Tag Archives: lgbt movies

4 Movies With Young LGBT Characters You Need to See

The last few years have been incredible, as far as queer representation in the media goes. There has been a huge surge in the number of LGBT-themed movies and TV shows lately – and, much to everyone’s delight, they’ve actually been pretty good. One of the greatest things about this surge is that the LGBT youth of today doesn’t have to turn to The L Word and Queer as Folk for all their gay media. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those two shows, of course, but… they’re not exactly great examples of the everyday queer experience.)

Looking to watch something inspiring your next date night? The following movies all have relatable storylines and realistic LGBT characters (including, of course, the ones who never really thought of themselves as LGBT before the events in the film).

Do you have any more we should add? Let us know in the comments and we’ll check them out as soon as we can!

Barash/Blush (2015)

When Michal Vinik started casting for Barash/Blush, she knew she wanted to portray a “certain truth [she] didn’t see other places”. She spent months casting the characters, because she wanted to make sure they were portrayed authentically – which meant using real lesbian actresses. The resulting film was an almost-standard coming-of-age lesbian drama. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but this one happens to have a strong sociopolitical climate as its backdrop.

In modern Tel Aviv (which happens to be the most gay-friendly city in the world), an angsty, rebellious teen girl from a bickering home life falls in love with the new girl at school. Thankfully, Vinik wanted to rewrite her own history – one in which she was not “out” as a teenager – so these girls happen to live in a playground of queer possibility. Between the front-and-center romance and the back-burner tensions at home, these girls learn to navigate their world around one another, and learn to lean on each other for support when things get rough (or just plain weird).

While most of us don’t actually live in Tel Aviv, we all exist in places where love and acceptance are often intertwined with hate and fear – and this movie delicately dances the lines between the two. However, contrary to most queer movies we see, the hate and fear aren’t based around the characters’ sexuality, per se, but rather Barash’s sister’s love for a Palestinian man – a romance that has been all-but-forbidden for over a century.

Naz & Maalik (2015)

With the increasing tension and pressure faced by the Muslim community in America (and the increasing denial of homophobia, too), it’s inspiring for me to see a film that examines the cross-section of Islamophobia and homophobia so close to my home. (Okay, so Brooklyn isn’t super close to me, but I did spend time in New York when I was a teenager, and that’s what counts, right?)

In Jay Dockendorf’s fiction debut, the characters of Naz and Maalik are closeted Muslims living in Brooklyn, whose secret relationship with one another catches the attention of the FBI. With the heightened state of security since the “War on Terror” started, as well as the secrecy that Naz and Maalik rely on for their survival, it’s not hard to imagine how things can get out of hand pretty fast.

Naz & Maalik has received mixed reviews from IMDb users, but it exists as one of few realistic representations of queer Muslim life in the United States. Whether you’re a Muslim-American yourself or you’re just trying to understand what struggles they face, Naz and Maalik is worth watching at least once.

Girls Lost (2015)

This one is a bit different than any of the movies I’ve personally seen, but in a way that makes it all the more relatable. (Well, if you happen to be a nerd for all things supernatural, like I am.) This film revolves around three friends, who are all relentlessly tormented in school. They often find themselves hanging out in the greenhouse of one of the girls, but then everything changes when they receive that magical seed…

Even though this movie is, at its forefront, about using magic to overcome your obstacles, it also gives a delicate look at gender navigation and sexism as it pertains to teenagers. Sex, drugs, and cruelty take their toll on the girls, and although it’s not exactly the gentlest look at trans male aggression I’ve seen, it does offer up three (six?) characters that are definitely worth fighting for.

Girls Lost is based on a Swedish YA novel (Pojkarna, Jessica Shiefauer), but the way it appears on the screen is magical and poignant. It actually makes me wish I could read Swedish, because the book is almost always better than the movie – and this movie is pretty good already.

Sworn Virgin (2015)

In a mountain village in northern Albania, girls face a cruel fate – being kidnapped and blindfolded as they’re taken to their new husbands for a life of servitude. Desperate to escape that fate, Hana takes the vow of burrnesha, which says that she will live a life of eternal celibacy, in exchange for the ability to live her life as a man. This is a story about being caught between two realities – in this case, Hana’s curiosity toward the sex she swore off, as well as the man that she became.

Elegantly told through two intertwining linear storylines, Sworn Virgin offers a rarely-seen glimpse into the world of detransitioning and the additional struggles that people face when making this type of a transition. These are the stories that are often used by LGBT dissenters to deny rights to transgender men and women – these are the stories we need to get more educated about, in order to be better allies.

In her directorial debut, Laura Bispuri carefully crafted this film based on the book Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones. While the book and the movie have different settings and specifics, it’s important to realize that real-life sworn virgins do exist. Dones has also filmed a documentary about the burrnesha vows in Albania.

13 Queer Female Filmmakers You Need to Know About

It comes as no surprise that we love queer filmmakers. Most importantly, we feel an obligation to honor the queer filmmakers who have been movers and shakers in their industry – especially when their works touch us deeply. Although there are a number of queer filmmakers that fit the bill in this regard, today we’ve chosen to focus on 13 queer female filmmakers who have made a mark on us, sometimes in a very personal way.

Although these women all represent the smallest subsection among directors and producers, we feel that their work is invaluable – even when it doesn’t specifically touch on queer issues. So, who should you look out for?

1. Desiree Akhavan

Desiree Akhavan

What she’s known for: Appropriate Behavior, 2014

In Akhavan’s 2014 film (which she insists is not autobiographical), she plays Persian-American bisexual woman Shirin. In the movie, Shirin deals with her complicated relationship with her ex-girlfriend Maxine and her conservative family. She’s also struggling with her sexual identity and determining the best way to come out to aforementioned conservative family. Akhavan also has a web series called The Slope, with co-creator Ingrid Jungermann.

2. Jamie Babbit


What she’s known for: But I’m a Cheerleader!, 1999

Although Babbit has had a hand in some of the greatest episodes of Gilmore Girls, The L Word, and Looking, among others, she’s most known for the cult classic queer film But I’m a Cheerleader. In case you haven’t seen the film, it’s about young Megan Bloomfield (played by the adorable Natasha Lyonne) who’s sent to conversion therapy camp. The movie deals with some tough issues without being too dark – and, in fact, it borders on whimsical as the characters discover their sexuality. The best part is that there’s something relatable about it, even if you haven’t had the misfortune of going to conversion camp.

3. Lisa Cholodenko


What she’s known for: The Kids Are All Right, 2010, and High Art, 1998

Cholodenko offers the brilliant duality of mainstream success (The Kids Are All Right) and queer indie romance (High Art). While most people are familiar with the first, High Art has a bit of a smaller audience – and while it’s not specific to the queer crowd, it definitely serves as a cautionary tale for those of us attracted to the glamor of the artist’s lifestyle. OK, so not all artists turn out to be like Lucy in this movie, but there’s a lot of strong emotion hidden within this one – and it’s definitely worth a look.

4. Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster

What she’s known for: being Jodie Foster

Okay, so most people have heard of Jodie Foster, and her official coming-out story from 2013 (although there were a few of us who had our suspicions long before then). What’s less known is that she’s directed a number of amazing films over the last 25 years, including Little Man Tate (1991), Home for the Holidays (1995), and Money Monster (2016). While all of her films are worth noting, Home for the Holidays happened to feature Robert Downey Jr. as queer Tommy Larson. She even had her hand in directing an episode of Orange is the New Black – specifically, season 1, episode 3, “Lesbian Request Denied”. That sounds like a good enough excuse to rewatch season one, don’t you think?

5. Nisha Ganatra

maxresdefault (16)

What she’s known for: Chutney Popcorn, 1999

In Chutney Popcorn, Ganatra plays the lesbian Indian-American woman Reena, who carries a child for her sister Sarita. This puts a major strain on Reena’s girlfriend Lisa, while Reena is already struggling to fit her sexuality into her cultural identity. Ganatra has been involved with a few other films, but she mainly works on television – including directing and producing the first season of Transparent, along with episodes of Mr. Robot and Shameless.

6. Aurora Guerrero

Aurora Guerrero

What she’s known for: Mosquita y Mari, 2012

Guerrero’s only feature theater release tells the story of two teenage girls, Yolanda and Mari, whose unconventional friendship turns into something deeper in a beautiful coming-of-age story. She has a second film in the works, Los Valientes, which has yet to be released. This second film tells the story of a gay undocumented Mexican immigrant. More than just a filmmaker, Guerrero is also an activist, and the co-founder of Womyn Image Makers.

7. Ingrid Jungermann


What she’s known for: The Slope, a web series that she co-created with Desiree Akhavan

Jungermann debuted her first feature film at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016. This movie, called Women Who Kill, tells the story of Morgan and her ex-girlfriend Jean, who co-host a true crime podcast together. These two women begin to suspect that Morgan’s new love interest might be a killer – definitely a film to watch out for! But, if you’re looking for something to hold you over until its widespread release, The Slope and F to 7th are two wonderful web series – the latter is being developed for television.

8. Maryam Keshavarz

Maryam Keshavarz

What she’s known for: Circumstance, 2011

In Keshavarz’s 2011 film, we follow a young woman in contemporary Iran as she experiments with sex, drugs, and a homosexual relationship. The film (and Keshavarz herself) were banned in Iran, which is often the mark of a true visionary. In 2003, she also worked to explore her own Iranian heritage with the documentary The Color of Love. We recommend checking out both movies when you can.

9. Kimberly Peirce

Kimberly Peirce

What she’s known for: Boys Don’t Cry, 1999

I think we’ve probably all seen Peirce’s amazing take on Boys Don’t Cry, which tells the story of the murder of Brandon Teena in 1993. She’s also released a couple of other films since then – Stop-Loss in 2008, and the remake of Carrie in 2013. She also appeared in the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated to discuss the unfair biases placed against queer sexual representation in movies by the MPAA.

10. Dee Rees

What she’s known for: Pariah, 2011

Rees’ 2011 film tells the story of 17-year old Alike, who is starting to explore and embrace her sexuality (as a lesbian). Rees followed this movie with the 2015 HBO biopic Bessie, about queer blues singer Bessie Smith (played by Queen Latifah). She’s helping to develop the TV adaptation of The Warmth of Other Suns, along with Shonda Rhimes. If you’ve got time, you should also check out the period film Mudblood, as well as her documentary Eventual Salvation.

11. Patricia Rozema


What she’s known for: I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, 1987

Rozema has had an eclectic career, spanning both films and television in Canada as well as the United States. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing centers around queer women, as does her 1995 film When Night is Falling. She also helped to adapt Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and directed episodes of In Treatment and Tell Me You Love Me. Most recently, she worked with Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood on the apocalyptic drama Into the Forest, coming out later this month.

12. Lynn Shelton

DEAUVILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 01:  Director Lynn Shelton poses at 'Your Sister's Sister' Photocall during 38th Deauville American Film Festival on September 1, 2012 in Deauville, France.  (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)

DEAUVILLE, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 01: Director Lynn Shelton poses at ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ Photocall during 38th Deauville American Film Festival on September 1, 2012 in Deauville, France. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)

What she’s known for: Humpday, 2009

Although Humpday isn’t exactly your traditional queer film – being that the protagonists are straight men who consider having sex on camera in the name of art – it explores male sexuality and homoerotic tendencies present in many male friendships. Shelton herself is bisexual, and has explored the spectrum of human sexuality in Your Sister’s Sister in 2011. She also directed Laggies in 2014, which tells the story of Megan, who spends a week living the teenage dream after her boyfriend proposes to her.

13. Rose Troche


What she’s known for: Go Fish, 1994

In a timeless example of classic queer cinema, Troche’s Go Fish tells the love story of Max and Ely. Troche’s films aren’t always specifically queer-themed, although she stated in a 2001 interview that “Everything I do is informed by being queer”. Many of her directing credits lie in television work, where she’s assisted with The L Word, Finding Carter, and Six Feet Under. More recently, Troche worked on the virtual reality film Perspective; Chapter 1: The Party, which took a head-on look at sexual assault.

Hollywood Still Has A Major Issue With Representing Queer Storylines and Characters

According to the latest study from GLAAD, released this week, LGBT representation in film needs improvement as well.

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters. Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters. The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.”

GLAAD is the leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media advocacy organisation. Their fourth annual Studio Responsibility Index maps the quantity, quality and diversity of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios: 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios, Sony Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures.

Tangerine 02

Below are eight highlights from the study:

Only 22 of the 126 major releases in 2015 included characters identified as LGBT

That’s only 17.5% – and in those 22 films, there were 47 LGBT characters, which is up from 28 last year.

When movies do have LGBT characters, they are usually gay men

Male characters outnumbered females by a ratio of more than three to one. Sadly, only 9% of movies included bisexual characters while only one film was trans-inclusive – Warner Brothers’ “Hot Pursuit.”

Everyone is white

In 2014, 32.1% of LGBT characters were people of colour. That number dropped to 25.5% in 2015. Of the LGBT characters counted in 2015, 34 (72.3%) were white, five were Latino (10.6%), four were black (8.5%) and three (6.4%) were Asian or Pacific Islander. One character was non-human, Fabian in Lionsgate’s “Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos.”

carol (1)

Lack of screen time

Of the LGBT characters on screen, 73% had less than 10 minutes of screen time, their impact is additionally limited.

Of the seven studios, not even one is doing “good.”

Since the study’s inception, GLAAD has given each studio a rating of good, adequate or failing. None of them received a rating of “good” for their 2015 releases. Fox, Lionsgate, Sony and Universal all received ratings of “Adequate”, while Paramount, Disney and Warner Bros. all received a “Failing” grade.

The most inclusive major studio was Lionsgate, as eight of its 2015 releases were LGBT-inclusive.

Warner Bros. followed with five then Universal with four. Sony only had three and Fox two. Neither Disney nor Paramount included any LGBT content in their 2015 slates of 11 and 12 films, respectively.

That’s probably because LGBT depictions are getting worse.

Last year saw a resurgence of outright offensive images of LGBT people; more films relied on gay panic and defamatory stereotypes for giggles.

Though humour can be a powerful tool to challenge the norm, when crafted problematically, it has the opposite effect.


Only eight of the 22 LGBT-inclusive films passed the Vito Russo Test.

The Vito Russo Test is GLAAD’s set of criteria analysing how LGBT characters are represented in fictional work named after GLAAD co-founder and film historian Vito Russo.

Inspired by the Bechdel Test, these criteria represent a standard GLAAD would like to see a greater number of mainstream Hollywood films reach in the future.

In order to pass the Vito Russo Test, a film must include having an identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender character that is not solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity and is tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect.

Only eight of the 22 major studio films that featured an LGBT character passed the test in 2015, the lowest percentage in this study’s history.

The Danish Girl 03

One positive, major studios have more progressive imprints

Last year, GLAAD began examining the film releases of four smaller, affiliated studios to draw a comparison between content released by the mainstream studios and their perceived “art house” divisions. Those smaller studios are Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, Roadside Attractions and Sony Pictures Classics.

Of the 46 films released under those studio imprints, 10, or 22%, were LGBT-inclusive. That’s a notably higher percentage than the parent studio counterparts and an increase from 2014’s 10.6% (five of 47) of films from the same divisions. Some of the films from these smaller studios include “The Danish Girl,” “Grandma” and “Stonewall.”

Iconic Movie Moments With Queer Twist

When it comes LGBT representation in film we often get a bum deal.

Things are starting to change, acceptance is growing momentum, and roles are beginning to open up in mainstream movies. However, what would some of Hollywood’s most beloved films look like with a queer twist?

Artist, Kriti Kaur, took up that challenge – drawing this stunning set of illustrations – that turn 8 iconic cinema moments into same-sex couples.

Kaur came up with the idea for these images after thinking about a way to portray the universal nature of love, no matter what one’s sexual orientation or gender identity may be.

She told HuffPost Gay Voices

I came up with this when I was trying to brainstorm ideas about portraying the concept of love and how it stays the same regardless of people’s gender identities. And I do think that when people think of love, they look back to these famous films that showcase how powerful and amazing it can be. Recreating those moments with LGBT couples just made sense!”

1. Pretty Woman

Kriti Kaur 06

2. Casablanca

Kriti Kaur 01

3. Clueless

Kriti Kaur 02

4. Grease

Kriti Kaur 04

5. Dirty Dancing

Kriti Kaur 03

6. Love Actually

Kriti Kaur 05

7. Titanic

Kriti Kaur 07

8. It’s A Wonderful Life

Kriti Kaur 08

‘Boys Meets Girl’ is a Queer, Trans-Inclusive Love Story

Girl has boyfriend, girl meets girl, two girls become friends and they eventually fall for each other. Think that’s another example of that queer movie trope? Think again as both girls turn out to be bisexual and one of the women is actually transgender.

That’s the plot of ‘Boy Meets Girl’, a hilarious upcoming indie.


Starring Ricky Jones (played by trans woman Michelle Hendley) as a twenty-something fashion blogger in Kentucky, Ricky soon meets rich girl Francesca who, after moving back from boarding school has bagged herself a Marine with issues as her fiancé. As the story goes, Ricky and Francesca strike up a friendship and despite having only ever dated boys, the relationship between the two women soon develops into something more.

Having been wheeled out at a recent spate of queer film fests, ‘Boy Meets Girl’ has received rave reviews. Not only does the film provide a refreshing take on gender identity (Ricky’s identity as a trans woman is discussed but the people in her rural town are accepting and it’s not really a big deal), it also deals with bisexuality well.

As well as addressing bisexuality, ‘Boy Meets Girls’ tackles the idea that sexuality is fluid, with none of the creepy biphobia or sudden gay awakenings that we’ve come to see from other queer media including ‘Glee’ and ‘Imagine Me and You’.

Furthermore, ‘Boy Meets Girl’ is also breaking ground by casting a trans actress in a trans role (and in starring the character as the lead). As has been discussed on the blog, this is a startling rarity so the fact that director Eric Schaeffer has also said the following is music to the ears:

“I also wanted to make sure every moment of this story rang true and was never false. Doing a lot of research in the transgender community taught me a tremendous amount and taught me there are many differing viewpoints within that community about certain issues. Having a transgender actress play the part made me feel confident that while the story could not reflect every transgender woman’s experience, at least I would not be making up an experience from my imagination that was not vetted by a transgender woman so I could make sure it was at least germane and authentic to her experience and therefore valid.”

Eric Schaeffer

‘Boy Meets Girl’ is set to be released next year, so we’ll keep you posted once we know more.

Our Pick of Lesbian Film Classics

Stranger Inside (2001)

Not many mainstream movies produced by HBO and Michael Stipe give you the lowdown on lesbianism in female prisons in the US. Stranger Inside follows the journey of an imprisoned African-American woman who is looking for her real mother.

Do I Love You? (2002)

When it first came out Do I Love You? was the first British lesbian feature to be made for a decade. Lisa Gornick’s ‘thesis on love and labels’ was widely-loved and enjoyed by audiences all over the globe. Marina is around thirty and very confused about life and love – her story is told eloquently and incisively by this unique movie.

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Some critics wondered whether this mainstream movie with bankable A-list stars signalled that Hollywood was about to embrace lesbianism fully. Things didn’t exactly turn out like that, but the film certainly made waves. Many loved it but others – both homosexual and homophobic – had criticisms about its portrayal of LGBT characters.

Tomboy (2011)

This classic of French dyke cinema was the brainchild of Celine Sciamma who also directed the successful Water Lillies (2007). The protagonist is 10 year old Laure, who wants to be Mikael. (S)he tries to come to terms with the feeling that she is a boy trapped inside the body of a girl, facing off prejudice and misunderstanding all the way.

Break My Fall (2011)

Part of the British new wave of realist queer cinema, Break My Fall is a painfully honest account of the complexities of an intense Sapphic relationship in contemporary East London. It was shot on 16mm by the Bafta-nominated auteur Kanchi Wichmann.