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Reader’s Poll: The 25 Most Important LGBT Films

Reader's Poll: The 25 Most Important LGBT Films

June is Pride Month, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall riots and asking all of us to remember how we got where we are today. So we thought it might be fun to start up an annual Pride Month poll here at /bent, asking our readers to tell us the films, television shows, songs and people (both fictional and real) that have been important to them in the past 45 years. 

Check out all the results for every poll here.

Seventy-two people responded, and we’ll be sharing the results over the next few weeks, with the first up today, and it’s a doozy: The most important LGBT films of the last 45 years. Now, before we get to the results: We do realize doing this kind of thing is highly subjective, which is why we’re going with “most important” and not “best.” We hoped that what resulted was eclectic mix of films that have helped shape the queer cultural landscape. And we think it really is. But here are some interesting things to note before you go through the list: 

  • The top two choices were extremely obvious to be sure (and scored miles ahead of their competitors), but they both truly are  very important films. And beyond them came a nice blend of films we were pretty sure would rank high, and films we were kind of scared wouldn’t. 
  • The “points” listed next to each film refers to the way we tabulated things. People voted in top 10 lists, so if the film was #1, it got 10 points, #2 got 9 points, etc. 
  • Newer films likely fresher in people’s minds dominated at the top — #3, especially — but overall, it was across the board. Most films on the list actually came from the 1990s (9), while the 2000s (6) and the 1980s (5) were next. 
  • As expected, films featuring gay or bisexual men made up for the vast majority with 17 of the 25 films focusing on them.  Though in those polled’s defence: Its not your fault that the vast majority of films you have to pick from are about gay or bisexual men. 
  • American films were also heavy on the list, with 17 of the 25 from the US… Though notably 4 of the top 10 were not American films.
  • Women directed 5 of the films, which though still an appalling percentage (20%), it’s sadly much higher than most “best of” cinema lists.
  • And in case you’re curious, the 10 runner-ups, in order of votes, were: BoundAll About My MotherMauriceDog Day AfternoonThe Boys in the BandFireTotally Fucked UpI Killed My MotherIn The Year of Thirteen Moons and Mysterious SkinNotably, we’re as shocked as you that no John Waters film made the top 35 — but Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble were bubbling just under.

So without further adieu, we present the 25 most important LGBT films, according to you. Definitely use the comments section to discuss your thoughts and/or your own choices, but remember – these were your picks – do don’t blame us if your offended about their quality or lack of diversity through the LGBT spectrum.

25. Longtime Companion (Norman Rene, 1990)  – 27 points

24 (tie). The Celluloid Closet (Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, 1996) – 28

24 (tie). Desert Hearts (Donna Deitch, 1985) – 28 

22. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001) – 35

21. The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010) – 38

20 (tie). The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975) – 39


20 (tie). But I’m a Cheerleader (Jamie Babbit, 2000) – 39

18. Tongues Untied (Marlon Riggs, 1989) – 40

16 (tie). Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006) – 41


16 (tie). Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar, 2004) – 41

15. Sunday Bloody Sunday (John Schlesinger, 1971) – 43

14. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert  (Stephan Elliot, 1994) – 44

12 (tie). The Times of Harvey Milk (Rob Epstein, 1984)  – 46

12 (tie). Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972) – 46

11. My Beautiful Laundrette (Stephen Frears, 1985) – 48

10. Blue is the Warmest Color (Abdelatif Kechiche, 2013) – 51

9. Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Pierce, 1999) – 54


8. Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme, 1993) – 57

7. Happy Together (Wong Kar Wai, 1997) – 59

6. My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant, 1991) – 67

5. Law of Desire (Pedro Almodovar, 1987) – 70


4. Paris Is Burning (Jennie Livington, 1990) – 74

3. Weekend (Andrew Haigh, 2011) – 87

2. Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2009) – 152

1. Brokeback Mountain  (Ang Lee, 2005) – 246


Check out all the results for every poll here.

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