The Gay Films That Changed People's Lives

Categories: Film


I'm in today's Times in a piece that asks various LGBT notables for the gay film that changed their lives.

Playwright Paula Vogel said Go Fish, designer John Bartlett picked Querelle, and writer Dustin Lance Black went for My Own Private Idaho.

And me?

I decided to side with the 1970 adaptation of Boys in the Band, appreciating its wit, camaraderie, and stinging attack on the closet.

I added that the film's self-loathing characters have embarrassed the community for years, "but it was pretty accurate back then and even now it manages to ring some bells."

Special shout out to Andrew Holleran for picking La Dolce Musto as his favorite gay film.

Oh, La Dolce Vita?

Never mind.


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burning_plastic
burning_plastic

Beautiful Thing has to have changed some lives. I like to watch it once in a while. 

Timmmyk
Timmmyk

Wasn't a particular film but Graham Chapman of Monty Python changed my life when he announced that he was gay and was proud in the 70's.  Every single episode & film of Monty Python's Flying Circus had a completely different meaning to me after that.

Mae Swazey
Mae Swazey

Undoubtedly, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.  It made me realize that I don't want to grow old alone, and that I need to quit being afraid of commitment.  This certainly has been the gay film with the most impact for me--others over the years have included MAURICE, BEAUTIFUL THING, and (though it's not a gay film per se) DINER.  I still can't explain why DINER had such an impact on me (yes, I fell big time for Kevin Bacon but that's not the only reason) the way I can with BROKEBACK.

Cecil Vyse
Cecil Vyse

Two favourites: The Wedding Banquet and My Beautiful Laundrette. Daniel Day Lewis was brilliant in both MBL and Room With A View which was released about the same time if I recall.

latenitebump
latenitebump

glad paris is burning was at the top of the list!pedro almodóvar! rocky horror picture show. liqiud sky.

my vote. i´ll say: clockwork orange.

nostradavid
nostradavid

Bad Education is one of the great films by Pedro Almodovar.It's at the top of my list.

Could be Bud SF
Could be Bud SF

Boys in the Sand @ the 55th St. Playhouse - 1971 - I was 25 and still had a lot to learnThank you Mr. Poole& Pink Flamingos. Thank you Divine & David Lochary. Free to be .............................

Ynnocence
Ynnocence

Something to be said too about gay material handled by straights. Notably one Euro (The Fourth Man) and one Asian (Taboo). Refreshing change from the rom-coms that have come to characterize - though I'd say stigmatize - so-called queer cinema.

Mike Diamond
Mike Diamond

Pink Flamingos & Female Trouble!

Paris Is Burning!

Milk.

also, "The Anal Birth of Bert". Google it.

Scruff712
Scruff712

Filmwise, Torch Song Trilogy because I had to reconfigure how I thought about our various stereotypes but a close second is the first Tales of the City miniseries because it was first shown on PBS and pissed "viewers like you" off. Their liberal hypocricy what made me come out. I'm not kidding.

Mike O'Farrell
Mike O'Farrell

MarkyMark : you are right regarding Maurice, an important film that certainly deserves mention. Another milestone is Beautiful Thing. Achingly heartrending in its depiction of young love, the only drawback being the very thick British accents. Perhaps future DVD/Blu-ray editions will add subtitles. The acting by the two leads is brilliant.

MarkyMark
MarkyMark

And speaking of all-gay films, the new Blu-ray of "West Side Story" is fabulous, the image quality from the 70mm film is stupendous, and the young George Chakiris - despite the terrible brown-skin makeup - is muy caliente, ai yi yi yi yi!

Also the previously mentioned "Desert Fury" (1947), the amazing Technicolor noir loaded with gay/bi actors and innuendo, is available, sort-of, on DVD, including a PAL release from the UK. I had the good luck to view an original print of it once. Deep between the lines, its a story of a tough shady gay couple and a tough lesbian couple colliding, where one of the guys starts to hook up with one of the gals, and it drives their partners crazy.

MarkyMark
MarkyMark

"That Certain Summer" (1972) and the AMAZING thing is that this was a made-for-TV film, at a time when the word "homosexual" was still barely whispered; it was especially revolutionary in that it showed both guys as very normal people with careers in an LTR, as opposed to suicidal alcoholic queens.  It appears to be available on YouTube, posted in chunks from an old VHS copy.  "Making Love" didn't appear until 1982.  I'd say the film that really knocked me flat was "Maurice" (1987).

Mike O'Farrell
Mike O'Farrell

For me the one movie that towers over all the others mentioned is Brokeback Mountain. It's a landmark film for reasons that have been eloquently stated in the recent past by the country's most respected film critics. A very traditional movie in the classical sense in that the screenplay, directing, acting, cinematography and film editing adhere to conventional methods of commercial filmmaking harking back to Hollywood's Golden Age. Still, many people have yet to see the film and I have no doubt that closeted homophobia has much to do with that. It's their loss because Brokeback Mountain is one of the most brilliant american films of the past half century. Heath Ledger's performance is truly one for the ages. The movie was criminally robbed of the Best Picture and Actor Oscars for 2005. (Apologies to Philip Seymour Hofmann, and no apologies whatsoever for that year's Picture winner, Crash).

Singontim
Singontim

Trite.trite trite. Best gay movie ever is Parting Glances. Funny.sweet. Timeless.

Muscato
Muscato

You beat me!  That was the movie that had me saying, "Yes, that's what I want my life to be like." New York, good friends, and a hot boyfriend.  I got the city and the friends, and if it took a few years (and moving away from the city) to find the One True Love, Parting Glances is still the movie that started me on my way.

I haven't seen it in a few years, but the last time I saw it, it held up.

Allen Firth
Allen Firth

I remember seeing "A Very Natural Thing" the summer of 1974, and came away impressed that a film (very independent at the time) could have gay characters that were far more realistic than anything Hollywood ever ventured to put on the screen.

Total Only in New York moment:  Seeing it at the old Coronet theatre on 3rd Ave.... The blond character comes out of the subway, and someone in the audience whispers loudly in total amazement, "Hey, that's my subway stop!"

pozzguy
pozzguy

I remember standing in the aisle of the library, reading the play "The Boys in the Band".  It was in one of those best plays of the year volumes, with pics of the cast.  I remember feeling like I wasn't the "only one".  Then I saw it (probably butchered) on late night tv, and loved it.  I also remember the nude wrestling scene from "Women in Love", and the beautiful movie "Maurice".  Also, as someone mentioned, the great movie "Death in Venice". 

Gregorama
Gregorama

I saw Visconti's "A Death in Venice" when I was far too young to understand what it was all about--though it made a huge impression upon me.  I think I was 13 and snuck into the "art movie" theatre in my Midwest hometown after reading a review of what "filth" it was...which automatically made it a must-see (any movie that was "CONDEMNED" by the Catholic Church was also high on my list!).  Funny how the older I get, the more it all makes sense...(gulp!)

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Mart Crowley's "The Boys in the Band" is a landmark play, whatever your feelings about it.Attention must and has been paid, and will continue to be paid.

So is his "The Men from the Boys," which has yet to find the right director, cast and production.

For today's audiences, "Brokeback Mountain" is one of the few  true, passionate  gay love stories the American screen has ever produced.

As for the gay sensibility on the screen, any number of movies from the past come to mind:"Auntie Mame," "All About Eve," "The Women," "Sylvia Scarlett" "Queen Christina" and any of the movies where Garbo has a younger feminine friend whom she kisses and fusses over. The relationship between Glenn Ford and George Macready in "Gilda" depicts an older man picking up and keeping a younger one. As does the  little-seen "Desert Fury," where Wendell Corey is jealous over any gal that catches "pal" John Hodiak's eye. Corey's dialogue and performance are not to be believed, as is the lip-kissing and butch banter between mother and daughter Mary Astor and Lizabeth Scott.

There are many more and we haven't even touched on European films.

.

Elaine
Elaine

Hedwig and the Angry Inch <3

BetteD
BetteD

Staircase starring none other than Sexy Rex Harrison and Richard Burton -- go ahead and try to find a copy of it, ain't easy.

rolph
rolph

I saw it and thought it was truly awful. Two yucky character yammering on in different settings (obviously an "opened up" version of a play, the film directed by Stanley Donen). What did you like about it?

BetteD
BetteD

It was fun watching two legendary straight actors very convincingly playing gay (although I'd agree the plot wasn't especially engaging).

Movielover
Movielover

I wasn't crazy about it either.  It was rather depressing, but not much in a good way like Boys in the Band.  Band had some redeeming moments, but Staircase was pretty bleak.

Sloan Rollins
Sloan Rollins

An outwardly "gay" film, but HEATHERS changed my life. And it certainly has a gay sensibility

Movielover
Movielover

Suddenly Last Summer.  I was about 9 or 10, gay as a fellow can be at that age and desperate for information.  I was stunned when I thought I understood that Sebastian was gay and was getting it on with all the locals when he traveled.  I remember repeating the name of the movie over and over to myself so I could remember it and re-watch it when I had an opportunity.  Also thrilled to watch Some Like it Hot, at about the same age or a little younger, and thought it was so fun and I loved the last line Joe E. Brown says when Jack Lemon takes off his wig and says "I'm a man." ("Nobody's perfect".)  Jokingly but affirmatively saying a man marrying a man was his intent.  I loved Marilyn in that movie, not knowing anything about her or even her name, but thinking she was so pretty and funny.

MSpeer
MSpeer

Since we're in the same age range, I would also go with Boys in the Band. However it took me a long time to understand the "If we could just stop hating ourselves" line (I am sure it's not exactly right but you get the idea) since although I may have had a negative self image, I am pretty sure I didn't hate myself. And I loved most of the characters for all their faults and came to know many who fit them to a tee.

Still love to camp. And still love to see it thriving in the young 'uns (some of them, at least). And glad to have you there, Michael, as well!

Cineasss
Cineasss

Great list of films. My personal faves: "Victim" and "Beautiful Thng."

Rebie
Rebie

La Dolce Musto is my favorite film too!

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