Gay themed movies are highly underrated, because many of them are either raunchy comedies that are filled with badly written jokes and cliche characters, soft porn that barely have a storyline, or dramas that end in someone getting gay bashed or committing suicide. On top of that they are usually low quality productions.
However, there are exceptions like the fifteen movies below.
For this list I picked mainly movies that are not only interesting for the gay community but also for anyone who is open for a great movie experience. Also, they are my personal favorites, even though there are a few more good ones out.
Obviously I left out big pictures like Boys Don’t Cry – a movie that is very hard to watch, especially since it is based on a true story – or Brokeback Mountain – which by the way wouldn’t even be on my list since I didn’t really like it – because most people know them, or have at least heard of them.
Please leave comments, if you have other movie suggestions, or just want to say something nice or constructive.
1. Shelter (2007)
Actors: Trevor Wright, Brad Rowe, Tina Holmes
Zach is busy taking care of his needy sister and her son, which forces him to give up the dream of going to art school. But when he meets his best friend’s brother everything changes. He gets to know a different side of life that is filled with hope and inspiration.
Shelter is one of the best gay themed movies ever. It has great actors, a beautiful story, and well thought through characters. There is hardly anything I would change. It feels as real as life itself.
2. Children of God (2009)
Actors: Johnny Ferro, Stephen Tyrone Williams, Margaret Laurena Kemp
Children of God is a very strong and remarkable movie that tells the story of two Bahamian men falling in love with each other, but it is also the portrait of a society that is defined by homophobia, self-destruction and hatred. It will leave us speechless sometimes, other times it will amaze the audience with its beautiful cinematography, and it will definitely impress with the brilliant acting. A movie that will have people talk about things that many turn away from, things that need to be brought up and discussed.
It’s a powerful movie that left a huge impression on me.
3. Loose Cannons (2010) (Italian with English Subtitles)
Actors: Riccardo Scamarcio, Nicole Grimaudo, Alessandro Preziosi, Ilaria Occhini
Coming out to a very traditional Italian family is not easy, so it takes a lot of courage for Tommaso to finally take this step. But when his brother – who is secretly gay, too – finds out what Tommaso is about to do, he decides to tell the family first, so he won’t be stuck in the family business forever. Since this news causes the father ending up in the hospital, Tommaso can’t seem to find the right moment to explain to his family who he really is. The only shoulder he can lean on is his grandmother, who keeps pushing him to follow his dreams and desires.
Loose Cannons is such an inspiring and well-shot movie. I could watch it over and over again. Since I had a wonderful grandma myself, I can very much relate to this story. Some people might not understand that it is hard to come out for someone who was born in a certain culture, but after seeing this it might become clear why certain nationality have less openly gay people than others.
4. Morgan (2012)
Actors: Leo Minaya, Jack Kesy, Benjamin Budd
Morgan used to be a very ambitious young man, but since he is tied to a wheelchair due to a bike race accident, he feels useless and unhappy, which shows in the way he treats his environment. Suddenly he meets Dean who shows interest in him, and the fact that Morgan can’t walk doesn’t bother him at all. What could be the beginning of a wonderful relationship gets overshadowed by Morgan’s crazy obsession of attending the same race that caused him being paralyzed, this time as a handicapped attendee.
I expected another low budget production like I described in my introduction, but I was pleasantly surprised with Morgan. It’s a very inspiring movie about redemption, self-discovery, love, and self-respect.
5. Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar (1995)
Actors: Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo
In this gem three drag queens travel across the country, but when their car breaks down, they are forced to stay in the suburbs where they might not be as accepted as they are in the big city.
To Wong Foo is outrageous and hilarious and the fact that none of the three actors was even gay but played their part so well, makes it even better. An instant classic, that can be watched over and over again.
6. Noah’s Arc – Jumping The Broom (2008)
Actors: Darryl Stephens, Rodney Chester, Gary LeRoi Gray, Christian Vincent, Doug Spearman, Jonathan Julian, Jensen Atwood
Jumping The Broom is based on the Tv-Show Noah’s Arc which was aired on Logo Network, but unfortunately cancelled after only two seasons. Since fans were really upset about this sudden cancellation they decided to make at least a movie that features the wedding of two main characters Noah’s and Wade. It’s a pure delight and always fun to watch each characters acting up in their own special way. In the movie everyone’s secrets are revealed and relationships are tested.
A fun treat a la Why did I get Married. However, I really don’t get the R- rating.
7. Flawless (1999)
Actors: Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Miller
A very conservative ex-cop has a stroke, and the only person who seems to care about him is the female impersonator who lives above him. But can he accept the help from someone he usually looks down on?
We all know that Robert De Niro can act his butt off, and in my opinion this is one of his finest roles, and definitely needs more attention. The female impersonator is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, another great actor. I would say the sense of humor is comparable to Sister Act, which I loved as well. It also has a late 90′s charm like To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Flawless is a very honest portrait of two different people learning how to tolerate and accept one another. Again, I don’t get the R-rating.
8. Philadelphia (1993)
Actors: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Roberta Maxwell, Mary Steenburgen
Andrew Scott has AIDS and therefore gets fired from the conservative law firm he works for. He hires a lawyer to take his case, however, this lawyer is homophobic himself, so convincing him to even defend Andrew turns out the be the bigger challenge.
This is the best and most impressive performance Tom Hanks has ever done, and we all know he has made a lot of great movies. He is one of the actors who aren’t afraid to take a good role, no matter how controversial it is. Philadelphia will bring out every possible emotion and keeps you tied to the screen until the last verdict has been made. It is a story of life, acceptance, tolerance, and humanity. A must see for everyone gay, straight, bi, or trans, yellow, green, or purple, because we can all learn from it.
9. Naked as We came (2013)
Actors: Benjamin Weaver, Karmine Alers, S. Lue McWilliams, Ryan Vigilant
Elliot and Laura are asked to come home, since their mother Lilly who has been living with cancer has checked out of the hospital. When they arrive they find a young man named Ted in the house who has been hired to take care of Lilly during her final days. While she seems to know exactly what she wants, her children, especially Laura, try to convince her to come and live with them. In the meanwhile Elliott and Ted start to have feelings for each other.
The story between Ted and Elliott doesn’t seem too important for the movie, but it plays a big part of the whole message the mother is trying to give her children on their way before she dies. Naked as We Came is a beautifully shot indie movie that carries such a great spirit. It makes you want to laugh, cry and smile at the same time. And S. Lue McWilliams who plays the mother is a hell of an actress, who unfortunately I have never heard of.
Check out the movie homepage nakedaswecamethemovie.com
(image sourced from rlemay.com)
10. Prayers for Bobby (2009)
Rated: PG- 13
Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Henry Czerny, Ryan Kelley
Bobby is gay, but growing up in a very Christian community that despises homosexuality it is hard for him to come clean with his family. Especially his mother shows extreme resentment towards him when his homosexuality is exposed, and thinks that his tendencies can be “prayed” away. Not realizing that she is making things worse she slowly drives her son away from the family.
Prayers for Bobby is based on the life of Bobby Griffith and his mother Mary, whose lives changed 180 due to tragic incidents. The story goes straight to the heart.
Even though the movie is very sad ,it gives us hope, and I think it is important not only for the gay community but also for parents who don’t know how to deal with their gay children.
Gay or not gay, we are all human beings with hopes and dreams, and at the end of the day all we want is to be loved and accepted.
11. It’s my Party (1996)
Actors: Eric Roberts, Gregory Harrison, Margaret Cho, Olivia Newton-John, Bruce Davison
It’s my Party is the story of a man who lives with HIV and is on the verge of dying. Knowing that he has only little time to live he decides to have a party for friends and family where he can say his last good byes before he takes his life.
It’s My Party goes straight to the heart, and sometimes it is hard to decide whether to cry or to smile. It has a very talented cast and a wonderful soundtrack.
The main idea of the movie is that there is nothing to fear as long as you have people around who love and support you. It’s a must see!
12. Pedro (2008)
Actors: Alex Loynaz, Justina Machado, Hale Appleman
In 1994 Pedro Zamora appeared on the MTV- Show The Real World: San Francisco. He was the first HIV-positive homosexual who appeared on a reality show on MTV. This is the story of his inspiring life. And I have to warn you: It will bring tears in your eyes. If you don’t have at least one tear in your eyes while watching Pedro, you are a robot. A young man’s struggle and fights for something good can change another one’s life forever.
13. Leave it on The Floor (2011)
Actors: Ephraim Sykes, Andre Myers, Phillip Evelyn
Leave it on the Floor invites you to the Ballroom Scene, where different houses (which are actually just groups or cliques) are competing in dancing, posing or voguing contests. If you have seen the documentary Paris is Burning you will definitely know what I am talking about. It is more of a musical that is very a interesting, fun, and appealing. Enter this strange and colorful world, and let it shine on you. You won’t regret it.
14. Breakfast with Scot (2013)
Actors: Tom Cavanagh, Ben Shenkman, Noah Bernett
Sam and Eric are a couple who seem to have everything under control. But when Sam’s sister- in law dies, who leaves a son of about 10 years, they agree to temporarily take care of him. But especially for the closeted Eric this situation takes the best out of him, because Scot is a very feminine kid. Working in the sports business, Eric is convinced, that it is impossible to be gay, or is it not? Maybe Scot can open his eyes.
This is definitely a feel good movie, which contains a few good laughs but also an important message: If you can’t learn how to love and accept yourself, you will never be open for anything or anyone else.
15. Mambo Italiano (2003)
Actors: Luke Kirby, Peter Miller, Ginette Reno, Mary Walsh, Tim Post
Like Loose Cannons Mambo Italiano talks about traditions and expectations of a traditional Italian family. When Angelo decides to come out to his family, his already quite dysfunctional family falls apart. On top of that his dream of becoming a famous movie writer just won’t come true. Who can help him now?
Mambo Italiano is a great romantic comedy about family values and making choices that might change one’s life forever. It will leave you with a smile on your face.
My final words words for this post are: Let’s all have a more open mind towards people who are different or think different. As long as they don’t harm anyone why would we judge them? Do you want to be judged? I know I don’t. And if everyone was thinking and acting the same way, how boring would this world actually be? Let’s embrace the fact that we all are different, it’s not about color or orientation, it’s about diversity and love.