LGBT films are hardly a new category. For several decades, LGBT filmmakers, actors, writers, and others have used films to tell stories from their experiences and their communities. The end result is a long history of LGBT cinema that is well worth discovering and appreciating. This history includes comedies, dramas, horror films, intentional camp classics, westerns, romantic comedies, and just about any other category you can imagine.
There are literally thousands of movies that can qualify as LGBT movies. If you are just beginning your education in this subject, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed by things. Even so, if you want a general overview to help you get started on the right foot, there are a number of titles you will want to keep in mind.
Obviously, art is a subjective concept, and you can certainly apply that thought to film. Keeping this in mind, here are 5 LGBT films that most would consider essential to any study of LGBT cinema:
1. Paris is Burning (1990)
Although the film has met a measure of controversy within pockets of the LGBT community, there is no question that this documentary is a crucial depiction of a crucial era. It tells the stories of individuals whose lives were at constant risk for merely existing as their hearts desired.
2. Victim (1961)
This film features a powerful, intensely moving performance from Dirk Bogarde as a closeted barrister who is brought into a grim blackmail scheme. The film was intensely controversial upon release, and it even played a role in the 1967 passing of the Sexual Offences Act.
3. Je, tu, il, elle (1974)
One of the earliest lesbian sex scenes ever depicted in a non-pornographic film, this movie is marked by beautiful, unshakably moving performances, as well as an attention to detail that some have described as haunting.
4. Tropical Malady (2004)
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, this isn’t a particularly well-known film, but it is nonetheless something that demands to be seen, appreciated, and celebrated. It is a truly bizarre story, to be sure. However, at the center of this strange story, you will find one of the most intensely human tales ever committed to film.
5. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
While both male leads are/were heterosexual, there is little doubt that Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger portray their closeted cowboys with a stunning respect and attention to detail. Their performances in Ang Lee’s beautiful, haunting drama are legendary.