You’ll definitely want to add these films about queer love to your must-watch list.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good story about love? Whether it’s a light-hearted rom-com or a heavy drama, these stories can not only help us relate to each other over the shared experience of loving people but they can also help us see what that experience looks like in communities outside of our own.
And that’s why I chose to focus on stories about queer love, not just because we’ve had countless stories about heterosexual love, but because LGBTQIA+ films are still considered niche (which means they end up not getting nearly as much attention as heterocentric films) and I don’t want anyone to miss out on seeing these fantastic titles.
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Written and directed by the talented Dee Rees, Pariah is an honest look at a coming-out story of an African American teenager, centered around her friendship with a girl from church and her mother’s nonacceptance of her sexuality.
Happiest Season (2020)
Written and directed by Clea DuVall, Happiest Season is heartwarming and sweet just like many other Christmas films. It’s about self-acceptance, family, and being yourself — definitely one to add to your holiday movie list.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Setting aside for a moment all the controversy around the lead actor Armie Hammer, this film is still a very touching and moving piece of art.
Set in 1980s Italy, a romance blossoms between a seventeen-year-old student and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant. Timothée Chalamet gives an amazing performance.
Elvis & Madonna (2010)
Odds are most people reading this list have not seen this Brazilian film. I had the chance to see it at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival years ago and it stuck with me ever since.
This love story between a lesbian photographer and a transgender hairdresser has many laughs and ups and downs. It’s available to watch for free on YouTube, so do yourself a favor and check it out.
The Watermelon Woman (1996)
This 1996 independent film follows the story of a young black lesbian filmmaker researching the life of The Watermelon Woman, a 1930s black actress who played “mammy” archetypes. It’s an honest and real look at race, sexuality, and lesbian relationships — and it came out in a time when we hardly ever saw these stories depicted in the media.
The Wedding Banquet (1993)
This comedy is about an Asian gay man marrying a woman to satisfy his nagging parents. The film offers some real laughs and well-constructed characters as it explores the struggle of staying in the closet to please your parents.
This tale of a sex worker roaming the streets of Los Angeles looking for her cheating boyfriend and pimp does not necessarily contain a beautiful love story at the center of it. What made me include this film on this list is the complicated depictions of queer love, sex, and relationships in the film.
At the end of the day, the real love story here is the friendship between the women. This movie also gets points for having trans women playing trans women.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
This list would be incomplete without this film. This 2005 Oscar winner changed the conversation when it came to the queer community and made these stories mainstream for the first time.
In fact, due to all of the awards and media attention, there was talk of making the lesbian version of Brokeback Mountain.
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
The Kids Are All Right is a story about two children, who were conceived by artificial insemination, bringing their biological father into their family life. Despite being in a long-term and stable marriage, their parents are stuck in a rut and the presence of the bio dad shakes things up.
This Oscar winner was made by filmmaker Barry Jenkins. It follows the story of a young African-American man who grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood. It covers three different time periods in this character’s life and depicts a complicated relationship between two boys in a world where being gay means being bullied and ostracized. It’s a deeply touching story.
Whether you’ve seen them all or just added a bunch to your watch list, make sure to examine these films closely to see what works, what they have in common, or if there’s an element missing. Either way, I hope this list inspires you to write the next big queer love story!
Julia Camara is an award-winning Brazilian screenwriter/filmmaker. Julia won a Telly Award for the sci-fi found footage feature Occupants. Julia’s feature directorial debut In Transit, won Best Experimental Film at four different festivals. Julia’s other writing credits include Area Q and Open Road.