30 of the Best Queer Movies of the Last Century

Over the last century, queer cinema has evolved and grown, becoming an important part of the film industry. From the early days of underground films to the mainstream success of recent years, queer movies have explored a wide range of themes and stories, from coming out and self-discovery to love and relationships.

Here are 30 of the best queer movies of the last century, in no particular order:

1. Paris is Burning (1990) – This documentary explores the ball culture of New York City in the 1980s, focusing on the lives of African American and Latino LGBTQ+ people who found a sense of community and belonging in the ballroom scene.

2. Brokeback Mountain (2005) – This film tells the story of two cowboys who fall in love in the 1960s and struggle to maintain their relationship in a society that doesn’t accept their love.

3. Moonlight (2016) – This coming-of-age drama follows a young black man as he navigates his sexuality and identity in a rough Miami neighborhood.

4. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) – This French film explores the intense relationship between two young women, as they navigate the complexities of love and sexuality.

5. The Handmaiden (2016) – This South Korean film is a twisty, erotic thriller about a con artist who falls in love with her wealthy mark.

6. My Own Private Idaho (1991) – This film follows two young male hustlers as they travel across the Pacific Northwest, exploring themes of love, identity, and class.

7. Carol (2015) – This period drama tells the story of a forbidden love affair between a young photographer and an older woman in 1950s New York.

8. The Kids are Alright (2010) – This comedy-drama follows a lesbian couple and their two children, as they navigate the challenges of family life and relationships.

9. Happy Together (1997) – This Hong Kong film explores the tumultuous relationship between two gay men, as they travel to Argentina in search of a better life.

10. The Watermelon Woman (1996) – This groundbreaking film tells the story of a young black lesbian filmmaker who becomes obsessed with a mysterious actress from the 1930s.

11. Weekend (2011) – This British film follows two men as they spend a weekend together, exploring their feelings for each other and the challenges of coming out.

12. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) – This coming-of-age drama tells the story of a teenage girl who is sent to a conversion therapy camp after being caught kissing another girl.

13. A Fantastic Woman (2017) – This Chilean film follows a transgender woman as she navigates the aftermath of her partner’s death, facing discrimination and prejudice along the way.

14. God’s Own Country (2017) – This British film tells the story of a young farmer who falls in love with a Romanian migrant worker, exploring themes of class, identity, and sexuality.

15. Tangerine (2015) – This indie film follows two transgender sex workers as they navigate the streets of Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.

16. The Celluloid Closet (1995) – This documentary explores the history of LGBTQ+ representation in Hollywood films, from the early days of cinema to the present day.

17. Boys Don’t Cry (1999) – This film tells the true story of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was brutally murdered in Nebraska in 1993.

18. Call Me By Your Name (2017) – This romantic drama follows a young man as he falls in love with an older man during a summer in Italy.

19. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) – This Australian comedy follows three drag queens as they travel across the Outback, exploring themes of identity, acceptance, and friendship.

20. The Birdcage (1996) – This comedy follows a gay couple who own a drag club in Miami, as they try to impress their conservative future in-laws.

21. But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) – This comedy follows a teenage girl who is sent to a conversion therapy camp after her parents suspect she is a lesbian.

22. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) – This musical follows a transgender rock singer as she tells her life story through music and performance.

23. Philadelphia (1993) – This drama tells the story of a gay lawyer who is fired from his job after contracting HIV, and his fight for justice and acceptance.

24. Milk (2008) – This biographical drama tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, and his fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

25. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – This cult classic musical follows a newly engaged couple who stumble upon a strange castle filled with eccentric characters and wild musical numbers.

26. The Normal Heart (2014) – This drama tells the story of the early days of the AIDS epidemic in New York City, and the fight for recognition and treatment.

27. Pride (2014) – This British comedy-drama tells the true story of a group of LGBTQ+ activists who raise money for striking miners in 1984.

28. The Crying Game (1992) – This thriller tells the story of a British soldier who falls in love with a transgender woman, and the secrets and lies that follow.

29. Beautiful Thing (1996) – This British film follows two teenage boys as they fall in love in a working-class London neighborhood.

30. The Wedding Banquet (1993) – This comedy-drama follows a gay Taiwanese man who marries a woman in order to please his traditional parents, but things don’t go as planned.

These 30 films represent just a small sample of the rich and diverse world of queer cinema. From documentaries to dramas, comedies to musicals, queer movies have explored a wide range of themes and stories, giving voice to LGBTQ+ people and their experiences. As the film industry continues to evolve and change, queer cinema will undoubtedly continue to play an important role in shaping our understanding of love, identity, and acceptance.

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