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 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.
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 Robinson, the 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.
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.
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.