When it comes to streaming services, Tubi is a bit of an underdog. Still, viewers looking for anything from B-Movie horror sequels to obscure manga classics will find something to love in their archive. Besides that, Tubi sports a pretty impressive LGBTQ+ section, collecting a wide array of films from the early days of New Queer Cinema to more recent classics. For Pride month, Tubi’s viewers have plenty of options.
GO FISH (1994)
One of the first films that featured lesbians telling their own stories, Go Fish was shot on a shoestring budget and ended up turning a significant profit, proving that there was some commercial viability to films made by and for lesbians for the first time. Aside from its historical value, this is just a fun love story, and a true artifact of its time. Shot in black and white, Go Fish follows the single Max, who is reluctant to let her roommates set her up with one of their friends. Accompanied by a lesbian Greek Chorus, Max ultimately finds true love, but it’s the aesthetic that makes this film an LGBTQ+ classic.
LEAVE IT ON THE FLOOR
Brad is kicked out of his house when his mother discovers that he is gay, but he quickly falls in with a group of queer people that help him embrace his flamboyant side. Inspired by the dance culture explored in the iconic Paris Is Burning, filmmaker Sheldon Larry gives us a film that is low on budget but high on heart. The scripting is light but by delving into Brad’s trauma when he loses his home and taking us along as he discovers the joy of a found family and a community where he truly belongs, Leave It On The Floor can be a lot of fun and will have you humming its songs long after the movie ends.
BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER (1999)
Megan is a high schooler whose world falls apart when her family and friends stage an intervention, informing her that she is, in fact, a lesbian. This shocks and dismays her, and she is immediately sent to True Directions, a conversion therapy camp, where she meets a whole slew of queer and questioning teens. Quickly developing an attraction to the cantankerous Graham, Megan starts to believe that there might not be anything wrong with being gay, after all. Comical, colorful, and truly absurd, this has long been hailed as one of the great LGBTQ+ comedies of the late '90s, and introduced a lot of queer audiences to the great comedic timing of both Clea Duvall and Natasha Lyonne.
KISS ME (2012)
At her father’s 60th birthday and in the wake of his proposal to his live-in girlfriend, daughter Mia announces her engagement to her longtime partner Tim. In respect for her father’s wishes, she goes to spend time with his fiance’s family, including her daughter, Frida. Sharing a bedroom, the two find themselves in a surprising whirlwind love affair, which ends when they must both return to their partners. Their relationships both quickly end, but they are both much more broken up about one another. Complicated interpersonal relationships abound in this sweet, touching love story.
MOSQUITA Y MARI (2012)
Yolanda is a sheltered child intent on fulfilling her parents dreams of college and career, and when she meets her new neighbor, Mari, she is perplexed by her. Mari’s father recently passed away, and she spends much of her time trying to counterbalance her overworked mother’s absence by being there for her younger siblings. When Yolanda defends Mari at school, the two strike up an unlikely friendship, though the pressures of the outside world pull them apart. The two experience a sexual attraction, but Mosquita Y Mari is mostly about caring profoundly for someone whose life path will inevitably pull them away from you, and learning to be at peace with that.
FIRE SONG (2015)
Shane is a Two-Spirited teen whose elder sister recently died by suicide, leaving him to struggle with the decision of whether or not to leave his family and the reservation behind in order to go to college in the big city or to stay at home as his sister had in order to take care of those that need him. Knowing what that responsibility did to her and trying to balance his myriad romantic interests leaves Shane at a crossroads. This could be just another coming-of-age story, but by viewing the role of depression and the legacy of long term mental health struggles within First Nations communities, filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones gave us a genuinely felt and vital debut feature.
The elderly Dottie is placed in a nursing home by her daughter, but her partner of many years, Stella, comes and gets her so they can get married in Nova Scotia. This leads to a road trip in which they pick up a young hitchhiker traveling to see his dying mother. Stella slowly accepting that Dottie is aging and that she will inevitably lose her soon is the ultimate drive of the film, and it’s every bit as heartbreaking and beautiful as it sounds. That said, there’s still a lot of humor in this film, and the touching dynamic of longtime partners in their later years trying to have the wedding so long denied them is expertly portrayed by industry greats Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Ficker.
Leah and June move into a luxurious new apartment with their son, Lyle, who tragically dies at a very young age. Over the next weeks, Leah finds herself growing to suspect that June’s interest in the neighbors and her sudden career successes might be related to the death of her child. Creepy, upsetting, and yet emotionally resonant in surprisingly cathartic ways, Lyle is an underrated horror great. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what Rosemary’s Baby would be like if Rosemary had been an emotionally resilient lesbian mourning the death of her first child, Lyle is the movie for you.
THE PASS (2016)
Two young professional football players named Ade and Jason have been in a prestigious football academy since early childhood. Sharing a hotel room the night of a big game at the age of 19, the two kiss, and the moment sends echoes throughout the next decade as the struggle of remaining closeted carries through. This film touches on the importance of team sports for so many while also giving us a complicated, sensual relationship between its protagonists. Jason and Ade’s unresolved feelings for one another make up so much of the tension in this film, and their chemistry is off-the-charts.
NAZ & MAALIK (2015)
Naz and Maalik are two closted Muslim teenagers who have recently begun a romantic relationship in secret. The film follows them as they spend time together one long afternoon, unknowingly trailed by FBI agents due to some trouble they’ve landed themselves in. While the two grow closer, the threat of being found out looms. The relationship between Naz and Maalik is where the story truly shines, spotlighting their differences and then forgetting them entirely as the two share the joys of secret queer romance. Lengthy segments full of revealing dialogue are the film’s greatest strength as we get to know these characters better with every scene.
HOW TO WIN AT CHECKERS EVERY TIME (2015)
At the opening of the film, we meet a tough gangster named Oat, who almost immediately plunges us back into the memories of his troubled youth. Orphaned at an early age and living with an aunt, Oat’s hero is his openly gay brother Ek, whose boyfriend Jai appears regularly. Ek supports his family via sex work, and lives in fear that he might get drafted to service and be forced to leave his life behind. Meanwhile, Oat is captivated by Ek’s queer community, and forms new bonds within it. Bittersweet and complicated, How To Win At Checks is an emotional, bittersweet story that keeps an open mind towards the choices its characters are forced to make in life.
GUN HILL ROAD (2011)
When convict Enrique returns to his family after a lengthy stint in prison, he returns to a wife and child that aren’t who he demands that they be. He becomes increasingly angry as his child quietly transitions behind the scenes, trying to keep it a secret from him. He and Vanessa go through several confrontations, and Enrique must grapple with the question of whether or not he can be the father Vanessa needs. Though this film does come with a trigger warning due to the physical and emotional violence Vanessa deals with, Harmony Santana is brilliant in the role of Vanessa, and her moments of gender euphoria are beautiful. Gun Hill Road isn’t the easiest watch, but there is something in it that rings painfully true, regardless.
Vampire stories have long carried elements of queerness, dating at least as far back as the novella Carmilla in 1872. These stories generally entail a lot of angst and death, but it need not always be that way. Case in point, in Bit, the teenage Laurel moves to LA and runs headfirst into a group of cool vampires who practice intersectional feminism. The vamps welcome her into their group, but of course, their murdery ways leave Laurel feeling conflicted. Laurel is played here by Supergirl’s Nicole Maines, and the great casting is just one thing that makes this quirky horror comedy as fun as it is.
WOMEN WHO KILL (2016)
If you’ve ever read a gripping true crime novel and then slowly began to suspect that a certain person you know could secretly be a serial killer, then the plot of Women Who Kill will hit a chord. Two exes, Morgan and Jean, still living together despite their breakup, host a popular true crime podcast together. Morgan meets a mysterious woman who she begins dating, but immediately clues are dropped that lead her to suspect that her new love interest might be behind a grisly series of murders. Mostly intended as a tongue-in-cheek romp, Women Who Kill also manages to speak to that hidden anxiety inside each of us that asks us how well we truly know the people around us.
CHUTNEY POPCORN (1999)
When Sarita is devastated by the discovery that she is infertile, her lesbian sister Reena impulsively offers to be her surrogate. She takes on this responsibility in hopes of pleasing her mother, who has long disapproved of Reena’s lesbianism and considers her to be selfish besides. Reena’s girlfriend Lisa is appalled that no one consulted her on this major life change, and though she tries to be present throughout the pregnancy, Reena’s commitment to being truly there for her family leaves her feeling ignored. This film is about the complexities of family and relationships, but it’s also a lot about humor, personal choice, and how our choices can both challenge and strengthen our bonds.
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