QUEER VOICES

22 Movies That Changed The Way We Felt About Ourselves As LGBT People

Nathan Lane and Robin Williams standing in pajamas on the porch in a scene from the film 'The Birdcage', 1996. (Photo by Unit
Nathan Lane and Robin Williams standing in pajamas on the porch in a scene from the film 'The Birdcage', 1996. (Photo by United Artists/Getty Images)

Movies and popular culture have an indelible impact on developing mindsets. The significance can even be more profound when you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), given that representation of the community in Hollywood is still limited.

Still, there have been some true cinematic milestones portraying LGBT lifestyles over the years. "Boys Don't Cry," "Brokeback Mountain" and "Milk" have nabbed Oscars, while "Velvet Goldmine" and "A Beautiful Thing" enjoy cult followings among queer audiences and beyond.

We asked the HuffPost Gay Voices editorial team as well as our readers to name the movies which shaped the way they felt about themselves as LGBT people. We also added a few titles ("A League of Their Own," "Steel Magnolias") that may not feature prominent LGBT plotlines if we felt the viewer made a sufficient case for its inclusion.

Take a look at 22 movies that changed the way we felt about ourselves as LGBT people below.

  • "Ma Vie En Rose"
    "I first saw 'Ma Vie En Rose' at a movie night put on by my college's Queer Union. It certainly wasn't the first queer film that I had seen but it was the first time I had seen my own childhood (or a childhood very similar to mine) on film. I was a very queer kid -- up until I was 7 or 8 I wanted to be a girl -- but no one talked about kids like me, especially in the '90s and especially in Hollywood. 'Ma Vie En Rose' was nothing short of revolutionary and it helped me to process the life I had lived -- and had purposefully tried to forget." Noah Michelson, HuffPost Gay Voices Executive Editor
  • "Madonna: Truth or Dare"
    "Much of my adolescence was defined by Madonna's music, and her 1991 documentary, 'Truth or Dare,' remains a personal benchmark. I first saw the movie when I was 12, and I loved the iconic Blond Ambition concert performances. Ultimately, though, it wasn't Madonna's presence in the film which struck a chord with me so much as her unapologetically gay dancers and backstage crew. Seeing two male dancers passionately kiss each other in one of the movie's key scenes made me uncomfortable at first. But that segment, as well as a brief look at an early Pride parade, eventually helped me realize that I could embrace the same-sex attraction I was experiencing." Curtis M. Wong, HuffPost Gay Voices Deputy Editor
  • "Stage Beauty"
    "Prior to ever coming to understand that I was queer, I watched 'Stage Beauty' as a teenager with a couple of friends. This revolutionary film not only raised questions for myself surrounding sexuality, but also concepts of gender presentation and gender as performance. I saw this film at a pivotal moment during the journey to living as my authentic self, and recommend it as a must-see for anyone identifying along the queer spectrum." James Nichols, HuffPost Gay Voices Associate Editor
  • "Velvet Goldmine"
    "Like the closeted, sexually frustrated gay youth portrayed in the film by Christian Bale, I was mesmerized -- seduced -- by Jonathan Rhys Meyers' Brian Slade, with his glittery, unapologetically gender-bending glamor; his sex-positive, queer-liberationist politics; his allure; his intensity; his power. For months I obsessed over that film, watching it again and again (mostly alone), fantasizing about both being and having Brian Slade, this ravishing (though deeply flawed) queer man dripping with sex and confidence and fearlessness. I'd glimpsed new possibilities for myself, more liberated ways of being in the world, and it was thrilling. Though it would take me a couple more years to fully embrace my own long-suppressed queerness, that film certainly hastened the process. Now, seven years later, I happily identify as a gay man. As for the girlfriend who introduced me to the film, we're no longer together, obviously, but we're still great friends, and I think another 'Velvet Goldmine' viewing is in order." Clay Chiles, Deputy Blog Editor
  • "Making Love"
    "The film that really just was groundbreaking, for me in terms of seeing same-sex intimacy onscreen, was "Making Love" released with great controversy in 1982, starring Michael Ontkean, Harry Hamlin and Kate Jackson. Of course, looking back, the only way they could make the film was to make it about the break-up by gay or bi men of a heterosexual marriage -- those homo home wreckers! And I now realize it was part of the feminist backlash of the time as well. Kate Jackson played a high-powered executive who, as the film posed it, just couldn't pay enough attention to her marriage. And what happened? Her hubby turns homo! When she finally asked for a leave of absence, she instead was given a promotion and transferred to New York. And what happened? Her hubby got more homo, and eventually they split up! Anyway, all of that was way over my head at time. The film bombed, as most of heterosexual America found it uninteresting or way too scandalous. But for me, at the age of 21 -- and for many gay men of that time -- just the idea that two men could be in love was amazing and empowering." Michelangelo Signorile, HuffPost Gay Voices Editor At Large
  • "Milk"
    "I had been out of the closet for a long time, but that movie really got me passionate in equal rights even more than I was. Ever since I have done whatever I needed too in this quest, spread the word and educated people on the truth of what it means to be gay. I am proud of who I am and to me equal rights is a very important subject and one that I will always strive for." Xander Zamazal, from Facebook
  • "The Broken Hearts Club"
    "'The Broken Hearts Club' It was one of the few movies at the time that portrayed gay men as everyday people. It didn't show gay men dying of AIDS or a tragic coming out story or a gay bashing. Even one of the characters in the movie made the comment that few gay movies existed that showed gay men as just regular guys. For once there was a movie that just made me feel 'normal.'" Ron Archuleta, from Facebook
  • "Brokeback Mountain"
    Corny as I'm sure it will sound to many, 'Brokeback Mountain' helped me come out of the closet. I was at a time when my religious faith was crumbling enough to give me space to really begin accepting my sexuality, but I was confused about how to handle that reality. 'Brokeback Mountain' made me realize, in a truly visceral way, that I could no longer go through life closeted and refusing to live with integrity. It was so influential in my coming-out process, that I wrote a long thank you letter to Annie Proulx for writing the story. She sent me a lovely card, thanking me in turn for my letter. I will always be thankful for Annie, her story and the effect it had on me." Nick Literski, from Facebook
  • "Hedwig And The Angry Inch"
    "'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' was the first time I saw gender being truly represented in a fluid manner, similar to the way I express my own identity." Joel King, from Facebook
  • "Fried Green Tomatoes"
    "For me, actually, it was 'Fried Green Tomatoes,' though I grew up with two lesbian couples as my aunts. The love between Idgie and Ruth is so pure, so good, so all-consuming. It taught me that love is love, no matter what, no matter who. I wanted that love, and I have been blessed to find my Ruth." Jennifer Perez, from Facebook
  • "Beautiful Thing"
    "I was the same age as the main characters and struggling to understand who I was and how to deal with it. It was the 1st movie I saw with homosexuality at it's heart, and it helped me feel that I wasn't alone, many people felt the same things I was feeling and it was working out just fine for them." Brian Tierney, from Facebook
  • "For The Bible Tells Me So"
    "It confirmed what I always believed/struggled with in regards to Christianity. It gave me the reassurance & confidence to know that I was intentional, & that I could be out to the world. It was beautiful." Jasmine Marie Batchelder, from Facebook
  • "Paris is Burning"
    "Often times when I'm watching an LGBT film, queer men of color are absent or reduced to background characters, which is a horrible representation. But after watching 'Paris Is Burning,' I felt more connected to something, I felt a stronger pulled/tied to the community." Ryy Dickerson, from Facebook
  • "Boys Don't Cry"
    "'Boys Don't Cry' because it told about Brandon Teena, an icon of the trans male community, and it helped me understand that being transgender is something I'm not alone in and helped me want to advocate for people like me and Brandon who get discriminated against." Brandon Beck, from Facebook
  • "The Birdcage"
    "I was a teenager but 'The Birdcage' made me feel cool about being gay, I loved that couple so much, and almost every person I knew loved those characters as well, I thought, hey they are funny,fierce, strong and out there." Luis Flores, from Facebook 
  • "Personal Best"
    "That film helped me understand that being a lesbian wasn't all about checked shirts and diesel mechanics. You could be pretty and athletic and smart...and in Utah back then, that was a big revelation." Laurie Edwards, from Facebook
  • "Steel Magnolias"
    "Being a gay Southern guy, the movie taught me a lot about love, family, friendship, forgiveness, and grief. I actually realized when watching it when I was kid -- I'm 30 now -- that I was gay, and I credit it to Olympia Dukakis!" Christopher B. Clay, from Facebook
  • "Rocky Horror Picture Show"
    "Saw it when I was 15 living in a small town north of Philadelphia, out in cow country. 
It was the first time I knew I wasn't alone in the world!" Ron Fretz, from Facebook  
  • "After Stonewall"
    "I have seen it dozens of times as I regularly screen it in my university courses and each time it is a startling rejoinder to remember how very deep both community and divisoon can run, how transformative small acts can be, and how enduringly necessary it is to know, understand , and consider where we have been." Milton W. Wendland, from Facebook
  • "Philadelphia"
    "I was just coming out to friends/family around then and saw the way the main character's family were so supportive and sweet to him. I longed for that and from then on chose to cultivate 'chosen' family into my world." Mel Buckner, from Facebook
  • "Any Day Now"
    "I was deep in the closet when I saw it screened at Outfest...I was so outraged at the homophobia and injustice protrayed in the movie that I decided to go straight home and come out to my family. I knew that the next time any ballot issue, like prop 8, happened again my conservative family wouldn't just be voting on the lives of some anonymous gay person... they would be voting about their daughter. And I went home and told everyone." Meg Annemarie E'amato, from Facebook  
  • "A League of their Own"
    "There's a part where Rosie O'Donnell's character says, 'I always thought I was a weird girl or a strange girl or not even a girl just because I could play. But look it, there's a lot of us.' The undertones there really struck a chord with me. I started to understand that I was just a different kind of girl and that I wasn't alone." Kara Ellis, from Facebook
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