10 LGBT+ films to watch if Love, Simon has left you wanting more
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It could be argued that queer representation in media and entertainment is at an all time high, yet despite the rising number of queer characters on our screens, there are only a handful who get to experience the privilege of a happy ending. With the recent release of shows such as The Assasination of Gianni Versace: An American Crime Story where the struggle of homophobia is highlighted, it can be difficult to find queer content that doesn't involve the Dead Lesbian Syndrome and/or the Bury Your Gays trope. However, the high school teen romcom Love, Simon is reborn for 2018 and has already been referred to as a game changer within LGBT+ cinema. The film succeeds in navigating most of the pitfalls of the typical gay coming-of-age narrative by changing the percieved boundaries, and is ultimately moving and genuine. That being said, it's important to highlight other happy reflections of gay life on screen. So to help, here is a list of just some of the best LGBT+ to watch if Love, Simon left you wanting more. 1. Saving Face (2004) A Chinese-American lesbian finds her world rocked when her widowed mother is disowned for getting pregnant outside of marriage, while subverting stereotypes about race, gender, sexuality, and age and a whole lot of other taboos. A beautifully articulated film featuring an intimate storyline that presents the struggle of being Asian and gay in a society that doesn't quite understand the concept that both identities can be compatible. The combination of both humour and real-life issues shows us that there is always a little bit of a bright side to everything - even for queer of women of colour. Who knew?
2. Moonlight (2016) Okay, I already know what you're thinking - this wasn't exactly the happiest of films, but you can't argue when I say that this film is also a game changer, too. Yes, as heartbreaking as it was to see a 16-year-old almost beaten to death just for being himself, the movie is overall incredibly empowering. A low-budget, independent film about the maturation of a young black man coming to terms with his identity—mentally, socially, emotionally, and sexually is in itself a triumph in terms of progression and tackling stereotypes for how men, especially black men, should be. 3. Call Me By Your Name (2017) This film is overall a fascinating study of fleeting love, proving that a lot can be done when you favor characterisation and atmosphere over traditional narrative, which expresses empathy as very few love stories have in the history of cinema. It might be more artistic and award-friendly to make your characters miserable – but really, as in life, sometimes we just want things to work out. So if that's how you desperately wanted Elio and Oliver's story to end, a YouTube channel made exactly that, rather than this one. It's a story of someone who's seeking someone to love and to be loved by, just like everybody else.
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5. The Watermelon Woman (1996) “I’m working on being a filmmaker, the problem is I don’t know what I wanna make a film on. I know it has to be about Black women because our stories have never been told”. Cheryl Dunye tells us in the trailer as she’s candidly speaking into a camcorder about her goals for how queer women of colour should be represented in movies. She does just that, writing and directing the first feature-length film to focus on African-American lesbians - and that was 20 years ago. So if you fancy a very 90s film, shot in a very fun style by a black lesbian, specifically about black lesbians (even more specifically black lesbians in film) then add this on your list.
6. Carol (2015) Directed by Todd Haynes himself, the declared pioneer of the New Queer Cinema movement of filmmaking that emerged in the early 1990s, Carol is equally tragic and beautiful, highlighting the terrible consequences of societal rejection and stigma. Set during the Golden Age of Hollywood of the 40's and 50's, it serves up two powerhouse female stars, luscious period clothes and cars, and a deluxe, sophisticated urban milieu in which the story plays out. But the issue is one that dared not speak its name back in the Golden Age—two women falling in love with each other. Though much of Carol highlights the sexism and rigid social expectations of the time, it's not a preachy film. It's dramatic on a smaller scale.
7. God's Own Country (2017) The film is about a young, troubled farmer and a Romanian migrant worker who begin a relationship in Yorkshire. This is a universal tale about giving yourself over to love, even when you seem broken, showcasing a lot more than the typical 'coming out' story and the collateral damage thats follows. It's an enigmatic film that combines sorrow and realism with exceptional results. Although it doesn't tread far from a typical romantic narrative, it remains a touching and poetic depiction of what it means to be a gay man in an isolated community.
8. Blue Is The Warmest Colour (2014) This film is nothing like any coming-of-age drama. It centers on a 15-year-old girl named Adèle, who is climbing to adulthood and dreams of experiencing her first love. Yet within its astounding and complex ecstasy it's still extrememly human, and therefore painful for it. Blue Is The Warmest Colour explores first love, how it grows, and the effect of co-dependence on the individual. As Camilla Long said herself for The Sunday Times, "Blue Is The Warmest Colour is the only mainstream film so far to treat a lesbian affair on equal terms with a heterosexual one." This is a proper romance, with all the usual jealousies and mistakes.
9. Laurence Anyways (2013) Laurence, a French teacher and soon-to-be-published author, enjoys an intense and mutually loving relationship with his fiancée, Frédérique. But on the day after his 35th birthday, Laurence confesses to Fred that he longs to become a woman, asking her to support his transition. The film follows the course of the couple's on-again, off-again relationship throughout the 1990s, and spans the course of 10 years as we follow Laurence's life and love. It's a visually stunning film – raw and beautifully told. Laurence Anyways is a passionate film about love, freedom and the pressure of social norms. It shows in a heart-felt manner how difficult it is to pursue one's freedom and to be faithful to one's true self. Skillfully acted by Suzanne Clément and Melvil Poupaud. As usual in Dolan's films, music perfectly conveys the moods of the various turning points and never fails to match visually powerful scenes.
10. Pariah (2011) This movie tells an involving story that's both urgently progressive and skilfully relatable. Although it adheres to the formula that comes with its genre, Pariah is a compelling and necessary study of a black, gay woman having to fight against prejudice to find happiness and acceptance. Mudbound (2017) director Dee Rees beautifully tells the story through pictures that is sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and always tender.
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