essential films for LGBT audiencesRecently, The Advocate released a massive list of must-see films for LGBT viewers. The nearly 200 feature-length films, which are dubbed the “Top 175 Essential Films of All Time for LGBT Viewers,” feature a diverse collection of characters and experiences. Here are the top five films that made the list:

  1. Brokeback Mountain. “This Oscar-winning feature film is arguably one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking love stories ever told on the silver screen,” writes Advocate editor Sunnivie Brydum. The chemistry between the characters is very genuine, and the film’s emotional pull is astonishing.
  2. Milk. With a stacked cast of Hollywood’s finest, Milk is an important portrayal of the life and work of LGBT rights activist Harvey Milk. Sean Penn, who played the film’s titular character, took home an Oscar for his remarkable performance, as did screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. This film is “essential” because it focuses on a very real, very compelling time in LGBT history.
  3. Paris Is Burning. This incredible 1990 documentary shone a spotlight on the African-American, Latino, and LGBT communities involved in the New York City ball culture of the 1980s, explains Jase Peeples. The fact that this film sought to capture the underground nature of late-80s LGBT culture and bring it to the mainstream is what makes Paris Is Burning so essential.
  4. Cabaret. Writes The Advocate’s Michelle Garcia, “You will be singing at least one of the songs from this musical for days. Weeks. OK, in my case, years…” of the way this film’s theatrical elements gripped her. Starring the iconic Liza Minnelli, Cabaret is absolutely solidified as a must-see for LGBT audiences.
  5. The Boys in the Band. Considered to be the “first famous gay film ever,” this play-turned-movie addresses issues that face the LGBT community such as internalized guilt, substance abuse, and being stigmatized by society. It is all at once shocking, darkly funny, and notably raw.

Other films that made the list include Philadelphia, Boys Don’t Cry, But I’m A Cheerleader, Beautiful Thing, Another Country, Transamerica, and nearly 200 more. The only thing that The Advocate’s list got wrong is in the title – yes these films are essential parts of the contemporary queer film canon, but everyone, including straight folk, could benefit from watching them.

What are your favorite films that center around LGBTQ characters or themes?

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