Looking for a queer movie to watch?
For every queer film, there are probably over 100 straight counterparts of it. The scarcity of worthwhile queer films means that the few they give us need to be celebrated and talked about.
As a young little queer, seeing amazing impactful queer films would've done a lot for me, so here is a list of LGBTQ+ films that every teen should watch. It's not the end-all-be-all of LGBTQ+ film (watch every queer movie you can), but a good place to start.
1. Booksmart (2019)
Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, is a coming-of-age story about two goodie-two-shoes best friends who decide to let it all go before high school graduation, finding love, friendship, and fun in the process.
The film is available to stream on Hulu.
2. Paris is Burning (1990)
Few documentaries offer such an important snapshot of a moment in queer life like Paris Is Burning. Filmed during the late '80s, the film captures the Black and brown queer people who ran the New York ballroom scene and the legacy they left behind.
A story about family, community, and vogue, few works document a culture-defining era like this. This film is mandatory viewing for those who wish to understand the queer community and the Black and brown people who helped create it.
The film is available to watch on The Criterion Channel.
3. Everybody's Talking About Jamie (2021)
Based on the real-life story of a 16-year-old British teen who dreams of becoming a drag queen, Everybody's Talking About Jamie is a musical about being yourself.
A fun film about choosing to be yourself amidst the bullying, this uplifting musical is gay as all hell with a wonderful message.
This film is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
4. Pariah (2011)
This drama from director Dee Rees not only established her as a filmmaking force, but as the creator of a queer classic.
Pariah is the coming-of-age story about Lee, a 17-year-old Black teen who is struggling with her identity as a lesbian. A heart-wrenching story about a teen trying to find themself, this film will stick with you for a long time to come.
The film is available to stream on HBO Max.
5. But I'm a Cheerleader (1999)
Few indie films from the '90s have stayed as golden for the queers as But I'm a Cheerleader. A coming-of-age satire about a girl sent to a conversion therapy camp, this film starring Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, and RuPaul has stuck around for good reason.
The film initially was a flop, but has since become a cult classic, remaining one of the best queer movies ever.
The film is free to watch on YouTube.
6. The Half of It (2020)
Teen movies have often been one of the few places to see queer stories regularly, with The Half of It standing out among the crowd.
Directed by Alice Wu, this film tells the story of Ellie Chu, a teen who makes money doing other kids' homework, and soon makes money writing love letters to her crush for somebody else. A beautiful story about young love and what it means to be yourself, this film will make your heart soar.
You can watch this film on Netflix.
7. G.B.F. (2013)
G.B.F., which stands for gay best friend, is a comedy film about trying to fit in after coming out, and how far a person will go to do so.
This film takes a lot of more modern queer stereotypes (like belittling a queer person as a GBF) and turns them on their head with a fun and smart comedy.
The film is available to stream on Pluto TV.
8. Love, Simon (2018)
The first queer film by a major film studio, Love, Simon stands out as a fun and heart-warming queer adventure.
The film focuses on Simon, who is juggling finding out who his secret crush really is while trying to keep from being outed by a blackmailer.
When you think about the most iconic teen movies, queer people are often left out, making this teen story even more important. It doesn't break the mold for teen movies, but does establish a new one entirely.
The film is available to rent online.
9. Geography Club (2013)
When 16-year-old Russell realizes he's more into his football teammate than the girl everyone thinks he had sex with, he finds a club of other queer kids trying to figure themselves out, too.
Few teen movies offer room for queer people to grow or be themselves, which makes Geography Club a delight. This fun teen movie made itself known for its positive queer content that allows LGBTQ+ issues to become everyday teenager issues.
The film is available to watch on The Roku Channel, Peacock, and Amazon Prime.
10. The Way He Looks (2014)
Based on an award-winning short film, The Way He Looks is one of the best young love stories of the past decade.
Blind teen Leonardo is struggling to find himself as he grows older, then new kid Gabriel comes to throw a wrench into his life and heart.
The Brazilian film is one that will stick itself into your heart and never let go.
The film can be streamed on Kanopy.
11. Disclosure (2020)
Queer representation on film and television inform society more than you think, as wonderfully shown by Disclosure, a documentary by Sam Feder about trans representation and its repercussions.
The film looks at the real life effects of harmful and inaccurate transgender representation over the years in Hollywood with commentary from the trans people it affects.
The film is available to stream on Netflix.
12. Three Months (2022)
I may be biased, but Three Months, a modern queer Juno, stands out as a new classic for its amazing portrayal of a young teen awaiting the results of an HIV test. As Caleb, played by pop star Troye Sivan, waits, he finds family and new love in this wonderful film that ignores harmful queer stereotypes.
While every other film may have you believe that getting HIV or AIDS is a death sentence, this film turns it on its head and allows its queer protagonist to find happiness.
The films is available to watch on Paramount+.