Representation in movies is a big deal for all cultures and walks of life. LGBTI people have fought for inclusion in media so that their stories are told and seen by the world. It is important for other LGBTI people to see themselves in movies, but it is even more crucial for people outside of the community to experience these movies and see how the characters live. A lot of the movies are based on the real lives of queer people or made by people in the culture. More and more filmmakers are including LGBTI characters and storylines because they understand that the world is a diverse place with many lives.
But I’m a Cheerleader is a 1999 American film directed by Jamie Babbit who also directed a few episodes of the popular Netflix show Russian Doll and lesbian drama The L Word. It stars Natasha Lyonne from Russian Doll and Clea DuVall of the Handmaid’s Tale and Veep as lesbians at a conversion camp. Famous gay drag queen RuPaul also stars in the movie as a thinly closeted counselor at the camp. It’s a high rated and reviewed dark comedy about a teen sent to a camp for “fixing” gay youths. The movie is rated R and is best viewed by mature audiences or in the company of adults.
Blue is the Warmest Color (La vie d’Adele) is a 2013 French film directed by Abdellatif Kechiche the director of Mektoub, My Love and The Secret of the Grain (La Graine et le Mulet). The lead roles are played by Lea Seydoux of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol and Adele Exarchopoulos of Sibyl and Pieces of Me (Des Morceaux de moi) as passionate lesbian lovers. The movie is known for its steamy scenes and realistic portrayal of a first love. The movie begins with the two characters falling in love at first sight and follow them through their complicated and earth-shattering relationship. It is rated NC-17 due to nudity and sexual acts.
My Summer of Love is a 2004 British movie directed by Pawel Pawlikowski who was behind the films Cold War and Ida. Natalie Press from Suffragette and Emily Blunt of The Devil Wears Prada star in this romantic drama about two young women who begin a romance together during the summer holiday. The two women are from opposite sides of the socioeconomic line but find a common ground and build their relationship around it. The movie is rate R for mature audiences.
Arianna is a 2015 Italian movie directed by Carlo Lavagna who directed Hip Hop Diaries. Starring Ondina Quadri as a young woman who begins to question her gender and the differences in her body compared to other women. This movie centers around intersex topics and has won an award for Best Italian Discover. After turning nineteen and still not menstruating, the young woman goes on a self-journey exploring her past and body. The movie does not have a rating but does include nudity.
Imagine Me and You is a 2005 British movie directed by Ol Parker the director of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. In the romantic comedy, stars Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly and Cheaper by the Dozen Two) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) meet while one is planning their wedding and begin a tryst that leads to love. The movie explores themes of bisexuality. Lesbian media site, Autostraddle, rates it in the top 20 of lesbian movies. It is rated R for language and is suitable for teenage audiences.
North Sea Texas (Noordzee, Texas) is a 2011 movie from Flanders, Belgium directed by Bavo Defurne who also worked on the 2016 movie Souvenir. The movie stars Mathias Vergels who played in other Finnish movies Parade’s End and Thuis, Jelle Florizoone who starred in TV shows Familie and Rox. In the movie, the co-stars begin a secret relationship that helps both of them during rough stages in their lives. While exploring themes of homosexuality, the movie delves into topics involving alcoholism. There is no rating for the film, but there are scenes of explicit sex that happen during the movie.
Heartbeats (Les amours imaginaires) is a 2010 Canadian movie directed by Xavier Dolan who directed I Killed My Mother and the music video for Adele’s song Hello. The film stars Xavier Dolan, Monia Chokri, and Niels Schneider in this romantic drama about unrequited love and first love experiences. In the film, two best friends begin to have feelings for the same person who they pursue despite the damage it causes to their friendship. The movie deals with bisexual and homosexual themes. There is no rating for the movie, despite profanity and some nudity it is appropriate for mature audiences.
XXY is a 2007 Argentine, Spanish, and French movie that was directed by Lucia Puenzo the director of The German Doctor and The Fish Child. It stars Ines Efron from The Fish Child and Glue, Martin Piroyansky from The Vampire Spired and The Old Woman at the Back. During the course of the movie, the two stars get to know each other while one has to decide whether or not to go through with a medical procedure. The main character is intersexed, and the movie follows her as she deals with the complications in her family and life. The movie has no rating and is best viewed by mature audiences due to sexual activities.
A Single Man is a 2009 American movie directed by Tom Ford who did Nocturnal Animals. Main characters played by Colin Firth (Bridget Jones’s Diary), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), and Nicholas Hoult (Skins) move through the last day of a man who decides to kill himself at the end. Firth’s character has recently lost his partner of sixteen years and is depressed so decides to commit suicide. Homosexuality and grief are the main topics examined in this dramatic movie. It holds an R rating for disturbing scenes and sexual situations.
Intersexion is a 2012 New Zealand documentary directed by Grant Lahood the director of The Singing Trophy and Kombi Nation. The film features and interviews intersex people about their lives. Mani Mitchell an intersex activist in New Zealand did the research and interviews for the film. Intersexion follows Mitchell as they travel the world conducting their interviews and showcase the lives of intersex people from around the world. The movie is rated PG-13 and is suitable from young viewers and educational purposes.
Spork is a 2010 American movie directed by J.B. Ghuman Jr. who did the films D.E.B.S. and The Art of Being. The musical comedy stars Savannah Stehlin from The Family Stone and the Axe Murders of Villisca, Sydney Park of the Santa Clarita Diet and Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. It follows a middle school intersex student who decides to compete in a talent show and destroy her bullies. During the course of the movie, themes related to coming of age and intersex living experiences are explored. The film is rated TV-14 for profanity but is recommend for all ages based on its wholesome and uplifting content.
Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 American movie based on a book directed by Ang Lee who made award winning movies like Life of Pi and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal of such movies as Donnie Darko and Spider-Man: Far from Home and Heath Ledger who played in The Dark Knight and Ten Things I Hate About You. The film follows two men who form a romantic relationship that they must keep secret for many years until one of them dies. An R rating was given to it for strong sexual situations and profanity. It explores themes related to homophobia and homosexual relationships.
Aimee & Jaguar is a 1999 German movie directed by Max Farberbock who directed such movies as A Woman in Berlin and September. It stars Maria Schrader and Juliane Kohler as lovers during the Nazi invasion in Berlin. Schrader has starred in other films like Nobody Loves Me and The Giraffe while her co-star Kohler is known for her roles in Nowhere in Africa and Downfall. A Nazi officer’s wife begins a relationship with a Jewish woman behind her husband’s back. The film explores lesbian relationships, polyamory, and war time issues. It has no rating, but there is strong sexual content and profanity making it best viewed by mature audiences.
The Circle (Der Kreis) is a 2014 movie from Switzerland directed by Stefan Haupt the director of Utopia Blues and A Song for Argyris. The movie stars Matthias Hungerbuhler from Lonely Hearts Club and Peripherie, Sven Schelker of Goliath and Homeland. The movie depicts the life and love of Ernst Ostertag and Robi Rapp who met through their participation in the gay newsletter The Circle. Throughout the movie, there are interviews and footage from that time period that feature the real life Ostertag and Rapp. The film is not rated, so mature viewers should watch it before sharing with a younger audience to check for mature content.
Free Fall (Freier Fall) is a 2013 German movie by director Stephan Lacant who did Fireflies and Strange Daughter. It stars Hanno Koffler who played in the movies Summer Storm and The Red Baron, Max Riemelt from the movies Napola and Berlin Syndrome. In the romantic drama, two police officers begin a secret romance while one prepares to become a dad. The movie explores themes of homosexuality. It has no rating and is not recommended for all audiences.
Normal is a 2003 American movie directed by Jane Anderson the director of If These Walls Could Talk Two and The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. Stars Tom Wilkinson and Jessica Lange deliver stellar performances that help shine light on the lives of transgender women. Tom Wilkinson is best known for his roles in The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Full Monty while his co-star Jessica Lange has starred in numerous films and TV shows like American Horror Story and Big Fish. Normal focuses on a middle-aged mill worker who comes out as transgender and begins to transition to the dismay of her friends and family. The film highlights themes about marriage and transgender issues face by those who come out late in life and while married. The film is a made for TV movie that has no rating but is suitable for all audiences and educational purposes.
Love Songs (Les Chansons d’Amour) is a 2007 French movie directed by Christophe Honore who also directed The Beautiful Person and Metamorphoses. It stars Louis Garrel, Ludivine Sagnier, Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet, and Clotilde Hesme. Garrel has starred in other Honore films, The Beautiful Person, and in American movie Dreamers. Sagnier has starred in many movies like The Devil’s Double and Peter Pan. Leprince-Ringuet has also played in Honore’s other film The Beautiful Person and Fool Moon. Hesme is best known for her roles in The Returned and Angel & Tony. In the film, the stars are in a complicated love circle that involves finding new love and the death of a lover. The film explores homosexuality, polyamory, and grieving the death of a partner. The film has no rating but is best viewed by mature audiences due to sexual content and profanity.
Call Me By Your Name is a 2017 Italian movie directed by Luca Guadagnino director of Suspiria and A Bigger Splash. Timothee Chalamet from Lady Bird and Beautiful Boy, Armie Hammer of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Lone Ranger star in the movie as two lovers—one a teenage boy and the other an assistant to the young man’s father. Following the couple through their quick and passionate romance, the film explores themes of homosexuality and coming of age first love experiences. The movie is rated R and has strong sexual content and profanity such is recommended for mature audiences.
Velvet Goldmine is a 1998 British movie by the director of Carol and I’m Not There, Todd Haynes. The dramatic musical stars Ewan McGregor from Star Wars and Moulin Rouge and Jonathan Rhys Meyers of Vikings and The Tudors. The movie depicts the fictional life of make-believe glam rock star Brian Slade and his rise to fame. In the movie, Slade is queer and has many relationships with men throughout. Homosexuality and polyamory are explored in the movie. With an R rating for sexual content and profanity, the film is not recommended for all ages.
The Danish Girl is a 2015 British and American movie directed by Tom Hooper, Les Miserables and The King’s Speech. Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne star in this fictious biopic of the relationship between painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Vikander has starred in Ex Machina and Tomb Raider while her co-star Eddie Redmayne is known for his roles in The Theory of Everything and Fantastical Beasts. Redmayne plays a transgender woman who begins the steps of sexual reassignment surgery with the support of her wife. The movie holds an R rating for nudity and sexual content. It explores themes of transgender identities in the 1920s.
Soldier’s Girl is a 2003 Canadian American TV movie directed by Frank Pierson who also directed Paradise and A Star is Born (1976). In the romantic drama, Troy Garity of Ballers and Barbershop: The Next Cut, Lee Pace from The Fall and Guardians of the Galaxy star in this biopic of a soldier who falls in love with a transgender woman that he must keep secret from the army. The film explores themes of transgender identity. The movie has an R rating for sexual situations and violence.
Moonlight is a 2016 American movie by the director of Medicine for Melancholy and If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins. The film has a star-studded cast with the lead roles played by Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex Hibbert. The film follows a black man from his childhood through is adolescence and into his adulthood as he navigates life as a closeted gay man in the black community. He faces many hardships throughout the movie in trying to live his life while the film explores the reaction to homosexuality among black men. The film is rated R for profanity and drug use. It is not recommended for all audiences.
Carol is a 2015 British American movie directed by Todd Haynes, Velvet Goldmine and I’m Not There. The romantic drama stars Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings and The Aviator) and Rooney Mara (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Mary Magdalene) as lesbian lovers in 1952. The two main characters meet and begin a relationship though one of them is married. It deals with lesbian relationships and coming out in the 50’s. Carol is based on a book titled The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith. With an R rating for language and sexual content, mature audiences should caution showing it to younger viewers.
Beautiful Boxer is a 2004 Thai movie by the director of The Wedding Game and Pleasure Factory, Ekachai Uekrongtham. The sport drama biopic about boxer Parinya Charoenphol stars Asanee Suwan from The Coffin and The Forest as the transgender fighter while competing to raise money for her surgery. It follows her boxing career and struggles on her way to becoming who she is. Themes of transgender identity and reassignment surgery are depicted throughout the film. The movie has no rating so it should be watched before showing to younger views to scan for content that may not be suitable.
Boys Don’t Cry is a 1999 American movie directed by Kimberly Peirce, Carrie and Stop-Loss. The biopic drama of Brandon Teena’s life as a transgender man in Nebraska stars Hilary Swank best known for her roles in I Am Mother and P.S. I Love You, Chole Sevigny from Hit and Miss and Big Love, Peter Sarsgaard of Garden State and The Magnificent Seven. Swank plays the role of Brandon who falls in love with Sevigny’s character and becomes friends with the character played by Sarsgaard. The movie deals with themes of transgender identity and homophobia. There is strong violence and sexual content which is why the movie has an R rating and is recommended for mature viewers.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a 2001 American movie by director John Cameron Mitchell, How to Talk to Girls at Parties and Rabbit Hole. Mitchell also stars in the musical comedy movie as the main character who is a transgender performer on tour in America. In the film, viewers follow Hedwig while she is on tour and learn about her life and how she became a performer through her songs. The movie deals with themes of transgender identity and holds an R rating for profanity and sexual situations.
Beach Rats is a 2017 American movie directed by Eliza Hittman who also directed It Felt Like Love. The movie stars Harris Dickinson from The Darkest Minds and Postcards from London. Dickinson plays a closeted male youth in New York City who struggles with his friendships and trying to find romance. Throughout the movie, Hittman dives into topics related to homosexual online dating and homophobia. The movie is rated R for sexual content and strong violence.
These LGBTI movies explore many different areas of queer life. They are a benefit for people within the community and people who are curious about what it is like for LGBTI people and the issues they face. Their benefits are in how honestly they depict the hardships, triumphs, and joys of LGBTI people and the visibility they allow the community to feel through the telling of their stories.