LGBTQI+ stories on screen have become more prevalent in recent years (and rightly so), giving a historically silenced community a proud voice. From confronting and necessary stories of hardship depicting the queer community’s history and current realities to ones of hope and joy which celebrate and normalise LGBTQI+ sexuality and relationships. Lucky for us, streaming platforms are now dedicating more of their libraries to sharing tales of romantic love, friendship, family, self-love, and community.
To help get in the spirit this Mardi Gras, here are 12 of the best movies and TV shows available to watch on Netflix now.
The Boys In The Band
Based on the Tony Award-winning play that changed a generation, The Boys In The Band follows a group of nine gay men who gather for a birthday party in 1968 New York City, only to find the drinks and laughs interrupted when a visitor from the host’s past turns the evening upside down. And dare we take a look at the star studded cast? We think yes, brace yourself for Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington and Tuc Watkins.
Coming Out Colton
Coming out Colton is more of a docuseries than a movie or TV show but we think you're really going to love it anyway. Former professional football player Colton Underwood (and star of The Bachelor if you've really been paying attention) documents his story of self-discover as a gay man, including addressing numerous things in his past and embraing his new-found LGBQTI+ community.
A struggling comedy writer, fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, moves to Sacramento to help his sick mother. Living with his conservative dad and younger sisters, David kind of feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother worsens, he tries to convince everyone, including himself, that he's doing okay. A stellar first from writer and director Chris Kelly. Bring the tissues, Other People will have you in tears.
Back in 2015, Carol was dubbed as one of the very best movies of the year. Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, this one is set in 1950s New York where a department-store clerk who dreams of a better life falls for an older, married woman. The screenplay for this thoughtful and provoking piece of cinematic art was crafted by Phyllis Nagy and is actually based on a 50s romance novel called The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.
Why Are You Like This
If you haven’t already jumped on this six episode comedy that is Why Are You Like This, what have you been doing? Following friends Mia, Penny and Austin through the divisive socio-political hellscape of 2021, the three best mates negotiate work, fun, identity politics, hookups and wild nights out, most of the time leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
When you're in need of an LGBQTI+ movie that leans into more lightheartedness, The Prom is your jam. Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) are New York City stage stars with a mass crisis on their hands—their expensive new Broadway show is a major flop. Meanwhile, in small-town Indiana, high school student Emma Nolan has been banned from attending the prom with her girlfriend, Alyssa (Ariana DeBose). When Dee Dee and Barry decide that Emma's predicament is the perfect cause to help resurrect their public images, they hit the road with Angie (Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells), another pair of cynical actors looking for a professional lift.
After an affluent New York family is forced into bankruptcy, they have no choice but to move to a small country town named Schitt’s Creek–their last remaining asset. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years and haven’t binged this Canadian sitcom, stop everything and dial it up right now. Initially staying under the radar, Schitt’s Creek quickly became a worldwide phenomenon for its positivity and genuine hilarity—it racked up five Emmy wins for its final season. At the heart of the show is creator and actor Dan Levy, playing a pansexual character, David Rose. Not only is David’s relationship with Patrick one of the sweetest and most enjoyable on-screen partnerships ever depicted, the show’s decision to avoid bigotry and homophobia storylines is seen by many as an important step toward normalising LGBTQI+ romantic stories.
Please Like Me
In this semi-autobiographical television series, we find twenty-something Josh (Josh Thomas) realising and coming to terms with being gay after being dumped by his girlfriend. Through his first decade of adulthood, we follow Josh with the typical and atypical ups and downs of family, friends, and relationships. If we’ve ever had the perfect example of a comedian’s unique humour and eccentricities transferring perfectly onto the screen, it’s Josh Thomas creating Please Like Me. In the show, Thomas’ brand of awkward humour blends sadness and funny in a deeply personal way. The humour becomes an accessible gateway into otherwise difficult themes of trauma, mental health, and family crises. Last year, the Aussie comedian told The A.V. Club his intention in creating any content is to simply make something he thinks will be good. Well, in the wonderful comedy and drama of Please Like Me, we trust his judgement.
If you say you’ve never Googled ‘feel-good tv shows’–you’re either lying or not human. Well, one series is overtly making a case for itself in that necessary category, Netflix’s Feel Good. The semi-autobiographical comedy series follows Mae (played by Mae Martin, the show’s creator) as a Canadian stand-up comic and recovering addict living in London, meeting and starting a relationship with George (Charlotte Ritchie). The six-part series portraits the excitement and joy of a burgeoning relationship, the difficulties of addiction, and the personal dilemmas and complications of George’s struggle to reveal her new relationship to her friends and family. Not that the show needs it, but for some added comedy, the always enjoyable Lisa Kudrow stars as Linda, Mae’s mother.
I Am Not Okay With This
Sydney Novak is just a regular 17-year-old teenager, navigating the complexities of puberty, high school, family, and having a crush on her best friend, Dina. Just your typical coming-of-age queer story, right? Yes, other than the fact Sydney has also discovered her new superpowers. This is a story about feeling different from everybody else while growing up, but with a little extra juice. If you loved Netflix’s dark and quirky comedy-drama series, The End of the F***ing World, this show comes from the same director and co-developer, Jonathan Entwistle. Unfortunately, after being renewed for a second season due to its critical success, Netflix cancelled the show due to COVID-19. So, if you need something fun and quick to binge—this is it.
Your Name Engraved Herein
In 1987 Taiwan, after a decades-long martial law comes to an end, two young men, Jia-han and Birdy, fall in love while attending an all-male Catholic school. Despite their friendship and bond, the pair struggle amidst their conservative, patriarchal, and homophobic surroundings. As one of the only countries in the region which allows same-sex marriage (legalised in 2019), Taiwan filmmakers are taking advantage of telling queer stories through film. After making over $100 million at the domestic box office and receiving a personal endorsement from President Tsai Ing-wen, Your Name Engraved Herein officially became the most successful LGBTQI+ film ever screened in Taiwan.
The Half Of It
As this list, streaming libraries, and the yearly slate of new movies all indicate, the film and tv industry loves to pump out high school, coming-of-age romances. Sometimes that means some gems slip through the cracks of popular consciousness. From writer/director Alice Wu, who previously explored the queer, Asian-American experience in her 2005 film, Saving Face, The Half of It is one such example. When shy straight-A student Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) offers to help Paul (Daniel Diemer) write love letters to his crush, Aster (Alexxis Lemire), she is forced to hide her own hidden love for her female classmate. Based in a rural Washington State town, this tender film sophistically delves into sexuality, friendship, race, identity, and the intricacies of love.
Next up, bless your ears with these seven epic LGBTQI+ podcasts.
Image Credit: Netflix