LGBTQ films help celebrate, document history

Many people do not know that October is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) History Month. To honor and celebrate a diverse culture, here is a list of movies that deal directly with the LBGTQ community and its rich history.


1. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

The Plot: Ang Lee’s masterpiece centers around two cowboys who form a relationship, and the burden they go through to keep their affair a secret. From hidden meetings to lying to their loved ones, they go through great hardships to be together without anyone else finding out.

Why It Made the List: This forbidden romance was made possible by the powerful performances and chemistry of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. They created an on-screen passion between each other that felt very authentic.  “Brokeback Mountain” was nominated for eight Oscars, winning three and was honored with nominations and awards at every other major award show, making it one of the most recognized movies in history to deal with homosexuality.

2. Milk (2008)

The Plot: Gus Van Sant’s biopic is based on the real life story of Harvey Milk. “Milk” stars Sean Penn as the title character who became the first openly gay elected official of California. The movie shows the struggle that Milk went through as a gay activist, with the majority of the focus on his campaigns and relationships with people around him.

Why It Made the List: Throughout his political campaigns, Milk was ridiculed and discriminated against for being openly gay. He remained unfazed by the public’s outbursts and fought for what he believed in. Milk was proud of who he was and created a truly inspirational story through his determination to succeed. He remains a hero, not only for the homosexual community, but for the entire world.

3. Philadelphia (1993)

The Plot: Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) is a gay man with AIDS who is hired at a law firm. The firm later finds out about Beckett and he gets fired. Beckett gets help from a homophobic lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), and they work together to try to take down the firm in court.

Why It Made the List: There were many movies made in the past that dealt with AIDS, but none got worldwide acclaim. Director Jonathan Demme wanted to create a movie dealing with AIDS that people would see. Featuring a dedicated Oscar-winning performance from Tom Hanks, “Philadelphia” is a touching, heartfelt movie.

4. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

The Plot: Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are a married lesbian couple. They have two kids who track down their sperm donor Paul (Mark Ruffalo). As Paul gets more involved in their lives, Nic starts to feel that he is taking over, while Jules starts a forbidden bond with him.

Why It Made the List: This movie doesn’t just focus on homosexuality between a couple — it focuses on how homosexuality affects an entire family. Offering a perfect balance of drama and comedy, “The Kids Are All Right” gives an authentic glimpse into the relationships and interactions that happen within a family with same-sex parents. The movie received four Oscar nominations including Best Picture.

5. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

The Plot: Based on a true story, Hilary Swank plays Brandon Teena, a person born female who perceives herself as male. Teena starts a relationship with Lana (Chloë Sevigny), and they plan to run away together. Before they can do that, Lana’s friends get drunk and decide to go after Teena because they find out her secret.

Why It Made the List: The movie shows audiences the emotionally harrowing life of Brandon Teena and what he had to go through just because he wanted to stay true to himself.  The entire movie was dependent on Swank’s powerhouse performance, which earned her an Oscar.

6. A Single Man (2009)

The Plot: George Falconer (Colin Firth) is an English professor whose partner, Jim, died in a car accident years ago. He gets caught up thinking about the death, and not even his close friend Charley (Julianne Moore) can help. George encounters a student with whom he creates a close bond with, but it is not a good enough distraction. The movie focuses on the pain that one goes through after losing a beloved partner.

Why It Made the List: The majority of the praise for this movie comes from the Oscar-nominated performance that Firth gives as a gay man that cannot deal with the pain and emotional damage of losing his partner. It is one of the few movies that deal directly with the death of a man’s partner.

7. Transamerica (2005)

The Plot: Bree Osbourne (Felicity Huffman) is scheduled to have surgery that will finalize her status as a woman when she gets a call from Toby (Kevin Zegers), who claims to be her son. Osbourne reluctantly takes him in and he discovers that she is transsexual. The movie centers on the relationship that forms between them, as well as how Osbourne is treated and viewed by the public.

Why It Made the List: Huffman gives the best performance of her career by showing the complexity of playing a transsexual. She manages to deliver every emotion perfectly; from being strong and independent to emotionally fragile and confused. Huffman received an Oscar nomination for her performance.

8. The Crying Game (1992)

The Plot: Fergus (Stephen Rea), an army volunteer, and Jody (Forest Whitaker), a British soldier, get captured. Fergus escapes and flees to London to find Dil (Jaye Davidson), Jody’s lover. Fergus and Dil develop a relationship, but they find out that not everything is as it seems.

Why It Made the List: “The Crying Game” received worldwide acclaim after its release. To this day, it still has one of the most shocking twists in the history of cinema. The magic in this movie comes from the incredible performance that Davidson plays in his Oscar-nominated role as Dil. Secrets are everywhere in this must-see thriller.

9. Parting Glances (1986)

The Plot: Nick (Steve Buscemi), a man who has AIDS, is taken care of by his ex-boyfriend Michael (Richard Ganoung). Michael is in a relationship with another man (John Bolger) who is going to Africa for his work. The story deals with being away from a loved one and handling emotions when another loved one lives with AIDS.

Why It Made the List: “Parting Glances” is the least known movie on the list, but it is one of the very first movies to be directly about AIDS. This was a passion project for director Bill Sherwood, who died of AIDS after only making this movie. “Parting Glances” is a milestone for AIDS and homosexual movies that was an inspiration for films like “Philadelphia.”

10. The Birdcage (1996)

The Plot: Gay club owner Armand (Robin Williams) and his partner Albert (Nathan Lane) have to act as a straight, cultured couple because their son is introducing them to his new fiancee’s conservative parents. Armand and Albert try to learn to be straight so they do not ruin their son’s future marriage.

Why It Made the List: “The Birdcage” shows a more comedic and fun viewpoint of homosexuality, rather than a dramatic viewpoint filled with conflict. The entire cast gives dedicated and amusing performances that make the audience feel cheerful throughout the movie.