Films that bring LGBTQ conversations to the silver screen during Pride Month

By Riya Sharma 7 Min Read

It’s Pride month, and it’s all about the celebration and commemoration of the gay community. Pride month began after the Stonewall riots, which were a series of gay liberation protests in 1969. Every year, this month, various pride parades, shows, and campaigns are held to celebrate and acknowledge the struggle faced by the community.

Cinema plays a huge role in making an impact and starting conversations on topics that would not have been so easy to have otherwise. Sometimes they succeed in achieving what they wanted to, sometimes they fall short, and sometimes they create controversies that remain relevant and historic for many years to come.

Here is a list of some of the movies that made the audience think beyond their knowledge about people, their rights and their lives:

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Different from the Others (1919)

Different from the Others (1919)
Different from the Others (1919)

This was possibly the world’s first gay film. Anders als die Andern is a silent black-and-white German masterpiece made in 1919. The films used biological facts to explain that being homosexual is part of human nature and is not unusual. This film was one of the first films to take a sympathetic view of homosexuality and talk towards equality and acceptance of homosexuality. ‘Different from the Others’ remains a landmark moment in German and cinematic history.

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Maurice (1987)

Maurice (1987)
Maurice (1987)

Starring Hugh Grant (Clive Durham) and James Wilby (Maurice Hall), directed by James Ivory. The film is based on the story based on the novel ‘Maurice’ by E.M. Forster. The film is based on the lives of two Cambridge students and how they handled love and sexuality and how it affected the course of their lives. The film was a breath of fresh air and discomfort for people. Seeing young men in love was not something they expected or wanted to see, frankly, but Maurice is one of the classics of cinema for its story and cinematography.

Ambertha (1982)

Ambertha (1982)
Ambertha (1982)

Umbartha stars Smita Patila as Sulabha. The highlight of this film was the lesbian relationship between two inmates, which turned into a scandal that was widely discussed in the media and the government. This film is one of the first films to hint at homosexuality in its plot. Even though this relationship was discussed negatively, ‘Umbartha’ takes the right step by talking about a taboo subject ahead of its time.

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Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, directed by Ang Lee, this film explores the complicated romantic relationship between two American shy guys, Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist. The film was an uncomfortable shock to the whole of America as it featured their most manly ‘rough and tumble’ cowboys staring at the young heartthrobs and turning the soul of America into gays, in love and together. It challenged the stereotypical idea of ​​what two loving people should be like.

Fire (1996)

Fire (1996)
Fire (1996)

Starring Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi, Fire is one of the first mainstream Bollywood films to explicitly depict a lesbian relationship, and is the first film to feature a lesbian relationship. This film hardly needs any introduction. After its release in India, activists staged several protests, sparking a flurry of public dialogue on issues such as homosexuality and freedom of expression. Due to its theme of homosexuality, ‘Fire’ was banned in several countries and caused an uproar among the people, but it still shines as one of the most well-made films ever made.

Baumge (1996)

Baumge (1996)
Baumge (1996)

It is an Indian anthology of short films directed by Riyad Vinci Wadia and Jangu Sethna. The film stars Kushal Punjabi and Rahul Bose and has music by Ashutosh Phatak. It is often considered India’s first gay film, and highlights the sub-culture of the post-liberalization metropolis ‘Bombay’ of the 90s. Bombay consists of six segments, each based on a poem by Indian author R. Raj Rao. The film was not released commercially in India as Wadia did not submit it to the censor board, as he felt they would refuse to give the film a certificate.

Aligarh (2015)

Aligarh (2015)
Aligarh (2015)

Starring Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkummar Rao, the film is the story of a common gay man who tries to come to terms with his homosexuality after he suddenly comes out. Unlike Brokeback Mountain, it is based on a true story. But the film is like a poem, which says a lot and leaves even more unsaid. ‘Aligarh’ is the true story of Dr. Srinivas Ramachandra Siras, who was suspended from his job due to his sexual orientation. Due to the raging issues of LGBTQ and media freedom, it sparked a debate and created a stir among the people. The film beautifully explored the story and questioned the foundations of the society we live in.

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Riya Sharma is an Assistant Editor and film critic at Bolly Masala. With over years of experience in the field of journalism, she not only keeps a keen eye on the world of cinema and box office numbers but also writes about travel, food, books, women's issues, and social matters. She is a former student of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Riya enjoys traveling, watching movies, reading, and writing.
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