LGBTQ+ Pride Month

9 Diverse LGBTQ Movies That Deserve Your Attention

Consider this your Pride Month watchlist.

One of the biggest criticisms of LGBTQ cinema is that most films center on the experiences of White, male, cisgender characters. While this rings true, there are plenty of diverse LGBTQ movies out there that speaks to the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of Asian, Black, and Latinx descent.

Sure, LGBT films that feature White characters do well at the Oscars — just look at Boys Don't Cry, Brokeback Mountain, Call Me By Your Name, Carol, Dallas Buyers Club, and Philadelphia. But that doesn't mean that the inclusive times we're living in don't have an appetite for stories from other backgrounds. There are plenty of Asian LGBTQ movies, Black LGBTQ movies, and Latinx LGBTQ movies out there to enjoy.

Here are nine LGBTQ films that highlight people of color, keeping in mind that these movies (and their trailers) might be NSFW due to language or sexual themes:

"A Fantastic Woman"

2017's A Fantastic Woman, directed by Sebastián Lelio, was Chile's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars — later winning that Academy Award in 2018. It stars Daniela Vega — a Chilean actress-vocalist who is a transgender woman (becoming the first to ever present at the Oscars) — who plays the role of a transgender woman named Marina, a waitress who moonlights as a singer at night, and is sent reeling when she has to deal with the sudden death of her older boyfriend. This is the first Academy Award-winning movie with a transgender storyline and a transgender lead.

Available on Amazon.

"Brother to Brother"

Brother to Brother, a 2004 film directed by Rodney Evans, follows an art student named Perry (Anthony Mackie) who befriends an older homeless man named Bruce Nugent (Roger Robinson), who was an important figure during the actual Harlem Renaissance. The two men find that, though their experiences took place in completely different generations, they have more in common than they are different by being Black and gay in America when it comes to facing racism and homophobia.

Available on Amazon.

"The Handmaiden"

2016's The Handmaiden is directed by Park Chan-wook and based on the Sarah Waters novel Fingersmith (changing the setting from Victorian era Britain to Korea under Japanese colonial rule). It is an intricate and seductive thriller involving two women, a con artist named Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) and an heiress named Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee), that is full of murder, revenge, and sex. It's probably the most NSFW on this list but is so unique — and did so well with critics — that it would be a crime to leave it off.

Available on Amazon.

"Happy Together"

Happy Together, a 1997 film directed by Wong Kar-wai, gets its name from the 1967 song of the same name by The Turtles (which is covered by Danny Chung for the soundtrack) and follows a couple who are trying to save their relationship with a trip to Argentina to visit Iguazu Falls. The two Hong Kong men, Ho Po-wing (Leslie Cheung) and Lai Yiu-fai (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), find themselves drifting apart in opposite directions.

Available on Amazon.

"Moonlight"

2016's Moonlight — which won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards — is a coming-of-age story directed by Barry Jenkins, which follows a young Black man throughout three stages of his life: childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. We follow Chiron (played chronologically by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes) as he struggles to find his identity and sexuality while enduring a rather rough life that tests him at every turn. It is the first film with an all-Black cast as well as the first LGBT film to win the biggest award in Hollywood.

Available on Amazon.

"Pariah"

Pariah, a 2011 film from Dee Rees (the eventual director of both Bessie and Mudbound), follows Alike (Adepero Oduye) — a 17-year-old Black girl from a religious family in Brooklyn who is hiding the fact that she is a lesbian from her parents. Throughout the movie, Alike struggles to find a balance of embracing how she identifies while also maintaining a relationship with her parents.

Watch on Netflix.

"Paris is Burning"

1990's Paris Is Burning is a documentary directed by Jennie Livingston that explores the ball culture of New York City in the '80s. It chronicles the lives of Black and Latinx members of the LGBTQ community and, given the themes it explores, was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2016. For those of you who still think Madonna invented voguing, you'll definitely need to check this out and experience a whole new world.

Watch on Netflix.

"Tangerine"

Tangerine, from filmmaker Sean Baker (who also directed The Florida Project), is a 2015 film that follows two transgender sex workers — Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor). The former finds out she is being cheated on by her boyfriend and pimp and, with the latter, sets out to exact revenge. The movie was shot entirely on three iPhone 5s smartphones, but the most impressive thing is that it was able to utilize transgender actresses in roles meant for transgender actresses.

Watch on Netflix.

"The Watermelon Woman"

1996's The Watermelon Woman made history as the first feature directed by a Black lesbian, with Cheryl Dunye holding that honor. In it, Dunye plays a version of herself who is a video store worker attempting to make a film about a Black actress from a fictional film who played a stereotypical "mammy" roles of the time. Dunye set out to make this movie after finding how hard it was to find credits of Black actresses in early cinema and used this to shine a light on their omission from history. This movie speaks to being a Black lesbian as well as just a Black person in the early days of film.

Available on Amazon.

Cover image: Sony Pictures Classics / A24

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