Following up to my recommendations for the Top Gay-Themed Comedies, here are my recommendations for the Top Gay-Themed Dramas. Each of the movies on this list tell a unique and meaningful story about a different aspect or common occurrence within the GLBT community. Whether it’s the struggles of a transgender woman, school boys falling in love, dealing with HIV or fighting for gay rights, each movie carries an important message and are sure to pull at your heart strings.
Again in no particular order, click the title to watch the trailer:
- My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you!
- Although my intentions for this list were to call out movies that are more “classic” rather than new-releases, no list of gay movies would be complete withouth mention of Milk- regardless of when it was released. The movie is the brilliant true story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, and how lead the fight for equality back in the 1970’s. The film is a beacon of hope for our community as we find ourselves in the midst of another equality battle being waged across the nation. Sean Penn is brilliant as Harvey Milk and James Franco is fantastic as his lover, Scott Smith. Emile Hersch & Josh Brolin should also be given shout outs for great performances. Gus Van Sant directed a masterpiece with this one. All around, an amazing movie telling an amazing story that is both relevant and essential for every gay person in the US today.
- When I was in the cubs there was this porn mag being passed around and all the other kids were deciding which girl they liked and stuff… and this other kid, he whispers to me, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, I’d rather see another boy’s willy anytime!” so I said, “So would I!”
- Released in 1998, Get Real is a brilliantly done story of high school love between two boys in the UK. The film shows the difficulties associated with growing up gay and having no one to turn to- and in the case of one of the characters, the challenge of wanting to do what he loves (sports) and being who he really is (a homosexual). It’s a well told story which is completely feasible- from the way they meet, to the fag hag, to the pressures and challenges they face.
- I wish I was the one that was going away. Nothing ever happens around here. I gets up in the morning, bake my face in half a ton of slap, tong my hair with yesterday’s lacquer, that’s it. It’s the same every bleeding day. There’s fuck-all to look forward to.
- Released in 1996 and also a British film, Beautiful Thing tells a similar story to that of Get Real- but different enough to make them both worth watching. The characters are younger, but one is still a sports guy and the other is more of a typical gay-kid growing up. Surrounded by strange neighbors (one of whom is obsessed with Mama Cass from The Mamas & The Papas) and from broken homes, both struggle to deal with their growing attraction to each other before a brilliant realization of their love for each other at the end of the film.
It’s My Party
- You’re not too bright. I like that in a man.
- If you can make it through this movie without crying, you probably have no soul. Just kidding, but seriously- it’s an incredibly moving story. Eric Roberts plays Nick, a successful architect who finds out that he is HIV+ and eventually diagnosed with Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML). Having seen the disease take the lives of many other friends and knowing that he only had a few days left of consciousness, Nick invites friends and family over to tell them that he has decided to end his own life peacefully rather than allow the disease to render him unrecognizeable to them, and vice versa. It’s a devastating story, but absolutely worth it. (Plus it has Marlee Matlin & Margaret Cho in it!)
Love! Valour! Compassion!
(a scene, not the trailor and may not be work-friendly without headphones)
- Just once I’d like to see a “West Side Story” where everybody gets it; the Jets and the Sharks, and Officer Krupke; or a “Sound of Music” where the entire Von Trapp family dies in a horrible alpine avalanche; or “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” where nothing happens, and it’s not funny.
- This fim was released in 1997 with a cast including the likes of Jason Alexander & John Glover. It tells the story of 7 friends who spend a summer together in up-state New York and addresses issues ranging from HIV/AIDS to adultery, as well as the complicated relationships the different characters share.
- We’re standing here in Philadelphia, the, uh, city of brotherly love, the birthplace of freedom, where the, uh, founding fathers authored the Declaration of Independence, and I don’t recall that glorious document saying anything about all straight men are created equal. I believe it says all men are created equal.
- Tom Hanks won the 1994 Ocsar for Best Actor in a Leading Role by playing Andrew Beckett in this film. Andrew was fired from a conservative law firm after being diagnosed with AIDS. As a last-attempt at peace, Andrew sues the lawfirm with the unlikely help of a homophobic lawyer, Joe Miller (played by Denzel Washington). One of the earliest movies to deal with the AIDS epidemic, Philidelphia is a brilliant story full of heart.
Angels In America
- I usually say, “Fuck the truth,” but mostly, the truth fucks you.
- Okay, this one isn’t really a “movie” per se, but it still belongs on the list as a “made-for-TV movie”. Produced by HBO and released in 2003, Angels In America is centered around a group of separate people who are intricately connected. Staged in 1985 during the height of the AIDS epidemic, it tells the story of various gay men caught up in the challenges of their lives. A man leaves his partner of 4 years after finding out he’s HIV+, a religious (Mormon) man tries to cope with being gay while his wife is strung out on Valium, and another closeted man struggles to maintain his power and influence. With an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Emma Thompson, Mary-Louise Parker, Patrick Wilson (most recently in The Watchmen) and more, it’s a moving and meaningful film.
- I thought I’d rather die than be gay. I got a pretty good idea of what dying felt like but lying there in the arms of that man, I thought if this is what being gay feels like… bring it on.
- I have a special connection to this film, for obvious reasons. Released in 2003, Latter Days tells the story of a Mormon missionary, Aaron Davis, and shallow West Hollywood party boy, Christian Markelli. After moving in next door to Christian with his missionary companions, Aaron is seduced by Christian- who has a $50.00 bet with his friends that he can’t get one of them in bed with him. Unfortunately, Aaron falls in love with Christian, only to be disappointed when he finds out about the debt. The story goes on to show the challenges faced by Aaron for being a homosexual in terms of his religion and both he and Christian deal with the pain of loss and regret. It’s a great movie.
- I wish I knew how to quit you.
- Already a classic though it’s less than 4 years old, Brokeback Mountain tells the story of two Wyoming cowboys during the 1960’s who fall in love while working up in the mountains together. Their story is one of conflict, love and connection that runs the course of their lives. With 3 Oscars and another 5 Oscar nominations, you really can’t go wrong with this movie. Heath Ledger & Jake Gyllenhaal both give brilliant and heartfelt performances, as does Michelle Williams as the wife of Heath’s character, Ennis. The entire story is devastatingly beautiful.
Boys Don’t Cry
- “Dear Lana, By the time you read this I’ll be back home in Lincoln. I’m scared of what’s ahead, but when I think of you I know I’ll be able to go on. You were right, Memphis isn’t that far off. I’ll be taking that trip down the highway before too long. I’ll be waiting for you. Love always and forever, Brandon.”
- This film tells the true story of a transgengered teenager, Brandon Teena, who lives life as a boy in a Falls City, Nebraska until it is discovered that she was born a girl. Brandon struggles with the challenges unique to being a transgender youth, has been in trouble with the law and still must deal with the normal biological needs of being born a woman. When his friends make the discovery, Brandon’s life is torn apart. Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in this film is absolutely brilliant- in fact she won the Best Actress Oscar in 2000 for it along with Chloe Sevigny for Best Supporting Actress in the role of Lana, Brandon’s love interest.
- My body may be a work-in-progress, but there is nothing wrong with my soul.
- Felicity Huffman plays pre-operative male-to-female transsexual Bree Osbourne in this film about the struggles of one woman’s journey to becoming herself. Bree, who saves every cent from her two jobs to pay for her surgery, receives a call one week before her scheduled date from… her son. Bree’s psychologist won’t allow Bree to move forward with the operation until she has dealt with her relationship with her son, and the film that follows is a moving story about self-discovery that’s much more than skin-deep.
And that wraps up my list of Top Gay-Themed Dramas. My apologies for the long-windedness… but each and every movie on this list is absolutely worth seeing- regardless of whether you’re part of the GLBT community or a friend of it.