Right now we could all use a good laugh, but a good cry is often just as cathartic. If you’re in the mood for a movie that’s serious, weighty and unafraid to confront the difficulties of life, look no further than these recommendations of serious LGBTQ movies suggested by queer movie lovers.
Every month I host livestream chats in which I talk to LGBTQ people about the books, movies, songs and shows they’re obsessed with. Viewers are invited to drop by, say hello and share some recommendations, and also pick up a few new things they can check out themselves. During the most recent stream, someone asked for serious LGBTQ movies — they’d just seen Carol and wanted more like that.
Fortunately, other viewers in the chat were more than happy to oblige. One of the first titles to come up was, naturally, Call Me By Your Name. It’s very much on everyone’s mind right now, having come out in the last year and having left quite an impression.
A lesser-known recommendation was Lazy Eye (pictured at top), a haunting and voyeuristic film from last year. Directed by Tim Kirkman, the movie peeks in on a guy losing his vision who encounters a man from his past, rekindling feelings of love and longing.
Then there’s God’s Own Country, also a recent release. It’s the story of a lonely U.K. farmer, an immigrant farmhand and a relationship that neither expected. Expect windswept vistas, emotionally wrought speeches and a challenge to toxic masculinity. (It’s streaming on Netflix now.)
You might also consider Bless the Beasts and Children, a 1971 Bill Mumy film about a group of young boys rejected by society — a sort of teen version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Kiss of the Spider Woman also won praise from everyone in the chat. That’s a 1985 film starring Raúl Juliá, adapted from an acclaimed play featuring a transgender woman struggling to deal with incarceration and her relationship with a revolutionary in an adjoining cell. They grow close, but their circumstances are complicated by politics — and it seems certain that whatever grows between them is doomed.
If that’s not troubling enough for you, consider Pixote (trailer NSFW), a 1981 drama shot in a vérité style. A young boy endures horrible abuse and exploitation in a world where torture, murder and drugs rule everyone’s lives. It’s extremely difficult to watch.
For a more empowering experience in your serious LGBTQ films, seek out BPM, a story of HIV activism during the worst years of the epidemic in France. A band of desperate heroes rise up to demand more action as the virus claims an unbearable number of lives. It’s intensely sad, but it celebrates the determination that forced an uncaring drug industry to stop playing with queer lives for profit.
And that’s only a sampling of the films recommended by my livestream viewers. Also popular were Boys Don’t Cry, Rift, Now, Voyager and The Boys in the Band. As often as queer lives are defined by celebration, they are equally defined by struggle — and there’s no shortage of stories that expose those struggles to the world.
Remember to join us for the next livestream chat and share some recommendations of your own.