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The 12 Best Gay Historical Movies You Should Already Have Seen By Now!

The 12 Best Gay Historical Movies You Should Already Have Seen By Now!

Cinema’s unique power to transcend time and space has always offered audiences a window into the past, and among these, Best Gay Historical Movies have carved out an essential niche. These films provide a captivating glimpse into the lives, loves, and struggles of LGBTQ+ individuals in various historical contexts.

They shine a light on the often-overlooked narratives of the gay experience, bringing depth and diversity to our understanding of history and the complex tapestry of human emotions and societal interactions through the ages.

In this article, we dive into the interesting world of gay historical movies, seeking to understand how filmmakers navigate the delicate balance between historical accuracy and compelling storytelling. We will traverse various cinematic landscapes, from ancient civilizations to more recent centuries, analyzing how these films portray the gay experience within their respective historical settings.

Additionally, we will discuss the societal impact of such films, dissecting the ways in which they contribute to fostering empathy, understanding, and progress in our contemporary world. Through this cinematic lens, we endeavor to celebrate the courage and resilience of LGBTQ+ individuals who have left an indelible mark on history.

Best Gay Historical Movies

Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apply TV+, or elsewhere.

You can get one month free of Amazon Pride (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.

Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best. 

While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.

Bent (1997)

Bent is a film directed by Sean Mathias, a British director known for his contributions to both stage and screen. Mathias gained recognition for his compelling storytelling and exceptional direction. He has a diverse portfolio in the arts, having directed numerous theatrical productions and films. Mathias’ work often delves into themes of identity, love, and resilience.

The film Bent is a haunting drama set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany. The narrative follows Max, a gay man played by Clive Owen, who faces persecution during the Holocaust for his sexual orientation. The story begins with Max’s imprisonment in Dachau, a concentration camp, where he meets Horst, portrayed by Lothaire Bluteau. Despite the grim circumstances, a forbidden romance blossoms between them, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the horrors of the Holocaust.

The plot unfolds with a balance of gripping storytelling and emotional depth, illustrating the struggle for love and acceptance in a time of unimaginable adversity. The film portrays the resilience of the human spirit, emphasizing the power of love to transcend even the darkest of times.

Bent is a poignant and thought-provoking film that sheds light on a lesser-known aspect of World War II history. It offers a powerful cinematic experience, provoking reflection on the atrocities of the Holocaust and the strength of the human spirit. I recommend Bent to those seeking a compelling narrative with historical relevance, as it serves as a stark reminder of the importance of love, acceptance, and defiance in the face of hatred and oppression.

Aimee & Jaguar (1999)

Aimee & Jaguar is a film directed by Max Färberböck, a German filmmaker recognized for his compelling narratives and evocative storytelling. Färberböck’s career is marked by a penchant for exploring complex human emotions and relationships, making him a notable figure in the world of cinema.

Like the film before, this one is set in Nazi Germany and is based on a true story. It follows the clandestine love affair between Felice Schragenheim (code name ‘Jaguar’), a Jewish woman working for the underground resistance, and Lilly Wust (code name ‘Aimee’), the wife of a German soldier. Amidst the harrowing backdrop of Nazi Germany, their relationship blossoms, defying societal norms and risking their lives. Felice adopts the pseudonym ‘Jaguar’ to navigate the dangerous political climate, while Lilly is drawn to her strength and conviction.

Recommended for its powerful performances, moving storyline, and historical significance, Aimee & Jaguar invites viewers to reflect on the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring nature of love amidst the darkest times in history. The film offers a poignant reminder of the strength of love and the courage required to embrace it, even in the most trying circumstances. For those seeking a deeply emotional and thought-provoking cinematic experience, Aimee & Jaguar is a must-watch.

Yossi & Jagger (2002)

Yossi & Jagger is a film directed by Eytan Fox, an acclaimed Israeli filmmaker known for his insightful portrayals of complex human relationships, often set against the backdrop of Israeli society. Fox pursued film studies at Tel Aviv University and later at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. His works frequently tackle themes of sexuality, identity, and the struggle for acceptance.

The film delves into the clandestine love affair between two Israeli soldiers, Yossi and Jagger, set within the rigid and demanding environment of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Yossi is a brooding, introverted commander, while Jagger is an outgoing and charismatic officer. Despite the challenges and risks posed by the military and societal expectations, they navigate their love in secrecy.

The narrative explores the complexities of love and desire in a highly disciplined and machismo-infused world. It sheds light on the internal conflicts faced by the characters as they grapple with the demands of duty and the desires of their hearts. The film sensitively portrays the emotional struggle and the toll of concealing their true selves, offering a poignant commentary on the human cost of societal prejudice and intolerance.

Yossi & Jagger is a compelling and heartfelt film that not only explores the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals within the military but also presents a universal narrative of love, sacrifice, and societal expectations.

The performances are authentic, and the direction is sensitive, allowing viewers to empathize with the characters’ emotional journey. For those seeking a thought-provoking and touching cinematic experience, Yossi & Jagger is a film worth watching. It serves as a reminder of the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Dog Day Afternoon is a film directed by Sidney Lumet, a renowned American filmmaker known for his realistic and socially conscious approach to storytelling. Lumet’s career spans over five decades, during which he directed acclaimed films like 12 Angry Men (1957), Serpico (1973), and Network (1976). His unique ability to delve into complex characters and explore pressing societal issues marked him as a pioneer in American cinema.

The film revolves around Sonny Wortzik (played by Al Pacino), who, along with his accomplice Sal (played by John Cazale), attempts to rob a bank in Brooklyn. However, their heist takes an unexpected turn, leading to a tense hostage situation. As the events unfold, Sonny becomes an inadvertent anti-hero, driven by desperation and a sense of societal injustice.

Based on a true story, the film’s narrative is a roller-coaster of emotions, addressing themes of crime, media sensationalism, and the human psyche under pressure. Pacino’s performance is a standout, capturing the complexities of Sonny’s character with raw intensity and vulnerability.

Dog Day Afternoon is a cinematic masterpiece that offers a gripping narrative, exceptional acting, and a glimpse into the human condition under extreme circumstances. It remains a significant piece of American cinema, recognized for its storytelling, character depth, and social relevance. If you appreciate compelling drama with real-world resonance, Dog Day Afternoon is a film worth watching.

Soldier’s Girl (2003)

Soldier’s Girl, a film directed by Frank R. Pierson, delves into a powerful narrative that encapsulates love, prejudice, and resilience. Frank R. Pierson, a distinguished director and screenwriter, boasts a prolific career in the film industry, earning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Dog Day Afternoon (1975). His work on Soldier’s Girl demonstrates his ability to tackle sensitive subjects with great sensitivity and compassion.

The film narrates the poignant true story of Barry Winchell, a young soldier in the U.S. Army, and his relationship with a transgender nightclub performer, Calpernia Addams. As their love blossoms, it is met with harsh scrutiny and bigotry within the military community. The story unravels the struggles faced by the couple as they confront societal prejudice, leading to tragic consequences.

Pierson’s direction showcases the emotional depth and complexities of the characters, drawing the audience into their lives and challenges. The film’s performances, particularly by Troy Garity as Barry Winchell and Lee Pace as Calpernia Addams, are gripping and heartfelt, bringing authenticity to the characters’ experiences.

Soldier’s Girl is a thought-provoking film that sheds light on the struggles faced by individuals fighting for love and acceptance in a prejudiced world. It offers an opportunity for viewers to reflect on the importance of understanding and embracing diversity. This emotionally charged and socially relevant film is a must-watch, providing a compelling narrative that stays with you long after the credits roll.

The Crying Game (1992)

The Crying Game is a film directed by Neil Jordan, an accomplished filmmaker known for his versatile and thought-provoking works. Neil Jordan, an Irish director, producer, and screenwriter, began his career in the 1970s with notable works such as Mona Lisa (1986) and The Company of Wolves (1984). His skillful storytelling and exploration of complex themes have earned him critical acclaim and several awards throughout his career.

The film’s plot centers around Fergus, an Irish Republican Army member, who forms an unexpected bond with a British soldier named Jody. When a tragic incident occurs, Fergus finds himself entangled with Jody’s girlfriend, Dil. The narrative explores themes of identity, loyalty, and the intricacies of human relationships amidst political turmoil and personal dilemmas.

The Crying Game delves into human emotions and societal prejudices, challenging preconceived notions. The film’s unexpected twists and turns keep the audience engaged, questioning the characters’ motives and grappling with moral ambiguity.

Viewers should consider watching The Crying Game for its insightful exploration of human nature and its ability to challenge societal norms. The film’s unique narrative and exceptional performances offer a memorable cinematic experience that encourages reflection on love, identity, and the complexities of life in the face of political conflict. It is a film that lingers in one’s thoughts long after the credits roll.

Before Night Falls (2000)

Before Night Falls is a biographical drama film directed by Julian Schnabel, an American artist and filmmaker known for his distinctive visual style and compelling storytelling. Schnabel made his mark in the art world in the 1970s with his unique approach to painting, incorporating unconventional materials and textures. He transitioned into filmmaking with auteur-like qualities, emphasizing emotion and introspection in his works.

The film follows the life of Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas, portrayed by Javier Bardem. Arenas, an openly gay individual, faced persecution under Fidel Castro’s regime due to his political beliefs and sexual orientation. The narrative traces Arenas’ journey from his impoverished upbringing to his emergence as a renowned writer, highlighting his struggles and triumphs.

Through compelling performances and Schnabel’s directorial finesse, the film effectively delves into the complexities of Arenas’ life, exploring themes of identity, creativity, and political oppression. Schnabel’s artistic vision is evident in the film’s visual composition, employing a blend of vibrant cinematography and poetic imagery that underscores the emotional depth of the narrative.

Before Night Falls is a cinematic masterpiece that offers a poignant portrayal of a significant literary figure’s life and the socio-political context that defined it. The film’s compelling storytelling, coupled with Bardem’s exceptional acting, makes it a must-watch. For those seeking a thought-provoking and visually captivating cinematic experience that sheds light on the life of an extraordinary individual and the struggles he faced, Before Night Falls is a highly recommended choice.

A Love to Hide (2005)

A Love to Hide is a film directed by Christian Faure, a renowned French filmmaker known for his significant contributions to both television and cinema. Faure has a successful career marked by his ability to tackle sensitive and thought-provoking themes. He is recognized for portraying human emotions and historical events with depth and authenticity.

The film is set in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II and follows the story of a gay couple, Sarah and Jean, who find their lives in peril due to the escalating anti-Semitic and anti-homosexual laws enforced by the Nazis. Jean, a homosexual man, hides his Jewish best friend, Sarah, in his apartment to protect her from the imminent danger posed by the occupying forces. As they struggle to maintain their secret in a perilous environment, their love for each other deepens, and they face the challenges of deception, fear, and societal prejudices.

The plot unfolds in a tense and emotionally charged manner, highlighting the courage and resilience of individuals facing adversity during a dark period in history. The film offers a powerful exploration of love, sacrifice, and the human spirit’s triumph over hatred and oppression.

A Love to Hide is a compelling film that sheds light on a lesser-known aspect of World War II and the Holocaust. It invites the audience to reflect on the resilience of the human spirit in the face of extreme adversity. If you appreciate historical dramas with strong emotional narratives and engaging performances, this film is highly recommended. Its poignant storytelling and powerful message make it a must-watch for those seeking a deeper understanding of the human experience during challenging times.

Hurt Locker (2008)

The Hurt Locker is a war drama film directed by Kathryn Bigelow, an accomplished filmmaker known for her expertise in the action genre. Bigelow, born in 1951, started her career with art films and eventually transitioned to action-oriented works. Her notable films include Point Break (1991), Strange Days (1995), and Zero Dark Thirty (2012), demonstrating her penchant for intense, immersive storytelling.

The Hurt Locker unfolds in the midst of the Iraq War, following an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team led by Staff Sergeant William James. James, played by Jeremy Renner, embodies the recklessness and skill required to disarm deadly explosives. The plot delves into the psychological toll of war on its protagonists, exploring themes of adrenaline addiction and the struggle to reintegrate into civilian life.

The narrative navigates through the harrowing experiences of the EOD team, highlighting the high-stakes nature of their job and the personal sacrifices they endure. Each disarming operation is a tense, pulse-pounding sequence that thrusts viewers into the chaos and uncertainty of combat.

The Hurt Locker stands as a compelling depiction of war’s brutal realities and the internal battles faced by soldiers. The film’s gritty realism, outstanding performances, and masterful direction by Kathryn Bigelow make it a must-watch for those seeking a visceral exploration of the human psyche amidst the turmoil of war. The film’s authentic portrayal of soldiers’ experiences and its unflinching look at the effects of war on individuals make it a captivating and thought-provoking cinematic experience.

A Marine Story (2010)

A Marine Story is a drama film directed by Ned Farr, known for his work in independent cinema and advocacy for LGBTQ+ representation. Farr began his career as a stage actor and transitioned into filmmaking, often exploring themes of sexuality, identity, and human rights in his works. His notable filmography includes The Gymnast (2006), another critically acclaimed film that showcases his directorial prowess and thematic depth.

The film revolves around the character of Alexandra Everett, a decorated Marine officer dismissed under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Alexandra returns to her hometown and grapples with the challenges of transitioning to civilian life while concealing her true identity. As she struggles to find her place in society, she forms a bond with a troubled teenager, Saffron, and takes on the role of mentoring and shaping her future. Through this relationship, the film explores themes of identity, resilience, and the impact of discrimination on individuals.

A Marine Story addresses the LGBTQ+ experience within the military, shedding light on the personal struggles faced by LGBTQ+ service members during a time of discriminatory policies. The narrative delves into the psychological and emotional toll of such discrimination while offering hope and resilience through the characters’ journeys.

Viewers should consider watching A Marine Story for its compelling storytelling, nuanced character development, and exploration of significant social issues. The film provides a poignant portrayal of the struggles and resilience of LGBTQ+ individuals, ultimately encouraging empathy and understanding for their experiences. It is a thought-provoking piece that brings attention to the importance of acceptance and equal rights for all.

The Captain (2017)

The Captain is a film directed by Robert Schwentke, a German filmmaker known for his diverse range of works encompassing different genres and styles. Born on March 8, 1968, in Stuttgart, Germany, Schwentke began his filmmaking career with short films before venturing into feature films.

The film is set during the closing days of World War II and revolves around a young German soldier named Willi Herold. After deserting his post, Herold stumbles upon a captain’s uniform, dons it, and assumes a new identity. The newfound authority and the moral degradation of war lead him to commit atrocities and abuse his power. The narrative explores themes of identity, obedience, and the corrupting influence of authority.

The Captain is a harrowing portrayal of the dark facets of humanity that emerge during times of war and chaos. The film’s storyline delves into the psychological transformation of an individual under extreme circumstances, revealing the thin line between civilization and barbarity. Exceptionally well-acted and meticulously directed, it offers a thought-provoking experience that prompts reflection on the consequences of power and the human capacity for cruelty.

For those seeking a gripping cinematic experience with a historical backdrop and profound moral exploration, The Captain is a film worth watching. Schwentke’s masterful storytelling and the compelling performances make this film a compelling addition to any film enthusiast’s watchlist.

Different From the Others (1919)

Different from the Others is a groundbreaking silent film directed by Richard Oswald. Oswald, a notable figure in early German cinema, directed numerous films during the silent era, gaining acclaim for his diverse storytelling and adept direction.

The film tackles a bold and progressive theme for its time: homosexuality. It tells the story of Paul Körner, a renowned musician, who falls in love with a young and talented violinist named Kurt Sivers. As their relationship develops, they face societal prejudices and discrimination due to their homosexual orientation.

The narrative explores the challenges and injustices faced by the LGBTQ+ community, shedding light on the oppressive laws and social stigmas prevalent in early 20th-century Germany.

The plot unfolds in a thought-provoking manner, offering a poignant critique of the societal norms that seek to suppress love and individuality. The performances are compelling and authentic, capturing the emotional turmoil and resilience of the characters.

Different from the Others is essential viewing for both film enthusiasts and those interested in LGBTQ+ history. It holds historical significance as one of the earliest known films to address homosexuality openly. The film’s courage to confront a taboo subject matter of its time makes it a pioneering work.

It is a testament to the power of cinema as a tool for social commentary and change. Watching Different from the Others provides a valuable glimpse into the struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community and reminds us of the importance of tolerance, acceptance, and equality.