It should not be true, but for some reason to this day ones feeling of sexual preference or gender identity not considered on par with standard society is often looked down on. I am a typical white male who is attracted to the opposite sex. That gives me and those like me no right to live and breathe everyday more than those that are different. We are all human beings. In support of pride month, these are my Top 10 LGBTQ Movies of All-Time.
10. “Milk” (2008):
What a courageous story with a horribly tragic end. Based on a true story, “Milk” chronicles the life of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay government official in the United States, working for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Harvey moved to San Fransico at 40 after finally coming out in New York. Milk opens a camera shop that becomes a haven for the LGBTQ community. Through peaceful rallies and parades, the community finally gets one of their own into politics. While trying to work for the entire community, gay or straight, Milk was murdered by conservative City Supervisor Dan White after Harvey defeats White who was attempting to bar gays from public schools. Sean Penn is excellent in portraying a true hero that should never be forgotten.
9. “To Wong Foo: Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar” (1995):
While somewhat tame by today’s standards in which society continues to open their minds, “To Wong Foo”was a bold choice to film in the mid-90’s. The three leads, Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo were all in the midst of their primes on the big screen. They chose to play a group of traveling cross dressers who perform around the country. After jointly winning a drag queen pageant in New York, they qualify to participate in the Drag Queen of America finals in California. While on the road, the trio runs into several towns with varying levels of tolerance before their car breaks down in the small town of Snydersville. Both the flamboyant drag queens and small town citizens experience shock as well as learn from one another. “To Wong Foo” does not go full on with the issue but instead takes a lighthearted approach with plenty of laughs while also never shying away from the underlying societal feelings.
8. “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999):
Another tragic true story with a senseless death. “Boys Don’t Cry” stars Hillary Swank in an Oscar winning turn as Brandon Teena, a transgender young person living in rural Nebraska. Brandon is popular initially with the hicks burping and drinking like the rest of them. A young lady played by Chloe Sevigny is attracted to Brandon due to a sensitive nature most of the guys she is surrounded with lack. Once the good old boys discover Branden was born a girl, they are furious to have a lesbian among them. They brutally rape Brandon and, when he files a police report after escaping, they hunt Teena down in a drunken rampage and fatally shoot him. Even if you are narrow-minded and think gay or lesbian sex is “gross”, that is no excuse to take a human life.
7. “Call Me by Your Name” (2017):
If you can get past the fact that this particular story is about two men, “Call Me By Your Name” is a complex romance of forbidden love that was never destined to last. In 1980’s Italy a young Elio (Timothy Chalamet) is growing up with his father who is a professor of Greco-Roman history. Elio dabbles in puppy love with a local girl, but ultimately falls for Oliver (Armie Hammer), the man hired as his father’s research assistant. While having spent time with a girl, his first true love as a boy not yet 18 years of age is that assistant. The two spend a romantic summer together, but there is ultimately an end game as they are going in different directions when it comes to life. The key to “Call Me By Your Name” comes when Elio’s father played by Michael Stuhlbarg realizes that Elio is gay. Initially shocked, he quickly decides that it does not matter because he loves his son and comforts him in the same way that any parent should when a child loses someone they love.
6. “The Birdcage” (1996):
Movie nerds such as myself would often site the original French version “La Cage Aux Faux” here. Also quite good. But, while I’m in the minority in the film community, I go with director Mike Nichols remake “The Birdcage”. A hilarious romp where two sides of the spectrum collide. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane play Armand and Albert. Armand runs a popular cabaret in Miami with his partner Albert starring as the main attraction. Their son, a straight man, has fallen in love with a beautiful young lady. Unfortunately, that girl’s father is a staunch conservative U.S. senator played by Gene Hackman. In order to make the republican family comfortable before the two love birds get married, Armand and Albert must pretend to be a “normal” couple when meeting their future in-laws. Cross dressing hi-jinks, hiding fallic art pieces, and tip-toeing around the truth are just a few of the many hilarious moments that take place during the dinner. “The Birdcage” is a great example of poking fun at a culture with absolutely zero sense of being mean spirited. As I laugh, the gay community is laughing right along with me.
5. “Pain and Glory” (2019):
Arguably the most famous openly gay director of all time, Pedro Almodovar has never shied away about the struggles as well as celebration of ones sexuality in his pictures. Getting toward the end of his career at this point, Almodovar made a semi-autobiography that I would consider his opus with “Pain and Glory”. Antonio Banderas plays an aging movie director named Salvador. Heading into the twilight of his career, Salvador recounts all of his previous triumphs as well as his darkest moments which include heavy drug use and the societal shame of being a homosexual. Some memories help, particularly his mother’s undying love. Others include his first moments seeing a nude man in the flesh and fainting. Depression has set in deep for the aging Salvarado, but he holds onto all of the triumphs he achieved in the back of his mind. There are several mistakes he should be ashamed of along the way. Being a homosexual is certainly not one of them.
4. “Monster” (2003):
I never support murder. In the case of Aileen Wuornos killing people, I can sympathize. Based on a true story, Charlize Theron plays Wuornos, a Daytona Beach area prostitute who is picked up underneath over-passes to perform handy’s and B.J.’s on a daily basis. At a certain point, Wuornos gets pushed too hard and begins killing these scumbags. Along the way Aileen meets Selby (Christina Ricci). Selby is a lost young girl with almost nothing and the two go on a killing spree against the men taking advantage of desperate women. Amidst the bloodshed they fall in love.“Monster” in quotations is the perfect way to describe this story and ask the question, who is the real evil?
3. “Before Night Falls” (2000):
Several negatives came out of the Fidel Castro lead revolution in Cuba in the 50’s and 60’s. The political climate in that country was understandable. One negative that was inexcusable is the treatment of homosexual individuals once the new regime took over. In “Before Night Falls” Javier Bardem plays Reinaldo Arenas, a legendary real-life poet trying to show the amazing art his mind is capable of while also struggling in an atmosphere that, despite a dictatorship being turned over, does not support the gay community. Arenas manages to narrowly escape and arrives in America during the chaos of the regime change, leaving behind a life that was ripped away. “Before Night Falls” is not simply an excellent example of acceptance. It is a window into the injustices those considered not normal must go through.
2. “Moonlight” (2016):
Growing up in the African-American community, particularly the drug infused low-income community, is not the most ideal place for a young gay boy. Director Barry Jenkins and those involved won multiple Oscars for “Moonlight”, a poetic ode to learning who you are. Taking place over three phases of a young man’s life, “Moonlight” portrays a child who starts off lost in life. The unnamed boy known simply as black is initially taken in by the same local drug dealer that sells his mother heroine. During the next phases of life, the young man follows in the footsteps of his only father figure to become a local drug dealer. Along the way he discovers his true sexuality and, no matter how painful, embraces it having been re-introduced with his high school sexual partner. “Moonlight” presents a honest take on a man grappling with his sexuality while also struggling to survive in the ghetto.
1. “Philadelphia” (1993):
The AIDS epidemic went wild in the 1980’s and early 90’s. While also ravaging the drug using sector, the gay community was hit worst. Before understanding the disease, those with AIDS were shunned with people afraid to even touch a person diagnosed. Director Johnathan Demme brought in America’s lovable sweetheart Tom Hanks to be the face of a movie which was meant to inspire conversation and awareness. Hanks plays Andrew Beckett, a highly successful attorney in Philadelphia. When the major partners discover his affliction they frame him at the office for losing important documents in an ongoing case. Beckett turns to his legal rival Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) in hopes of suing the mega law firm for wrongful unemployment. Miller does not even want the AIDS stricken man in his office because he might get the disease. Over the course of the trial, he sees what a kind group Beckett and his family are. “Philadelphia” is such a beautiful example of bigotry being turned into acceptance.