Pride Pictures

This list of movies is intended to promote increased visibility of LGBTQIA+ themes or characters. Some titles are comparatively, historically important, while others are simply recommended. For streaming choices, try the great collections at Kanopy and Hoopla.

Compiled by:
Brandon R.
Advise & Consent
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Adv

Like many Otto Preminger films, this pushed against censorship and the Production Code by including a subplot about a U.S. Senator who is blackmailed over an alleged homosexual affair (The Best Man, written by Gore Vidal, also similarly uses this negative plot point). This political drama is notable for being the first Hollywood film known to feature a gay bar on screen.

Angels in America
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Ang

This long-awaited adaptation of the multi-award-winning stage play, by original writer Tony Kushner, fantastically examines the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Reagan-era America. 

Adult Audiovisual DVD - Ben

While this adaptation of the revered 1979 stage play may lose some of its minimalist gravitas in its expanded adaptation to film here, it is a story that helped brining the pink triangle of the Nazi concentration camp to public consciousness.

The Boys in the Band
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Boy

A milestone for Hollywood film that features all of the original cast of the Off-Broadway stage play. Some consider it controversial for its open depiction of the self-hatred in some of its characters, though a Broadway revival brought a Netflix remake in 2020. 

BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Bpm

Director/co-writer Robin Campillo draws upon his personal involvement with the activist group ACT UP Paris to tell a story of those that fought to demand government action against the AIDS epidemic in France in the early 1990s.

Brokeback Mountain
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Bro

Despite being reduced by some critics to 'that gay cowboy movie', this film is regarded as a breakthrough in bringing Hollywood's depiction of non-heterosexual relationship into the mainstream. The refusal to label its characters' sexuality brought some controversy, but this also perhaps allowed for a more complex portrayal of our spectrum.
See also, the more recent English film, God's Own Country.

Carol (2015)
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Car

Based on Patricia Highsmith's semi-autobiographical novel, The Price of Salt, this is a story of an affair between two women in the early 1950s. This elegantly photographed film chooses to say very little in its dialogue, allowing us to visually take in the feeling between these two very different women in all of its exquisite period detail.

The Celluloid Closet
Adult Audiovisual DVD - 791.43 Rus

This one-time definitive 1996 documentary, on the 100 year history of the role of gay men and women of the silver screen, shows examples of 'coded' gay characters and numerous cruel stereotypes, while also highlighting historical pushes against censorship and the rising activism for better representation in the 1990s. Based on the Vito Russo book of the same name (whose name has been given to the GLAAD Vito Russo Test).

The Children's Hour

A retrospective curiosity for how Hollywood attempted, after recent relaxations in the Production Code, to adapt the 1934 Lillian Hellman stageplay about two school teachers that are accused of a lesbian affair by an angry student (A previous film version, These Three, had changed this to a heterosexual affair with the other's fiance). Not entirely successful, and certainly not a positive depiction, yet it stands as an early example of introducing mainstream audiences to this kind of prejudice.

Desert Hearts
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Des

Generally regarded as one of the first wide-release films with a positive portrayal of lesbian relationships; more specifically, Donna Deitch became the first lesbian writer/director to have a lesbian sex scene seen by general, American movie theater audiences. Bi-sexual, silent film star Greta Garbo (of whose gender-fluid performance in Queen Christina is notable) was a fan.

Edward II
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Edw

One of many dramatizations of real-life figures by Derek Jarman that addresses the "straightwashing" of History.

Fabulous!: The Story of Queer Cinema
Adult Audiovisual DVD - 791.43653 Fab

Provides an overview of "Queer Cinema" celebrating films made by 'out' filmmakers and/or characters with clips and interviews featuring a variety of actors, directors, critics, and festival workers (up to 2006).

Fox and his Friends
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Fox

Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a prolifically self-destructive force of New German Cinema (producing 44 films in 16 years). As an openly bisexual man, he never questioned the varied sexuality of his characters as anything but 'normal' (though his perspective lead him to rarely be concerned with providing a happy ending to any of his characters). This bitingly cynical story of the trappings of sudden wealth is, like most of his social melodramas, providing an, if not controversial, unsparing commentary on 1970s West Germany.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Hed

After years of performing Off-Broadway, writer/director/star John Cameron Mitchell brought this comedic mockumentary rock musical drama of a East Berlin transsexual musician, whose songs had been stolen by a now famous former lover, to the screen. On a personal note, I think this is the last movie I paid actual money to rent on DVD (before I bought my own copy of course!).

Laurence Anyways
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Lau

Xavier Dolan's third film (at age 23) chronicles ten years in the relationship of a transgender woman with her lover. Though a melodrama, its focus on the life lived over the 'issue' at hand makes this a rewarding (though nearly three hour) journey.

Man's Favorite Sport?
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Man

An example of the numerous meta-textual films of Rock Hudson's career (who when he died of AIDS in 1985 was probably the most famous actor at that time to be associated with the disease). The whole plot of this otherwise rather dated film, not having any interest in 'fishing' but going through the motions to 'learn how to fish', is so clearly a metaphor for passing that it is difficult to believe its creators did not intend this on purpose. Credit goes to the documentary/commentary Rock Hudson's Home Movies (currently available on Kanopy) for so clearly pointing this out. See also the sublimated oil drilling of Written on the Wind.


Carl Theodor Dreyer
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Mic

This film, by Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer, is considered an important early work in gay silent cinema. While hardly explicitly portrayed, the relationship between the painter and his model is key to the plot. It was later retitled 'The Story of the Third Sex' in not-so-subtle referrence to its homosexual themes.

Adult Audiovisual DVD - Moo

"A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood." That description is concise, but doesn't really do justice to the experience of this wonderful film that surprisingly won its deserved Best Picture Academy Award in 2017 (the first LGBTQIA+ themed film to do so).


Josef von Sternberg
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Mor

Notable for Marlene Dietrich's 'butch performance' number dressed in a traditionally male tuxedo and top hat (in her American debut film). This is the first known Hollywood film to feature two woman kissing.

My Own Private Idaho
Adult Audiovisual DVD - My

A key film of the so-called New Queer Cinema, Gus Van Sant's episodic, driftingly free-flowing film about a pair of gay hustlers is inspired by John Rechy's City of Night and Shakespeare's Henry IV. Because River Phoenix's agent refused to show him the script due to its subject matter, actor Keanu Reeves personally drove from Canada to Florida, on the motorcycle featured in the film, to deliver a copy at the director's request. Their acceptance of the roles made it possible to finally secure financing for the film.

Paris is Burning
Adult Audiovisual DVD - 306.778 Par

This invaluable documentary follows the mostly African American and Hispanic drag-ball scene in 1980s New York City. Featuring footage of competitions and interviews with various participants, this film brought exposure to concepts like 'voguing' and 'shade' while also providing information about the divisions of 'houses' and 'realness' among the community.

Philadelphia [Motion picture : 1993]
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Phi

This was the first Hollywood theatrical film to openly address the AIDS epidemic. Tom Hanks winning Best Actor at the Academy Awards helped bring about more depictions of LGBTQIA+ characters in mainstream movies. This film is also notable for casting 53 background actors afflicted with AIDS at the time (by the end of the next year 43 were tragically dead).

Stonewall Uprising

PBS documentary on the June 28th 1969 historical event that marks a turning point in what is now seen as a beginning of a worldwide gay rights movement.

Tea and Sympathy
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Tea

Based on the trailblazing 1953 play challenging traditional roles of masculinity, this film version is mostly a retrospective curiosity on the obvious compromises required of the Hollywood studio system that was beholden to the Production Code and the Catholic Legion of Decency. The (soon-to-be overly) theatrical acting and cultural limitations of the time may turn some off, but, in context, the attempt here is remarkably unique for its time.
And Deborah Kerr and John Kerr just coincidentally had the same last name; they were not related!

And the Band Played On
Adult Audiovisual DVD - And

Based on the investigative journalism of Randy Shilts, this award-winning HBO docudrama explores the discovery of the AIDS epidemic and the cultural and scientific detriments to fighting the disease early on. While both the book and film explore the idea of a "Patient Zero", subsequent research has argued this is incorrect.

Una Mujer Fantastica
Adult Español DVD - Muj

Daniela Vega became the first openly transgender woman to present at the Academy Awards in the same year that this film was the first transgender-character-led film to win an Oscar (Best Foreign Film in 2018).

The Watermelon Woman
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Wat

Writer/Director/Actor Cheryl Dunye plays a version of herself, as an African-American, lesbian filmmaker finding parallels to her own life in her research of a 1930s black actresses' relationship with a white woman. Dunye's frustration in not being able to find any actual history that complimented her life compelled her to simply invent it for herself (and us).

Young Soul Rebels
Adult Audiovisual DVD - You

A multi-narrative thriller, beginning with the murder of a black gay man in a local park, that uses the interaction of disparate social groups like skinheads, punks, and soulboys to examine the cultural tensions in early Thatcherite London.