Content Warning: a number of the films and shows listed below deal with sensitive topics such as homophobia, conversion therapy, death, sexual assault, and other sexual content.
The Haunting of Bly Manor: if you want something that is more than a little romance try the second part in the ‘The Haunting’ series. It is a horror / thriller series set in the 1980s where an American au-pair moves to the British countryside to live in what she soon learns is a haunted manor. The main cast features Victoria Pedretti, Amelia Eve, Rahul Kohli, and T’Nia Miller.
Sense8: although there are only two series, there is much to enjoy. It tells the story of eight people who are mentally and emotionally linked who share languages, knowledge, and skills. The many characters give range for the representation of many sexualities. They face a number of challenges, including being hunted down for who they are.
How To Get Away With Murder: although not a series that revolves around LGBT+ culture or romance, it features a number of diverse and exciting LGBT+ characters, primarily law student Conor Walsh (Jack Falahee), an openly gay man who deals with finding a genuine connection with his partners. However, throughout the show his long-term partner Oliver Hampton (Conrad Ricamora) helps him to become a better person and be confident in commitment. As well as this couple, Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) is a black bisexual woman who is highly successful and confident in her sexuality. She even has an on-screen relationship with Eve Rothlo (Famke Janssen). There are also a number of other supporting characters who have LGBT+ identities.
Killing Eve: since it began airing in 2018 Killing Eve has received incredible ratings and both critical and commercial success. It is about MI5 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), who is bored with her job and assigned to the case of female international assassin, Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Their relationship is one of conflict and attraction; it’s not one designed for primarily the male gaze, but rather a genuine portrayal of same-sex desire.
Orange Is The New Black: the longest-running and most-watched Netflix original, Orange Is The New Black is a comedy-drama set in a women’s prison. It boasts a diverse cast with a big main cast and numerous recurring members. A large number of the characters are ‘women-loving-women’ with many also being played by LGBT+ actors.
Queer Eye: different to many on this list, rather than being a fictitious narrative, Queer Eye is a makeover show where the Fab Five visit a different person each episode and make them over in five areas: food and wine, culture and lifestyle, fashion, grooming, and design. The current version as found on Netflix stars Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness.
The Umbrella Academy: with its third season currently being filmed and Elliot Page who plays Number 7 recently coming out as trans, The Umbrella Academy has been across the media recently. When 43 spontaneous pregnancies and births happen on the same day, Reginald Hargreeves adopts 7 of these miracle children and utilises their superpowers to create a crime fighting team. Of the 7 children there are two who are canonically LGBT+. Klaus or Number 4 (Robert Sheehan) is shown to have partners of multiple genders including his boyfriend Dave Katz (Cody Ray Thompson). He is also gender non-conforming. Meanwhile, in the second series Vanya Hargreeves or Number 7 (Elliot Page) has a lesbian relationship.
Schitt’s Creek: when the previously uber-rich Rose family loses their fortune they relocate to Schitt’s Creek, a small town where they live in a rundown motel. They meet a number of local residents such as the mayor, the motel manager, and a local waitress. The show is a comedy produced and created by two of the main cast Dan and Eugene Levy. The oldest of the Rose family, David Rose (Dan Levy) comes out as pansexual in a scene which uses wine preference as an analogy. His portrayal has won two Dorian Awards and a nomination for a GLAAD award. Dan Levy is a member of the LGBT+ community himself, having come out as gay when he was 18.
Euphoria: premiering in 2019, Euphoria is a show about teens, love, sex and drugs, and trauma. It boasts a diverse cast with a number of characters being part of the LGBT+ community, notably Rue (Zendaya), trans girl Jules (Hunter Schafer), and Cal (Eric Dane). Zendaya has won awards for her portrayal of Rue and the show has also been nominated for GLAAD and Primetime Emmy awards. Themes of sexuality, identity, and trauma all play major roles in this show which can make it triggering for some people so please be warned when watching this.
Gentleman Jack: quite different from many of the shows on this list, Gentleman Jack, is a historical drama based on life and diaries of the real Anne Lister. With only one series at just nine episodes this show is perfect for a binge watch! Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) moves to Halifax to her newly inherited estate but finds it under pressure. Here she meets Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle) with whom she begins an illicit but passionate relationship. She writes her story in a coded diary.
Handsome Devil: set in a private boys boarding school in Ireland, main character Ned Roche (Fionn O’Shea) deals with homophobic bullying and a culture of toxic masculinity. However, when Conor Masters becomes his new roommate he has to face his fears of friendship and belonging. It also has the amazing Andew Scott (Sherlock) as a gay teacher and mentor.
PRIDE: following the (mostly) real life story of the ‘Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners’ group during the Miners’ Strike of 1984, Pride is a film about friendship, class struggle, homophobia, and acceptance. It is largely set in Onllwyn, a mining village in South Wales near Port Talbot. The film has moments that will make you laugh, cry, and squeal with joy.
Moonlight: having received a wide number of accolades including the Oscar, Academy Award, and Golden Globe for Best Picture, Moonlight has made LGBT+ film history. It has an all black cast and is a beautiful film about identity, race, and sexuality. The film is in three parts, ‘Little’, ‘Chiron’, and ‘Black’, chronicling the life of the main character.
Dating Amber: an Irish comedy drama set in the 1990s following the relationship between two closeted gay teens who pretend to be a couple to avoid being questioned about their sexuality! It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time because you see them come to terms with their identities and where they fit in the world.
Maurice: a period film based on the book of the same name by E. M. Forster stars Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves, and James Wilby in a story of young love and desire. When Maurice Hall (James Wilby) meets beautiful and talented Clive Durham (Hugh Grant) he quickly falls in love. Although Durham is Maurice’s first love, the film also shows his true love, Alec Scudder (Rupert Graves), the groundskeeper at Durham’s house. The film is all about experimentation, love, desire, and loss. Durham can never truly be with Maurice as he has to fulfil his role as the man of the house in a well-off family, and Alec and Maurice will always be isolated from society due to their sexuality and class difference.
The 10 Year Plan: although many of the films on this list are timeless, or serious, or emotional, what the world of LGBT+ films often lacks is normal stories, about normal couples – films that could be about heterosexual couples. The 10 Year Plan is all of these things. It’s about two lifelong friends who struggle with relationships in totally opposite ways. Myles is a hopeless romantic who scares off his dates by moving too fast, whereas Brody is a chronic one-night-stand-er. One night they make a pact to marry each other in 10 years if they are both still single, and as expected mischief ensues.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post: Chloë Grace Moretz stars as the titular Cameron Post, a teenager who is sent to conversion therapy after her same-sex relationship is discovered. The camp is owned by a ‘cured’ Reverend and his sister, they use religious teachings to ‘convert’ their subjects. The film deals with feelings of repression and blame surrounding same-sex desire.
Booksmart: a coming of age comedy, Booksmart features Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) two soon-to-be graduates who want to make up for time lost doing typical teenage things. The film is about their friendship, their future, love and crushes, and feelings of regret. When the two girls decide to make the most of their last chances a number of hilarious antics occur.
God’s Own Country: set in rural Yorkshire, this film has only four significant characters. The small cast creates a deep connection between them and the audience. It is about a gay farmer who lives with his ill father and his grandmother. Johnny (Josh O’Connor) is often lonely and rejects forming genuine bonds with other people, but when Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu) comes to help on the farm they begin to bond and start a relationship. The film is heartwarming and makes me sob everytime.
The Way He Looks: a foreign language film in Portugese that follows the story of a gay and blind character called Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) who feels suffocated by his parents and deals with bullying at school. When he meets new student Gabriel (Fábio Audi) he begins to form a close friendship upsetting his best friend Giovanna (Tess Amorim). The film is not only beautiful but also heartwarming, it can be found online with English subtitles.
Musical Theatre –
The Prom: although this has recently been made into a film, I would absolutely recommend the theatre version of The Prom.
RENT: another musical turned film, RENT is the story of young artists in lower Manhattan during the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Rocky Horror Picture Show: one of the iconic pieces of LGBT media, Rocky Horror has been a stage play and a film on multiple occasions in many places. The role of Dr. Frank N. Furter inspired many fashion trends in the punk community which can be seen in the LGBT community even today.
Thank you to everyone who suggested films, shows, and more and helped me write these synopses. I hope you all enjoy these suggestions and have fun watching!