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Best LGBTQ+ Movies of the 90s, Ranked

LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream cinema has come a long way since the 90s. Now, we see more and more queer films being awarded at the Oscars, reaching wider audiences, and achieving acclaim and success. Indeed, the 90s marked a change in films, with LGBTQ+ content being more mainstream through films such as Birdcage and philadelphia.

While films such as those mentioned previously were achieving more mainstream success, there was also a surge happening in less mainstream films through the rise of New Queer Cinema, a movement of LGBTQ+ movies that produced impactful films that led the push towards the mainstream. desde philadelphia to Paris is Burninghere are the best LGBTQ+ movies of the 90s.

9 philadelphia

One of the main movies from the 90s that brought LGBTQ+ content to a mainstream audience was philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks. Hanks plays a lawyer named Andrew Beckett, who, fearing that his career may be compromised, hides his HIV status and sexuality. After his colleagues find out, he is fired and then embarks on a legal journey to gain justice. Hanks was widely praised for his performance and the film dealt with a subject that was often swept under the carpet during the time period. Recently, per The Hollywood Reporter, Hanks stated that, as a straight actor, he wouldn’t sign on to play a gay character again, citing the importance of LGBTQ+ actors in queer roles.

Related: A Brief History of LGBTQ+ Cinema


8 Birdcage

Birdcage was another influential film from the 90s and was a remake of the French film, La Cage aux Folles. The story follows an engaged couple, Van Goldman (Dan Futterman) and Barbara Keeley (Calista Flockhart) who meet their future in-laws. Armand (Robin Williams) is Val’s father, a gay club owner who hides his sexuality and relationship from him to appease Barbara’s family from her. It’s a film worth watching with some strong performances.

7 All About My Mother

Pedro Almodóvar is an acclaimed director who has achieved mainstream success and has a famous professional relationship with Penélope Cruz. One of his greatest successes of him is All About My Mother, about a mother who is grieving the death of her son. After she sets out to find her child’s parent, she discovers that her former partner has now transitioned. It’s a touching film that uses subtlety in a way Almodóvar has mastered.

6 Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was released in 1994 and tells the story of a drag queen, Anthony (Hugo Weaving), who agrees to take his act on the road. He invites his fellow performers, Adam (Guy Pearce) and Bernadette (Terence Stam) in their bus named Priscilla. The film takes the viewer on a colorful journey and is completely enjoyable to watch.

5 poison

Todd Haynes is now known for his success with carolhowever, before he achieved mainstream success, he made an abstract film called poison, which is a queer classic. The film is based on the work of Jean Genet and is a trio of shorts patched together. poison is a wild ride and features postmodern elements that comment on queerness and the human condition.

Related: LGBTQ+ Cinema: The Importance of Happy Endings

4 Boys Don’t Cry

Boys Don’t Cry was released in 1999 and was the first mainstream film to focus on a transgender character. As culture has evolved, the film has come to be outdated, however, it was significant upon release. The film follows the true tragic story of Brandon Teena, played by Hilary Swank, and the trial that followed after his death.

3 totally fucked up

Gregg Araki’s Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy is famous for following around queer youths as they struggle to fit into a heteronormative society. The first addition, totally fucked upexplores the difficulties of youth in a way that feels authentic and acts as a time capsule for queer America in the 90s.

two The Watermelon Woman

The Watermelon Woman was released in 1996, directed by Cheryl Dunye, and widely understood as one of the most influential films in New Queer Cinema. The film stars Dunye as the central character, chronicling the lives of Black lesbians working at a VHS store while they attempt to make a film of their own. It’s been hugely influential in cinema history and is one of the best queer films of all time.

1 Paris is Burning

Paris is Burning needs no introduction and is one of the most famous queer documentaries of all time. The film was directed by Jennie Livingston and offers insight into the New York ball culture during the 80s/90s and the struggles faced by LGBTQ+ people who were marginalized based on race, gender and socio-economic status. It inspired the hit series, Poseand is serving the top spot.

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