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The best LGBTQ+ films to watch this Pride Month

From award-winning dramas to powerful documentaries, these LGBTQ-centric films are the ones to watch on your telly

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid
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Pride Month is a great time to revisit acclaimed movies – and hidden gems that deserve more attention – that tell important stories, representing different facets of the queer experiences to global audiences. And the importance of representation cannot be downplayed, especially at a time when the world is calling for equality. From award-winning dramas to biopics documenting the lives of LGBTQ+ icons such as Harvey Milk and Marsha P. Johnson, these films transport, educate and empower all.

RECOMMENDED: The best online LGBTQ+ events to celebrate pride in Singapore and how the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore is staying connected

  • Film
  • Drama

Another one to add to the epic tales of star-crossed lovers, Céline Sciamma’s glorious period romance sets hearts beating when an aristocratic bride-to-be in an arranged marriage and the artist commissioned to paint her wedding portrait catch feelings. It's an electric combination of sensual, intelligent, and evocative that cleverly showcases the transformative power of love.

Available on Amazon Prime Video.

  • Film
  • Romance

With hypnotic compositions by Sufjan Stevens and dreamy Tumblr aesthetics (look out for the iconic cameo by an overripe peach too), Luca Guadagnino’s lush adaptation of André Aciman’s novel of the same name follows a cold acquaintanceship between a teenager and an adult which blossoms into a sun-tanned love affair. As you’d expect from a coming-of-age film, there’s plenty of angst and confusion coming from the teen as he comes to terms with his sexuality, and then having to extinguish the flame of his summer romance. 

Available on Netflix.

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  • Film
  • Drama

This is the first-ever LGBTQ+ film to win the best picture at the Academy Awards (sorry La La Land) – and that alone makes it a must-watch. Captivating from start to finish, the triptych masterpiece chronicles the boyhood, teenhood and adulthood years of Chiron, an African-American gay man making it in Miami. It explores the difficulties he faces with his sexuality and identity, including the physical and emotional abuse he experienced growing up. While the film has a sombre undertone, it ends on a somewhat positive note.

Available on Amazon Prime Video.

The Death of Marsha P. Johnson
Photograph: Public Square Films

The Death of Marsha P. Johnson

When trans activist Marsha P. Johnson’s body was found in the Hudson River in 1992, her death was unfairly ruled a suicide by the New York Police Department. Decades after the tragedy, this Netflix documentary digs deeper into her death while celebrating her vital role in the Stonewall riots. It’s required viewing that urgently shows how the fight for justice, especially in the LGBTQ+ community, is needed to continue no matter the case.

Available on Netflix.

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Dear Ex
Photograph: Franco Wang

Dear Ex

This heartbreaking yet heartwarming Netflix original circles around three complicated characters – a teenager who’s caught in a bitter feud between his mother and a free-spirited man who also happens to be the lover and insurance beneficiary of the deceased father. Since its release in 2018, the Taiwanese heartstring-tugger has gone on to win four Taipei Film Awards, and three Golden Horse Awards.

Available on Netflix.

Blue is the Warmest Colour
  • Film
  • Drama

This sensual and sensitive drama manages to drown the tabloid-buzz surrounding director Abdellatif Kechiche – not the good kind – with its detailed, searingly erotic, three-hour study of first lesbian love. It’s an explicit portrait of two young women falling in (and out) love that bagged the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Grab some tissues too – it’ll put you through the emotional ringer as well.

Available on Amazon Prime Video.

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  • Film
  • Drama

Besides voicing out for LGBTQ+ rights, the Golden Globe-nominated and BAFTA-winning film also shine a light on the miners’. Based on a true story about the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners organisation in 1984 Britain, the big-hearted film takes you back to the Thatcher-era where the lesbians and gays see the mistreatment of the miners by the government to mirror their own, and therefore, set off from London to a village in South Wales with buckets of loose change raised in gay clubs.

Available on Amazon Prime Video.

  • Film

Gus Van Sant’s biopic about America’s first openly-gay elected official Harvey Milk – from the day of his 40th birthday, through his ascension into politics, until his eventual tragic assassination in 1978 – landed Sean Penn an Oscar for his stunning portrayal. Milk’s mission is as relevant today as it was in the 70s when it comes to fighting for gay rights, and this film captures the best bits of the American spirit when that work is realised.

Available on Amazon Prime Video.

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • Film
  • Drama

This off-Broadway-rock-musical-turned-film-that-rocks follows the titular character Hedwig, a would-be rockstar and botched sex-change operation survivor who was born in East Germany but marooned in America. John Cameron Mitchell’s musical film is fuelled by the energetic performances and catchy songs written by Stephen Trask. But beyond the big wigs and glam rock, it explores individualism, self-expression and the means to transcend heartbreak.

Available on Amazon Prime Video.

Paris Is Burning
  • Film
  • Documentaries

Years prior to RuPaul’s Drag Race and Pose, there was Paris Is Burning. Jennie Livingston's 1990 documentary provides a fascinating portrait of the drag ball scene, as well as the ‘house’ culture, in New York City during the height of the AIDS crisis. It also tells the stories of those who were disenfranchised by their sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity and poverty.

Available on Netflix.

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Bessie
Photograph: HBO

Bessie

This music biopic spotlights the story of legendary blues songstress Bessie Smith, chronicling her transformation from a struggling young singer to ‘The Empress of the Blues’. It also zooms into her queer journey with Ma Rainey, her mentor. Despite being known for her comedy work, Queen Latifah’s performance at Bessie is, hands down, an Oscar-worthy mix of attitude and heart-wrenching anguish.

Available on HBO Go.

More about the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore

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