It’s no secret that, even in 2017, good LGBT+++ moves are somewhat of a rarity. It can be a struggle to find media that doesn’t perpetuate common queer stereotypes, such as the “lesbian-steals-straight-girl-from-her-boyfriend” trope, or plotlines that ultimately end with the non-heterosexual and non-cisgender characters being killed off. However, all is not lost – Netflix, amid the usual string of horrible LGBT+ movies we either love to hate or hate to love, has provided us all with at least six queer movies on Netflix worth watching:
1. RENT (2005)
Regardless of whether you’ve seen the Broadway musical countless times or you only know of the production because you’ve heard the chorus of “Seasons of Love” in passing, the movie version of RENT is an experience like no other. As if the fact that Idina Menzel plays one of the leads isn’t already enough of the reason to put RENT at the top of your “to-watch” list, the plot illuminates the struggle to create art under the shadow of the 1990s HIV/AIDS epidemic, the soundtrack will bring a tear to even the most stoic of eyes, and the story being told involves characters diverse not only in race, sexuality, and gender identity, but also in personality. RENT is an art piece about the art we create and the art we can find within each other. Regardless of your sexuality or gender identity, RENT is the film for you if you want to see the beauty that can be created from human struggle.
3. Cloudburst (2011)
Stella and Dotty have spent almost their entire lives together. When Dotty’s granddaughter unwillingly moves her into a nursing home, Stella breaks her out and the two embark on a spontaneous road trip to get married in Nova Scotia. From witty one-liners to tear-jerking moments, Cloudburst allows for a poignant insight on the struggles of aging and familial tension stemming from sexuality without falling into the too often used “sad gay” genre. Bonus: the film is Canadian.
3. Lilting (2014)
Like Cloudburst, Lilting is one of the first of its kind in how it tells the story of LGBT+ lives and struggles without defining characters by their sexuality and gender identity. Starring Ben Whishaw (pictured above), the movie focuses on a young man grieving the death of his boyfriend while attempting to overcome language and cultural barriers to understand his lover’s also grieving mother. There are many reasons to love Lilting, from realistic and well-developed characters who just so happen to be queer to a storyline that addresses the universal struggle for closure after trauma, and it definitely deserves a spot on everyone’s list of films to binge-watch this weekend.
4. 4th Man Out (2015)
When he turns 24, Adam decides to tell his three close, but extremely straight, friends that he is gay. As Adam struggles with how his life changes now that he is no longer in the closet, from disastrous first dates to his vaguely homophobic next door neighbour, his friends struggle to understand the part of his life that they have discovered they do not share. 4th Man Out premiered at the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival, perhaps marking a beginning of LGBT+ films that focus on modernized queer struggles while building upon the age old message that true friends, regardless of sexuality or gender differences, will celebrate people for who they are.
5. Beginners (2010)
Beginners is a film not quite like any other. Shortly after Oliver’s mother dies, his father, Hal, played by Christopher Plummer (pictured above) reveals that he is gay. The film consists of a series of interrelated flashbacks that connect Oliver’s deepening relationship with his father as Hal begins to live as an openly gay man to his journey to find closure after Hal’s death. However, Beginners also brings together past and present generations of LGBT+, historical, and also simply human experiences. Beginners shows us that to accept one’s sexuality is to love both oneself and others, and to love is to be human, and thus, despite out differences, we all live our lives connected with each other.
6. Pride (2014)
Pride, to put it simply, is about pride. Based on historical events, the film follows a group of young LGBT+ people as they raise money to support families affected by the 1984 British miners’ strike. As tight-knit mining families grow to overcome their initial prejudices and come to respect those outcasted from mainstream society like themselves, Pride reflects how both self-pride and the will to demand respect from others is an essential part of growing up.