Films That Feature LGBTQ Characters
In today’s ever-evolving world, the representation of LGBTQ individuals is slowly being introduced more and more in popular mediums, such as film. While not at the level it should be, American (and other) cinemas are gradually introducing characters that don’t follow the normal heterosexual genre. From television programs like Queer as Folk and Will & Grace, to films with LGBTQ storylines that have received praise (Brokeback Mountain, Blue is the Warmest Color), the LGBTQ community is being introduced into the new age where acceptance is gradually becoming a norm.
Sit back with a bowl of popcorn and read our list of recommended films that feature a diverse cast…
The Language of Love was introduced to me after pop star Dannii Minogue posted it to her blog a year ago. Kim Ho was one of the winners of the online writing competition Love Bytes in 2012, and had the opportunity with director Laura Scrivano on developing his three-minute film, Transcendence, into his finished product, The Language of Love. The short film deals with Charlie (played by Ho) who is in the middle of a French exam, when the exam asks to describe his best friend. Halfway through his response, Charlie realizes he’s in love with his best friend, Sam, and begins to describe the problematic issues of not only falling in love, but falling in love with your best friend; and the complexities of being gay and in love while in school. The ten minute film is a beautiful display of young love, and the manifestation of those feelings for the first time.
Soldier’s Girl is a true tale of the relationship between Barry Winchell and Calpernia Adams, and Winchell’s murder at the hands of his fellow soldiers after discovering the pair’s relationship. Troy Garity (Barbershop, Gangster Squad) stars as Winchell, who goes out one night with a friend and sees Adams (played by Lee Pace) performing at a revue. When word gets out Winchell is seeing the transgender showgirl, he comes under harassment from his fellow soldiers, and is eventually beaten to death by his roommate. Winchell’s death became an example of then-active “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and how it failed to protect LGBT servicemen and women.
In White Frog, Booboo Stewart (X-Men, Twilight) portrays Nick Young, a teen with Asperger’s syndrome who tries dealing with the loss of his older brother (played by Harry Shum Jr.) who was hit by a vehicle while riding his bicycle. With Chaz’s death, Nick withdraws from life, until Chaz’s friends accept him into their inner circle. As Nick spends more time with his older brother’s group of friends, he slowly realizes he did not know much about his brother’s life. When finding out his brother was involved with another guy (Gregg Sulkin), Nick lashes out against everyone and runs away. Upon discovering Chaz’s video diary, Nick realizes he and his brother are different from what their parents wanted them to be: perfect without any flaws – Chaz’s homosexuality is ignored by their homophobic father and neglectful mother; Nick’s disorder causes his father to lash out at him, as he wants Nick to be “normal.”
Homosexuality in Latino culture has always been a mixed view due to most Latino men wanting men to be seen as macho, and that anything feminine is below them. La Mission, directed by Peter Bratt, stars Benjamin Bratt as Che Rivera, who is thought of as “old school,” and is also a former inmate and recovering alcoholic. Rivera’s path to rehabilitation is tested when he finds out his son, Jes, is gay. As a result, Che berates Jes, even beating his son out in public. Ultimately, Jes leaves his father’s abuse and is eventually shot. Even while Jes is lying in the hospital, Che struggles to accept his son. Che eventually realizes he has missed his son’s graduation, and he leaves to see his son at college.
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar is the right amount of camp and positivity needed from a 90’s film, and it features cameos from RuPaul and Naomi Campbell. The late Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes star as drag queens, who after winning “Drag Queen of the Year” in New York, embark on a journey to California to take place in an even bigger contest. The pair are joined by John Leguizamo, whom they refer to as a “boy in a dress,” due to his inexperience as a drag queen. When the trio’s car breaks down in a small town, they are forced to deal with closed-minded people. The townspeople eventually accept the queens, who help them open their minds.
It’s no secret that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a favorite of mine, but it’s for good reason. The film, based off a book of the same name, is essentially a coming-of-age tale with unusual characters. You have Charlie, the titular “wallflower” whose first friend in high school happens to be the very eccentric and gay Patrick (Ezra Miller; We Need to Talk About Kevin). Patrick is involved with a closeted football player, who is later beaten by his father who caught the pair together. When a fight breaks out between Patrick and his former boyfriend and his goons, Charlie saves the day, while suffering from a blackout. Perks not only features one gay character, it includes The Rocky Horror Picture Show with some of the cast acting out the cult film. The 2012 film tackles friendship, mental illness and love in such a way that tugs at your heartstrings.
The rising visibility of LGBTQ characters in film and television is slowly making its way onto a bigger format. Films that feature any sort of different character are sometimes met with backlash, such as How to Train Your Dragon 2, which features a gay character. The negative attention is usually met with narrow-minded arguments that such topics are inappropriate, and that some people would not want to see these truths played out on screen; but reality is that it is necessary for anyone who feels or is different needs to be given representation of themselves, as well as the typified “straight” canon. With individuals like Laverne Cox, Ian McKellan, and Ezra Miller gracing both the big and small screens, it is with certainty that the rise of the LGBTQ representation is a good thing for everyone.