Happy Pride! June commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in June 1969. With many Pride events and celebrations cancelled or impacted by coronavirus, films are a great way to celebrate some LGBT culture and history from home. Here are 12 LGBT films to help you celebrate Pride 2020!
An impactful, Oscar-winning coming-of-age drama, Moonlight explores the intersection of Black gay masculinity in a breathtakingly beautiful film. It covers three stages in the life of the protagonist Chiron (Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert), as he faces struggles and finds meaning in his relationships. Seriously, it’s one of the best films released this decade.
Big Eden (2000)
Big Eden is the epitome of heartwarming. Artist Henry (Arye Gross) moves back to his family home in rural Montana to look after his sick grandfather; Pike, the overwhelmingly shy owner of the local general store (Eric Schweig) attempts to win his heart, with the help of the supportive townsfolk. Watch this for a refreshing absence of homophobia.
God’s Own Country (2017)
If you don’t feel like rewatching Brokeback Mountain, watch God’s Own Country instead. This film is a profound, sometimes achingly raw romance between repressed, turbulent Johnny (Josh O’Connor) and Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker hired to help on a Yorkshire farm. It’s one of those films where the silences say an infinite amount, helped by phenomenal acting.
A staple of gay cinema, Maurice is based on E.M. Forster’s novel of the same name. Set in the early 1900s, it follows Maurice (James Wilby) through his relationships with fellow Cambridge student Clive (Hugh Grant) and gardener Alec (Rupert Graves). It’s notable for its happy ending, and, for local viewers, also features some beautiful Cambridge scenery (there’s even a punting scene).
Check out our blog on Alan Turing for another piece of Cambridge LGBT history!
The Handmaiden (2016)
A retelling of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, The Handmaiden reinterprets the story to be set in Korea in the first half of the 20th century. Pickpocket Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) is hired to act as a maid for Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) as part of an elaborate con. Part psychological thriller, part intensely cathartic romance, it’s a beautiful film with some fantastic plot twists. You’ll want to watch it at least twice in a row.
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
But I’m a Cheerleader is an absolutely classic lesbian rom-com, both satisfyingly satirical and campy and deeply affirming. Megan (Natasha Lyonne) is an ostensibly-straight cheerleader sent to conversion camp by her family, only to discover love, acceptance, and her own identity. This was a lot of people’s first introduction to LGBT films, so the nostalgia might add something to it, but it’s a lot of fun even for first-time viewers.
Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, is a period drama set in the 1950s, following the relationship between a wealthy woman and an aspiring photographer. It’s Part Christmas film and part road trip romance — plus, it stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. What more do you want?
The Half of It (2020)
In The Half of It, straight-A student Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) is hired by well-meaning jock Paul (Daniel Diemer) to help him write to the girl he has a crush on, only to end up falling for her herself. It’s a smart, sweet coming-of-age film that celebrates acceptance and really dials in on the importance of friendship, in a way that’ll probably make you cry happy tears.
The movie of Jonathan Larson’s iconic 1996 musical Rent follows a diverse cast of characters as they struggle to find art and meaning while living la vie Boheme. It’s set against the surreal backdrop of New York at the end of the millennium, under the looming threat of poverty, gentrification, and the AIDS crisis. It’s full of iconic, ridiculous, heartbreaking, powerful songs — I’ll Cover You is probably one of the best LGBT love songs in musical theatre. (Which isn’t something we say lightly.)
Tangerine is an authentic film that blends humour and raw sincerity. It stars Kitana Kiki Rodriguez as Sin-Dee, a trans sex worker who sets out with her friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) to confront her cheating ex. The film was shot entirely using iPhone cameras.
Angels in America (2003)
Angels in America, a miniseries adaptation of Tony Kushner’s play by the same name, explores the unexpected relationships between its cast of conflicted characters as they question everything from their identities and relationships; meanwhile, Prior (Justin Kirk), a gay man fighting AIDS, becomes a prophet for an angelic visitation.
Paris is Burning (1990)
Paris is Burning is a powerful, emotionally honest documentary film that provides a window into the ball culture of 1980s New York City. It’s a piece of LGBT history that explores intersections of race, class, and gender identity. Essential, meaningful watching for anyone interested in the history and culture of drag, ballroom, and vogue.
Pride and activism go hand in hand! The birth of Pride at Stonewall was a riot against police violence, led by Black and Latina gender non-conforming and trans women. Today, trans women of colour still face some of the worst violence and discrimination of the LGBT community. This Pride, even if you’re unable to get out and protest, channel your activism into continuing the fight against discrimination and police brutality. Here are ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement, and organisations to donate to which support the Black trans community.
Still in need of films to watch? Check out our recommended comfort films, including several LGBT films!
We hope everyone’s staying safe, and looking after yourselves and others during these stressful times. While LockHouse is currently closed, we’ll be keeping up a series of blog posts on all things escape rooms, board games, tabletop RPGs, media recs, and more. Read all our LockHouse Lockdown content here. Plus keep an eye on our Facebook for everything from updates to brainteasers!