Pride Month 2021: The Best LGBTQ+ Movies on Netflix

Pride Month is marked every June, when the lives of the LGBTQ+ people are celebrated, and those within the community reflect on how far they have come–and how much still needs to change.

Hollywood has been notoriously slow in telling the stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters, never mind those of others who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Netflix's catalog reflects this, with the streamer's movie collection featuring a lack of films featuring, for example, trans people. One of the few movies about a transgender character on the streamer, for example, is the oft-criticized The Danish Girl, the film from Cats director Tom Hooper, led by cisgender actor Eddie Redmayne.

Despite the Netflix catalog having some notable omissions when it comes to depicting the whole spectrum of queer life, it does contain some excellent films that have turned LGBTQ+ stories into sublime comedy, activism-stoking tragedy and awareness-raising documentaries. Here are some of the best Netflix subscribers can enjoy this Pride Month.

The Best LGBTQ+ Movies on Netflix This Pride Month

the boys in the band netflix
Jim Parsons and Matt Bomer in 'The Boys in the Band'. Netflix

The Boys in the Band

One of the first big plays about the lives of gay men, The Boys in the Band has an ambivalent legacy among queer people, with some criticizing the play and 1970 film version for perpetuating stereotypes of gay men as self-hating and self-destructive.

Some of those problematic elements, however, are removed by this new version, which removes the issues of straight people playing gay stereotypes from the previous versions. The director and the entire cast are gay, giving the 2020 version a psychological realism about the trauma the world inflicts on gay people (and they inflict on each other) missing from the piece in the past.

Brokeback Mountain

The Ang Lee film quickly became the butt of many jokes as the "gay cowboy" movie–even though if people actually watched it they would realize it is about bisexual shepherds. Though viewers can take issue with the all-straight cast, few can deny it is one of the most beautiful films ever released by a major studio with a queer love story at its heart.

Disclosure

Trans people have had a difficult time of it in films, with decades of movies portraying them as either sick jokes or depraved serial killers–or in some cases, both at once. This often shameful history is unpacked in documentary Disclosure, which takes us from silent movie drag acts to groundbreaking shows like Pose and Orange is the New Black.

The Half of It

Bisexual representation in film has also often been compromised, with bi people often portrayed as rampant nymphomaniacs or as people lying to themselves on their way to becoming fully heterosexual.

A recent set of Netflix bisexual coming-of-age movies, however, have attempted to change this trend. Alex Strangelove (which featured on our Valentine's Day list this past February) has a young man at its heart, while The Half of It has a young woman, working out her sexuality while she writes love letters to a woman for a male friend.

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

There are comedy specials before Nanette, and there are comedy specials after Nanette. Australian lesbian comic Hannah Gadsby's innovative stand-up show combines art history, trauma and homophobia together to paint a powerful picture containing more ideas than a dozen lesser comedy specials combined.

I Am Divine

divine drag queen
Divine performing in 1984. Getty

Though viewers will have to head over to The Criterion Channel to see Divine's finest work, in the trash epics of director John Waters, Netflix does have the documentary I Am Divine. The movie is a thorough and fabulous history of the legendary drag queen, equally at home on the dancefloors of Studio 54 or on the streets of Baltimore, hiding meat in her underwear or eating dog poop on camera.

I Am Not Your Negro

With trans women of color one of the most stigmatized and murdered groups in the United States, intersectionality has never been more important. Viewers who want a crash course of the intersections between race and sexuality can make a start with this riveting documentary about Black gay icon James Baldwin.

The Life and Death of Marsha P Johnson

Without Marsha P. Johnson, there would be no Pride Month. The activist was fundamental in protests at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 that began the Pride movement as we know it. Though many LGBTQ+ people may know this story, what they may not know is the story of the rest of Johnson's life–and the mysterious circumstances around her death.

Pariah

Criminally underseen, Pariah is perhaps the best lesbian movie ever made. Despite being just 86-minutes long, the film manages to pack in the whole emotional life of a young woman as she comes to terms with her butch lesbian identity and her family's attitudes about it.

The Queen

Viewers who like their documentaries cult, catty and quotable should make a bee-line to 1968's The Queen, which follows a number of contestants in the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Contest, including the iconic Crystal LaBeija. Come for the shade, stay for the poignant insights into transgender life in the 1960s.