Having been recognised as Pride Month to honour the notorious Stonewall riots in 1969, June has been the month of love, colours, expressions and self-acceptance. To battle internalised homophobia perpetrated by the heteronormative society, the rainbow flag is displayed in all its glory and pride to symbolise the countless individuals lynched for their sexuality and to celebrate the triumph of love, acceptance and tolerance above all.
Netflix has a wide selection of films and series of which a significant number of shows and movies focus on themes pertaining to homosexuality, queerness and celebration of love in all forms and all kinds of sexuality. Celebrating diversity in various forms, the month of June is not the only time when we should be proud allies; Pride should be celebrated all year round, in all its unabashed glory.
As the Pride flag has symbolic eight colours as designed in 1978 by gay drag queen Gilbert Baker where the eight colours represent sex, life, healing, spirit, sunlight, nature, art and harmony, we have picked out eight such films on Netflix shall send ripples of happiness in your gay heart while making you understand the struggle the people of the LGBTQ+ community undertake on a daily basis amidst the prejudiced society.
Let’s get to it:
The best LGTBQ+ films on Netflix:
8. The Perfection (Richard Shepard, 2018)
Although the film is a psychological thriller, the beautiful lesbian love story that evolves amidst it including the aesthetic musical arrangement at the end where they play the cello together adds an imbued sense of beauty and complexity to the film. A talented cellist Charlotte leaves the prestigious music school to look after her sick mother and is quickly replaced.
However, she soon reconnects with her old teachers and also meets their newest protegee Lizzie. They engage in a feverish and passionate rendezvous which soon results in a horrific and traumatic journey of seeking vengeance.
“It’s what’s expected of us.”
7. Funny Boy (Deepa Mehta, 2020)
Set in Sri Lanka and based on Shyam Selvadurai’s eponymous novel that deals with a boy named Arjie who comes to terms with his sexuality amidst the Tamil-Sinhalese conflicts. Various stories show the boy struggling with his sexual and ethnic identity in a riot-ridden society where socio-political tensions are rife as he journeys from teenage to adulthood.
It is the celebration of love and sexual awakening amidst hostilities and turbulence complemented by brilliant actors and evocative cinematography. Funny Boy the film is as moving as the book and is a gem that helps display the taboo that exists in the South-Asian culture regarding homosexuality.
“And you are different. And different is wonderful.”
6. The Half Of It (Alice Wu, 2020)
An adorable teen film, the quiet and tender development of Ellie’s sexual awakening is well-explored in this film. Ellie is a smart and introverted teenager who makes money by helping other students with their homework. She is soon convinced by Paul, with whom she forges an unlikely friendship, to write letters to woo his crush Aster who begins to get attracted to him, ignorant of the fact that Ellie has been writing the letters. Soon Ellie realises that she is in love with Aster which leads to a revelation and self-discovery in the life of a lesbian immigrant.
“Gravity is matter’s response to loneliness.”
5. Alex Strangelove (Craig Johnson, 2018)
Alex starts dating his best friend Claire after her mother tests for cancer. He meets a gay teenager named Elliot who is attracted towards Alex.
Alex is confused about his own emotions towards Elliot which he dismisses as a result of nervous jitters he feels before having sex with Claire. Soon Claire understands Alex’s attraction towards Elliot and he soon comes to terms with his sexuality. The film is a witty and smart take on this coming-of-age story.
“I feel like if you’re asking yourself that question, you’re probably a good person. At least you’re trying.”
4. Elisa & Marcela (Isabel Coixet, 2019)
Set in the early 1900s, the film follows the tribulations faced by a Spanish couple in the historic and first-ever same-sex marriage in Spain. Marcela and Elisa attempt to get married but once their romance is discovered, they are separated, amidst social prejudices and stigma, Elisa, disguises herself as Mario to marry Marcela in order to triumph in this forbidden love.
This haunting and nuanced period piece is heartbreaking and poignant, as poignant as its predecessors like Carol; a beautiful melodrama in monochrome.
“Dear Elisa, Some days I imagine myself next to you while you write. This is real, right? It’s not a dream.”
3. Love, Simon (Greg Berlanti, 2018)
This feel-good film in all its delicateness focuses on a closeted gay Simon who is in high school and encounters a fellow gay high schooler under the alias of Blue with whom he develops a budding, tender romance. After their emails are discovered, Simon, afraid of being ostracised, lets his inhibitions get the best of him which hurts Blue and leads to their romance dying.
However, with supportive family and friends in a film devoid of cliches, Simon and Blue rekindle their romance in the school carnival.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck on a Ferris wheel. One minute I’m on top of the world. In the next, I’m in rock bottom.”
2. Pariah (Dee Rees, 2011)
The film deals with a dysfunctional Black family that deals with homosexuality with tenderness and authenticity. Alike, a Black teenager finally comes to terms with her sexuality of being a butch lesbian after she meets an unabashed lesbian Laura. Her mother, Audrey, unlike the rest of her family, reacts violently to her coming out of the closet that makes her leave home and finally find her way towards forging her own destiny. Amidst heartbreaks and emotionally charged turmoils, Alike’s self-discovery is heartwarming and well-displayed.
“Heartbreak opens onto the sunrise for even breaking is opening and I am broken, I am open. Broken into the new life without pushing in, open to the possibilities within, pushing out.”
1. Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)
A smart and older Carol meets the spirited photographer Therese while dealing with a messy divorce over the custody of her daughter. As they grow attracted towards one another, her husband Harge tries to use their budding lesbian relationship to his advantage to portray her as an incompetent mother.
Caught between her love for Therese and the slander being meted out to her, Carol must take a courageous decision to revolt against heteronormative society and the internalised homophobia that exists.
“I don’t know what I want. How could I know what I want if I say yes to everything?