ESQUIRE: The 58 Best LGBTQ Movies Ever Made (as of July 1, 2023)


1 Moonlight (2016)
This drama charts the life of a black gay youth named Chiron as he grows up in a rough neighborhood in Miami.

 

 

 


2 The Boys in the Band (1970)
A witty, perceptive and devastating look at the personal agendas and suppressed revelations swirling among a group of gay men in Manhattan. Harold is celebrating a birthday, and his friend Michael has drafted some other friends to help commemorate the event. As the evening progresses, the alcohol flows, the knives come out, and Michael’s demand that the group participate in a devious telephone game, unleashing dormant and unspoken emotions.

 


3 Philadelphia (1993)
When a man with HIV is fired by his law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.

 

 


4 Carol (2015)
In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, an aspiring photographer develops an intimate relationship with an older woman in 1950s New York.

 

 


5 BPM (Beats Per Minute) (2017)
In this ensemble drama about AIDS activists protesting the French government’s slow response to the epidemic in early-’90s Paris, a young man named Nathan joins the movement and is soon drawn to radical organizer Sean.

 

 


6 The Birdcage (1996)
A gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion agree to put up a false straight front so that their son can introduce them to his fiancée’s right-wing moralistic parents.

 

 


7 Fire Island (2022)
A group of queer best friends gather in Fire Island Pines for their annual week of love and laughter, but a sudden change of events might make this their last summer in gay paradise.

 

 


8 Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Based on a true story, this drama was adapted from the life of Brandon Teena, born Teena Brandon, a woman who chose to live her life as a man and suffered tragic consequences as a result.

 

 


9 Call Me By Your Name (2017)
In 1980s Italy, romance blossoms between a seventeen-year-old student and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant.

 

 


10 Can You Ever Forgive Me?
When a bestselling celebrity biographer is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception.

 

 


11 Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Ennis and Jack are two shepherds who develop a sexual and emotional relationship. Their relationship becomes complicated when both of them get married to their respective girlfriends.

 

 


12 Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
In 18th-century France young painter Marianne, is commissioned to do the wedding portrait of Héloïse without her knowing. Therefore, Marianne must observe her model by day to paint her portrait at night. Day by day, the two women become closer as they share Héloïse’s last moments of freedom before the impending wedding.

 

 


13 Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
Adèle’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire and to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adèle grows, seeks herself, loses herself, and ultimately finds herself through love and loss.

 

 


14 The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Two drag-queens (Anthony/Mitzi and Adam/Felicia) and a transgender woman contract to perform a drag show at a resort in Alice Springs, a resort town in the remote Australian desert. They head west from Sydney aboard their lavender bus, Priscilla. En route, it is discovered that the woman they’ve contracted with is Anthony’s wife. Their bus breaks down, and is repaired by Bob, who travels on with them.

 


15 Tangerine (2015)
A transgender prostitute is released from prison and meets her friend at a donut shop. She learns that her boyfriend and pimp is cheating on her and begins a search through the neighborhood for retribution.

 

 


16 Parting Glances (1986)
As Michael and Robert, a gay couple in New York, prepare for Robert’s departure for a two-year work assignment in Africa, Michael must face Robert’s true motives for leaving while dealing with their circle of eccentric friends, including Nick, who is living with AIDS.

 

 


17 The Color Purple (1985)
A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.

 

 


18 God’s Own Country (2017)
Spring. Yorkshire. Isolated young sheep farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe, employed for the lambing season, ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.

 

 


19 A Fantastic Woman (2017)
Marina, a transgender nightclub singer, comes under suspicion when her much older lover Orlando dies suddenly. After being harassed and threatened by her late boyfriend’s vengeful relatives and the police, she must defend her rights as both Orlando’s partner and as a human being.

 

 


20 Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
Divorced working woman Alex and well-to-do Jewish family doctor Daniel Hirsh share not only the same answering service but also the favours of young Bob Elkin who bed-hops between them as the mood takes him. Both Alex and Dr Hirsh are aware of the other’s existence but prefer to live with the situation rather than risk losing Elkin completely. But a wet winter weekend in London can be difficult.

 


21 Longtime Companion (1989)
The emergence and devastation of the AIDS epidemic is chronicled in the lives of several gay men living during the 1980s.

 

 


22 Pride (2014)
U.K. gay activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.

 

 


23 All About My Mother (1999)
Following the tragic death of her teenage son, Manuela travels from Madrid to Barcelona in an attempt to contact the long-estranged father the boy never knew. She reunites with an old friend, an outspoken transgender sex worker, and befriends a troubled actress and a pregnant, HIV-positive nun.

 

 


24 High Art (1998)
A young female intern at a small magazine company and a drug-addicted lesbian photographer slowly fall in love while exploiting each other to advance their respective careers.

 

 


25 Jeffrey (1995)
Jeffrey, a young gay man in New York, decides that sex is too much and decides to become celibate. He immediately meets the man of his dreams and must decide whether or not love is worth the danger of a boyfriend dying.

 

 


26 A Single Man (2009)
An English professor, one year after the sudden death of his boyfriend, is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960s Los Angeles.

 

 


27 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Raised a boy in East Berlin, Hedwig undergoes a personal transformation in order to emigrate to the U.S., where she reinvents herself as an “internationally ignored” but divinely talented rock diva, inhabiting a “beautiful gender of one”. She tours the U.S. with her band as she tells her life story and follows the former lover/band-mate who stole her songs.

 


28 Before Night Falls (2000)
Spanning several decades, this powerful biopic offers a glimpse into the life of famed Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas, an artist who was vilified for his homosexuality in Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

 

 


29 My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
A Pakistani Briton renovates a rundown laundrette with his male lover while dealing with drama within his family, the local Pakistani community, and a persistent mob of skinheads.

 

 


30 Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Based on the true story of would-be Brooklyn bank robbers John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturale. Sonny and Sal attempt a bank heist which quickly turns sour and escalates into a hostage situation and stand-off with the police. As Sonny’s motives for the robbery are slowly revealed and things become more complicated, the heist turns into a media circus.

 


31 Pariah (2011)
A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

 

 


32 But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
A naive teenager is sent to rehab camp when her straitlaced parents and friends suspect her of being a lesbian.

 

 

 


33 Beginners (2010)
A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer and that he has a young male lover.

 

 


34 The Wedding Banquet (1993)
A Taiwanese-American man is happily settled in New York with his American boyfriend. He plans a marriage of convenience to a Chinese woman in order to keep his parents off his back and to get the woman a green card. Chaos follows when his parents arrive in New York for the wedding.

 

 


35 Making Love (1982)
A perfect typical LA couple find their happily-ever-after life broken when Zach confronts his long-repressed attraction for other men.

 

 


36 Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Wealthy and precocious teenager Juliet transfers from England to New Zealand with her family, and soon befriends the quiet, brooding Pauline through their shared love of fantasy and literature. When their parents begin to suspect that their increasingly intense and obsessive bond is becoming unhealthy, the girls hatch a dark plan for those who threaten to keep them apart.

 


37 Maurice (1987)
After his lover rejects him, a young man trapped by the oppressiveness of Edwardian society tries to come to terms with and accept his sexuality.

 

 


38 My Own Private Idaho (1991)
In this loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV,” Mike Waters is a gay hustler afflicted with narcolepsy. Scott Favor is the rebellious son of a mayor. Together, the two travel from Portland, Oregon to Idaho and finally to the coast of Italy in a quest to find Mike’s estranged mother. Along the way they turn tricks for money and drugs, eventually attracting the attention of a wealthy benefactor and sexual deviant.

 


39 Beach Rats (2017)
A Brooklyn teenager spends his days experimenting with drugs and looking online for older men to meet with.

 

 

 


40 Personal Best (1982)
1976. Young sprinter Chris Cahill is having difficulty reaching her potential as an athlete, until she meets established track star Tory Skinner. As Tory and her coach help Chris with her training, the two women form friendship that evolves into a romantic relationship. Their intimacy, however, becomes complicated when Chris’ improvement causes them to be competitors for the Olympic team.

 


41 The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Two women, Nic and Jules, brought a son and daughter into the world through artificial insemination. When one of their children reaches age, both kids go behind their mothers’ backs to meet with the donor. Life becomes so much more interesting when the father, two mothers and children start to become attached to each other.

 

 


42 The Watermelon Woman (1996)
A young black lesbian filmmaker probes into the life of The Watermelon Woman, a 1930s black actress who played ‘mammy’ archetypes.

 

 


43 Other People (2016)
Comedy writer David, already struggling with career frustrations and a painful breakup with his boyfriend, returns home to Sacramento to care for his cancer-stricken mother. There, he and his family bond as his mom decides to quit chemotherapy and accept death on her own terms.

 

 


44 Happy Together (1997)
A gay couple from Hong Kong takes a trip to Argentina in search of a new beginning but instead begins drifting even further apart.

 

 


45 Keep the Lights On (2012)
In Manhattan, film-maker Erik bonds with closeted lawyer Paul after a fling. As their relationship becomes one fueled by highs, lows, and dysfunctional patterns, Erik struggles to negotiate his own boundaries while being true to himself.

 

 


46 Desert Hearts (1985)
In 1959, while waiting for her divorce papers, a repressed professor of literature is unexpectedly seduced by a carefree, spirited young lesbian.

 

 


47 Viva (2015)
A former boxer physically confronts his estranged son, a makeup artist-turned-drag performer, in this drama. In the aftermath of the assault, both men are forced to rectify old wounds.

 

 


48 Handsome Devil
Two underclassmen roommates at an all-boys boarding school eventually and unexpectedly bond, one a social outcast, the other a star rugby player. With a new English teacher challenging students to find their own voices, the boys’ friendship is tested by the rugby-obsessed expectations of others after one is found to be gay.

 

 


49 Rocketman (2019)
The story of Elton John’s life, from his years as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music through his influential and enduring musical partnership with Bernie Taupin.

 

 


50 Love, Simon (2018)
Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

 

 


51 Rent (2005)
This is the film version of the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical about Bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggling with life, love and AIDS, and the impacts they have on America.

 

 


52 Knock at the Cabin (2023)
While vacationing, a girl and her parents are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family make a choice to avert the apocalypse.

 

 


53 Ammonite
Ammonite is a romantic drama that stars the great Kate Winslet and the also-great Saoirse Ronan. The story follows Mary Anning (Winslet) a paleontologist who sells fossils to tourists to support her elderly mother. Her life changes when a visitor hires her to tend to his wife, whom she finds herself inexplicably drawn to.


54 Booksmart
On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night.

 

 


55 Happiest Season
A young woman’s plans to propose to her girlfriend while at her family’s annual holiday party are upended when she discovers her partner hasn’t yet come out to her conservative parents.

 

 


56 The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
Pennsylvania, 1993. In this drama from director Desiree Akhavan, Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz), a high-school track athlete, is forced to attend a Christian gay conversion therapy center after her legal guardian discovers she is a lesbian. But Cameron finds camaraderie and solidarity with the other gay teens there and learns how to survive in an intolerant world.

 


57 The Fear Street Trilogy ()
Part One – 1994 (2021) – A circle of teenage friends accidentally encounter the ancient evil responsible for a series of brutal murders that have plagued their town for over 300 years. Welcome to Shadyside.

 

 

 

Part Two – 1978 (2021) Shadyside, 1978. School’s out for summer and the activities at Camp Nightwing are about to begin. But when another Shadysider is possessed with the urge to kill, the fun in the sun becomes a gruesome fight for survival.

 

 

Part Three – 1666 (2021) In 1666, a colonial town is gripped by a hysterical witch-hunt that has deadly consequences for centuries to come, and it’s up to teenagers in 1994 to finally put an end to their town’s curse, before it’s too late.

 

 


58 Of An Age (2023)
In the summer of 1999, a 17-year-old Serbian-born Australian amateur ballroom dancer experiences an unexpected and intense 24-hour romance with a friend’s older brother.