Top Gay Movies and TV Shows
Following the success of our Best Lesbian Movies and TV Shows post, we consulted many of our gay friends to help us write up on the top gay movies and TV shows. Countries all over the world have brought the LGBTQ community many entertaining productions and we wanted to bring list them all in one place for you to enjoy.
Best Gay TV Shows
If you’re looking for gay TV shows or TV shows with gay characters then look no further than our comprehensive list.
Queer as Folk (UK)
Queer as folk was a game changer in the United Kingdom. Never before had the public seen an open portrayal of the gay life style centered on Manchester’s vibrant Gay Village around Canal Street. Queer as Folk (UK) follows Nathan (a young Charlie Hunman), who is a teenager being slowly introduced to the gay scene for the first time.
We follow his journey into coming out and a turbulant journey chasing sexually overactive Stuart (Aiden Gillen, aka Litte Finger from Game of Thrones) under the watchful eye of Stuart’s best friend Vince (Craig Kelly), who also has a crush on Stuart.
Prepare for laughs, tears and cliffhangers in this two season relic that spawned a revolution of gay media within the UK.
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Queer as Folk (US)
Based on the British series above, Queer as Folk (US) was the first hour-long drama on American television that portrayed the lives of gay men and women. The drama is set in Pittsburgh, PA and the plot follows the lives of five gay men Brian, Justin, Michael, Emmett and Ted as well as a lesbian couple, Lindsay and Melanie, and Michael’s mother Debbie and his uncle Vic.
We see everything from artificial insemination to meth abuse to a terrorist attack as well seeing the boys evolving into men.
Written and produced by the Wachowski sisters (creators of the Matrix franchise), Sense8 lives up to it’s mind blowing expectations. The two season TV show focuses on 8 central characters that are all connected to one another across the world.
Viewers enjoy following the lives of the diverse group from visually appealing countries and cities such as Iceland, San Francisco, Chicago, Mexico City, South Korea, Nairobi, Mumbai and Berlin. The group members intercept one another’s lives across the world and help each other out in sticky situations, all the while being hunted by a scientist who wishes to experiment with and destroy them.
Gay characters include movie-star Lito and his secret boyfriend Hernando. The boys bring humor and a heart warming love story to the series and their part is filmed in Mexico City. We also get to see them attend the biggest gay pride celebration in the world at Sao Paul, Brazil.
There are also two lesbian characters, Nomi and Aminita in the series and they live in the Castro district of San Fransisco. Nomi is played by trans actresses Jamie Clayton and both girls blossom in a beautiful relationship that progresses wonderfully towards the end of Season 2.
Gimme Gimme Gimme
Gimme Gimme Gimme is a British comedy series with two central characters, loudmouthed lycra-clad Linda La Hughes (comedy legend Kathy Burke) and her gay flatmate, small time actor Tom Farrell (James Dreyfus).
Both potty mouthed characters bring viewers a hilarious innuendo lathered journey into the lives of oddly matched flatmates living in London.
Expect camp, a lot of swearing and hilarious story lines. The TV show had iconic status in the UK when it was aired and Tom was only one of few gay TV characters on air back in the late 1990s.
Noah’s Arc is an American comedy-drama focusing on black and Latino gay characters as they face a whirlwind of marriage, parenthood, HIV and AIDS awareness, infidelity and homophobia.
The show is centered on four friends living in Los Angeles and the series became LBGT TV Channel LOGO’s first scripted series. The show was cancelled after a year long running and a film, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom (2008), was spawned shortly after.
Will and Grace
On air for the last 20 years, Will and Grace is one of the top gay TV shows around. The sitcom centers on Will Truman, a gay lawyer, and Grace Adler, a straight interior designer, and follows all aspects of their lives in New York City.
Now up to it’s 9th season, the LGBT story lines in the show have collected a loyal audience and the exposure of the gay plots has helped American audiences see LGBT media in a positive light. Fans of the show can now appreciate an LGBT history section at the Smithsonian Institution, who added a collection of items to their museum including props from the Will and Grace show.
Will and Grace was nominated for 83 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning 16 of them and during its original run, the show was one of the most successful TV series with gay characters of all time.
Three season Dante’s Cove is a supernatural soap opera that combines horror with a soap opera all with a LGBT theme.
The main characters Kevin (Gregory Michael) and Toby (Charlie David), are a young couple who spend their days fighting dark mystical forces that conspire to keep them apart.
Cucumber, Banana and Tofu
Cucumber is a one season British TV show created by gay screenwriter Russell T Davies. The main character of Cucumber is Henry Best (Vincent Franklin), who starts the series having a disastrous date night with his boyfriend of 9 years, Lance (Cyril Nri).
Henry’s old life shatters, and the show follows him as he embarks on a newly single life.
Cucumber was announced by the UK’s Channel 4 franchise along with a companion series Banana, and web series Tofu which was the most recently released in November 2013.
The titles of all three shows come from a scientific study into the male erection and a ‘hardness scale’ being compared to tofu, peeled banana, banana, and cucumber.
When Russell read up on the study he said “right there and then, I knew I had my drama”.
Openly gay UK actor and singer John Barrowman stars in Russell T Davis’s (writer of Doctor Who and gay TV show Cucumber) BBC Sci-fi drama, Torchwood. Torchwood is a team of people who investigate the unusual and the extraterrestrial.
Torchwood is a spin-off from the 2005 revival of Doctor Who, and aired four seasons in the UK between 2006 and 2011. The show gained popularity and new audiences after it’s approach to story lines that not only included extraterrestrialism but the addition of homosexual and bisexual relationships at a time where there wasn’t anything similar on UK mainstream TV.
Barrowman plays Captain Jack Harkness who is a con man from the distant future, his sexuality is a mystery throughout the program until he embarks on a same-sex relationship when he travels through time. The revealing scene is wonderful and it created a lot of ‘controversy’ at the time of screening to the mainstream public.
Beautiful People is a British comedy drama series based on Barney’s creative director, Simon Doonan (played by Luke Ward-Wilkinson).
13 year old Simon and his best friend Kyle Parkinson(Layton Williams) are dreaming of escaping the dreary life they have in Reading, Berkshire and moving to London ‘to live among the beautiful people’.
The series flips in and out of Simon’s past and into 2008 New York where he has a boyfriend, Sacha, and works as a window-dresser at Barneys. Most of Simon’s stories told in the series center on how he came to own his most treasured possessions, all of which find a place in his eccentric window displays.
Top Gay Movies
One of the top gay movies of all time and probably the most well known is Ang Lee’s beautiful Brokeback Mountain. Although the movie doesn’t have a particularly happy ending, it follows the struggles of two gay cowboys living in the American West.
Brokeback Mountain features Hollywood megastars Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams who all work together beautifully to portray an emotional struggle between characters Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) as they embark on a secret relationship.
The pair are sent to herd sheep by Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) out to the rural landscape of the Wyoming mountains. They soon realize their feelings for one another after a few drinks during a camping trip. They are spotted in an embrace by homophobic Ennis and the moment turns the film around into an emotional roller coaster that spirals into a sad ending. Brokeback Mountain really caught the attention of Hollywood and the general public, winning three Academy Awards and a Golden Globe.
But, I’m a Cheerleader
But, I’m a Cheerleader is a super cheesy American comedy film first released in 2000. Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black fame) plays Megan Bloomfield, who’s family are suspicious of her sexuality. When she avoids her boyfriend and spoons an interestingly patterned pillow, she is sent to ‘True Directions’, a camp that aims prides itself on turning gay kids into straight kids.
Mike (Ru Paul Charles) runs the camp and we get to meet other ‘troubled’ kids such as Graham (Clea Du Vall) and the boys, Dolph, Clayton and Andre. The gang sneak out at night to gay bars and meet saviors Lloyd and Larry who have set up a half way house for the ‘failed’ LGBT campers at True Directions.
The movie mocks the concept of a gay camp in the most hilarious and colorful way possible. There are lots of gay characters and innuendos to keep you on your toes.
Pride is a 2014 British historical comedy-drama and is based on a true story. The film is set in 1984 at the heart of the British Miner’s strike. A group of LGBTQ activists raised money during the strike to help affected families. The group became formally known as the ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’ campaign. The alliance of the miner’s and the gay community at the time was unique and also very successful.
As well as the grit typically expected from a British movie, viewers can enjoy a 1980s Gay Pride Parade in London as well as LGBTQ activism. The miners at the time were becoming victims to prejudice and opposition from the police and media, something the LGBTQ community were very much used to.
In a whirlwind of discrimination, media smearing and opposition, the outcome of Pride is incredible and it teaches viewers a valuable lesson on collaboration and fighting for what is right.
The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture and is one of our top gay movies of all time.
Beautiful Thing is a 1996 British movie produced by Channel 4 Films. The film was so successful, it was released in cinemas after only initially being planned for television.
The story follows Jamie, played by Glen Berry, who is a bullied teenager at school and is completely infatuated with his classmate, Ste (Scott Neil).
The film is based on a South East London council estate where Jamie battles a strained relationship with his mother, Sandra (Linda Henry). Sandra focuses on juggling lovers and fulfilling her dream of running her own pub instead of her son and the inner journey he is experiencing. Sandra clashes with Leah, who is the rebellious girl next door who supports the boys as they start a relationship.
The plot turns when Sandra takes pity on Ste after a run in with his brother in the flat next door and he spends the night with Jamie in the same bed, where Jamie makes a pass. After struggling to deal with his sexuality, Ste avoids Jamie and their journey into coming out begins.
The film covers family acceptance of a gay relationship as well as two young men in love battling everything around them to be together, making it one of our top gay movies.
The soundtrack to Beautiful Thing consists almost entirely of the music of the Mamas and Papas and Cass Elliott.
Milk is an emotional true story of the struggles of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), who was an American gay activist that fought for gay rights and eventually becoming California’s first openly gay elected official.
The film follows Milk’s career from his 40th birthday right up until his assassination. From opening up a camera shop that becomes a significant part of San Francisco’s gay community to building a foundation of political alliances, we see, hear and feeling every aspect of Milk’s life.
Milk runs for office in California with his lover Scott Smith as his campaign manager. Milk gives a true reflection on the struggles of 1970s America and the difference he made to the gay community today. Milk is one of the best gay movies for activism, history and an emotional true story.
Imagine ‘Meet the Parents’ blended with an ultraconservative Republican couple and drag club owners. The Birdcage is a 1996 American comedy with big Hollywood names such as Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, and Dianne Wiest.
Mustached Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) is the openly gay owner of a drag club in South Beach, Miami called The Birdcage. His super-camp significant other, Albert, also known as drag alter-ego “Starina”, is the star attraction of the club. They live in an apartment above The Birdcage with Agador, a flamboyant Guatemalan housekeeper who dreams of being in Albert’s drag show.
Armand’s son announces he is set to marry and we enjoy the collaboration of opposing views, fun, frolics and plenty of humor.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a 1994 Australian comedy-drama film following two drag queens as they drive their bus ‘Priscilla’ across the Australian Outback.
The pair encounter a diverse set of characters as they make their way from Sydney to Alice Springs in a hilarious journey that saw the popularity of the film sore at a time when LGBT media needed a well deserved boost into the mainstream. The costumes used in the film were so good, the movie won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design at the 67th ceremony.
A spawn of live musicals came out of the film and live shows can be enjoyed at lucrative theater strips across the world.
This is one of our the top gay movies for fun, drag glamour and humor.
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
If you’re looking for a hilarious drag comedy movie full of Hollywood’s finest, look no further than the heavily titled To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. ‘To Wong Foo’ is a 1995 American comedy starring Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo as three New York City drag queens who embark on a road trip.
The road trip starts as Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes) and Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) both win the ‘Drag Queen of the year contest’ that grants them entry into the “Miss Drag Queen of America Pageant” in Hollywood. They buy an old Cadillac and embark on a hilarious journey to Los Angeles with inexperienced ‘drag princess’ Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo) as their protégé. They carry with them an autographed picture of Julie Newmar that Vida acquired from the wall of a restaurant.
This is one of the top gay movies for drag comedy, hilarious phrases and a scenic USA road trip.
The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as real-life British cryptanalyst Alan Turing, who is noted in history for decrypting German intelligence codes for the British government during World War II.
As well as a drama packed blockbuster, The Imitation Game also includes snippets of Turing’s gay relationships following uncovered historical documents about his sexuality.
The film starts at boarding school where Turing develops a friendship with Christopher Morcom, an avid practitioner of cryptography. Their friendship blossoms into a romance and the film is lead onto a wave of emotions and edge of your seat viewing.
LGBT civil rights groups honored The Imitation Game for bringing Turing’s gay legacy to a wider audience.
Torch Song Trilogy
Young Matthew Broderick stars in Torch Song Trilogy, which is a comedy drama set around the chronicles of New York based torch singer Arnold Beckoff.
We follow Arnold’s search for love and respect while being stuck between the memories of his deceased lover, his new bisexual boyfriend, an adopted son and his inciting mother.
The Torch Song Trilogy movie is based on three plays by Harvey Fiersteinaward. The award-winning work by Harvey broke new ground in the theater receiving positive feedback from critics who said: “At the height of the post-Stonewall clone era, Harvey challenged both gay and straight audiences to champion an effeminate gay man’s longings for love and family.”
Holding the man
Based on a remarkable true story, Timothy Conigrave (Ryan Corr) and John Caleo (Craig Stott) star in one of our top gay movies, Holding the Man. Two two teenagers fall in love at an all-boys’ high school and their relationship spanned over 15 years.
Love conquered all during their time together, through discrimination, temptation and jealousy until the one thing love couldn’t protect them from crashed into their lives.
Though the movie is painfully sad, Holding The Man offers a powerful viewing experience with a strong message. The movie has won countless awards within the Australian movie industry.
Any Day Now
Rudy Donatello (Alan Cumming) is a drag performer and struggling musician in 1979 West Hollywood. He meets his closet boyfriend Paul Fleiger (Garret Dillahunt) at the club and when Rudy returns to his apartment, he finds Marco (Isaac Leyva), a 14-year-old boy with Down syndrome, alone.
Rudy takes in the abandoned boy after his mother is arrested, but Social Services soon get wind and take Marco into foster care.
Paul is an attorney and he is enlisted to battle for custody of the boy. Any Day Now takes us through an emotional journey highlighting the discrimination of the legal system in the 1980s.
Any Day Now has won many awards at International Film Festivals across the globe.
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