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Top 10 Must Watch Queer Films for Pride Month

Pride Month is upon us, and what better way for you film lovers to show your pride and uplift queer art than to watch some queer cinema! Here are 10 recommendations from us to add to your Pride 2024 watchlists.

Top 10 Must Watch Queer Films for Pride Month

D.E.B.S. (2004)

Top 10 Must Watch Queer Films for Pride Month
D.E.B.S. / Image Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn FIlms

D.E.B.S, directed by Angela Robinson, is not only one of my favorite gay movies and comedy movies, but one of my favorite movies of all time. Its influence on queer comedies is unmatched and its portrayal of lesbian characters is unlike any I’ve ever seen before. I love the way it goes against the norm of hypersexualizing femme identity. Excelling as both a very sweet lesbian rom-com and a spy movie spoof, D.E.B.S. at times feels like a film based on sapphic Charlie’s Angels fanfiction. 

Its plot revolves around a group of spies in an all-female government spy agency named D.E.B.S. whose mission it is to track down the charismatic and infamous supervillain, Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster). When top D.E.B.S. agent, Amy Bradshaw (Sara Foster), finds herself falling for Lucy, she must figure out a way to keep her fellow D.E.B.S. from learning about her feelings and try to save Lucy from them. 

D.E.B.S. was produced on a $3.5 million budget and severely underperformed at the box office, earning only $97,446. At the time, it received mixed and mostly negative reviews. Since then, however, D.E.B.S. has solidified itself as a bonafide cult classic in the LGBTQ+ film scene boasting a 3.7 on Letterboxd with most of the ratings being 5 stars! A perfect queer comedy to watch this Pride Month.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Top 10 Must Watch Queer Films for Pride Month
The Talented Mr. Ripley / Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley is one of the best crime thrillers I’ve ever seen, and Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) might be one of the most interesting and complex queer characters across any medium. He’s such an awful person and throughout the movie does some heinous things, but he’s portrayed and written so well. 

The titular Tom Ripley is a young man with a penchant and talent for lying, deception, impersonation, and forgery. He fools the wealthy Greenleaf family by pretending to be their son Dickie’s (Jude Law) friend and classmate, and is recruited by Mr. Greenleaf to go retrieve Dickie from Europe. Tom becomes enamored with Dickie’s lavish lifestyle and Dickie himself. He turns obsessive and embeds himself into Dickie’s life and soon, his obsession turns fatal.

The movie loves to thrust the audience into these extremely dark moments where Tom is doing something indefensible and then follow it up with these short bursts of intimate humanity where it shows compassion to Tom and asks the audience to sympathize with him. It’s very beautiful and an absolute blast of a movie too despite being quite dark. Murder has never looked so fun. Be gay, do crime!

Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)

Top 10 Must Watch Queer Films for Pride Month
Funeral Parade of Roses / Image Courtesy of Art Theatre Guild

A Japanese arthouse experimental influenced by Oedipus Rex set in Tokyo’s underground gay scene sounds like the coolest movie ever and is exactly how you describe Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses.

The film is an exploration of sexuality and gender identity and the counterculture in the Japanese underground queer subculture. It’s a very interesting setting and one that isn’t explored very frequently in Japanese cinema. 

Queer Japanese cinema, in general, wasn’t a very common subsect at the time of this film’s release. The film highlights the timelessness of both the story of Oedipus and the struggles of queer identity. Funeral Parade of Roses underscores a universal experience but presents it in a very underrepresented setting. 

Desert Hearts (1985)

Top 10 Must Watch Queer Films for Pride Month
Desert Hearts / Image Courtesy of The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Desert Hearts, directed by Donna Deitch, is one of the more obscure films on this list, but one that’s quite groundbreaking and influential. In queer cinema history, Desert Hearts is known for being the first movie to portray lesbians in a less sensational and positive way, the first by-and-for-lesbians movie ever. 

The film is a fairly low-key love story between two women who couldn’t be more different from each other. I adore how casual this movie is in its queerness, an aspect of the movie that’s quite surprising for the time period, both that it’s set in and that it came out in. In gay films, especially relatively older ones, being gay is typically a huge deal and is sensationalized, but the film feels modern in the way it portrays these two women, in that their sexuality is just a part of who they are.

While it does deal with coming to terms with sexuality and outside factors such as homophobia, it’s pretty desensationalized. A very cute, short and sweet, lesbian romance-dramedy.

Happy Together (1997)

Top 10 Must Watch Queer Films for Pride Month
Happy Together / Image Courtesy of Golden Harvest Company

Happy Together is another one of my all-time favorites directed by my favorite director, Wong Kar-wai. Although he’s rightfully known for directing what is maybe the greatest romance movie ever, In the Mood for Love, I think Happy Together is one of his best too. No one portrays yearning better than Wong. 

The film depicts the turbulent relationship of a gay couple from Hong Kong stranded in Argentina. Wong really draws you in and you feel like a fly on the wall watching this relationship falter and makes you feel the intense loneliness that these two men feel even when they’re together. Like Desert Hearts, it’s less of a gay film and more of a slice-of-life look into human relationships. Happy Together is such a beautiful movie and such an engaging watch even if it is fairly plotless, I loved just being absorbed into the vibes and the loneliness of the film. 

Eileen (2023)

Top 10 Must Watch Queer Films for Pride Month
Eileen / Image Courtesy of Neon

William Oldroyd’s Eileen is a psychological thriller from last year that mostly went under the radar, but one that I had a great time with. Surrealist, weirdo cinema at its finest with almost Lynchian qualities. 

Eileen is as much an innocent coming-of-age as it is a dark psychological thriller and it plays both sides extremely well. It builds this really interesting plot of budding sexuality and repression in a small-town setting and then it adds this other very twisted layer on top of it that takes it into a completely different direction. 

I loved the titular Eileen (Thomasin Mckenzie) and Mckenzie’s performance is so funny despite the movie being so heavy. She’s bound to become a “literally me” character for the next generation, I know she is for me. This would make a pretty fun double feature with Love Lies Bleeding which came out earlier this year. There needs to be more queer weirdo cinema (queeirdo cinema?)!

Other People (2016)

Top 10 Must Watch Queer Films for Pride Month
Other People / Image Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

The most obscure movie on this list, Other People directed by Chris Kelly, is the heartwarming and heartbreaking story of David (Jesse Plemons), a struggling comedy writer who returns home to Sacramento to help his family take care of his mother (Molly Shannon) as she’s dealing with a cancer diagnosis. The hecticness of the home life is complicated even more by the fact that David is gay and his conservative father refuses to acknowledge his sexuality. 

The movie is tragic but so warm and funny. I loved and hated watching this family be torn apart and finding themselves and each other in the process. Also, Jesse Plemons has been in several masterpieces and is one of my favorite working actors today, but without a doubt, my favorite performance of his is in Other People.

I Saw the TV Glow (2024)

Top 10 Must Watch Queer Films for Pride Month
I Saw the TV Glow / Image Courtesy of A24

Jane Schoenbrun’s I Saw the TV Glow released last month to rave reviews and is now on VOD and it’s the perfect time to see it for Pride Month, so if you missed it in theaters, there is still time! I Saw the TV Glow chronicles the life of Owen (Justice Smith), a person with extreme gender dysphoria, and his connection to a TV show with queer undertones. Although the film is very heavy and pretty tragic, it’s ultimately a very hopeful movie for queer audiences who will be able to resonate with its themes of queer identity. I Saw the TV Glow scratched that itch of queer horror, which is a subsect that is quite lacking. 

The film is also a meta-commentary on the influence that queer art has on the lives of queer adolescents and it’s fascinating how the film itself has the power to influence queer teens. The film makes it very clear that its intent is to persuade queer-questioning individuals to make the right choice for themselves and take any opportunity they can to be themselves. You can read more of our thoughts on I Saw the TV Glow in our review and our in-depth analysis of the film’s trans themes

Shiva Baby (2020)

Shiva Baby / Image Courtesy of Utopia

Directed by Emma Seligman, my favorite working director, and starring Rachel Sennott (the greatest director-actor duo since Scorsese and De Niro), Shiva Baby is a dark comedy and a perfect movie. Equally hilarious as it is anxiety-inducing, Shiva Baby is the story of Danielle, a young Jewish bisexual woman, and her hour long panic attack at a shiva that she attends with her parents where she runs into her family friends, her ex-girlfriend (Molly Gordon), her sugar daddy (Danny Deferrari), and his wife (Dianna Agron). 

The film is so tightly written and utilizes its sub-80 minute runtime perfectly. It’s a perfect Pride Month watch because of its portrayal of bisexuality and a modern WLW romance. I love the way Danielle is written and her inner layered turmoil of being directionless, trying to find love and acceptance, and finding connection with one’s culture and origin, is so relatable. 

Paris is Burning (1990)

Paris is Burning / Image Courtesy of Off-White Productions

The final and most important film on this list and arguably one of the most important films in all of queer cinema, Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning is a deep dive into the ball culture of New York City in the 1980s. Ball culture or the ballroom scene is a subculture of the LGBTQ+ community in which predominantly Latine and Black queer folks, typically gay men or transgender women, compete with one another in “walks” of various categories. 

This was not just a competition however. The ballroom scene was a way for a severely marginalized community to build camaraderie with each other and unite and be who they really are. If a gay kid was kicked out of their home, a “house”, a group of friends or found family, could take them in and raise them and show them the love their family didn’t.

Watching Paris is Burning felt like I was seeing a whole new world that was kept secret from me but always existed. It was an eye-opening experience for me and it’s a movie that I think every queer person needs to watch at least once. 

Whether it be a tragic gay affair that ends in heartbreak, a lighthearted comedy, or a surrealist Lynchian psychological thriller, queer art and especially queer cinema is so beautiful and varied. So, watch some queer movies this month. Happy Pride!

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Anya is an aspiring filmmaker based in Texas who loves all things film. She writes articles and reviews at Feature First.