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

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

In the realm of cinema, war films have long portrayed powerful narratives of heroism, sacrifice, and the intricate realities of conflict. Within this traditionally robust genre, there’s a growing recognition and exploration of LGBTQ+ narratives, leading to the emergence of the best gay war movies.

These films extend the genre’s scope by incorporating the experiences and stories of LGBTQ+ individuals, offering a more inclusive and nuanced perspective on the complexities and human aspects of war.

In recent years, there has been a notable shift in the film industry towards more diverse and inclusive storytelling, enabling the emergence of gay war movies that shed light on the experiences and struggles of LGBTQ+ individuals within the backdrop of war and its aftermath.

This article delves into this burgeoning genre, examining how it challenges stereotypes, breaks barriers, and cultivates a nuanced understanding of the LGBTQ+ community’s history and contributions in the context of war narratives.

Through a careful exploration of notable films, their impact, and the evolving cultural landscape, we aim to celebrate the growing representation of LGBTQ+ voices and experiences in the war film genre.

Best Gay War 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.

Philadelphia (1993)

Philadelphia, a 1993 drama directed by Jonathan Demme, stands as a significant cinematic achievement in the realm of social justice and LGBTQ+ representation. Demme, known for his compelling storytelling and versatility, directed numerous acclaimed films such as The Silence of the Lambs and Rachel Getting Married.

The film centers on Andrew Beckett, portrayed by Tom Hanks, a talented lawyer who is fired from his prestigious law firm due to his HIV-positive status. Seeking justice, he engages the services of an unlikely ally, Joe Miller, played by Denzel Washington, to sue the firm for discrimination. The story unfolds as Miller confronts his own prejudices and eventually champions Beckett’s case, exposing the inherent discrimination and fear surrounding HIV/AIDS in society.

Philadelphia masterfully delves into themes of discrimination, courage, and human rights, showcasing the struggle of an individual fighting for justice against a backdrop of societal bias. The film carefully balances emotional depth with legal drama, shedding light on the harsh realities faced by those living with HIV/AIDS and the importance of empathy and understanding.

This poignant film stands as a seminal work in LGBTQ+ cinema, challenging prejudices and fostering a deeper understanding of the human experience. Its powerful performances, thought-provoking narrative, and enduring relevance make Philadelphia a must-watch for anyone seeking to broaden their horizons and cultivate empathy for the challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Pride (2014)

Pride is a British historical comedy-drama film directed by Matthew Warchus. Warchus, recognized for his theatrical and cinematic talents, had a notable career in both realms. His directing credits include successful stage productions like Matilda the Musical and God of Carnage. In cinema, he gained acclaim for films such as Simpatico (1999) and Sparrows Can’t Sing (2015).

The film revolves around the true story of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) group during the UK miners’ strike in the mid-1980s. The narrative unfolds as a small group of LGBT activists, led by Mark Ashton (portrayed by Ben Schnetzer), forms an alliance with a Welsh mining community. Their shared struggle for equal rights and dignity unites them against the oppressive policies of Margaret Thatcher’s government.

The story is both heartwarming and humorous, blending social and political commentary with personal growth and friendship. The characters undergo significant transformation, challenging prejudices and learning the value of solidarity. The film portrays the importance of unity, showcasing the impact of collective efforts to overcome societal barriers.

Pride is a compelling portrayal of resilience, highlighting the power of unity, empathy, and acceptance. The performances are outstanding, with strong chemistry among the cast. The film provides a touching narrative that invites reflection on the progress of LGBTQ+ rights and the ongoing fight for equality.

For those seeking an inspiring and uplifting story that celebrates the triumph of humanity over adversity, Pride is a must-watch. It offers a powerful testament to the strength of unity and the potential for change when diverse communities come together for a common cause.

The Imitation Game (2014)

The Imitation Game is a historical drama directed by Morten Tyldum, a Norwegian filmmaker known for his keen storytelling and visual acumen. Tyldum gained international recognition for his earlier works, such as Headhunters (2011), before making his mark with The Imitation Game.

The film unravels the remarkable life of Alan Turing, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, a brilliant mathematician and cryptanalyst. During World War II, Turing leads a team at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, working tirelessly to break the German Enigma code. The film portrays the struggle and discrimination Turing endured during a time when societal attitudes and laws were deeply prejudiced against LGBTQ+ individuals.

The plot navigates Turing’s quest to build a machine capable of deciphering the Enigma code, a seemingly insurmountable task. It underscores the urgency of the war and the implications of Turing’s groundbreaking work, ultimately aiding the Allies in their fight against the Axis powers.

This is a great film for to those intrigued by historical dramas that delve into the fascinating intersection of war, technology, and the human spirit. It offers an enlightening glimpse into a remarkable chapter of World War II, highlighting the brilliance of Alan Turing and the lasting impact of his groundbreaking work.

Tom of Finland (2017)

Tom of Finland is a biographical drama film directed by Dome Karukoski, a Finnish filmmaker known for his compelling storytelling and distinct visual style. Karukoski began his directorial career in the early 2000s, gaining prominence for works such as Beauty and the Bastard (2005) and The Grump (2014). His ability to delve into complex narratives and bring characters to life on screen has established him as a notable figure in the film industry.

The film follows the life of Touko Laaksonen, a Finnish artist known by the pseudonym Tom of Finland. Set in post-World War II Finland, the story traces Laaksonen’s journey from a closeted army officer to a pioneering artist in the gay community. The film explores the societal challenges and taboos faced by Laaksonen due to his sexual orientation and the impact of his art on the emerging gay rights movement.

Through evocative storytelling and meticulous attention to historical detail, the film offers a compelling glimpse into the struggles and triumphs of an artist whose work played a crucial role in challenging societal norms and promoting LGBTQ+ visibility.

Tom of Finland is a must-watch for those seeking a thought-provoking exploration of LGBTQ+ history and the transformative power of art. The film not only sheds light on the life of an extraordinary artist but also delves into the broader socio-cultural context of the time. It serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of perseverance and creativity in the face of adversity. Embrace this film for its engaging narrative, powerful performances, and its celebration of art’s ability to challenge and change the world.

The Normal Heart (2014)

The Normal Heart, a film directed by Ryan Murphy, is a poignant exploration of the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States. Ryan Murphy, known for his work in television and film, has a reputation for tackling important societal issues through his projects.

He is recognized for his distinctive style, often blending drama with elements of dark comedy and social commentary. Murphy’s career includes notable works like Glee, American Horror Story, and Feud, displaying his versatility as a director and producer.

The film is an adaptation of Larry Kramer’s groundbreaking play of the same name. Set in the 1980s, it chronicles the rise of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its devastating impact on the gay community in New York City.

The narrative centers around Ned Weeks, portrayed by Mark Ruffalo, a passionate activist determined to raise awareness about the epidemic and prompt a response from the government and medical community. Throughout the film, the story delves into the struggles of the gay community as they grapple with the stigmatization and lack of support during a time of immense suffering.

The Normal Heart is a raw and emotionally charged film that sheds light on a critical moment in the LGBTQ+ history and the fight for healthcare, acceptance, and equality. It serves as a reminder of the power of activism and the importance of solidarity in times of crisis. The outstanding performances and the film’s compelling narrative make it a must-watch for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the resilience of a community in the face of adversity.

The Danish Girl (2015)

The Danish Girl, a film directed by Tom Hooper, is a captivating exploration of gender identity and the complexities of self-discovery. Hooper, a British director known for his exceptional storytelling and visual prowess, has gained critical acclaim throughout his career. His previous works include The King’s Speech (2010) and Les Misérables (2012), both of which garnered numerous awards and nominations.

The film follows the story of Einar Wegener, a Danish landscape artist, who undergoes a profound transformation into Lili Elbe, a woman trapped in a man’s body.

Set in the early 20th century, the narrative unfolds as Einar embarks on the challenging journey of transitioning into his true self, grappling with societal expectations, love, and acceptance. Alicia Vikander delivers a remarkable performance as Gerda Wegener, Einar’s loving wife and an artist herself, who stands by Einar/Lili throughout the transformative process.

The Danish Girl not only portrays the struggle for self-identity but also sheds light on the unconditional love and support that can thrive amidst personal transformation. The film beautifully captures the emotional and psychological complexities of gender transition and the toll it takes on relationships.

For those seeking a thought-provoking and emotionally stirring cinematic experience, The Danish Girl is highly recommended. The exceptional performances, profound themes, and the sensitive handling of a delicate subject matter make this film a must-watch. It serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of understanding and acceptance in the journey towards self-discovery and authenticity.

Wild Reeds (1994)

Wild Reeds is a poignant cinematic work directed by André Téchiné, a notable figure in French cinema. Téchiné as a prominent director, screenwriter, and producer. His extensive career showcases a penchant for exploring complex human relationships and societal issues, often employing a delicate and nuanced storytelling style.

Set in rural France during the Algerian War of Independence, Wild Reeds follows the lives of François, Serge, and Maïté, who navigate the turbulent waters of adolescence and self-discovery. François grapples with his sexual identity, forming a close bond with Serge, a fellow student. Simultaneously, Maïté faces her own personal struggles, highlighting the multifaceted challenges of youth amidst a backdrop of political and societal upheaval.

The film deftly weaves together themes of sexuality, politics, and identity, providing a candid glimpse into the lives of its characters. Téchiné’s direction infuses the narrative with authenticity and emotional depth, ensuring that the characters’ experiences resonate with the audience.

Wild Reeds is a compelling watch for those seeking a blend of historical context, coming-of-age exploration, and nuanced storytelling. The film offers a thought-provoking reflection on societal norms and personal growth against a backdrop of historical turmoil.

Téchiné’s adept direction, coupled with powerful performances, elevates the film, making it a compelling and engaging cinematic experience. It is recommended for its insightful portrayal of human experiences and its ability to prompt introspection on the complexities of identity and relationships.

Christopher and His Kind (2011)

Christopher and His Kind is a film directed by Geoffrey Sax, a British filmmaker recognized for his versatility in both television and film. Sax has amassed a notable career, with diverse projects ranging from TV dramas like Tipping the Velvet to films such as White Noise.

The film is based on the memoirs of British author Christopher Isherwood, offering a glimpse into his formative years during the early 1930s in Berlin. Isherwood, portrayed by Matt Smith, is a young and aspiring writer seeking adventure and self-discovery. He navigates the vibrant and often chaotic social and political landscape of Weimar Germany, encountering a variety of characters that shape his personal and professional life.

Set against the backdrop of the rise of the Nazi regime, the film delves into themes of sexuality, identity, and societal norms. Isherwood’s relationships with Jean Ross (played by Imogen Poots) and Heinz Neddermeyer (played by Douglas Booth) illustrate the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community during a time of growing intolerance.

Christopher and His Kind is a poignant and historically significant portrayal of a crucial period in LGBTQ+ history. The narrative beautifully captures the essence of Isherwood’s journey, highlighting the struggles and triumphs he faced in embracing his true self.

The film’s authenticity in depicting the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community and its portrayal of friendship, love, and resilience make it a compelling watch. If you appreciate historical dramas that shed light on societal issues and personal growth, Christopher and His Kind is a film worth watching.

The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)

The Times of Harvey Milk is a poignant documentary film that portrays the life and tragic death of Harvey Milk, a pioneering figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. The film is directed by Rob Epstein, an accomplished filmmaker recognized for his focus on social and cultural issues. Epstein’s directorial style often highlights the stories of marginalized individuals and their struggles for equality and justice.

The film follows Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, as he rises to prominence in San Francisco during the 1970s. It meticulously chronicles his journey in politics and advocacy, showcasing his efforts to combat discrimination and champion the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. The narrative also delves into Milk’s tragic assassination in 1978, underscoring the lasting impact of his activism.

The Times of Harvey Milk masterfully weaves archival footage, interviews, and poignant storytelling to offer a compelling glimpse into the life of a man who left an indelible mark on the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. The film not only serves as a tribute to Harvey Milk but also as a powerful testament to the resilience and determination of a community in the face of adversity.

The Times of Harvey Milk is a great film for anyone seeking to understand the origins of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and the sacrifices made by courageous individuals like Harvey Milk. The film’s emotional depth and historical significance make it a must-watch, providing valuable insights into the ongoing struggle for equality and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of oppression.

Holding the Man (2015)

Holding the Man is a film directed by Neil Armfield, an Australian director celebrated for his prolific career in both theater and film. Armfield has garnered acclaim for his ability to tackle complex and intimate human narratives. His extensive background in theater, where he has directed a multitude of plays, significantly influenced his filmmaking style, characterized by its focus on compelling storytelling and nuanced character development.

The film Holding the Man is an adaptation of the memoir by Timothy Conigrave, an Australian actor and activist. The story chronicles the profound and enduring love between Conigrave and John Caleo, amidst the societal challenges they faced as a gay couple in the 1970s and 1980s. The narrative beautifully captures their relationship from the blossoming of their teenage romance to the heartbreaking realities of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The plot delves into the complexities of love, commitment, and the struggle for acceptance. The film portrays the resilience of their bond, even in the face of prejudice, discrimination, and the devastating impact of the AIDS crisis on their lives and the LGBTQ+ community. The performances by the cast, particularly Ryan Corr and Craig Stott, who play the central characters, are emotionally stirring and bring depth to the narrative.

Holding the Man is a poignant and thought-provoking film that sheds light on the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community. It encourages reflection on the power of love, resilience, and the importance of compassion and understanding. For anyone seeking a moving portrayal of love’s endurance amidst adversity and a greater understanding of the LGBTQ+ experience, Holding the Man is a highly recommended watch.

After Louie (2017)

After Louie is a compelling cinematic work directed by Vincent Gagliostro. Gagliostro, recognized for his versatile artistry, has not only left his mark as a director but also as an accomplished visual artist and activist. His creative journey has been informed by a dedication to social causes and a desire to challenge conventional norms through his work.

The film delves into the life of Sam (played by Alan Cumming), a former AIDS activist and artist navigating the contemporary LGBTQ+ scene in New York City. Haunted by his past and grappling with survivor’s guilt, Sam forms an unlikely friendship with a young documentary filmmaker named Braeden. Together, they embark on a journey of self-discovery, exploring the complex interplay of love, loss, and generational differences.

After Louie explores the shifting dynamics within the LGBTQ+ community, juxtaposing the battles of the AIDS epidemic era with contemporary attitudes towards love and identity. The film offers a thought-provoking exploration of the generational gap in the queer community, capturing the struggle to find relevance in a world transformed by progress and acceptance.

Viewers should consider watching After Louie for its poignant storytelling, powerful performances, and the insightful portrayal of the LGBTQ+ experience. The film prompts reflection on the evolution of societal attitudes, the cyclical nature of history, and the enduring quest for connection. After Louie is a compelling addition to cinema, providing a platform for critical discussions about societal changes and the enduring impact of our past on our present.

Stonewall (2015)

Stonewall is a historical drama film directed by Roland Emmerich, a renowned filmmaker recognized for his expertise in disaster and science fiction genres. Emmerich gained prominence with blockbuster movies such as Independence Day (1996) and The Day After Tomorrow (2004). His transition to a sensitive subject matter like the LGBTQ+ rights movement in Stonewall was a departure from his usual repertoire.

The film portrays the significant events surrounding the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, a pivotal moment in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. The narrative centers on Danny Winters, a young gay man who becomes involved in the uprising after being displaced from his family home due to his sexual orientation. The film navigates the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community during that era, highlighting the discrimination and violence they endured.

Emmerich’s directorial approach in Stonewall is marked by a compelling depiction of historical events, showcasing the resilience and unity of a marginalized community. The film sheds light on the struggles and sacrifices that eventually sparked the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Stonewall is recommended for viewers seeking to understand the origins of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and the courage exhibited by those at the forefront of the fight for equality. The film provides a historically grounded narrative, urging viewers to reflect on the progress made while acknowledging the work that remains to be done in ensuring equal rights and acceptance for all.