Pride month is all about celebrating the stories and history of those who make up the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community. And while some of the traditional means of doing so (parades, parties) aren't possible in places that are still practicing social distancing, you've still got plenty of ways to get into the spirit — including bingeing some quintessential LGBTQ movies.
But before diving into the films that will educate and inspire you this month, it's important to point out the other ways you can honor and support the community. For example, if you're able, research causes to which you can donate (such as The Trevor Project, Transgender Law Center, PFLAG, or your local LGBTQ center). A lot of brands are also offering merchandise (including makeup and clothing) you can buy that gives a percentage of proceeds to such organizations. And many of these also are in need of volunteers if you're looking for even more ways to give back.
That said, this is also a time to laugh, cry, and learn — all of which you can do from the privacy of your own home — by turning on some memorable, beautiful, and enlightening films that tackle issues faced by the LGBTQ community, like prejudice, homophobia/transphobia, and the AIDS epidemic, as well as themes everyone can relate to, like love and seeking acceptance. Ready to start your movie marathon? Start with any (or all) of the 13 films ahead that will give you all the Pride feels.
LGBTQ Movies: Moonlight
Though this 2017 Oscar winner (for Best Picture) is broadly about a young Black man coming of age, some of its most tender moments come from the subtle love story between the main character and his childhood friend, with whom he forms a deep and romantic connection — albeit one that must often be restrained.
LGBTQ Movies: A Fantastic Woman
Chilean director Sebastián Lelio took home the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in 2017, in no small part due to the tremendous performance of Daniela Vega, who plays the lead role of a transgender woman who loses her boyfriend and must battle transphobia and prejudice as she attempts to mourn the loss of her loved one.
LGBTQ Movies: Paris Is Burning
Long before there was Pose or Ru Paul's Drag Race, many people's first glimpse of ball culture came from this iconic 1990 documentary, set in late 1980s New York City. It examines the queer/transgender community amidst struggles of AIDS/HIV, gender, sexuality, and class — while still managing to celebrate life through their art.
LGBTQ Movies: The Birdcage
This 1996 remake of French film La Cage aux Folles stars Nathan Lane and Robin Williams as a Miami-based gay couple (who are also drag club owners) meeting the conservative parents of their heterosexual son's future wife. It offers many iconically comedic moments while opening up an important dialogue about homophobia and acceptance.
LGBTQ Movies: Brokeback Mountain
This 2005 film isn't just one of the most epic queer love stories — it's one of the greatest love stories in the history of cinema. Set in rural Wyoming, it shows an unconventional romance between Ennis and Jack, whose deep affection for one another must remain secretive throughout the years, even as they move forward with relationships and families they believe to be more conventional.
LGBTQ Movies: Tangerine
This 2015 indie film was remarkable for a couple reasons: It's all (beautifully) shot on an iPhone 5, its heroine is a transgender sex worker, and it boasts a mostly LGBTQ cast.
LGBTQ Movies: Milk
Gus Van Sant has made a few LGBTQ-positive films, but his biopic about the first openly gay elected official in California, Harvey Milk, might just be his most well-received work. Starring Sean Penn in the eponymous role, the movie is just as celebratory as it is heartbreaking.
LGBTQ Movies: Carol
This 2015 film is as visually stunning as its central love story — between a young shop girl/photographer and a wealthy, married Manhattanite — is beautifully compelling. As they both navigate ultimately unfulfilling heterosexual relationships, they find themselves drawn to each other despite their inherent differences.
LGBTQ Movies: Before Stonewall
Get a dose of LGBTQ history by turning on this award-winning 1984 documentary that dives into the moments leading up to the 1969 Stonewall riots.
LGBTQ Movies: Philadephia
One of the first major films about HIV/AIDS, this 1993 legal drama starring Tom Hanks was many peoples' first look at the heartbreaking toll of this disease, which it also normalized and humanized.
LGBTQ Movies: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
This 1994 Australian comedy remains a cult classic due to its memorable costume design, its epic road trip, and its funny and touching look at drag culture in the early 1990s.
LGBTQ Movies: Call Me By Your Name
This cinematically beautiful 2017 film, set in Northern Italy's countryside, is a story of first love, lust, and heartbreak that anyone can identify with, but the central characters — while drawn to each other — struggle with openly pursuing a gay relationship in the early 1980s.
LGBTQ Movies: Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
Just released in late 2019, this French film was instantly welcomed into the LGBTQ canon. It follows the romance that blossoms between a grief-stricken and reclusive soon-to-be-bride and the artist hired to paint her wedding portrait.