18 LGBTQ+ Films to Watch in June and Beyond

Written by Tiffany Wilkie

June 24, 2020

Performer Stuff honors the LGBTQ+ artists who bring their stories to the screen. For this article, we selected eighteen films from across the globe that feature characters coping with acceptance, love, family issues, coming out, and life.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Original title)
Céline Sciamma, 2019 France


“France, 1760. Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), a young woman who has just left the convent. Because she is a reluctant bride-to-be, Marianne (Noémie Merlant) arrives under the guise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night. As the two women orbit one another, intimacy and attraction grow as they share Héloïse’s first moments of freedom. Héloïse’s portrait soon becomes a collaborative act of and testament to their love.” – RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 98%

Paris is Burning

Jennie Livingston, 1991 USA


“Jennie Livingston’s documentary offers a behind-the-scene glimpse at the golden age of New York “Drag Balls” where rival fashion houses come together to celebrate, vogue and compete for bragging rights. Shot between 1985 and 1989, the narrative inter-cuts between individual stories that chronicle the experiences of the African-American and Latino, gay and transgender subculture in a time when the city was consumed by the ideals of wealth and glamour.” – RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 98%

Moonlight

Barry Jenkins (III), USA 2016


“The tender, heartbreaking story of a young man’s struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love while grappling with his own sexuality” – RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 98%

God’s Own Country

 Francis Lee, New Zealand 2017


“Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) works long hours in brutal isolation on his family’s remote farm in the north of England. He numbs the daily frustration of his lonely existence with nightly binge-drinking at the local pub and casual sex. When a handsome Romanian migrant worker (Alec Secareanu) arrives to take up temporary work on the family farm, Johnny suddenly finds himself having to deal with emotions he has never felt before. An intense relationship forms between the two which could change Johnny’s life forever.” – RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 98%

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

120 battements par minute (original title) 
Robin Campillo,  France 2017


“In Paris in the early 1990s, a group of activists goes to battle for those stricken with HIV/AIDS, taking on sluggish government agencies and major pharmaceutical companies in bold, invasive actions. The organization is ACT UP, and its members, many of them gay and HIV-positive, embrace their mission with a literal life-or-death urgency. Amid rallies, protests, fierce debates, and ecstatic dance parties, the newcomer Nathan (Arnaud Valois) falls in love with Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), the group’s radical firebrand, and their passion sparks against the shadow of mortality as the activists fight for a breakthrough.” -RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 98%

Booksmart

Olivia Wilde, 2019 USA


“On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night.” – IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes Score 97%

Tangerine

Sean Baker, 2015 USA


 “A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.” – RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 96%

Tomboy

Céline Sciamma, 2011 France


“A French family with two daughters, 10-year-old Laure and 6-year-old Jeanne, moves to a new neighborhood during the summer holidays. With her Jean Seberg haircut and tomboy ways, Laure is immediately mistaken for a boy by the local kids and passes herself off as Michael. Filmmaker Céline Sciamma brings a light and charming touch to this drama of childhood gender confusion. Zoe Heran as Laure/Michael and Malonn Levanna as Jeanne are nothing less than brilliant. This is a relationship movie: relationships between children, and the even more complicated one between one’s heart and body.” -RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 96%

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

David France, 2017 USA


“Who killed Marsha P. Johnson? When the beloved, self-described “street queen” of NY’s gay ghetto was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, the NYPD chalked it up as a suicide and refused to investigate. However, as shown in Academy Award (R) nominated director and journalist David France’s (How to Survive A Plague) new film, it’s a decision many questioned. Having played a pivotal role in the previous year’s Stonewall Riots, in 1970, Johnson and fellow trans icon Sylvia Rivera formed the world’s first trans-rights organization, STAR (Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries). And despite their many challenges over the years-homelessness, illness, alcoholism-Marsha and Sylvia ignited a powerful and lasting civil rights movement for gender-nonconforming people. Now, a quarter-century later, at a time of unprecedented visibility and escalating violence in the transgender community, Marsha’s old friend and fellow activist Victoria Cruz has taken it upon herself to reexamine what happened to Marsha. Dipping deep into jaw-dropping archival footage of another era of New York City life, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson follows as this champion pursues leads, mobilizes officials, and works to tell the story of Marsha’s life and get to the bottom of Marsha’s death.” – RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 96%

Call Me By Your Name

 Luca Guadagnino, 2018 USA


“It’s the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, and Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17- year-old American-Italian boy, spends his days in his family’s 17th-century villa transcribing and playing classical music, reading, and flirting with his friend Marzia (Esther Garrel). Elio enjoys a close relationship with his father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture, and his mother Annella (Amira Casar), a translator, who favor him with the fruits of high culture in a setting that overflows with natural delights. While Elio’s sophistication and intellectual gifts suggest he is already a fully-fledged adult, there is much that yet remains innocent and unformed about him, particularly about matters of the heart. One day, Oliver (Armie Hammer), a charming American scholar working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.” -RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 95%

The Handmaiden (Ah-ga-ssi)

 Chan-wook Park, South Korea 2016


“From PARK Chan-wook, the celebrated director of OLDBOY, LADY VENGEANCE, THIRST and STOKER, comes a ravishing new crime drama inspired by the novel ‘FINGERSMITH’ by British author Sarah Waters. Having transposed the story to 1930s-era colonial Korea and Japan, Park presents a gripping and sensual tale of a young Japanese Lady living on a secluded estate, and a Korean woman who is hired to serve as her new handmaiden, but who is secretly involved in a conman’s plot to defraud her of her large inheritance. Powered by remarkable performances from KIM Min-hee (RIGHT NOW, WRONG THEN) as Lady Hideko, HA Jung-woo (THE CHASER) as the conman who calls himself the Count and sensational debut actress KIM Tae-ri as the maid Sookee, THE HANDMAIDEN borrows the most dynamic elements of its source material and combines it with PARK Chan-wook’s singular vision and energy to create an unforgettable viewing experience.” – RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 95%

Pariah

Dee Rees, 2011 USA


“Adepero Oduye portrays Alike (pronounced ah-lee-kay), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents Audrey and Arthur (Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell) and younger sister Sharonda (Sahra Mellesse) in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. With the sometimes boisterous support of her best friend, out lesbian Laura (Pernell Walker), Alike is especially eager to find a girlfriend. At home, her parents’ marriage is strained and there is further tension in the household whenever Alike’s development becomes a topic of discussion. Pressed by her mother into making the acquaintance of a colleague’s daughter, Bina (Aasha Davis), Alike finds Bina to be unexpectedly refreshing to socialize with. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity – sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward.” – RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 95%

A Fantastic Woman

Una mujer fantástica (original titile)
Sebastián Lelio, 2017 Chile


“Marina (Daniela Vega), a transgender nightclub singer, comes under suspicion when her much older lover Orlando (Francisco Reyes) dies suddenly. After being harassed and threatened by her late boyfriend’s vengeful relatives and the police, she must defend her rights as both Orlando’s partner and as a human being.” -RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 94%

Carol

 Todd Haynes, 2015 USA


“In this adaptation of the novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith, Therese (Rooney Mara), a young department-store clerk in 1950s Manhattan, meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), a beautiful older woman stuck in a depressing marriage of convenience. As their bond deepens and they become romantically involved, Carol finds the strength to leave her husband (Kyle Chandler). Unfortunately, her spouse starts to raise questions about her fitness as a mother when he realizes that Carol’s relationships with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) and Therese are more than just friendships.” – RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 94%

Rafiki

Wanuri Kahiu, 2018 Kenya


 “‘Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives,'” but Kena and Ziki long for something more. Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls resist and remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.” -RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 94%

We the Animals

Jeremiah Zagar, 2018 USA


“Us three. Us brothers. Us kings, inseparable. Three boys tear through their childhood, in the midst of their young parents’ volatile love that makes and unmakes the family many times over. While Manny and Joel grow into versions of their loving and unpredictable father, Ma seeks to shelter her youngest, Jonah, in the cocoon of home. More sensitive and conscious than his older siblings, Jonah increasingly embraces an imagined world all his own.” – RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 93%

Milk

Gus Van Sant, USA 2008


“In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay rights; he forged coalitions across the political spectrum. From senior citizens to union workers, Harvey Milk changed the very nature of what it means to be a fighter for human rights and became, before his untimely death in 1978, a hero for all Americans. During the last eight years of his life, while living in New York City, he turns 40. Looking for more purpose, he and his lover Scott Smith relocate to San Francisco, where they found a small business, Castro Camera, in the heart of a working-class neighborhood. Then, with support from Scott and from new friends like young activist Cleve Jones, Milk plunges headfirst into the choppy waters of politics. Bolstering his public profile with humor, Milk’s actions speak even louder than his gift-of-gab words. When Milk is elected supervisor for the newly zoned District 5, he tries to coordinate his efforts with those of another newly elected supervisor, Dan White. But as White and Milk’s political agendas increasingly diverge, their personal destinies tragically converge.” -RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 93%

Love, Simon

 Greg Berlanti, USA 2018


“Everyone deserves a great love story. But for seventeen-year old Simon Spier it’s a little more complicated: he’s yet to tell his family or friends he’s gay and he doesn’t actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing. Directed by Greg Berlanti (Riverdale, The Flash, Supergirl), written by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger (This is Us), and based on Becky Albertalli’s acclaimed novel, LOVE, SIMON is a funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story about the thrilling ride of finding yourself and falling in love.” -RT

Rotten Tomatoes Score 91%

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Tiffany Wilkie (she, her, hers)  is the Director of Marketing and Content for Performerstuff.com She received a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Mars Hill University and an additional  B.A. in Education from the University of Central Florida. Tiffany is a teacher, marketing guru, director, and casting producer.