The Best LGBTQ Movies and TV Shows to Stream on Netflix
Check out these movies and series for great representation.
Across the past several decades, LGBTQ representation in entertainment media has moved forward leaps and bounds. From queer stories making it into mainstream film releases to transgender actors being cast in trans roles, queer entertainment is steadily becoming more and more readily available, thanks in part to the offerings in Netflix's LGBTQ section. From queer classics like the 2000s The L Word to modern reality favorites like Queer Eye, we've compiled the must-see LGBTQ TV shows and films that you can watch right now on Netflix.
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Below Her Mouth (2016)
One review for this light-weight, Canadian romance, which played the prestigious Toronto Film Festival back in 2016, describes the film as giving "cinematic voice to the female orgasm." The story's nothing new -- curious girl meets confident girl, whirlwind romance, sex galore, and plenty of introspection. Directed by April Mullen, Below Her Mouth is the rare erotic drama that give the female gaze its due.
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
Released into a media storm overly concerned with its lengthy, graphic sex scene, Abdellatif Kechiche's three-hour opus drowns tabloid-buzz with sensual and sensitive drama. Look, if you can binge 39 episodes of House of Cards, you can make time for the tender, inquisitive exploits of Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), who falls hard for the cerulean lure of Emma (Spectre's Léa Seydoux). The length of the film gives Kechiche the chance to explore every glance, every touch, every kiss, and every misstep in their relationship. It's a love epic, where minor notes play like power chords.
Bonding (2019- )
Newly out Pete (Brendan Scannell) dreams of taking New York City’s comedy scene by storm. Dreams and reality are very different, though; Pete’s never actually performed in front of an audience and his job as a waiter can’t foot the bills alone. When he reconnects with his old BFF Tiff (Zoe Levin), a grad student by day and dominatrix by night, he’s offered a solution to his money problems -- working as her assistant/bodyguard during her evening rendezvous. At first Pete’s squeamish at the thought of BDSM, but over time he’s able to find his own sexual liberation and confidence by exploring the kink community. Tiff and Pete -- otherwise known as Mistress May and Master Carter -- are the dead-faced antiheroes and model archetypes of the struggling millennial New Yorker.
No, not the 2015 Will Smith biopic about the doctor who brought the devastating consequences of brain trauma in the NFL into the national awareness. The first, and better, Concussion stars Robin Weigert as a woman who suffers the titular concussion and subsequently becomes a sex worker with an all-woman clientele. Pretty sure that's not one of the effects of a concussion, but you can suspend disbelief for a bit to enjoy Maggie Siff's excellent turn as client #6.
Duck Butter (2018)
Alia Shawkat and Miguel Arteta's Duck Butter relies on a simple premise: What if a couple had sex every hour on the hour for 24 hours? Shawkat appears in the indie comedy as one half of the couple doing the deed non-stop, opposite Laia Costa, as two women fed up with millennial dating decide to take up in this experiment of sorts. While limited by its basic plot, the rawness and humanity of the film can't be contained by the humble four walls it largely takes place in.
Elite (2018- )
This teen drama centered on a wealthy private high school from Spain was a surprise hit when it first dropped on Netflix in 2018, and, standing at three seasons, it's easy to see why: a juicy murder mystery that runs through the entire season, obscene displays of wealth, and lots and lots of sex. On top of being a soapy whodunnit, Elite's issues-based side plots, dealing with topics like class inequality, xenophobia, and the stigma of HIV, are the running undercurrents that truly keep this show afloat. Even with subtitles, you'll have binged through this quick series before you know it.
Everything Sucks! (2018)
Set in the '90s, this underrated Netflix original tells the coming-of-age stories of one Oregon high school's A/V and drama club members, embellishing the proceedings with plenty of pop-culture references and slang from the era. The show is like if Freaks and Geeks was actually set in the '90s and a lot cheesier, although it has just as much heart as the cult classic it's been compared to. There's ample nerds-versus-theater-kid rivalries as the series follows one student's attempt to make his first film starring a bunch of misfits, a group of angsty, multifaceted adolescents dealing with trying to fit in, stand out, and come to terms with their sexuality. It's a short, binge-worthy single season in which you should expect in-your-face nostalgia and a whole lot of youthful positivity even in a show whose namesake suggests it revels in a cynical teenage attitude.
Feel Good (2020- )
From Canadian comedian Mae Martin's own experiences, Feel Good is a very bingeable dramedy that catches you in all of its feelings. The quick Netflix original traces the semi-fictitious Mae's struggle with addiction, something she struggles to accept about herself, as she falls head over heals into a relationship with a woman named George (Charlotte Ritchie) who has never been with another woman before. What follows the perfect meet-cute when George approaches Mae after her stand-up set is a whirlwind romance full of spontaneity and wit. The two are forced to confront their own respective issues, but you'll find their relationship unfold easy to get swept up in.
With shows like Nip/Tuck, American Crime Story, and American Horror Story to his name, TV maven Ryan Murphy earned his reputation for spilling blood. But with Glee, Murphy and co-creators Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan (Scream Queens) spill their guts, setting observations on gender, sexuality, relationships, disability, family, and teenhood to song. Those who saw the show's 30-second ads during its six-season run know Lea Michele's bubbly Rachel, the comical rivalry between music teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), and the non-stop re-engineering of classic songs into pop a capella hits. But there's more to Glee than jazz hands and major chords; when these kids belt "Don't Stop Believin'," they beam those notes through a social shitstorm of Murphy's creation, and the journey is typically sweet.
The Half of It (2020)
"This is not a love story," the heroine of The Half of It says at the outset of the movie. It's one of those things teens tend to say, but it's hard to believe, especially given that the movie is streaming on Netflix, which has become known in recent years as a teen rom-com factory where saccharine romance reigns. But Alice Wu's The Half of It is truly not a love story, which makes it all the better. By the end of the film, no one has "gotten the girl" and there's no coupling up. Each of the three main characters goes their separate ways. It's not an upsetting conclusion, but it doesn't spoon-feed its audience a classic happy ending, opting for something more honest along the way.
Holding the Man (2015)
Based on Timothy Conigrave’s 1995 memoir, Australian film Holding the Man pieces together the 15-year romance of Tim (Ryan Corr) and his longtime partner, John (Craig Scott), as they grow up together, navigate parental damnation, and confront their HIV diagnoses. Through the highs and lows of their relationship -- distance, infidelity, arguments, and guilt -- there’s always a tenderness beneath the surface of their interactions. Equal parts heartwarming and heartwrenching, Holding the Man strikes a sensitive chord and proves that some love is worth fighting for.
I Am Jonas (2018)
When a traumatic experience yanks his first gay lover away, quiet teen Jonas gives up on happiness. 18 years later he’s still reeling from the loss, looking for comfort in club nights and casual encounters, until a chance meeting forces him to confront the past and find closure. I Am Jonas straddles two timelines, showcasing the charm of Nicolas Bauwens and Félix Maritaud as young and grown Jonas. Originally released in France, it’s a coming-of-age picture that tackles grief and self-forgiveness in a way that few films dare to attempt, and fewer manage to accomplish.
I Am Not Okay With This (2020- )
Don't be mistaken: This series may feature kids (Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff) from the It movies and come from showrunners of both Stranger Things and The End of the F***ing World, but I Am Not Okay With This is actually none of those things. The dramedy is another adaptation of one of TEOTFW author Charles Forsman's graphic novels, though, about a teenaged girl named Syd who, on top of dealing with the recent loss of her father and struggling with her sexuality, somehow starts to experience superpowers. It borrows the nostalgic music cues and moodiness that made TEOTFW work, but on its own is a queer, tender story about how grief and anger can manifest in teenage girls. Telekinetically giving bullies bloody noses and destroying super markets aside, it's the kind of relatable angst that you could be very okay with.
La Casa de las Flores (2018-2020)
Does drama follow the de la Moras, or do the de la Moras breed drama? Either way, their lives are dramatic. The upper-class family owns a flower shop and a cabaret, both named La Casa de las Flores (The House of Flowers), and when they’re not busy fighting over how to run the businesses, they’re busy covering up scandals to keep the de la Mora name untarnished. La Casa de las Flores helped popularize the millennial telenovela genre by incorporating LGBTQ+ characters and progressive values into the typical soap opera style. The dark dramedy challenges traditional Mexican morality and shuts down queerphobic viewpoints in a satirical and digestible way, and soapy as it may be, it’s hard to stop watching.
London Spy (2015)
A gay British crime drama starring the winsome Ben Whishaw? Tom Rob Smith knows how to please. Danny Holt (Whishaw) thinks he’s finally found the one, only for his new lover, Alex (Edward Holcroft), to wind up dead a short time later. Danny learns that the man he fell for was an illusion, an identity manufactured to mask his true life as an MI6 spy. Hurt, confused, emboldened, and still in love, Danny dives into the world of espionage in order to get some answers. London Spy adds a needed slow-burn thriller to the queer television arsenal -- one that can be watched from tame start to hair-raising finish in under five hours.
Chronicling the boyhood years, teenage stretch, and muted adult life of Chiron, a black gay man making it in Miami, this triptych altarpiece is at once hyper-specific and cosmically universal. Director Barry Jenkins roots each moment in the last; Chiron's desire for a lost lover can't burn in a diner booth over a bottle of wine without his beachside identity crisis years prior, blurred and violent, or encounters from deeper in his past, when glimpses of his mother's drug addiction, or the mentoring acts of her crack supplier, felt like secrets delivered in code. Panging colors, sounds, and the delicate movements of its perfect cast like the notes of a symphony, Moonlight is the real deal, a movie that will only grow and complicate as you wrestle with it.
One Day at a Time (2017-)
One Day at a Time ran the cancellation gamut earlier this year after Netflix declined to pick the series up for a fourth season, citing low viewership numbers. Fans rallied behind the #SaveODAAT hashtag in the hopes of convincing another platform to pick up the sitcom, which follows the lives of the Alvarez family. The series takes on heavy topics like mental health, racism, citizenship, and queerness, exploring difficult realities through a family lens. Four months after its cancellation at Netflix, PopTV announced that it was picking the series up for a fourth season, but to tide you over, the first three remain available to stream on Netflix for now.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Stephen Chbosky's adaptation of his beloved novel will take you back to adolescence in a way many coming-of-age films aim to capture but not all can. The film, about an introverted high school freshman named Charlie (Logan Lerman) discovering where he fits in for the first time when he befriends a group of outsider seniors (Ezra Miller, Emma Watson), while he feels forced to cope with his best friend’s suicide and mental illness in private, will take you back to all of the feelings you felt at 16. Lerman's endearing portrayal, as well as each character’s own delicate experience, the heartwarming dialogue ripped from the text, and that tender soundtrack, are more than enough to have you nostalgic for drives around your hometown and desperate to put on an 8-track and have a good cry. If you let it, it'll make you "feel infinite."
The Politician (2019-)
Ryan Murphy's first Netflix series is all about the highs and lows, the losses and triumphs of… high school elections. Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) plays Payton Hobart, a student convinced that his road the United States presidency begins with winning his high school student body election. Of course, things aren't that simple -- Payton has to grapple with the twists and turns that get thrown his way while he keeps up a secret relationship with his opponent, River. It's all a bit excessive, but entertaining nonetheless.
Pose, created by Ryan Murphy, made waves from its start for having the largest cast of trans actors as series regulars on a scripted show, which includes Janet Mock and Our Lady J. Beyond the numbers, the series has been renowned for its genuine warmth and the due diligence it gives the 1980s New York City ball scene. Starring MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Angelica Ross, Hailie Sahar, and Billy Porter, the series is a standout.
Queer Eye (2018-)
Netflix's most successful reality television series just keeps on going. A reboot of the early 2000s series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer Eye features experts Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, and Karamo Brown traveling around and helping people get their lives together. No longer limited to just fixing up clueless straight men, the Fab Five provide help with personal grooming, home renovation, style, food, and life in general while also navigating issues of politics and identity. It's not always smooth sailing, but at its core Queer Eye is well-intentioned, heartwarming, and a joy to watch.
Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling (2019)
Beloved '90s favorite Rocko's Modern Life returned with the Netflix special Static Cling, which picks up 20 years after the show went off the air. After flying around in space for a few decades, Rocko and his friends Heffer and Filburt manage to make it back to O-Town. Nothing is how they remember it, however: In addition to new tech like smartphones, Rocko's favorite show The Fatheads has gone off the air and its creator has disappeared off the face of the earth. Rocko and his friends set out to find Rachel Bighead, the creator of The Fatheads, whom they previously knew as "Ralph" and has transitioned in their absence. Nick Adams, GLAAD's Director of Transgender Media, served as a consultant on the special.
Can you imagine waking up one day with your consciousness suddenly interwoven with those of strangers from around the world? That's the fate of eight individuals in Sense8, and only the beginning of the otherworldly oddities these "sensates" experience as they discover what their connection means as they're being hunted down. This global adventure of a series comes from the Wachowski sisters of The Matrix fame; it eventually won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series for its representation of LGBTQ characters and storylines.
Sex Education (2019-)
One of Netflix's best teen dramas of 2019, Sex Education is basically exactly what it says on the tin. Otis (Asa Butterfield), the repressed son of a sex therapist (Gillian Anderson), teams up with Maeve (Emma Mackey) to run an under-the-table sex therapy business at their high school despite the fact that Otis himself is a virgin. There's plenty going on outside of the business, however: Otis' best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) must balance the expectations of his family with his sexuality and gender expression; bully Adam (Connor Swindells) grapples with his sexuality, taking it out on Eric and chafing under his father's strict expectations. Irreverent, funny, and yeah, sometimes painfully awkward, Sex Education is one of the better LGBTQ-inclusive teen dramas out there.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018-2020)
Reimagining the ‘80s series She-Ra: Princess of Power with fewer gender stereotypes and more diverse characters, this adventure cartoon brings queer representation to a level that’s not often explored in family-friendly television. When teenage warrior Adora stumbles upon a magical sword, she gains the power to embody She-Ra, a princess tasked with defeating a malicious army intent on taking over the planet. Not only does the heroine herself rank on the Kinsey Scale, but several supporting characters help amplify the narrative that sexuality and gender are fluid, and there’s no right way to express yourself. Whether platonic, romantic, or familial, the relationships in She-Ra pack a ton of nuance, carefulness, and empathy.
A mostly autobiographical series from Ryan O'Connell, Special is a comedy that explores the intersections of disability and queerness by drawing on O'Connell's personal experiences. The series kicks off with Ryan (played by O'Connell himself) getting hit by a car just before starting a new job, leading to his coworkers assuming that the physical embodiment of his cerebral palsy is due to injuries from the accident. He rolls with it, seeing the assumption as a chance to get a fresh start and not be known as "the guy with cerebral palsy." Presented in eight 15-minute episodes, Special is funny, witty, and genuine.
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