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Exploring the Power of Queer Love in Film

The representation of authentic queer love in films is very rare, but when done with care can produce an amazing piece of art. Here is a list of 5 films I deem to be the greatest queer movies that express the beauty and struggles the LGBTQ+ community faces.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Directed by Celine Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is not only one of the best queer movies, but also one of the best movies ever made. The film is set on an island in France in the 1800’s and follows two women as they grow to love each other. Marianne, played by Noemie Merlant, is hired to paint Heloise’s, played by Adele Haenel, portrait. Heloise is in an arranged marriage and refuses to get her wedding portrait painted because of it. It is not until Marianne arrives and they grow closer that she finally lets her guard down and agrees to get her portrait done. The film beautifully portrays feminine love and the beautiful struggles women are faced with. It is devastating, sincere, and raw, while still maintaining a breathtakingly gorgeous front. Portrait of a Lady on Fire has had the biggest effect on me and my life out of any film I have ever watched and it is truly a work of art. The ending in particular will take your breath away.


Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as Ennis and Jack, Brokeback Mountain is directed by Ang Lee. The year is 1963 and the two cowboys meet for the first time on a sheep herding job. It is just them, sheeps, a tent, and the whole summer ahead of them. One night, after some tension and drinks, they shared a kiss so strong that Heath Ledger broke Jake Gyllenhaal’s nose. The film goes through years of their relationship and the hardships they are forced to face due to their expected lives. Brokeback Mountain faced lots of backlash due to homophobia, but it is deemed one of the best queer movies ever made. It won dozens of awards including an Academy Award for best directing and a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama. It perfectly portrays the frustration and pain many queer couples face while simultaneously showing the strength in love. The ending will have you in complete shambles but every second is worth it. 


Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight is directed by Barry Jenkins and follows actors Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex R. Hibbert, as they play Chiron in three different parts of his life. His friend Kevin, also played by three different actors, is with him at every part. He is called “Little” when he is young by his bullies, “Chiron” when he is a teenager, and “Black” when he is in his adult life. The bullying gets worse when he becomes a teenager as he starts battling with his masculinity as an African-American man and questioning his sexuality. He begins to believe violence is the answer to bullying as he gets older and masks his sexuality. Kevin is the only reason he begins to accept himself as a gay man. This film is breathtakingly gorgeous and heartbreakingly tender. The emotion is so strong that you can feel it through the screen and you feel like you are watching real people. It is one of the most impactful movies I have ever seen and a movie I will never be able to forget.

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

In 1980’s Italy, a relationship unfolds between seventeen-year-old Elio and an older Oliver who was hired as his fathers research assistant. Directed by Luca Guadagnio, Call Me by Your Name stars Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer as they share the summer together. As the film evolves the two grow closer together, but they both do not know what the other is thinking or wants. When they do finally share their feelings it is too late as the summer is soon over and Oliver has to leave. One of the reasons this film is so good is because it does not capitalize on the fact that the love interests are gay, but makes it natural and casual while having one of the strongest portrayals of love and longing in any film. The setting of the film is extremely beautiful which makes the whole thing feel even more romantic. The ending is not for the weak as it is devastating and heartbreaking. 

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)

The only happy ending film on this list, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar is directed by Beeban Kidron and features Patrick Swayze as Vida Boheme, Wesley Snipes as Noxeema Jackson, and John Leguizamo as Chi-Chi Rodriguez, while also featuring Stockard Channing as Carol Anne. The three of them are New York drag queens who are on their way to Hollywood for a beauty pageant but get estranged in a small conservative town. The townspeople can’t tell they are in drag so they decide to play along with it. They slowly bring some color to the town and show the local homophobic rednecks that just because they are different doesn’t mean they can’t share humanity. It is truly a heartwarming movie that brings people of all different backgrounds together. It is extremely witty and funny, well-written, iconic, and made a huge impact on the LGBTQ+ community for its time.

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About the Contributor
Jaela Staker
Jaela Staker, Writer
Jaela Staker is a senior at MHS. She is the vice president of Key Club. This is her first year being involved in newspaper and writing for the Auroran Today. When she is not writing for the newspaper she enjoys watching movies, going to concerts, hanging out with her friends and family, and reading.
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