10 More Must-See Gay Films Chosen By Queerty Readers

We recently shared 10 essential LGBT films on the struggle for acceptance and equality, which naturally provoked a passionate response regarding which films truly shouldn’t be missed. On the eve of the film festival season, you commented and emailed with your own great suggestions to add to our list so here’s a round-up of even more must-see films experience recommended by Queerty readers.

Scroll down to see the list and watch trailers for the films.

Before Stonewall/After Stonewall

Before Stonewall, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 1984, shows what life was like for the gay community prior to the 1969 Stonewall riots. In 1999, the film’s producer John Scagliotti directed a companion piece to the film called After Stonewall, which examines LGBT rights activism in the 30 years since that seminal event.

Out Late

Out Late is an hour-long documentary about five individuals who made the decision to come out as lesbian, gay, or transgender, after the age of 55. The 2008 film has been selected by and screened at film festivals all across the world.

Longtime Companion

This 1989 drama was the first wide-release theatrical film to deal with the subject of AIDS, and stars Campbell Scott, Dermot Mulroney, Mary-Louise Parker and Bruce Davison, who received an Oscar nod for his moving work here. It chronicles the first years of the AIDS epidemic as seen through its impact on several individuals, both gay and straight, and was met with widespread critical acclaim. Some consider it the greatest gay tearjerker of them all.

Changing Ours Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker

This 1992 documentary chronicles the work of Evenlyn Hooker, a psychologist who researched and challenged the psychological view on homosexuality in her 1957 paper “The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual” and subsequent research. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Love Free Or Die

Love Free Or Die is documentary about Bishop Gene Robinsonthe first openly gay person to become a bishop in the historic traditions of Christendom. The film examines Robinson’s two passions, which are at direct odds with one another: his love for God and for his partner Mark. The film follows Robinson’s personal story as American churches debate whether or not LGBT people are equal to heterosexuals in the eyes of God.

The Boys in the Band (1970)

Often considered one of the most polarizing movies in the queer film canon, this adaptation of Mart Crowley’s witty, heartbreaking off-Broadway play depicts a birthday party attended by a close group of gay friends. The play was the first to deal honestly with gay urban life, and the film was the first movie with openly homosexual characters to receive a R-rating as opposed to an X-rating by the MPAA. A 2011 documentary called Making the Boys explores the production of the play and film in the context of its era.

Trembling Before G-d

This 2001 documentary follows a group of gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews who are all struggling to reconcile their sexual orientations with their faith. The film interviews these men and women, many of whom would only agree to appear in silhouette, as well as several rabbis and psychologists regarding their views on homosexuality in Orthodox Judaism.

Paragraph 175

This film examines the Nazi persecution of homosexuals during World War II. “Paragraph 175” refers to the old German penal code concerning homosexuality, which was used to justify the prosecution of gay men during the war (the code ignored lesbians, still considered viable baby-making vessels). In 2000, fewer than ten of these men were known to be living. Five come forward in the documentary to tell their stories for the first time, considered to be among the last untold stories of the Third Reich.

Beautiful Thing (1996)

Based on the 1993 play of the same name, this beloved drama tells a story of how young love can triumph against all odds as two men from a working-class area of South East London unexpectedly fall for one another. Plus, the soundtrack is filled with wonderful songs by the late, great Mama Cass. The film was a huge hit when it was released nearly 20 years ago, and has since been re-released several times on DVD.

Pariah (2011)

This acclaimed indie drama tells the story of 17-year-old Alike as she embraces her identity as a lesbian while simultaneously must deal with distain from her mother (comic Kim Wayans in an impressive dramatic turn). It premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the Excellence in Cinematography Award. Out director Dee Rees also received a number of awards for the film.

Check out the GayCities film festival event calendar, and find great new films playing near you.

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  • Mezaien

    How I wish I could have seen them all. And how lucky I am to grow up with no fear of being a HOMO.

  • footwork61

    Call me a hopeless romantic, but I still like Shelter. A straight friend of mine said it had the first gay love scene init that she would call “sweet.”

  • sanfranca1

    @Qjersey: So right. At the Boys in The Band: “One of the most polarizing movies in the queer film canon due its perceived , this adaptation of Mart Crowley’s witty, heartbreaking…” It’s like the writer dozed off in the middle of this.

  • lykeitiz

    Others I think are pretty good, but rarely see mentioned:

    Sugar 2004-John Palmer, Director
    Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green
    The Opposite of Sex
    Summer Storm 2004-Marco Kreuzpaintner, Director

  • modelo giro

    I liked Le Temps Qui Reste (Time to leave)Gives you something to think and talk about. It was well received by the critics at the time (2005)

  • tchuy03

    Shelter is by far the best Gay movie!

  • john.k

    An 80s film I loved for the matter of fact way it portrayed gay life was “Parting Glances”.

  • celt04

    As an alternative there’s the Swedish TV drama “Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar” (“Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves”) which was shown (subtitled) on BBC.

  • James Hart

    I saw “Boys In The Band’ when I literally was a boy, and I saw “Longtime Companion” as a young man. I loved both of those films. The characters of both ensembles were unforgettable, especially in “Boys…”. It’s tragic that most of the gay actors in “Boys…” eventually died of A.I.D.S. May they rest in peace.

  • Throbert McGee

    I would strongly recommend Trembling Before G-d as a possible icebreaker for when LGBT Christians are attempting dialogue with their more traditionalist and homophobic co-religionists, precisely because the movie places this debate soley within the context of Orthodox Judaism, not Christianity.

    Thus, it doesn’t alienate conservative Christians from the get-go by bringing up arguments like “What did the Apostle Paul really mean in 1st Corinthians 6:9-10?” or “How would Jesus have voted on gay marriage?” — for the obvious reason that Jews don’t give a hoot what Paul or Jesus thought about such matters!

  • Throbert McGee

    If you haven’t seen it before, here’s a must-see that takes only 11 minutes of your time: an amazing stop-motion puppet animation of Achilles and his lover Patroclus.

    I’d also recommend Urbania (2000) — Dan Futterman apparently can’t come to terms with the fact that his long-term relationship is over, and meanwhile a lady microwaves her poodle… it’s hard to describe in more detail without plot-spoilers, but it’s one that I compulsively re-watched, like Donnie Darko.

    Big Eden (2000) is in many ways a typical Nora-Ephron-ish comedy about a love triangle, except that all three of the points are men: angle A is an out Artist in Manhattan who’s called back to his tiny Montana hometown by a family medical emergency; angle B is the Bisexual jock that A has pined for since high school, but who’s now in a happy hetero marriage; angle C is the Closeted wallflower who’s always had a crush on A. Running theme: Well-cooked food as an expression of love. (All three men are 40-ish and average-looking, which may be a plus for some viewers.)

  • randalmb

    Great list, to which I would add 1990’s “Andre’s Mother”, starring Sada Thompson and Richard Thomas, and written by Terrence McNally. If you’ve never seen it, know that it’s a tear-jerker, but very good.

  • zaneymcbanes

    Excellent, excellent list. Pariah is honestly one of the best movies of the decade. Adepero Oduye needs to get more work.

  • miklwhite

    Especially agree with Beautiful Thing! Boys in the Band – only to point out how self loathing Mort Crawly was!
    Did a 16 week discussion group of gay cinema. Intend on doing one on documentaries. I would include in this: any of the Don Stretchy mysteries with Chad Allen. Were the World Mine. Bear City, Role/play. Big Eden, Latter Days, Shelter, The Big Gay Musical,and Breakfast with Scot.

  • Throbert McGee

    I just remembered the British film Get Real, which should arguably be viewed as a double-feature with Beautiful Thing. For me, Get Real particularly resonated because of its honesty about the fact that some young gay men first start to figure themselves out through cottaging/tearooming, and not in lovey-dovey idealized relationships.
    Others have mentioned Latter Days — I loved it, but my one complaint is that the only truly likeable Mormon character was the gay dude. ONE of the non-gay Mormons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character) is just very slightly sympathetic; the others are all raging homophobes — there are no “Mormon PFLAG” straight allies depicted in the film.
    Speaking as viewer who’s gay but not Mormon, I found myself wondering whether the LDS church is truly as bad as portrayed, or if the screenwriter was exaggerating things based on his own negative experiences.

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