8 Great LGBTQ Movies to Watch During Pride Month
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LGBTQ-centered stories no longer focus solely on coming out, whether to family, friends or employers. And these tales of the city and beyond aren’t relegated only to June, which is great news. Still, Pride Month remains a fine time to discover new movies and catch up with some classics that helped pave the way for the depiction of a diversity of characters and their stories. To loosely paraphrase a chant from thousands of pride marches, these stories are “here, they’re queer ... get the popcorn!”
British director and national treasure Terence Davies, 76, turns his elegiac eye to poet Siegfried Sassoon, who came to prominence writing about the horrors and hypocrisies of World War I and lived a mostly out life amid the literary set of the 1920s. A film with a gay lead character is a sea change for the director, who is gay but has made no secret of being bitter about it. Benediction is also, according to early reviews, one of his best films.
Watch it: Benediction in theaters
Fire Island (2022)
SNL’s Bowen Yang plays Howie, the gay best friend of — yes! — a gay lead character in this seriously raunch-positive (if it were in theaters, it would get a hard R) twist on Pride and Prejudice set during a week at New York’s storied Fire Island. Writer Joel Kim Booster stars as Noah, whose narrative arc finds him making sure his bestie has a sexual encounter and coming to terms with his own hubris and hang-ups. What is it about Will, a standoffish lawyer and best friend of the guy Howie actually likes, that has burrowed beneath his skin?
Watch it: Fire Island on Hulu
Don’t miss this: Discover the Rich Culture and History of LGBTQ Life in ‘Pride’
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Head to the English countryside with pianist Sam and writer Tusker as they embark on their final road trip. Final because one of them has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. The setting is lovely, and Colin Firth, as Sam, and Stanley Tucci, as Tusker, bring expected but no less satisfying charm and sorrow to their performances as the longtime couple.
Watch it: Supernova on Amazon Prime, YouTube
Saving Face (2004)
Writer-director Alice Wu’s debut feature about the lesbian Chinese American daughter of a seemingly traditional mom (in a bit of a bind herself) is aging well. Joan Chen is lovely as the single and pregnant mom who moves in with her physician daughter, Wilhelmina (Michelle Krusiec). Wil herself is embarking on a sweet, if too clandestine, romance with dancer Vivian (Lynn Chen). Sure, the movie has some improbably feel-good resolutions to its deftly laid out dilemmas about dutiful daughters and immigrant families, but that merely puts it in fine rom-com company in which upbeat notes trump pain.
Watch it: Saving Face on Amazon Prime, Hulu
I Carry You with Me (2020)
Past and present, hurt and joy are beautifully woven into this drama that follows aspiring chef Iván and teacher Gerardo across borders and barriers, together and apart, over years, as the two Mexican men pursue dreams and love, and push against the challenges of immigration policy and familial disapproval. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Watch it: I Carry You with Me on Amazon Prime, Starz
This instant classic about searching for first love and coming out heralded two debuts: those of writer-director Dee Rees (Mudbound) and actor Adepero Oduye (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier). Along with cinematographer Bradford Young, they brought touching, sensuous, color-saturated beauty to a young woman’s journey toward liberation, set in Fort Greene, New York.
Prestige meets slow-kindling passion in this romantic drama, speculatively based on the life of paleontologist and legendary fossil collector Mary Anning. Kate Winslet plays the dour Anning. Saoirse Ronan is Charlotte Murchison, the melancholic wife of a geologist, left by her husband in the reluctant care of Anning in Lyme Regis near the English Channel’s Jurassic Coast. Far from meeting cute, the pair hardly meet at all, so tepid is their mutual acknowledgment. The setting and the emotions captured by the stellar leads are austere, until the story subtly, touchingly warms up.
Watch it: Ammonite on Amazon Prime, YouTube
Swan Song (2021)
Pat Pitsenbarger (Udo Kier) is a retired hairstylist who has been summoned back to his Ohio hometown to do the hair and makeup of a former friend one last time. Jennifer Coolidge plays Pat’s onetime rival. Linda Evans makes an appearance. As one character says sweetly, “Who can forget the Liberace of Sandusky?” Kier’s delightfully tart, occasionally mournful performance provides the answer: Nobody.
Watch it: Swan Song on Hulu
Lisa Kennedy, a regular AARP film critic, is a former Village Voice editor (1986-96) and Denver Post film critic (2003-15) who writes on popular culture, race and gender for Variety, The New York Times, Essence, American Theatre, the Denver Post, and others.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 3, 2020. It has been updated with new movies and links where you can stream the films on this list.