From campy cult classics to heart-wrenching dramas,
here are 11 queer films you can watch this Pride month.

Throughout the process of curating this playlist, I quickly realized just how few queer movies I’ve actually seen. While I’m pretty well-versed in contemporary films, particularly ones that have drawn the most internet discourse, I’ve failed to dig deeper into the complicated history and evolution of queer cinema. This realization sparked a new fixation, and I’ve been spending every night this past month watching a queer film. Some have been rewatches of my favorites, but most have been first-time watches.

This fixation marks the start of a journey I’m going to be embarking on through the history of queer cinema–exploring the good, the trash, and the camp.

There may be a bit of recency bias in these recommendations, even though a few films are decades old, as I’ve included several I’ve only just discovered. Whether you’re in the mood for a feel-good, lighthearted comedy to enjoy with your friends or a heart-wrenching drama to cry alone to in your bedroom at 2 am, here are 10 queer films to stream this Pride Month (or any time of the year).

Minor spoilers below:


One of my absolute all-time favorites, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE is a masterpiece in passion. Directed by French filmmaker Céline Sciamma, this film follows a forbidden love affair between two women on an island in late 18th-century France: Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), an aristocrat, and Marianne (Noémie Merlant), a painter commissioned to paint her portrait to be sent to her future husband. Powerfully directed by Sciamma with captivating performances from Haenel and Merlant, PORTRAIT is an intimate portrait of a slow-burn relationship. As the movie progresses and the pair are left alone on the island, Sciamma captures the freedom that the isolation provides, allowing for love unrestrained by the constraints of society. Visually, this film is gorgeous, as each frame fittingly looks like a painting, and the film’s final sequence will stick with me forever.



An impressive directorial debut by then-twenty-year-old Xavier Dolan with a script penned when he was just sixteen, I KILLED MY MOTHER captures the complicated, fraught, and resentful relationship between a parent and teenager. The film stars Dolan as Hubert, a gay teenager, and Anne Dorval as his single mother living in Montreal. Dolan psychologically examines this tumultuous relationship, marked by petty annoyances and frightening bouts of rage. A glimpse into Dolan’s future career and influence on queer cinema, I KILLED MY MOTHER is an emotionally charged semi-autobiographical drama in which he confronts all the issues that surrounded his youth such as single parent issues, homophobia, and navigating queerness and identity during adolescence.

Currently not available for streaming.

BOTTOMS (2023)

If the pitch “horny FIGHT CLUB for lesbians” doesn’t appeal to you, then you might want to skip BOTTOMS. Directed by Emma Seligman, following her critically acclaimed directorial debut, SHIVA BABY, this raunchy gay teen comedy feels like it was pulled out of the early 2000s. Inspired by over-the-top teen comedies such as MEAN GIRLS and black comedies like HEATHERS, Seligman revives the essence of many classic comedies I grew up watching, but with an explicitly queer twist. With a score by gay pop icon Charli XCX, the comedic pairings of Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri, and a supporting role by former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, BOTTOMS was one of the most funny and memorable movies I watched last year.

Stream BOTTOMS on Prime Video


Francis Lee’s feature directorial debut is an impressive, gorgeous, and understated film and one of the few gay romantic dramas of the 2010s that doesn’t end in complete and utter tragedy. The film stars Josh O’Connor as Johnny, a Yorkshire sheep farmer, and Alec Secăreanu as Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker hired to help on his father’s farm after suffering a stroke. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY follows Johnny’s journey as he slowly falls in love with Gheorghe, who opens his heart and own repressions surrounding his sexuality, parental expectations, and judgments. Lee expertly captures this love story – a messy, passionate romance hallmarked by subtle glances, gestures, and small acts of kindness.

Stream GOD’S OWN COUNTRY on Prime Video


A queer cult classic, BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER, directed by Jamie Babbit, is a satirical, campy romantic comedy starring Natasha Lyonne and Clea Duvall set in an overly saturated conversion therapy camp. Initially panned by critics, the film has since gained a cult following and has become a staple among the queer community, particularly for its heartwarming and humorous approach to tackling heavier subjects such as homophobia and religious bigotry. In an era where these issues are still prevalent and weighing heavily on many, a campy comedic satire might be the perfect antidote.

Stream BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER on Paramount+


Messy. Gritty. Raw. Sean Baker is one of my favorite contemporary filmmakers for his unflinchingly authentic ability to capture characters we don’t often see depicted on screen. Many of his films tend to center on the lives of sex workers, an often overlooked and marginalized profession, and TANGERINE is no exception. The film follows Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), a transgender sex worker who finds out from her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) her boyfriend has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman he’s pimping out. Infamously shot entirely on an iPhone 5s, the film’s depth and portrayal of these women make it far more than just “the iPhone movie.” From its honest, judgment-free characterization of its protagonists to the trash heap it paints of Los Angeles, TANGERINE is a special one-of-a-kind film that’s equal parts over-the-top funny and earnestly poignant.

Stream TANGERINE on Netflix or Prime Video


Alice Wu’s SAVING FACE may be my favorite queer rom-com, and its central relationship isn’t even romantic, as it’s between a Chinese-American daughter (Michelle Krusiec) and her immigrant mother (Joan Chen). The film examines the concept of “face,” a prevalent East Asian social norm surrounding the idea of pride and dignity, particularly in how one appears to others. It turns this concept on its head, as Krusiec plays Wilhelmina, a lesbian daughter, and Chen plays Hwei-Lan, her unmarried pregnant mother. Words can’t quite describe how special this film is to me, as it’s such a perfect critique of the hypocrisy of the concept of shame, while still managing to be a tender, sweet, and heartfelt comedy.

Stream SAVING FACE on Tubi

NOWHERE (1997)

I had the very special opportunity this past weekend to watch the fully restored screenings of New Queer Cinema pioneer Gregg Araki’s Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy at the Honolulu Museum of Art with its star, James Duval. NOWHERE, the final installment of the trilogy, is an absurdist, nightmare-fueled acid trip and a standout of the trilogy as its most unhinged addition. Complete with reptilian aliens wielding space lasers, a Campbell’s soup can murder weapon, and a supporting cast from nineties pop culture, NOWHERE is a film that cannot be explained and must be experienced. In direct response to the culture, Araki portrays the teenage experience as a violent, hedonistic hellscape filled with gratuitous sex, drugs, and nihilism–a world in which all Duval’s character, Dark, can yearn for is “…one person in this huge, horrible, unhappy universe who can hold me in their arms and tell me everything is going to be okay.”

Rent or Purchase NOWHERE on Prime Video


From one of the most influential and renowned filmmakers in Hong Kong cinema, Wong Kar-wai’s HAPPY TOGETHER is a fragmented portrait of a turbulent relationship. Set in Argentina, the film stars Leslie Chung and Tony Lieu Chui-wai as a couple from Hong Kong who break up and run out of money while on their trip. What ensues is a heavily saturated and stylized series of disjointed moments following the couple as they “start over,” break up, argue, fight, dance, and have sex in a cycle, each character yearning for moments of happiness they can’t seem to find in each other. Loud, angry, and aggressive with each other, their overwhelming sorrow is only truly revealed when they drift apart.



Cheryl Dunye’s documentary within a semi-autobiographical romantic comedy is a landmark in cinematic history, as THE WATERMELON WOMAN was the first narrative feature by an out Black lesbian filmmaker. Based on her experiences and played by Dunye herself, Cheryl, an African-American aspiring filmmaker, decides to make a documentary about a mysterious Black actress who played a “mammy” character from the 1930s. The only clue Cheryl has to go off of is the actress’s name, credited in the film as “The Watermelon Woman,” sending her on a quest to uncover the answers to her newfound fixation. Charming and funny, with an insightful examination of the intersectional identities of being Black and lesbian, THE WATERMELON WOMAN is a must-watch film and a historical achievement for Dunye.



If you put Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal in a gay fantasy romantic drama, you can guarantee I’ll be seated. Directed by Andrew Haigh, director of WEEKND and writer/producer of the HBO series LOOKING, ALL OF STRANGERS is an evocative film that explores grief, loneliness, and repressed trauma. Scott stars as Adam, a lonely screenwriter, and Mescal stars as Harry, a deeply sad neighbor and seemingly the only other resident in Adam’s newly constructed apartment building. Haunted by visions of his parents from the past, Adam forms a connection with Harry, and the two begin to offer each other companionship and support. While somewhat predictable at times, its emotional impact is profound and Haigh offers an answer to coping with our most painful memories by suggesting love and intimate connection as the path to move forward.


Check out our list of all 11 films on our Letterboxd.


Sean Oketani is a queer, mixed Asian-American and Native Hawaiian writer passionate about film and television that explores underrepresented, intersectional, and marginalized voices. Born and raised in Oahu, he is a recent graduate of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and currently interns for HIFF as a contributing writer to the HIFILM Blog.

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