The 30 Gayest Movies of All Time

Same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts nearly two decades ago and across the United States in 2015, but somehow queer films are still mostly a trickle at the box office (unless you count Barbie ... …you can be counted). "Brothers ," released in 2022, is billed as the first mainstream gay romantic comedy released by a major studio. Films like Saltburn and All of Us Strangers have made a splash, but still represent only a small fraction of mainstream cinema: notable for their rarity, although the usual suspects will scream that it's impossible to find anything direct these days entertainment programs.

LGBTQ representation in the modern blockbuster era is often limited to half-hearted queer bashing (Poe/Finn), background kisses between minor characters, or the discreet, sexless relationships in The Eternals . Smaller movies seem to be making a comeback, so if we move beyond the need for every movie to the four-quadrant extravaganza that performed so well in both Beijing and Boca Raton, maybe we can hopefully see a sexier, cooler movie future.

On another level, Hollywood has been making gay movies for as long as the format has been around - despite legitimate denials. The late 1920s and early 1930s were a golden age for films dealing explicitly (or almost so) with queer characters (Garbo, Dietrich, and Hepburn were all bisexual icons, before the term was widely used) ; The same was true for the independent-minded 1970s. Other times, the performance is all about subtext—sometimes poignantly, with filmmakers sneaking in themes that might go over the censors' heads but appeal to the right audience, or serve as unexpected subtext Appear. That said, sometimes even the most heteronormative movies are gay - the inevitable result of heterosexuality trying too hard.

Some of the following films have an explicit context that makes queer readings crucial, or at least legitimate. Others are just genuinely gay, but not necessarily intentional.

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Following the events of Frankenstein , the eponymous doctor is ready to settle down with his fiancée when his college mentor, Dr. Septimus Pretorius, shows up to remove Henry from his promised arms. Zhong lured out to support the two of them together after work and build more bodies. Dr. Praetorius (Ernest Thesiger), accustomed to stylish rebuttals and chain-smoking in the mausoleum, was in high camp before the concept was codified. While there's nothing explicit here, there's no real queer coding either: the charming Thesiger never made any effort to hide his queerness or fit into anyone's idea of ​​masculinity, and he certainly didn't Play this role. After being injured while serving in the First World War, he took up needlework and taught his skills to other wounded soldiers, despite official warnings that the work was too "feminine". He was later awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his embroidery skills and acting career. Still, he is best known for luring Colin Clive's Frankenstein back into retirement.

The film was so gay it inspired 1998's Gods and Monsters , a super-queer biopic starring Ian McKellen and directed by James Whale ), came out publicly as gay in 1988.

Where to stream: Amazon

Rebecca (1940)

Rebecca represents a unique fusion of emotions: Alfred Hitchcock, who had just entered Hollywood and did not yet have the influence he was quickly gaining, was forced to work with the powerful producer David O. Selznick (He has notes) Cooperation. Hitchcock was adept at dodging Selznick's demands and was always a highly organized filmmaker who never left the studio, leaving miles of footage to edit, meaning they were eventually forced to accept him Something to make.

The queer subtext here revolves around the character of Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), the housekeeper of Manderley’s gothic mansion. When the owner of the house, Maxim de Winter, played by Laurence Olivier, takes home a new bride after the death of his first wife, Mrs. Danvers becomes one question. What might have been considered hyper-maternal to a heterosexual audience in 1940, now seems less subtle: her obsession with the late first Mrs. de Winter forms the film's thread, and Mrs. Davers nuzzled the dead woman's clothes, or stared intently at them. Her hair and underwear indicate that her interests go beyond motherhood. Gone are the days of Garbo, Dietrich and early Hepburn, who made lesbianism chic and sexy. By 1940, lesbians were sleazy spinsters and threatening. Yet Mrs. Danvers still emerges as the most interesting character in the movie.

Play on: YouTube

Maltese Falcon (1941)

Most of these films have queer themes running through them. I'm not sure that's the case here, although I'd be happy to be proven wrong. Still, I’m going to let Peter Lorre’s Joel Cairo represent all the queer villains in classic Hollywood. It's not always a great trope, but audiences are always happy to have the Midas touch, giving extra love to the meager and often questionable representation of LGBTQ+ characters in classic films. Characters who were originally ridiculed or hated become admired figures, and that's the case here. Dashiell Hammett's novel was overtly gay, and Hollywood censors in 1941 certainly wouldn't have allowed Joel Cairo to be explicit in the film version. So, Petter Lorre swaggered into Sam Spade's office, wearing nice clothes and gloves, and holding a cane that he couldn't help caressing , and, of course, gardenia-scented business cards... because the planned lavender cards were deemed too much - for the censors' noses.

Where to play: Tubi, Amazon

Cat People (1942)

Cat People is directed by Jacques Tourneur and, most importantly, produced by the unconventionally elegant Val Lewton and stars Simone Simon as Elena Dubrovna ( Irena Dubrovna, who believes she is a descendant of a family of cat people. Convinced that she would turn into a black panther if she allowed her true and repressed sexual desires to emerge, she avoided sex with her new husband. Metaphors involving otherness work on multiple levels, but seeing Irena as a woman trapped in a heterosexual marriage she never imagined is worth reading.

Where to stream: Amazon

Rope (1948)

In 1924, two wealthy boyfriends at the University of Chicago, Leopold and Loeb, kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy, mostly to prove they could do it, the two read Enough of Nietzsche’s writings to convince yourself that you are Nietzsche’s Superman. Of course, they weren't, but they wouldn't be the first rich white boys to believe they were inherently superior.

The murder was a tragedy, but for someone as sensitive as Alfred Hitchcock, the story was too interesting to pass up. "Rope" is famous for its unique shooting technique: it is presented in the form of continuous shooting, but in fact, due to the limitations of film technology at the time, the shooting time was about ten minutes. But Rope is based on a play inspired by the murders of Leopold and Loeb, in which both men were explicitly gay. The film, being a product of its time, glosses over this but doesn't really hint at anything else. These effete and hip "roommates" - played by Farley Granger (who came out late) and John Dahl (who is widely believed to be gay, although he never came out publicly) - host a Parties where their bodies murder victims have been hidden. Screenwriter Arthur Lorenz, who was gay, was very good at slipping in enough subtext to circumvent the restrictions of the Hays code, a technique Hitchcock was equally adept at.

Did audiences in the 1940s really forget that these characters were more than just friends? Apparently, Lorenz and company didn't make Jimmy Stewart aware of his character, and the actor never caught on. The audience eventually did.

Where to stream: Amazon Prime

Red River (1948)

No one told John Wayne, but the queer subtext of "Red River" has been discussed for decades, which holds special significance because it provided a breakthrough for gay actor Montgomery Clift, who played Matt, a Typical male Wayne's more sensitive ward. Life is complicated by John Ireland's performance as Cherry Vallance during the cattle drive at the heart of the film - the scene where Matt and Cherry compare guns is legitimately memorable as a euphemism, even in the film The characters also seem aware of what's going on: Wayne describes them, played by Walter Brennan's older character, as "...having some fun. A weird kind of fun."

Where to watch: Tubi, MGM+, Amazon

Strangers on a Train (1951)

Lesbian writer Patricia Highsmith is not afraid of gay subtext (see: The Talented Mr. Ripley ), nor of texts between texts (see: The Price of Salt ); as we learn from Roman As we learned from Pugh and Rebecca (and others), director Alfred Hitchcock wasn't afraid to infuse his films with queer undertones either. Given all this (and the presence of Farley Granger), it's no surprise that Strangers on a Train is quite delicious in its focus. Granger's Guy Haines has a cute encounter with Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) on a train (naturally) and they have a rather heated conversation about a double murder: Guy Bruno's hateful father should be killed, and Bruno will kill Guy's wife. Interesting what-if, except Bruno was absolutely serious and fulfilled his part of the deal. The whole thing feels a bit like a heterosexual man's fever dream - even a brief dalliance with another man can ruin a man's life.

Where to play: Tubi, Amazon

Johnny Guitar (1954)

Nicholas Ray's low-budget film isn't one of Joan Crawford's best-known films, but it's one of her best and most charming, and it's in the acclaimed Criterion Series . Crawford plays a saloon owner in the wilds of western Arizona who is introduced by one of her employees: "I've never seen a more manly woman." Her nemesis is Mercedes McCambre Qi plays "Cow Baron," a straight (as far as we know) actress who became a gay icon for her portrayal of strong queer women. There are male love interests here, but they're mostly casual. The seething energy between the two heroines—often facing each other in almost fetishistic black leather—is the real heart of the film.

Where to stream: Amazon

Devil (1955)

The film version of Boileau-Naseyac's novel, one of the most important thrillers of the 1950s, eliminated the explicit lesbian relationship between the two women at the center of the plot, the wife of a man they teamed up to murder and The Mistress, fundamentally changing the course of the ending. Regardless, much of this relationship still exists. The close relationship between Nicole and Christina was commented upon by students and teachers at the boarding school where the two lived. They travel together, share rooms, and even share a bed. The climactic moment plays out like a breakup scene. Simone Signoret and Vera Clouzot are one of the most memorable couples in French cinema, although their romantic pairing has never been made public.

Live broadcast location: Max, The Criterion Channel

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Moody, sensitive teen Jim Stark (James Dean) meets Plato Crawford (Sal Mineo) and Judy (Natalie Wood) at the police station, in the movie One of the greatest emotional love triangles is born. Although restrained in the finished film, it's impossible not to see Plato's attraction to Jim, and it's not unintentional - a worried censor told director Nicholas Ray during production, "Of course the important thing is , do not infer a questionable or homosexual relationship between Plato and Jim. Still, Mineo later spoke of how Dean instructed him to "look at me like I looked at Natalie..." In retrospect, it's all not so ambiguous, and Plato's Locker star at the time was heartthrob Ellen Ladd's poster is also fitting, one of many winks to savvy viewers.

Where to stream: Amazon

Ben-Hur (1959)

Don't tell Charlton Heston, but everyone else involved in shaping the relationship between Judah Ben-Hur and his old friend Messala was dismayed by the idea that the two were lovers. Script doctor Gore Vidal claimed to have convinced producers, director William Wyler and actor Stephen Boyd that the film's other great drama involving the relationship would have been lacking if there weren't strong hints that the two were banging sandals. Pointless. . Everyone was involved except Heston ( who was furious when he found out about it decades later , calling the suggestion an insult to the director).

Where to stream: Amazon

Haunted (1963)

The subtext of Netflix's recent The Haunting of Hill House series, also based on Shirley Jackson's novel, is that the chic, sassy Theo (Claire Bloom) and the repressed, brooding Eleanor (Julie Harris) shines through in the early days of The Haunting of Hill House. Original from the 1960s. Theo rejects the man who flirts with her and instead makes eye contact with the shy Eleanor, and the two form a charming image of a traditional lesbian couple: one charming and fashion-conscious, the other more of an awkward tomboy.

Where to stream: Amazon

No Fear of Evil (1981)

No Fear of Evil is a low-budget cult classic with an absolutely ubiquitous tone, about a somewhat effete young man (Stefan Arngrim) who slowly discovers that he's the literal Antichrist author’s story. He was bullied mercilessly by middle-aged actors playing high school jocks, who loved nothing more than stripping down to his bare buttocks and surrounding him in the locker room (so many male butts on display!). When he finally emerges as Satan, our hero announces this by putting on makeup and taking revenge. The film confuses its message; we're not necessarily meant to cheer for the raging climax of gay Satan, but many viewers do.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Tubi, Shout Factory TV

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)

The subtext here is so strong that it can barely be considered subtext, but back in 1985, a lot of immediate viewers still missed it. The film's basic premise undergoes a role reversal, with Jesse (Mark Patton) taking the position of the "final girl" in most horror films of the time. Freddy plays with Jesse, at one point stroking his lips with his fingertips; Jesse runs from danger, and his girlfriend is equally in trouble, almost always half-naked. He met his gym teacher in a leather bar, and the bastard was later spanked to death in the locker room. As a metaphor for the torture of a closeted teen, you could do worse.

Where to stream: Netflix, Amazon

Fright Night (1985)

When Chris Sarandon and Jonathan Stark move in next door, it's the usual formula: "I did hear he had a live-in carpenter. With any luck, he might be gay," says the protagonist's mom. Usually "friends" or "roommates," so "live-in carpenter" is an innovation, but it's not hard to see what's going on. The two men are both vampires and familiar, but they share an easy rapport and genuine concern for each other - a healthy, supportive relationship, even if they are evil vampires.

Where to stream: Amazon

Top Gun (1986)

Enlisting in the Army in 1986 might have seen one dishonorably discharged, which is certainly why Top Gun pauses every now and again to emphasize that Tom Cruise really, really enjoyed kissing Kelly McGillis — despite The film's central relationship, and heat, is between Cruise's Maverick and Val Kilmer's Iceman. The rest of the movie? The Navy boys, often shirtless and sweaty (well, oiled up), do things like play volleyball to Kenny Loggins' "Playing with the Boys," with sample dialogue including Lines like: "I want someone's ass! I want it now!" "I want to blow your ass off, but I can't!" Late director Tony Scott began using gay beefcake photography Books served as his primary reference for how to shoot man-meat in movies—which may explain the proliferation of slightly erotic mustaches.

Where to stream: Paramount+, Amazon

The Lost Boys (1987)

There's a lot going on here, and I'm not sure how much of it is intentional (later Batman & Robin director Joel Schumacher isn't known for subtlety). Leather-clad bad boys who just want to suck the blood of slightly uptight teenagers and climax with vampiric seduction; a poster of a sweaty Rob Lowe prominently displayed in Corey Haim's room, without any Explanation; The oiled-up, twirling saxophonist almost single-handedly makes the entire movie weird. It's not straightforward, I'll tell you.

Where to stream: AMC+, Amazon

Red Hot (1988)

Writer-director Walter Hiller describes "Red" as a "love story" between loyal police officers played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Belushi, although I'm not sure he meant that literally, but you didn't have to change the script too much to make their relationship clear. The film is a stand-in for many of the hyper-violent, hyper-masculine films of the 1980s (many of which featured Schwarzenegger): full of the kind of sweaty man-on-man action you'd expect, with the entire opening scene taking place In the bathroom. It's coed, but the overwhelming focus is the male characters, who fight in coverings that can barely be described as loincloths.

Where to stream: Amazon

Scream (1996)

Like Hitchcock's Rope , Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson created the film- and murder-obsessed Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Mach (Matthew Lillard) was partly inspired by the murderous couple Leopold and Loeb when they formed a duo. Yet even before he explicitly talked about it in interviews, queer fans already knew; at the very least, Stu clearly liked Billy.

Live broadcast location: Max, Amazon

Batman & Robin (1997)

Starting with the pervasive camp sensibilities of gay director Joel Schumacher (who once claimed to have had sex with tens of thousands of men in his lifetime; not that queer credibility is a function of math...but damn ), then don a Batsuit with pronounced nipples, a huge ass, and a deeper ass cleavage than strictly necessary, and you've got the recipe for the happiest superhero epic ever. This was all before George Clooney's Batman adopted an almost-adult man only nine years his junior.

Where to stream: Max, Amazon Prime

Fight Club (1999)

There comes a point when hypermasculinity starts to look an awful lot like gayness, and you have to wonder how many sweaty, shirtless men you can fit into a space that completely excludes women before it Just started to look like a gay club. Oh, and we must not mention anything going on here to our wives, girlfriends, or coworkers.

Where to Stream: Digital Rental

Bend Like Beckham (2002)

It has long been rumored that, as originally conceived, football teammates Jesse (Parminder Nagra) and Jules (Keira Knightley) were meant to be together romantically, but out of respect More conservative American and Indian audiences, made some changes. Even without that, the chemistry between the two star players is palpable, with moments holding hands and even kissing giving us a more romantic take on this above-average sports genre production.

Where to stream: Disney+, Hulu, Amazon

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

If the characters of Sam and Frodo were of different genders, it would be nearly impossible not to view their relationship through a romantic lens. But even if we shy away from queer readings, their story (as presented in the novel) is certainly an example of male intimacy that is rare and almost non-existent in film. The trilogy is filled with almost shocking displays of supportive and healthy male relationships—Sam and Frodo hold hands, embrace, and even hug each other at various points. The wise old drag queen as mentor is an old trope in gay cinema, and despite his limited wardrobe, Ian McKellen's Gandalf, with his bushy hair and radiance mid-trilogy, was perfect. Perfectly suited for this role.

Live broadcast location: Max, Amazon

300 (2006)

300 people practically screamed "Not gay!" Every time Leonidas or some other nearly naked character talks about the general hardness of Spartans, Zack Snyder's comic book-based breakout actually did that to me too Every fetish party I've ever been to. We're supposed to see queer coding in Persians wearing heavy makeup and jewelry (Snyder made it clear in interviews that his intention was to make Persians more gay and thus more frightening to their target male audience), But it feels like the movie misses its point and overestimates the heterosexuality of the ancient Spartans.

Where to stream: Hulu, Amazon

Covenant (2006)

The story of four young men (a bit oddly old for a high school student) who are descended from witches and have to fight some evil or something... The plot isn't important and the movie isn't very good. But it's an unintentional cult classic in which a series of soon-to-be-famous guys do a stripped-down version of The Craft but with more locker room scenes. A movie doesn't have to be good to subvert the genre's typical male perspective; it's nice to see the camera leer at these guys for once.

Where to stream: AMC+, Amazon

Frozen (2013)

Let it go, Elsa. Part of it is Elsa hiding a secret that she's afraid people will find out, and the joyous feeling of liberation she experiences when she finally has her own powers. This is all aimed at queer people, but the truth is, Elsa in Frozen doesn't have a love interest, and almost every other Disney princess story centers around finding a boyfriend. Frozen 2 leaves the question of Elsa's love interest open, which feels like a small step forward for a company known for going out of its way not to offend straight audiences. Plus, the climax where she rides her magic horse across the ocean is super gay.

Where to stream: Disney+, Amazon

The Babadook (2014)

"Babadook" became a gay icon by accident. While there had been some discussion on the topic on social media before, everything blew up when Netflix put the film in the LGBTQ category for no apparent reason. Queer readings are suddenly validated—and I think that’s fair. While on the surface The Babadook represents grief and the dangers of trying to cover up trauma, every bit of it feels like a metaphor. In perfect gothic fashion he tortures his mother and young son who try to ignore him and pretend he is something he is not. The more Mom tries to push him back into the metaphorical closet, the more terror he creates. Only by accepting reality can their little family hope to move on.

Where to stream: Netflix, Hulu, Shudder, Amazon

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Fans felt a huge uproar in the Force following the release of The Force Awakens in 2015, but slowly, slowly, millions cheered for the acknowledgment that gay people could exist in Star Wars. Painfully silent. The chemistry between then-new characters Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) seems to go far beyond friendship, and the film (and its immediate sequel The Last Jedi ) leaves open the possibility that there could be more. It's a shame that the final film in the trilogy introduced two men with heterosexual interests, even though both actors strongly hinted that they'd rather play romantic relationships; given that The Rise of Skywalker almost entirely wrote Kay Leigh Marie Tran's 'Rose' As 'fans' boycotted the series' first woman of color and targeted harassment of the actress, Poe and Finn's girlfriend popped up feeling... …Very convenient. Bones thrown to the worst SW fans. Still, if one ignores the final film (which wouldn't be the worst idea), it's still possible to see the seeds of the series' seminal moments.

Where to stream: Disney+

Venom (2018)

Tom Hardy muses in Venom , the story of a pair of "roommates" who happen to share the same body. Eddie Brock is possessed by an alien symbiote and constantly bickers with his new partner before the two learn to appreciate and even love each other. Just a couple of brothers out fighting crime? Maybe, but the chemistry is real, and, when Venom takes over the body of Eddie's girlfriend Annie (Michelle Williams) in the final scene, it's unclear who's kissing whom. There is real triple energy there.

Where to stream: Disney+, Amazon

Deposit reserve ratio (2022)

You would never have convinced me that two men met lovably during an impromptu coordinated bridge rescue and then went on to spend every waking minute together, except for the time they agonized over the secrets that might drive them apart. Not an action-packed rom-com. These guys love three things: taking their shirts off, fighting colonialism with tigers, and each other.

Where to stream: Netflix