It’s easy to spend hours upon hours browsing through the massive selection of movies that Netflix has to offer in every category imaginable. When it comes to films with LGBTQ themes, there’s an overwhelming amount of choice running the gamut from romantic flicks to heartwarming documentaries, period films to comedies.
To make selecting easier, we’ve gone through all of the options to hand-pick the best movies that feature LGBTQ characters and storylines front and center, all of which you can watch on Netflix today.
When you’re done going through this list, check out the best LGBTQ films to stream right now?on multiple services, the 20 best new movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO,?and the best Netflix original series you can stream right now.
The Boys in the Band (2020)
As important as the message this film portrays is the fact that the cast is made up entirely of openly gay actors. They play a group of gay friends who get together to celebrate a birthday in an Upper East Side Manhattan apartment. But things go awry when the host’s former college roommate, who happens to be straight, shows up uninvited. With an eclectic group of characters and personalities, the 1968-set, Ryan Murphy-produced drama explores the age-old issue of dealing with societal rejection and coming to terms with one’s truth and self-worth. The film is based on a Mart Crowley off-Broadway play from 1968, which was made into a movie in 1970 starring the same cast. The full cast of this new film played the same roles in a Broadway revival of the play in 2018 as well.
Stars: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesus, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington, Tuc Watkins
Director: Joe Mantello
Runtime: 122 minutes
Based on the 1952 Patricia Highsmith romance novel The Price of Salt, a young female photographer (Rooney Mara) and an older woman dealing with her divorce (Cate Blanchett) begin an affair. The tale of forbidden love in the early 1950s is a story of sacrifice, accepting one’s sexuality, and not being afraid to be who you are despite the consequences. The talented cast led the film to box office and critical success, even spawning a fan community known as the “Cult of Carol” that claims to be obsessed with the film.
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler
Director: Todd Haynes
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Based on the 1999 novel of the same name by Stephen Chbosky, this coming-of-age film follows the story of Charlie, a young man dealing with depression and anxiety. He writes frequent letters to a friend talking about his high school life, including that time he saw the high school quarterback and a popular student kissing, and their desperate pleas for him to keep it under wraps. There’s more to the overall story, too, including Charlie’s inability to accept and deal with his troubled past that he has been repressing for many years.
Stars:?Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, Joan Cusack, Paul Rudd, Mae Whitman
Follow the journey of a young Black man through different periods in his life — from being a young boy through becoming a grown man — as he tries to come to terms with his sexuality. Based on the unpublished semi-autobiographic play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the film earned Mahershala Ali an Academy Award for his supporting role, along with several other nominations and wins. It’s an eye-opening look at the physical and emotional abuse that LGBTQ people often go through on their journey to, and even after, discovering their identities.
Stars: Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, Jharrel Jerome, Mahershala Ali
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto delivered mesmerizing and award-winning performances in this biographical drama set in the ’80s, a time when there was a lot of stigma around HIV/AIDs and proper treatment had not yet been discovered. McConaughey brilliantly plays Ron Woodroof, a man struggling with the disease who decides to smuggle drugs into Texas to help others who are also suffering. It’s Leto, however, who steals every scene as Rayon, an HIV-positive transgender woman with a serious drug addiction. It’s a must-watch film that will tug at your heartstrings.
Stars:?Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner
The Danish Girl (2015)
Loosely inspired by the real story of Danish painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, and based on the novel of the same name by David Ebershoff,?The Danish Girl is an intriguing look at Elbe’s journey as one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery. While the historical accuracy of the time (the mid-1920s) left some unimpressed, along with the casting of the cisgender Eddie Redmayne in a transgender role, the performances by the lead stars catapulted the touching film to Academy Award status.
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw, Sebastian Koch, Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts
Director: Tom Hooper
The story was inspired by Nora Monsecour, a trans female dancer who director Lukas Dhont met when he was a teenager. In the film, Lara (Victor Polster) is a 15-year-old trans girl, just like Monsecour, who aspires to be a professional ballerina. While she has support from some important people in her life as she deals with her gender dysphoria, attending a new school and going through puberty presents its own set of challenges. While the film received some criticism for portrayals of gender dysphoria and self-harm, Monsecour, who provided insight for the film, spoke out in support of it.
Stars: Victor Polster, Arieh Worthalter, Katelijine Damen, Valentijin Dhaenens
Director: Lukas Dhont
Runtime: 106 minutes
Get ready to laugh with this film about Tallulah (Ellen Page), a young woman who ends up caring for a toddler whose mother, Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard), has no interest in raising. With nowhere else to go, Tallulah shacks up with her ex’s mother, Margo (the fantastic Allison Janney), and pretends the child is hers, and thus Margo’s granddaughter. The two women form an unlikely bond, revealing painful secrets as Tallulah tries to hide from both Carolyn and the police.
Stars:?Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard
A Secret Love (2020)
The newest film on this list, this documentary is already receiving tremendous praise after being released in April 2020. Produced by Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, A Secret Love tells the story of a pair of All-American Girls Professional Baseball League players who kept their romantic partnership a secret for almost seven decades. Based on the true story of director Chris Bolan’s two aunts, the tremendous sacrifice and weight the two women held on their shoulders for three-quarters of a century will both warm your heart for their intense dedication to one another and make you angry that they felt that couldn’t be freely and openly in love.
Stars: Terry Donahue, Diana Bolen, Pat Henschel
I Am Divine (2013)
Harris Glenn Milstead, best known by his stage name Divine, was an actor, singer, and drag performer. He was considered a trailblazer and was the muse of filmmaker John Waters, who cast him in many of his movies. Divine, who has become a cult figure among the LGBTQ community and was dubbed by People magazine as the Drag Queen of the Century in 1988, sadly passed away that same year at the age of 42. His bright and colorful persona has become the inspiration for many other characters, songs, and art. The film includes interviews with a number of people close to Divine, including Waters and the surviving members of the Dreamlanders, a group of regular performers who Waters used in his films.
Stars: Divine, John Waters, Tab Hunter, Ricki Lake, Mink Stole, and more
This documentary takes a deep dive into the depiction of transgender people in Hollywood and how the stories told through film and television impact transgender people in real life, as well as how they shape and influence the overall cultural landscape. Disclosure features interviews with well-known transgender celebrities, such as Laverne Cox, Candis Cayne, Brian Michael Smith, Chaz Bono, and Lilly Wachowski. It has an almost perfect Rotten Tomatoes rating, with critics praising the documentary for shining a spotlight on the fact that we still have a long way to go for fair and honest representations of LGBTQ individuals on screen.
Stars: Laverne Cox, Candis Cayne, Brian Michael Smith
Director: Sam Feder
Dear Ex (2018)
This black comedy-drama from Taiwan is about Song, a teenager who discovers that his recently deceased father was living a secret life when, after his passing, a strange man named Jay shows up. Not only is Jay listed as the life insurance beneficiary on Song’s father’s will, but he was also apparently his lover. Now Song finds himself caught between his mother Liu, who must deal with the reality that her husband was unfaithful and a closeted homosexual, and the free-spirited Jay, who has turned their lives upside down. The film was selected for the International Feature Film category at the Academy Awards but was not nominated.
Stars: Roy Chiu, Ying-Xuan?Hsieh, Spark Chen, Joseph Huang
Director: Mag Hsu, Hsu Chih-yen
Alex Strangelove (2018)
This rom-com follows one seemingly straight teenager’s journey in exploring his sexuality. While still a virgin and with a girlfriend, Alex meets another openly gay teen who has a crush on him and begins to question if he might be bisexual. The film has been praised for taking a refreshing and progressive look at the topic of teen sexuality.
Stars: Daniel Doheny, Antonio Marziale, Madeline Weinstein, Joanna Adler, William Ragsdale, Daniel Zolghadri
Director: Craig Johnson
Head On (1998)
Based on the Christos Tsiolkas novel Loaded, this Australian drama follows Alex Dimitriades, a 19-year-old, sex-obsessed gay man whose parents are completely unaware of his sexual exploits and drug use. The polarizing film received mixed reviews and generated some controversy due to very graphic sexual scenes. But more importantly, it sparked open conversations?between teenagers and their parents of the Greek community in Australia.
Stars: Alex Dimitriades, Paul Capsis, Julian Garner, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Elena Mandalis, Eugenia Fragos, Damien Fotiou, Andrea Mandalis, Dora Kaskanis, Maria Mercedes, Alex Papps, Vassili Zappa
Director: Ana Kokkinos
Circus of Books (2019)
This documentary by artist Rachel Mason is a riveting look at the popular and long-running bookstore and gay pornography shop, Circus of Books, in West Hollywood and in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The store was first established in the ’60s as Book Circus.?Rachel’s parents, Karen and Barry Mason, who were working with Hustler publisher Larry Flynt at the time, took over the store in the early ’80s and renamed it Circus of Books. The straight, religious couple with kids, however, kept the nature of their work a secret from family and friends. The business went through many challenges, from being caught in an FBI sting during President Ronald Reagan’s crackdown on pornography, to gaining a reputation for attracting hustlers in the wee hours of the morning. The store served as a refuge for LGBTQ community members during the height of the AIDS crisis, and the film highlights Karen and Barry’s struggles with being so heavily immersed in LGBTQ culture at a time when it was not socially accepted. Rachel’s doc tells the fascinating story of the store’s historical significance for the LGBTQ community, her parents’ role as unintentional activists, and how the internet destroyed the business.
Stars: Karen Mason, Barry Mason, Rachel Mason
Director: Rachel Mason
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