16 LGBTQ+ Movies and TV Shows to Watch All Year Round

published Jul 6, 2021
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In the past several years, representation of LGBTQ+ lives and experiences have thankfully become plentiful, robust, and diverse — including in film and on television.

Thanks to the tireless work of LGBTQ+ advocates who have pushed for better and more authentic representations of our communities, real and compelling portrayals of LGBTQ+ people are becoming the norm for viewers of all ages. It’s particularly important to recognize the increased representation of transgender and nonbinary characters, who have been created and played by nonbinary and transgender actors — from those in the upcoming new season of “Star Trek: Discovery” to Cartoon Network’s groundbreaking “Steven Universe” series.

Looking for fun new content that centers LGBTQ+ stories and voices? With so many amazing representations of LGBTQ+ characters across platforms and genres, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. (My personal favorite is “Pooch Perfect,” the competitive dog grooming show that had an entire pride episode where contestants — most of whom were LGBTQ+ — talk about their partners, lives as LGBTQ+ people, and coming out, then creating stunning Pride themed grooms for the dogs.)

So, we asked those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community what some of their must-watch recommendations are for LGBTQ+ film and television — here’s what they said:

1. “Queer as Folk

“I could watch Queer as Folk every year and get something new out of it each time. The characters are complicated, which I can relate to. There are many layers to their relationships. It’s honest in its portrayal of queer life, as well. No straightwashing.” — C. Spencer, Lesbian, Northampton, Massachusetts

Available to watch on Hulu, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime.

2. “Camp Wannakiki

“It’s a drag contest show set at summer camp — super campy, extra inclusive of all identities and body types. Great Drag!” — Becca Yowler, Queer, Galesburg, Illinois

Available to watch on YouTube.

3. “Pose

“I recommend ‘Pose’ because it is the ground-breaking show that is intergenerational, intersectional, and deeply entertaining that actually educates us about the LGBTQI+ ballroom culture during the ’80s. Because of ‘Pose,’ LGBTQI+ will become mainstream and is here to stay.” Rodrick Covington, Black Queer, New York, NY

Available to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

“I don’t think it was the intention of the writers, but it always felt to me like my first time seeing bi/pan representation, plus all the themes mesh well with my many identities and my love of history.” — Karla Lott, Pansexual, Longview, Texas

Available to watch on Amazon Prime.

5. “Sex Education

“I love this show so so much for many reasons! It shows the star athlete of the school in a family with lesbian moms, which is simply SHOWN, not discussed or used as a plot point. The main character feels like an ‘odd duck’ because he feels shy about sex and is embarrassed about it. He’s a teenage boy — he should want sex all the time! His mother is a sex therapist, and she talks to some of the high schoolers about their sexualities, in a way that is validating without being patronizing. Also, there’s a moment where a teen girl is the victim of sexual harassment and has trauma from it. We later see more girls band together with her in solidarity and show her that she is not alone.” — Sarah Wear, Aromantic cis-woman, Portland, Oregon

Available to watch on Netflix.

6. “Steven Universe” (TV show and movie)

“Cartoon Network’s groundbreaking ‘Steven Universe’ is a series developed by a non-binary creator has opened doors of queer representation in cartoons that other creators and networks are following.” Sassafras Lowrey, Queer author, Portland, Oregon

Available to watch on Hulu, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime.

“Trans characters played by trans people with stories outside their transitions — stories that go beyond phobic tropes. ‘Boy Meets Girl’ was a movie I found when I first started asserting my own identity, so seeing Rickey played by an actual trans person, asserting herself and her identity, with what support she has in the small town where she is… it made an impact for me and how I handled my own situation.” Wulf James-Roby, two spirit/queer, Demi sexual/romantic, Topeka, Kansas 

Available to watch on Amazon Prime.

8. “What We Do in the Shadows” (TV show and movie)

“Why wouldn’t vampires be canonically bi, kinky and *so* extra? It’s like a rated-R ‘Addams Family.’” — Kitty Kintsugi, Nonbinary, Bi/Pan, San Antonio, Texas

Available to watch on Hulu and Amazon Prime.

“As historical fiction, the show does a wonderful job depicting the closet and the talent and dignity lost when people are forced to hide important parts of themselves.” Allison Moon, Queer lady, Portland, Oregon 

Available to watch on Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime.

10. “The Half of It

“This queer rom-com has a heartwarming and surprising focus, which is not about ‘getting the girl,’ but about highlighting the diverse types of love and intimacy that can flourish between human beings — including deep and abiding friendship — when we allow ourselves to love others beyond the narrow confines of what’s allowed by heteronormativity.” — Dr. Nisha Gupta, Queer psychologist, Atlanta, GA

Available to watch on Netflix.

11. “Atypical

“When my partner and I first found the show ‘Atypical,’ we loved it almost immediately for its unique and much-needed representation of an autistic protagonist. One of our favorite character developments, though, is that of the sister’s, who begins to explore romantic feelings toward her female best friend. Paths taken towards understanding your sexual identity are not always linear, and I love how ‘Atypical’ exemplifies this concept. ” — Austa Somvichian-Clausen, Pansexual, New York, NY

Available to watch on Netflix.

12. “Feel Good

“This show offers an endearing and humorous portrayal of a couple’s growing pains while supporting each other through the complexities and joys of queer love, including: navigating sexual and gender fluidity and the challenges of coming out, supporting each other’s psychological healing and growth from childhood trauma, playfully enjoying sex while seriously exploring the role of sex in building emotional intimacy, and learning to negotiate the evolving needs and expectations of a long-term intimate partnership.” — Dr. Nisha Gupta, Queer psychologist, Atlanta, GA

Available to watch on Netflix.

13. “Veneno

“It is a true story about a trans sex worker in Spain who becomes a celebrity when she makes it on a late night talk show. It was one of the best things I watched during the pandemic. The cast is amazing, the show is so much fun but heart wrenching at times. I think I cried during the entire last episode. It was that good!” Gus Constantellis, Gay, Brooklyn, NY

Available to watch on HBO Max.

“Because diversity of strengths and loves.” — Pam Brisjar, Queer, Montpelier, Vermont 

Available to watch on Netflix and Apple TV+.

“‘Why Are You Like This?’ is an Australian satire series that centers around social justice movements including gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. The characters are utterly relatable as they try to become more conscious of their bias and fight for equality with plenty of road bumps and cringe-worthy self-realizations along the way. The bisexual female lead, Mia, is narcissistic but has so many relatable storylines in the show. Like Mia, I’m also a queer woman of color who has been on a journey to decolonize my pussy for the last few years.” Lola Méndez, pansexual, currently in Mexico

Available to watch on Netflix.

16. “Show Me Love” (“Fucking Åmål”)

“My all-time favorite queer film is ‘Show Me Love’ by brilliant Swedish director Lukas Moodysson. It’s such a touching, funny — and empowering — coming -of-age tale, and growing up in a small town in Sweden myself, I can vouch for its authenticity.” Melinda Martino, Queer, Brooklyn, NY

Available to watch on Amazon Prime.