Gays in fatigues: 10 LGBTQ+ military films worth watching

A still from the film 'Moffie' featuring men in army clothing.
Image Credit: ‘Moffie,’ IFC Films

Earlier this month, it was announced Netflix would be producing a new dramedy series called The Corps, based on author Greg Cope White’s bestselling memoir The Pink Marine.

Produced by 100-year old TV legend Norman Lear, the series finds 13 Reasons Why star Miles Heizer playing a bullied gay teen who joins the Marines in 1990—a time even before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” when being openly queer in the military could lead to a dishonorable discharge, jail time, or even worse.

To put it lightly, there’s a long and complicated history of LGBTQ+ people serving in the military—both in the U.S. and abroad—which, over the years, has inspired a wide range of compelling stories on screen, many of them based on real people!

While we wait to see what kind of perspective The Corps brings to the fraught subject matter, let’s take a look back at 10 films from the past 20 years that spotlight queer people serving in the military. And, proceed with caution: Many of these features are a tough watch—after all, war is h*ll, as they say.

Burning Blue

We’re not the first to tell you that, actually, Top Gun is one of the most homoerotic “straight” movies ever made. But this 2014 drama from D.M.W. Greer makes the gay subtext between two Navy pilots the text, adapting his play of the same name to tell the story a forbidden romance between young trainees. Though the lovers attempt to keep it a secret, a military investigation threatens to expose them, ruining their relationships and careers.

Available for digital rental/purchase via AppleTV, Prime Video, YouTube TV, Google Play, and Vudu.


Firebird‘s conceit isn’t entirely different from Burning Blue‘s—a tale of forbidden love between to military pilots—but distinguishes itself by taking us behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. In Soviet era Russia, the stakes are even higher when a young private (Tom Prior, who also co-wrote the feature) falls for a fighter pilot (Oleg Zagorodnii) on his base, and the two enter into a secret, years-long affair that, if found out, would threaten their livelihoods—and lives.

Streaming via Prime Video. Available for digital rental/purchase via AppleTV, YouTube TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

The Inspection

Loosely based on filmmaker Elegance Bratton’s own story, The Inspection follows a gay Marine Corps recruit (Jeremy Pope) through a grueling basic training, trying to hide his sexuality from his peers and searching for purpose after a troubled childhood. The film earned Pope a Golden Globe Best Actor nod, won the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Film: Limited Release, and racked up a handful of Indie Spirit Award nods, including one for Gabrielle Union, who makes an uncharacteristically intense turn as a disapproving mother.

Available for digital rental/purchase via AppleTV, Prime Video, YouTube TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

The Letter Men

The sweeping short film The Letter Men takes its inspiration from real love letters written by Gilbert Bradley to his partner Gordon Bowsher during WWII—said to be the largest collection of LGBTQ+ love letters ever found. Uncovered in 2017, the words from their messages are brought to romantic, yearning life by director Andy Vallentine, showing us how Gordon (Peaky Blinders‘ Matthew Postlethwaite) and Gilbert (Teen Beach Movie‘s Garrett Clayton) kept their spark alive while war kept them worlds apart.

The Letter Men is screening at the Cannes Film Festival this month; stay tuned for U.S. streaming opportunities.

Love In Country

Set in Vietnam in 1968 during the early days of the Tet Offensive, Love In Country follows a U.S. Army infantry sent on a dangerous “phoenix mission” to kidnap a contact from the Northern Vietnamese Army. Despite the high stakes, a deeper connection blossoms between two gay soldiers, Sgt. Ian Alexander (David Garber) and Sgt. John Reese (Michael Southworth), who find themselves questioning what drives them to fight for a country that would rather not acknowledge their existence.

Available for digital rental/purchase via Prime Video, YouTube TV, Google Play, and Tubi.

A Marine Story

Written in direct response to the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, Ned Farr’s A Marine Story begins with the unexpected homecoming of Major Alexandra Everett (Dreya Weber, who famously once toured with Cher as an aerialist performer), a Marine back from the Iraq War under uncertain terms. Recruited to help train a troubled teen (Paris P. Pickard) for boot camp, secrets from both of their pasts come to the surface, and the troublesome reason this decorated officer was discharged becomes more clear.

Streaming on The Roku Channel, Tubi, and Kanopy. Available for digital rental/purchase via AppleTV, Prime Video, and Vudu.


Moffie—which is basically South African slang for “f*g”—adapts the autobiography of André Carl van der Merwe, reflecting on his compulsory national service during the apartheid. Directed by Oliver Hermanus (Living), we see the film through the eyes of closeted teen Nicholas (Kai Luke Brümmer), who is fearful of the military’s strict anti-homosexuality policy. Day-to-day life becomes a struggle to survive as Nicholas experiences homophobia and witnesses the blatant racism of a system he has no choice but to pledge loyalty to.

Streaming on Hulu. Available for digital rental/purchase via AppleTV, Prime Video, YouTube TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

Soldier’s Girl

Out heartthrob Lee Pace’s first feature film was Soldier’s Girl, the real-life story of trans woman Calpernia Addams. It’s a certainty that Pace wouldn’t play the role were the film made today, but he makes a striking and sensitive debut as Addams, who falls in love with an Army private named Barry (Jane Fonda’s son, Troy Garity) stationed at a base not far from the showgirl bar where she works. As the two meet and fall in love, their relationship stirs up tensions among Barry’s homophobic peers, threatening their safety.

Streaming on Prime Video, FuboTV, Paramount+, and MGM+.

Tom Of Finland

You know his name—and you definitely know his iconic artwork—but do you know his story? In this Finnish biopic, Pekka Strang plays “Tom,” a.k.a Touko Laaksonen, who is just finishing up his time serving in World War II, returning home a changed man in a changed world. Heavily inspired by all the men in uniform around him, Tom begins sketching erotic and fetishistic portraits of men. At the time, his work made him an outcast, but Dome Karukoski’s film traces his journey to finding a community and becoming a counterculture artist.

Streaming on Hoopla and Kanopy. Available for digital rental/purchase via AppleTV, Prime Video, KinoNOW, and Vudu.

Yossi & Jagger

From 2002, Yossi & Jagger is the oldest of the films on this list, which makes it all the more ahead of its time. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Eytan Fox, the film transports audiences to a small outpost on the Israel–Lebanon border under the command of Yossi (Ohad Knoller). Behind closed doors, he’s having an affair with his subordinate officer Lior (Yehuda Levi), nicknamed “Jaggger” for his rock-star swagger. Things become complicated when female officers arrive to the base, and tensions rise against the backdrop of an uneasy war.

Available for digital rental/purchase via Prime Video.