When it comes to films on the representation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer (LGTBQ+) community, many films tend to over-simplify stereotypes and tropes, which makes the community the target of crude jokes. While there have been many films that have managed to bring the conversation to the table, albeit in a problematic way, here is a list of eight films that were lauded for their nuanced and accurate representation of the community.
- Brokeback Mountain (2005)
A classic film that very often makes it to many lists on movies about homosexual relationships, this 2005 film directed by Ang Lee focuses on the passionate relationship between two sheepherders. Adapted from Annie Proulx’s short story of the same name, Brokeback Mountain was one of the first mainstream films that were praised for its heart rendering portrayal of a tumultuous romance between two men. Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger’s riveting performances had also been widely appreciated.
2. Love, Simon (2018)
This teen romantic comedy is a fan favourite. Simon Speir (Nick Robinson) is a gay teenager living in the suburbs of Atlanta. When a blackmailer threatens to reveal his secret, he embarks on an emotional and beautiful journey to come to terms with his identity. The film received great reviews for its heartfelt portrayal and normalisation of teenage homosexuality.
- Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Starring Timothy Chalamet and Armie Hammer, this movie is set in Italy in the 1980s. A romantic drama, it follows 17-year-old Elio falling in love with his father’s teaching assistant, Oliver. They soon strike up a sensuous romance that is headed towards its inevitable end. It is an emotional and ultimately heartbreaking tale on love and romantic relationships. Both critics as well audiences particularly praised Chalamet’s performance as Elio, cementing the film’s status as a modern classic.
- Kapoor & Sons (2016)
Though the film’s main focus is not about queer representation, the makers were praised for making a Hindi film that does caricaturise gay men. Rahul (played by Pakistani actor Fawad Khan) has kept his sexuality a secret from his family until his mother discovers messages between her son and his partner and she does not react well. Rather than feeling guilty, Rahul stands up for himself and his identity. Kapoor & Sons’ mature and normalised depiction of a gay man is a refreshing change from the harmful stereotypes about the LGBTQ+ community that have made their way into films such as Dostana, Raja Hindustani, Housefull, etc.
- Carol (2015)
Carol (Cate Blanchett), a socialite in the 1950s meets Theresa (Rooney Mara), an aspiring photographer who works at a department store. They get into a secret relationship at a time when being a lesbian was a punishable offence. Their loving relationship soon becomes tragic and complicated when Carol’s ex-husband threatens to expose her sexuality as a means to get full custody of their child. A story about forbidden relationships and societal pressures, Carol is a hopeful and poignant take on same-sex relationships.
- Tangerine (2015)
Shot entirely on an iPhone, this film starring Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, and James Ransone follows two sex workers from the transgender community and a cab driver making their way through Los Angeles on Christmas Eve in search of one of the women’s boyfriend/pimp who is cheating on her. Directed by Sean Baker, Tangerine is an edgy comedy with dark undertones.
- The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
A transgender woman and two drag queens embark on a road trip in a pink bus, called Priscilla, across Australia in order to reach Alice Springs. During the journey, the three of them connect with each other, sharing secrets and performing for unapologetic homophobes and curious crowds. Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce star in the film.
- Margarita with a Straw (2014)
This movie stars Kalki Koechlin as Laila, a college student with cerebral palsy. She gets an opportunity to study in New York where she meets Khanum (Sayani Gupta) a blind Pakistani-Bangladeshi woman. As they unexpectedly fall in love, Laila begins her journey of self-discovery where she tries to understand her sexuality, identity, and more. A sensitive tale that tackles multiple issues and relationships, Margarita with a Straw is full of heart and emotion.