We’ve gone back through our cinematic archives to mine some of our favorite depictions of Black, queer love in the movies. These films profiled here explore love in all its forms, from friendship to romance to self-love with probing power. From Oscar winners to indie gems, they offer perspectives on race, gender, sexuality, and relationships that touch our hearts, and that we will not soon forget.
Grab the popcorn and someone beautiful, and get ready to stream…
Director Patrik-Ian Polk (remember his name… it will pop up again) gave a young Jussie Smollett one of his best roles in this comedy/romance about a group of friends attending Pride. Just like every great Pride experience, said friends find themselves in some steamy situations, though the real love here is the camaraderie among the group.
Director Barry Jenkins explores male identity and queer male love in this deeply moving tale of lifelong friends Kevin and Chiron. Viewers noticed, and the movie took home a Best Picture Academy Award.
Cinematic powerhouse Dee Rees made an auspicious feature debut with this story of a butch, Black lesbian coming to terms with her feminine and racial identities, as well as her growing attraction to her best friend. To date, it remains one of the frankest and unapologetic movies about queer love ever made.
Though it contains no sex scenes, director Marlon Riggs’ masterpiece revels in images of male-to-male affection, as it ruminates on the intersection between masculinity, race, and sexual orientation. Rarely do documentaries get this sensuous, or this profound.
Not to be confused with any number of films that share the same title, this 2014 gem from Patrick-Ian Polk chronicles the story of Randy (Julian Walker), a southern teen struggling with his deep faith and his growing attraction to other men. It also features some of the most outrageous–and passionate–love scenes in cinema.
Naz & Maalik
This love story by director Jay Dockendorf follows the budding romance between two Muslim, immigrant teenagers. The film became a critical darling back in 2015. As the two boys draw closer and closer to one another, an FBI agent begins to believe the couple is plotting a terrorist attack. Little does she know, the pair’s only secret is their love for one another.
Brother to Brother
A baby-faced Anthony Mackie stars in this 2004 story about Perry, a young gay, Black man befriending a founding member of the Harlem Renaissance. Told through a series of explicit flashbacks and flashforwards, Perry comes to discover the parallels between 21st-century racism and homophobia, and those faced by the likes of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.
The Watermelon Woman
Cheryl Dunye caused a sensation with this scripted-documentary hybrid. Apart from being one of the most important LGBTQ films ever made, critics hailed the film for its frank depiction of lesbian sex, with critic Jeannine DeLombard raving that it had “the hottest dyke sex scene ever recorded on celluloid.”
Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom
Patrik-Ian Polk (there’s his name again) followed up his cult TV series with this spin-off movie, which found the title character (again portrayed by Darryl Stephens) getting some proverbial wedding jitters ahead of his nuptials to boyfriend Wade (Jensen Atwood). Hey, honest depiction sometimes means showing the good and the bad.
The Color Purple
While we have to add a certain caveat here that the erotic scenes here are way too tame, we also have to commend Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Alice Walker classic novel as one of the most tender, moving films about the love between two women ever made. Here’s hoping the forthcoming musical remake manages to retain that moving power and turn up the volume on lesbian love.