between the two women.

Watch on Netflix

19. Grandma (2015)

Queer icon Lily Tomlin stars as Elle, a lesbian poet and widow whose teenage granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner), visits her to ask for money for an abortion. Over the space of a day, they visit numerous people from Elle's past to call in favors in an effort to raise the money. Featuring supporting performances by Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox and more, it’s a sweet dramedy that will make you love Tomlin even more.

Watch on Hulu or Amazon

20. Appropriate Behavior (2014)

Desiree Akhavan wrote and directed this film set in New York City. Akhavan plays Shirin, the bisexual daughter of well-off Persian immigrants who’s struggling to rebuild her life after girlfriend, Maxine (Rebecca Henderson), breaks up with her.

Watch on Amazon

21. The Handmaiden (2016)

Inspired by the 2002 novel Fingersmith by Welsh writer Sarah Waters, this South Korean psychosexual thriller centers on a Korean con man (Ha Jung-woo) who, with the help of an orphaned pickpocket (Kim Tae-ri),devises an elaborate plot to seduce and bilk a Japanese woman (Kim Min-hee) out of her inheritance.

Watch on Amazon

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