"Carol" - 2015
Set in 1952, “Carol” follows the slow-burning romance of the titular Carol Aird, a glamorous married mother going through a divorce, and Therese Belivet, a department store clerk who is unsure of her relationship with her boyfriend. The two meet during the Christmas season when Carol is shopping for a gift for her daughter and wanders into the toy store where Therese works.
Carol accidentally on purpose leaves her gloves behind at the counter, meaning Therese will have to find a way to deliver them back to her. Their ensuing relationship is marked by doubt and struggle, both internal and external.
“Carol” is a poignant period piece full of emotion that is sure to ensnare any audience with its examination of the mysterious restraint LGBTQ people in the 1950s had to exhibit to maintain a facade of heterosexuality.
"The Miseducation of Cameron Post" - 2018
“The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” based on the novel of the same name by Emily M. Danforth, premiered in 2018 at the Sundance Film Festival. Cameron Post is a teenage girl played by Chloë Grace Moretz who gets sent to an anti-LGBTQ conversion camp by her aunt after her relationship with another girl, Coley, is discovered.
Cameron befriends two other camp attendees: Adam, a Lakota two-spirit, and Jane, who grows her own weed and was raised by hippies. God’s Promise is run by Dr. Lydia Marsh and her brother, Rick, who claims to have been converted from homosexuality by his sister’s treatments. At the camp, Cameron discovers what drives individuals toward their identity, whether it be in defiance or acceptance of the ruling anti-gay authority.
"Pose" - 2018
“Pose” is a TV show about the ballroom culture of the 1980s, a scene populated by LGBTQ people of color. The ballroom scene flourished amid the AIDS crisis and is the premainstream origins of modern drag. The show mainly follows Blanca, a transgender woman of color who receives an HIV diagnosis. She wants to leave behind a legacy in the only way she can — winning in the ballroom.
What follows is a funny and poignant show set to funky 80s jams about found family, resilience and accepting yourself despite rejection. Not only are all transgender characters played by transgender actors, the show is written and produced by Janet Mock, a transgender woman of color. The show puts the narrative in the hands of those who best understand it. “Pose” was just added to Netflix, making it the perfect summer binge.
"The Favourite" - 2018
“The Favourite” paints a scandalous picture loosely based on the lesbian relationships between Queen Anne of England, Scotland and Ireland and two of her confidantes, Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham.
Sarah, also known as the Duchess of Marlborough, is played by Rachel Weisz, and Abigail is played by Emma Stone. Sarah and Abigail both vie for the favor of Anne, played by Olivia Colman, as the absurdist comedy directed by Yorgos Lanthimos takes several dramatic turns through 18th-century court life.
Sarah holds power over the Queen and her decisions, but that dynamic quickly changes as Abigail works her way up the social ladder through an alliance with parliamentarian Robert Harley and her marriage to nobleman Samuel Masham. The film earned Colman an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2019.
"Moonlight" - 2016
Barry Jenkins’ 2016 coming-of-age film “Moonlight,” based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unpublished play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” famously won Best Picture at the 89th annual Academy Awards over “La La Land.”
It was the first film with an all-black cast as well as the first LGBTQ film to win Best Picture and tells the story of Chiron, a boy growing up in Miami with a mother who is addicted to crack and a difficult path ahead of him.
Deeply humanistic, “Moonlight” shows Chiron at three different stages of his life as he tries to harden himself to the outside world. Throughout the movie, Chiron learns about his own sexuality and the trappings of black masculinity.
It was recently added to Netflix, so it’s a great time to see it for the first time or rewatch for a good cry.
"But I'm a Cheerleader" - 1999
Pastel-toned and perfectly camp, the 1999 satirical comedy “But I’m a Cheerleader” tells the story of cheerleader Megan who is sent to conversion therapy boot camp True Directions because she doesn’t seem to be that into her boyfriend.
Megan, played by a then-20 year old Natasha Lyonne, meets and befriends her fellow campers, including the defiant lesbian Graham played by Clea DuVall. At the camp, Megan and her new friends are subjected to a five-step program that starts with Megan admitting she is a lesbian in the vein of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The film has since become a cult classic thanks to its tongue-firmly-in-cheek sense of humor.
For just a hint of the movie’s tone, consider this: True Directions boot camp staff member Mike is played by legendary drag queen RuPaul Charles.
"Call Me By Your Name" - 2017
Based on the 2007 novel by André Aciman, “Call Me By Your Name” became an instant classic when it premiered in 2017 at the Sundance Film Festival. The main character, Elio, is a teenager from Italy who lives an adventurous and romantic life during the 1980s. One summer, a graduate student named Oliver travels to Italy from the United States to stay with Elio and his family. The film’s plot is centered around the slowly-developing relationship between Oliver and Elio.
Bisexuality is a major theme throughout the film. It presents a new perspective on relationships and how the terms “gay” and “queer” are no longer strictly synonymous.
Through Elio’s exploration of his sexual identity, he learns not everything in life cannot easily be categorized as black or white.