The best LGBTQ films to stream right now

“New Queer Cinema,” coined by American scholar B. Ruby Rich in Sight & Sound magazine in 1992, was the first term used to help recognize and define LGBTQ-themed independent filmmaking, as its movement was taking flight. Today, films of all kinds, from independent to mainstream, feature LGBTQ themes and appeal to audiences universally.

So, what LGBTQ films can you stream right now? Here’s a selection of some of the best.

When you’re done looking through this list and watching the movies that pique your interest, peruse our guides to the best movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+.

Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

There’s a good reason that both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto picked up Academy Awards for their roles in this biographical drama. It’s loosely based on the life of Ron Woodroof, who was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the 1980s before treatments had been properly researched and terrible stigma surrounded the disease. McConaughey’s transformation into the man struggling with his illness, while also smuggling treatment drugs into Texas to help others who were suffering, is mesmerizing. But the show-stopping performance is Leto’s portrayal of Rayon, a transgender woman who is HIV-positive and addicted to drugs.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Biography, Drama
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Rating: R
Runtime: 117 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Logan Lerman and Emma Watson in The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

This coming-of-age film based on the 1999 novel of the same name by Stephen Chbosky is about Charlie (Logan Lerman), a young man who writes letters to a friend chronicling his daily life in high school as he deals with his depression and anxiety. The introverted Charlie is having trouble making friends, but finally gets an “in” with a group of students when he catches Patrick (Ezra Miller) and the high school quarterback (Johnny Simmons) kissing at a party and they beg him to keep it a secret. It’s a heavy story that deals with the deep-seated troubles of a young man trying to cope with a difficult past he doesn’t fully understand.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Genre: Drama, Romance
Stars: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, Joan Cusack, Paul Rudd, Mae Whitman
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 103 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Moonlight

Moonlight (2016)

Earning eight Academy Award nominations and winning three, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali (making him the first Muslim to win an Oscar for acting), and Best Adapted Screenplay, this is a coming-of-age drama that will truly move you. Based on the unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, it tells the story of a young Black man and the ways he deals with his sexuality throughout various points in his life — from a young boy to an adolescent and then as a young adult. As he discovers his identity, he deals with constant physical and emotional abuse about being gay, especially as a Black man.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, Jharrel Jerome, Mahershala Ali
Director: Barry Jenkins
Rating: R
Runtime: 111 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody
Alex Bailey / Twentieth Century Fox

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Rami Malek truly took on the persona of the late Freddie Mercury, frontman for the British rock band Queen, in this film about Mercury’s life from before the band formed right up to the 1985 Live Aid performance. Filled with the best Queen hits, including a fascinating portrayal of how Mercury formulated the unique tune “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the story also explores Mercury coming to terms with his sexuality, his deep friendship with his girlfriend, former fiancé, and muse Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), and his HIV/AIDS diagnosis. Although the film took some criticism about historical events not being portrayed accurately, it’s a thoroughly entertaining look at the life of one of the greatest musical talents of our time.

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Stars: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Mike Myers
Director: Bryan Singer
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 134 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

Taron Egerton in Rocketman

Rocketman (2019)

What was Elton John like as a young man and how did he rise to fame as such an eccentric and flamboyant persona with a fashion sense like no other? That’s the story this biographical musical film tells in beautiful form, following the icon from his early days as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music to his time partnered with long-time collaborator, lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). In development since the 2000s, Taron Egerton was worth the wait for his mesmerizing performance as Sir Elton, which earned him a Golden Globe alongside the many other awards the film received.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes

Watch on Prime Video

Watch on Hulu

John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Brilliantly portrayed by the film’s writer and director John Cameron Mitchell, the title character, Hedwig, is a genderqueer East German rock singer who becomes mentor to, and collaborator with, a younger man named Tommy (Michael Pitt), who ends up stealing her music and hitting it big. Hedwig, however, isn’t having it. She takes her band, the Angry Inch, on the road to shadow Tommy’s tour while exploring her gender identity along the way. The film, based on the 1998 stage musical of the same name, essentially bombed at the box office but has since developed a cult following. The character and the film’s music were recently highlighted in a musical episode of The CW series Riverdale.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
Stars: John Cameron Mitchell, Andrea Martin, Michael Pitt, Miriam Shor
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Rating: R
Runtime: 92 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

Liza Minnelli in Cabaret

Cabaret (1972)

A film adaptation on the 1966 Broadway musical by Kander and Ebb, Cabaret is set in 1931 Berlin and the stories told involve several complicated relationships between lovers of all kinds, mainly with performers at the sleazy Kit Kat Club, and one in particular, American Sally Bowles (Oscar-winner, Liza Minnelli in a career-defining performance). The story is loosely based on the life of Christopher Isherwood and his experiences in Weimar Berlin, where he lived his life as an out gay man who could freely enjoy the nightlife. With several new songs that didn’t appear in the stage musical and compelling performances from the entire cast, it’s a classic must-watch.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Drama, Musical
Stars: Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Helmut Griem, Marisa Berenson, Fritz Wepper, Joel Grey
Director: Bob Fosse
Rating: PG
Runtime: 124 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

Boy Erased
Courtesy of TIFF

Boy Erased (2018)

After coming out to his Baptist parents, Jared (Lucas Hedges) is sent to a gay conversion therapy program where he meets other LGBTQ people, each dealing with it from unique perspectives — from those deeply devoted to “conversion” to others merely pretending so they can get back to their real lives and be their true selves. The story is based on Garrard Conley’s memoir of the same name that chronicled his own journey being sent as a child to a conversion camp by his fundamentalist parents in Arkansas.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Genre: Biography, Drama
Stars: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton, Russell Crowe, Xavier Dolan
Director: Joel Edgerton
Rating: R
Runtime: 115 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

Matt Damon and Michael Douglas in Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Michael Douglas stars as iconic pianist Liberace in this biographical drama about the last 10 years of the musical genius’s life. At the heart of the story is Liberace’s relationship with Scott Thorson, played by Matt Damon, that begins as a friendship and quickly turns romantic. As Liberace’s controlling ways come to light, however, Thorson heads down a dark path to help him cope with the frustration. The film is based on Thorson’s own 1988 memoir, Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace, and received critical acclaim.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Stars: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Rob Lowe, Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula, Debbie Reynolds
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

The Times of Harvey Milk
San Francisco Public Library

The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)

This isn’t the film starring Sean Penn, but rather the 1980s documentary about the political career of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay city supervisor in San Francisco. He rose to prominence from a small neighborhood activist to a symbol of gay political achievement, both up to and after his 1978 assassination. The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry due to its cultural and historical significance.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Documentary, Biography, History
Stars: Harvey Milk
Director: Rob Epstein
Rating: NR
Runtime: 90 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

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