Top Benchmark LGBT Films That Got People Talking

Top Benchmark LGBT Films That Got People Talking

In the ongoing struggle for equality, LGBT rights have inspired some amazing fictional and documentary films over the years. Here are the top benchmark LGBT films that got people talking around the world.

Brokeback MountainbrokebaqckThe year 2005 was just right to make this movie. Massachusetts, in 2004, became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, the U.S. military was looking pretty weak without full inclusion, and Hollywood was untested when it came to workaday depictions of masculinity. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal played Ennis and Jack, Wyoming cowboys, who shocked each other — and audiences — by having sex in a pup tent in the mountains. Debates on decency roiled across the news shows, critics rang in with support, people stampeded to local cinemas to see an old-fashioned love story of kisses, betrayal, and Old West archetypes reconstructed with two men at the center, deeply in love. It’s also just a fantastic film full of sadness and longing set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Rockies.

Sunday, Bloody SundaybloodyIn 1971, British thespians Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson (both nominated for Oscars), and Murray Head created a love triangle onscreen in John Schlesinger’s tiny but impactful gem of a movie. Penelope Gilliatt’s screenplay centered on an aging Jewish doctor’s heartbreak over his selfish male lover’s exploits with another. The newspapers were abuzz with the film’s casual depiction of gay love and bisexuality, heralding this kind of nonchalance as a new form of acceptance. The beauty of this small and sad film is that the non-issue of same-sex relationships allows for the story and the characters to flourish, leading to the sorrowful Sunday in question.

WeekendweekendTo illustrate how accepted gay love has become, “Weekend” (2011) featured British stars Tom Cullen and Chris New in a dialogue-driven, tender and true indie flick about two men in a love affair over the course of a few dreary days in Nottingham. Russell is introverted, Glen is outrageous. The film explores childhood fears and our common desire to be held and appreciated.

PhiladelphiaphillyTom Hanks won a Best Actor Oscar in 1993 in a film that moved and challenged audiences about a very scary issue pre-antiretroviral drugs – HIV/AIDS. It was also one of the first Hollywood films to directly address gay love and homophobia. Although smaller films like “Longtime Companion” (1990) and “And the Band Played On” (1993) attacked more head-on the socially paralyzing aspects of the AIDS epidemic, “Philadelphia” allowed a formulaic structure (courtroom drama, characters “coming around” from their homophobia). Audiences were galvanized and appropriately moved.

Midnight CowboymidnightHistorical because it was the first film slapped with an X rating to win Best Picture, John Schlesinger’s 1969 movie dove into the smelly sewer grates and subway stations of New York City. A poverty-stricken hell was made palatable through the intense bond between Ratso Rizzo and Joe Buck (Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight). A thief and a male hooker, homeless during the winter, they seek refuge in the Warholesque flashy and carnal underground enclaves of the city. Is Joe Buck gay? There are some wincing moments such as the oral sex scene in the theater, and the infamous nude Scrabble game that point in that direction. Whether or not, “Cowboy” conveys that a bond of love with your best friend quells a few ills.

Paris is BurningparisThis documentary about the LGBT underground is as detailed and involving as any major feature film. Peering into New York City’s ball sub-culture of the 1980s, filmmaker Jennie Livingston highlights the diversity of the Big Apple’s drag scene. That includes black and Latino gays who are runaways, abandoned by their parents, or dropouts from above-ground society who face the camera and share their fears, dramas, and dreams. You’ll meet Angie Xtravaganza, Pepper LaBeija, and Willi Ninja, and you’ll get a front seat to a revolutionary era of racism, homophobia and the first AIDS casualties. Drag means donning whatever you like, and acting however you feel, especially if it’s bending the gender.

Boys Don’t CryboysdontHere is a challenging film about self expression in the face of extreme indifference. It’s the true story of Brandon Teena, a Nebraska girl who felt more comfortable as a boy and gave her life to fulfill this lifestyle. Hilary Swank plays the protagonist, winning a well-deserved Oscar in 1999. Teena’s love affair with Lana (Chloe Sevigny) is what motivates her to hang around a volatile, homophobic Midwestern group of people who take her under their wing, thinking she’s a he until they stumble upon the truth. Director Kimberly Pierce shows how create social and sexual masks to attempt to find and sustain love.

MilkmilkfilmThis film could have wallowed in Harvey Milk’s tragic assassination, but celebrates his life and triumphs instead. Sean Penn won an Oscar as Milk, the San Francisco politician who scored some major historical wins for LGBT rights in the 1970s. California’s first openly-gay person elected to office, Milk faced enormous odds, especially with city supervisor Dan White, whose fierce opposition and fear of Milk motivated him to kill Milk and then-mayor George Moscone in 1978. Penn delights in the spirit of Milk’s inspirational activism in this Gus Van Sant-directed film.

Blue is the Warmest Color (La Vie d’Adele)blueisThe Cannes jury in 2013 handed director Abdellatif Kechiche and his two stars, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, the Palme d’Or for their work. The small-budget, three-and-a-half-hour-long French film soon became a word-of-mouth sensation, with crowds flocking to see the long, single-take sex scenes between the two young women. What they got instead was an honest coming-of-age story about a young dreamy girl in an intense relationship with older painter. The hours fly by watching this film and the buzzed-about sex scenes are crucial in illustrating how loving the bond is between the characters.

Previous Paul Okoye be trying to Break The Internet
Next How To Get Away With Murder's Jack Falahee Not Worried About Being Typecast In Gay Roles

About author

You might also like

Editor's Desk 8 Comments

Daenerys vs. Cersei: who has the resources to win the final game of thrones?

Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 3, “The Long Night.” As we head into the second half of the final season of Game of Thrones, our heroes

The Happenings 1Comments

#EndSARS: Acting President Yemi Osinbajo orders the ‘overhaul’ of notorious anti-robbery unit

Nigeria’s acting president Yemi Osinbajo has ordered the immediate “overhaul” of Nigerian police’s special anti-robbery squad (SARS). Osinbajo’s directive came after months of street and social media protests against the

Editor's Desk 23 Comments


When I was in boarding school, my set was very significant for a lot of things. We had a great number of rule breakers, bad boys and pretty girls. In


  1. Kryss S
    November 18, 05:35 Reply

    Brokeback was d ish! Am sure that with d level of acceptance the world has now, more would b in d pipelines!
    By the way, seriously waiting for a Nigerian LGBT movie. Know a few actors who would deliver perfectly! Uti won’t do bad, Alex might try nd IK Ogbonna would play d drag queen *Just saying*!

    • pinkpanthertb
      November 18, 05:53 Reply

      You’ll keep waiting for that movie till His Kingdom comes 🙂

      • Kryss S
        November 18, 07:13 Reply

        Are you sure? I heard dat There was one dis vain twin bro of IK Ogbonna called Benson Okonkwo did oh! Haven’t seen it shaa but saw a very compromising screen shot of it on LIB.

    • Dennis Macauley
      November 18, 06:04 Reply

      I don’t they already did with that ridic “Men in love” that I had the misfortune of watching!

  2. Dennis Macauley
    November 18, 06:03 Reply

    Broke Back mountain is the only one I have seen oo! Gosh I’m so out of date with pop culture!

    ***sad face***

  3. kritzmoritz
    November 18, 06:14 Reply

    You missed a really good one: Leave it on the floor. All black, musical and dance.

    • Micky
      November 18, 07:41 Reply

      My current obsession! I really love that movie!

      • kritzmoritz
        November 18, 08:46 Reply

        I find no better movie than that. I was amazing. Have it on both CD and iPad

    • simba
      November 18, 09:32 Reply

      @kritsmorits.. man, I have huge respect for u. Remember ur men of unconventional blog.. may God, keep blessing u.. I think u kinda set the path for LGBT blogs here in 9ja.

      • kritzmoritz
        November 18, 09:40 Reply

        Wow…this is the sort of positive energy i need first thing in the morning. Thank yo

  4. #TeamKizito
    November 18, 06:30 Reply

    Who’s read Dust To Dust, written by Tami Hoag? (For some of us who like to read.)

  5. enigmous
    November 18, 07:01 Reply

    And you didn’t include Fallen angel & Hell bent…they were quite good

  6. chestnut
    November 18, 07:25 Reply

    There’s this one: “The velocity of Gary”…1998 or 1999, a love triangle between Thomas Jane,Salma Hayek and Vincent O’donofrio(I don’t know how to spell his name…)

  7. Absalom
    November 18, 07:28 Reply

    Seen Brokeback Mountain and Philadelphia.

    Why didn’t they include: “Eating Out” and “Another Gay Movie”? (Hehehe). ^_^

    #TeamKizito, I have Tami Hoag’s “Dust to Dust”. Read it halfway then got distracted by other books. I should finish it to find out who killed that gay guy. 🙂

    • Khaleesi
      November 18, 16:34 Reply

      Absalom borrow me ***jumping up and down and crying with long hair flying everywhere***

  8. Micky
    November 18, 07:39 Reply

    Where is Nollywood’s Men In Love?? Lol…

    • Absalom
      November 18, 10:48 Reply

      That trashy movie! #StillTraumatized

  9. adaaye
    November 18, 10:06 Reply

    I love WEEKEND, it’s emotional at the right spots and yet discusses issues that border on coming out and acceptance.

  10. adaaye
    November 18, 10:10 Reply

    WEEKEND was a simply amazing movie, with the right amount of “tear factor”; bordering on coming out and acceptance. Also, I enjoyed the way the use of drugs were depicted in the movie. A must keep for moi

  11. goodboy
    November 18, 12:47 Reply

    please can someone suggest links to any of the movies, where it can b downloaded….. btw, I saw one of my collegues going thru KD on his lappy, he had no Idea i knew watsup…lol

    • pinkpanthertb
      November 18, 16:57 Reply

      Well he’ll be sure to know when he spots this comment. Lol.

  12. Legalkoboko
    November 18, 16:17 Reply

    Philadelphia was good. I was amused when the lawyer got hit on by the black gay guy in the (bookshop I think ). “what! do I look gay to you! ” Lol. A lot of people always assume any pro-gay guy must be gay. I can’t laugh.

  13. iamcoy
    November 18, 16:44 Reply

    You all should see I LOVE YOU PHILIP MORRIS starring Jim Carey.. Was a nice movie

  14. DeadlyDarius
    November 19, 02:00 Reply

    I’ve seen Philadelphia and Brokeback Mountain (which in particular had the most heart-wrenching ending I’d seen in years on the big screen). I’d love to add the 2014 Emmy winning TV movie ‘The Normal Heart’ adapted from Larry Kramer’s groundbreaking play. Fantastically solid with a strong, deep all-round cast. Worth a view for those who haven’t seen it.

Leave a Reply