25 LGBTQ+ Coming-of-Age Films Charting the Teen Years
25 LGBTQ+ Coming-of-Age Films
Oh, to be young again. We've all been through those awkward years of growing up, and it can be especially difficult for those of us growing up queer. And though they used to be few in number, LGBTQ+ coming-of-age films have been there to help us remember that we're all a bit strange when coming into our own.
Here are 25 LGBTQ+ coming-of-age films for you to enjoy, reminisce about, and share.
This 2018 romantic comedy-drama follows Simon, a 17-year-old who has not yet come out to his friends or family and finds himself conversating online with an anonymous gay student who goes by the name "Blue." However, one message gets into the wrong hands, which inevitably leads to him being outed to the whole school. Eventually receiving the support of his friends, Simon ends up getting a happy ending to his love story.
God's Own Country (2017)
The story of Johnny, a young British farmer, and Jorge, a Romanian migrant worker, shows that queer love can be found in the most obscure places. The film is known for the juxtaposition of the decrepit setting and the couple's budding romance. Jorge brings life to the farm and turns Johnny's life around as their relationship develops throughout the film.
This movie takes place on the eve of graduation and follows friends and academic overachievers Amy and Molly on their mission to cram four years of fun into one wild night of partying. Molly supports Amy during this time as she pursues a girl she has liked throughout high school. The leads' chemistry as friends marked the 2019 film as a modern teen classic.
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
This coming-of-age movie starring Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer re-creates Andre Aciman's novel of queer love story between a 17-year-old student and an older doctoral student who was hired as his father's research assistant. The chemistry between Hammer and Chalamet shows the passionate experience of a first love.
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Based loosely on Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 & 2, and Henry V plays, this movie shows the journey of gay hustlers Mike and Scott,and their search for Mike's mother. They bond throughout the obstacles they face, inevitably making them fall for one another. The flim is widely regarded a queer landmark in late-20th-century cinema for its honest storytelling and themes of love, maturity, and grief.
Pariah is centered around teenage Alike, who struggles to tell her family that she is a lesbian. The word "pariah" is defined as "an outcast," which is symbolic of the isolation Alike feels in her effort to express herself in the movie. As Alike navigates her love life, her mom introduces her to Bina, the daughter of one of her church friends. Unbeknownst to the mother, the two girls end up falling for each other.
Three Months (2022)
Three Months is described as "a coming-of-age comedy-drama that tells the story of Caleb [pop star Troye Sivan], a South Florida teen who loves his camera, his weed, and his grandmother."
Right before he graduates high school, however, Caleb finds out that he's been exposed to HIV. The film then follows Caleb in the three months he waits for test results to come back to see if he has HIV or not. Along the way, he finds love "in the most unlikely places."
Mysterious Skin (2004)
In a story of coping with trauma, the movie, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, follows two boys' path to adulthood after sharing the experience of being sexually abused as a child. UFO enthusiast Brian represses the memory and convinces himself he was a victim in an alien abduction, whereas Neil moves to New York to seek fulfillment as a gay sex worker. The deep themes of the film create a sentimental experience for viewers.
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
This film takes viewers on the journey of Adele, a highs chool student whose life changes when she meets Emma, an older art student. Emma, whose blue hair inspires the name of the film, helps Adele gain confidence as the two fall in love. Blue Is the Warmest Color has been an acclaimed LGBTQ+ coming-of-age movie for the tender and vulnerable moments the leads share.
But I'm a Cheerleader (1999)
The iconic film starring Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall is just a classic. The satirical comedy sees Lyonne as Megan, a cheerleader who is sent to a conversion therapy camp. She meets DuVall's character Graham while at the camp and they fall for each other. Funny and literally campy, But I'm a Cheerleader is a classic lesbian film for a reason.
The first LGBTQ+ film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the film details the life of Chiron, a young Black man. While he faces the inherent challenges of growing up, the film shows how his relationship with sexuality and identity develops throughout his childhood, adolescence, and early adult life.
Get Real (1998)
A queer cult classic, the film centers on a gay teen growing up in rural England in the 1990s. Though the ending isn't as happy as those of others on this list, Get Real is still a heartwarming story of a queer youth accepting himself and looking for a better life.
I Killed My Mother (2009)
J'ai tue ma mere in French, this Canadian drama was written, directed, and produced by Xavier Dolan, who also stars in it. Somewhat based on Dolan's life, the film follows the complicated, sometimes tense relationship between a young gay man and his mother.
A comedy poking fun at the "gay best friend" stereotype, the film explores coming out in high school and navigating friendships and school when that happens.
The film, based on the 1971 novel of the same name, features a gay love story set in Edwardian England. It follows Hugh Grant's Maurice throughout this life from university to trying to fit into society to eventually finding love.
The Way He Looks (2014)
Based on the 2010 short film Don't Want to Go Back Alone, this Brazilian drama tells the story of a blind teenager wanting more independence in his life. When a new student comes to town, they both begin a journey that eventually leads to romance.
Being 17 (2016)
This French film directed by Andre Techine features the romantic relationship that blossoms between two 17-year-olds. What initally is a rivalry eventually turns into a romance between the boys, who at first try to ignore their chemistry until they finally accept their feelings for one another.
Alex Strangelove (2018)
A 2018 romantic comedy, Alex Strangelove examines the evolution of relationships in high school as well as your evolving sexuality at that time in your life.
Boy Erased (2018)
Staring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe, the film -- based on Garrard Conley's 2016 memoir of the same name -- focuses on Jared, the son of religious parents who force him into conversion therapy.
This coming-out story takes place in the 1960s in a Canadian Catholic family. In the movie, teenager Zachary Beaulieu initially tries to repress his sexuality in order to appease the traditionalist standards of his family. Zach's life takes an unexpected turn of events that leads him to come to terms with his identity. In the end, this movie is a heartwarming story of a familial bond and acceptance.
The Half of It (2020)
Written and directed by queer creative Alice Wu, The Half of It is a story about a teenage girl who ends up writing letters for a boy to a girl both she and the boy end up liking. The film isn't just about this crush, though. It also delves into relationships with parents, religion, and ambitions.
Geography Club (2013)
Based on the 2003 novel by Brent Hartinger, the film follows high-schooler Russell as he navigates falling for the school's quarterback and then joining an LGBTQ+ support group at the school, which goes by the name Geography Club. The members learn to embrace their truths and eventually become a gay-straight alliance.
Show Me Love (1998)
In this Swedish comedy-drama, two teenage girls start a relationship. While the two struggle with their love for one another at first, they soon figure their feelings out and decide to be out together.
The Prom (2020)
A musical comedy with an A-list ensemble cast, The Prom centers on a school's decision to cancel prom because a female student wants to bring her girlfriend. When former Broadway stars get wind of the cancellation, they decide it's their shot to revitalize their careers and make a change.
Do Revenge (2022)
While this film isn't out yet, we're sure it will earn its place on this list. Heathers meets Strangers on a Train in Netflix's new teen flick Do Revenge. As evidenced by the film's first trailer, Stranger Things' Maya Hawke and Riverdale's Camila Mendes star in the movie that invokes Alfred Hitchcock's great murder swap movie. The film also nods to classic teen girl films like Heathers (they play croquet in this movie!), Jawbreaker, Mean Girls, and even Clueless with the inclusion of an Emma-esque makeover.
Do Revenge drops on Netflix September 16.
*BONUS* Edge of Seventeen (1998)
A true queer classic. Directed by David Moreton, this movie is loosely based off of the coming-out experience of the screenwriter, Todd Stephens. 17-year-old, Eric, grows up in Ohio during the 1980s, in a time where queerness is stigmatized. The film takes viwers through his sexual awakening and how he learns to embrace himself throughout the film.