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20 LGBTQ Movies Everyone Should Watch At Least Once

How have you not seen The Watermelon Woman yet?

Hi, friend! I'm Samantha, I'm queer, and I watch a lot of movies. For Pride 2021, here's 20 films important to, made by, about, and starring people in the LGBTQ community that I think *everyone* should see at least once.

You'll notice I left some movies you might expect off this list. 

As much as I love Ang Lee (and all his film's rugged beauty), Brokeback Mountain is still a movie by and for cis/het people, whose actors often downplayed their characters' queer sexuality. And, yes, while Cabaret is funny and classic, gay novelist Christopher Isherwood (whose 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin inspired the film) thought the movie reduced homosexuality to a comedically incidental weakness "like bedwetting.” And then there's Boys Don't Cry... Don't even get me started.

Your hard-won clicks should go to support films that actually uplift the LGBTQ community, rather than just use the idea of queer people (and straight, cis actors) to sensationalize our existence, mock us, or make money. 

The myths and morals we see onscreen enter our consciousness, shifting the way we engage with our world and each other in the process. Media matters and what we watch shapes who we are. To paraphrase the gay French cultural critic Roland Barthes, movies do not just suspend disbelief; they purify and make it innocent, naturalizing and eternally justifying the worlds they represent with clarity akin to statements of fact. To construct a canon is, thus, an act that rewrites history.

Thankfully, it's 2021 and now there's a whole universe of LGBTQ cinema out there to explore, portraying the lives, loves, losses, and lessons learned by people in the community from all over the world. Maybe you're new to the genre, maybe you want to understand LGBTQ folks better, or, perhaps, you're looking for something new to enjoy. Whatever reason brought you here, I hope you find something on this list that moves you. 

So make some popcorn, find a buddy to watch and "chill" with (if that's your thing), and let's dive in!

1. Tangerine (2015)

Screencap from "Tangerine"

2. The Watermelon Woman (1996)

Cheryl Dunye in the movie

3. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)

Victoria Cruz in the movie

4. The Way He Looks / Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (2014)

Ghilherme Lobo in the movie

5. Moonlight (2016)

6. Your Name / 君の名は。 (2016)

A still from "Your Name"

7. Paris Is Burning (1990)

Venus Xtravaganza, "Paris is Burning"

8. The Color Purple (1985)

Still from "The Color Purple"

9. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

10. Auntie Mame (1958)

Still from "Auntie Mame"

11. A Jihad for Love (2007)

Still from "A Jihad for Love"

12. In Between / بَر بَحَر‎, / לא פה, לא שם‎ (2016)

A still from "In Between"

13. The Half of It (2020)

14. Twilight's Kiss / 叔.叔 (2019)

A still from "Twilight's Kiss"

15. Mosquita y Mari (2012)

A still from "Mosquita y Mari"

16. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The Tiffany Troupe, 1979

17. The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)

Still from "The Times of Harvey Milk"

18. Ghost in the Shell / 攻殻機動隊 (1995)

Major Makoto Kusanagi, "Ghost in the Shell"

19. Fire Song (2015)

A still from "Fire Song"

20. Blue (1993)

A still from "Blue"

Thanks for reading and happy viewing!

These are just a few of the LGBTQ films I think everyone should see at least once. I tried to include movies that reflect our diversity as a community but I'm not perfect. Did you think I missed something? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more ways to get involved? Check out all of BuzzFeed's posts celebrating Pride 2021.