Tubi lacks the name recognition that some of the bigger streaming services have, but their LGBTQ+ movie library has a little something for everyone. There are documentaries and true life stories for those who are longing to learn more about their history, movies that explore LGBTQ+ identity through different cultural lenses and a mix of new and old classic LGBTQ+ romantic comedies and dramas.
When you’re in the mood for a great LGBTQ+ film check out one of these classics on Tubi:
The Matthew Shepard Story (2002)
In 1998, the hate-motivated murder of college student Matthew Shepard shocked and outraged the nation. Matthew was horrifically beaten and then tied to a remote fence post and left to die by two men who targeted him because he was gay.
The Matthew Shepard Story is a dramatization of the facts of Matthew Shepard’s murder that is also infused with the compassion and grief that led communities to re-examine their treatment of LGBTQIQA+ people. The movie doesn’t gloss over the hate and homophobia spotlighted during the investigation and trial of the two murderers of Matthew Shepard. The legislation that was proposed and passed in the aftermath of this horrific murder formed the basis that today makes sure murders motivated by hate carry enhanced penalties.
It's an important story that all LGBTQIA+ people should see to remember the life of Matthew Shepard and how his murder changed the way LGBTQIA+ people are viewed by society. — Sonya Iryna
Go Fish (1994)
One of the first movies 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 movies 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 (Guinevere Turner), 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. — Sara Century
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. — Sara Century
More than Friends
More than Friends is your classic "I’m in love with my best friend, but I’m engaged to someone else" movie. Although in this film, the leading lady is caught in a triangle between her boyfriend and her platonic girlfriend.
Birdcage serves as a classic Robin Williams comedy. In it, the late comedian plays a gay cabaret owner, and he and his loving partner (Nathan Lane) attempt to portray being heterosexual in an effort to impress their son’s right-wing future inlaws.
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. — Sara Century
The Brandon Teena Story (1998)
Brandon Teena was a transgender man who was murdered in 1993 along with two other people. Teena was targeted by the murderers because he was trans. This documentary about the brief and tragic life of Brandon Teena shines a spotlight on the very real dangers that transgender people have faced in the past and continue to face today. The shocking events surrounding the days immediately before the murder and the aftermath of the killing serve as a sobering reminder of how far culture has come in acceptance of LGBTQ+ people and how far it still has to go.
The documentary includes interviews with the people who knew and loved Brandon as well as interviews with the killers, archival footage of the trial and investigation and other important historical records. — Sonya Iryna
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. — Sara Century
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. — Sara Century
The Celluloid Closet (1995)
This fun documentary is based on a book by Vito Russo, who was involved in the creation of the documentary. The Celluloid Closet dives deep into the history of Hollywood, especially during the Golden Age of film, to unearth the stories and scandals of LGBTQ+ actors and their impact on the film industry. With archival film footage, news accounts and even some first-hand stories and gossip, this documentary tells the heartaches, triumphs and struggles of LGBTQ+ actors trying to live authentically and make their mark on the entertainment industry. Reading between the lines of the journals, letters and other documents written by some of the most famous (and closeted) actors in Hollywood gives LGBTQ+ viewers a sense of the valuable contributions of these actors and what their private lives were really like. — Sonya Iryna
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. — Sara Century
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. — Sara Century
How to Win at Checker Every Time (2015)
At the opening of the movie, 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 Checkers Every Time is an emotional story that keeps an open mind towards the choices its characters are forced to make in life. — Sara Century
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 his child needs. Though this film does come with a trigger warning due to the physical and emotional violence her character 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. — Sara Century
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. — Sara Century
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. — Sara Century
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. 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. — Sara Century
Outrage is a documentary that looks at openly gay and closeted politicians who were creating and voting on laws restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. With in-depth interviews, news clips and detailed information about the legislative process and what laws were in place at that time that impacted the LGBTQ+ community, Outrage puts a spotlight on the powerful politicians who make decisions about the lives of LGBTQ+ people. It also points out the conflict of interest that occurs when LGBTQ+ politicians decide to vote for laws that are designed to limit or take away the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
This documentary is a great primer on how laws get written, the process necessary to get them to the Congress for a vote and what the voting process is like. — Sonya Iryna
Carol is a very popular movie starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara that tells the story of two women falling in love despite the cultural taboo of being openly LGBTQ+ in the 1950s. It’s based on a novel called The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith. Carol, a glamorous wealthy housewife trapped in an unhappy marriage, meets young aspiring photographer Therese at the department store where Therese works. Carol’s marriage is crumbling because of her affairs with other women and her husband is threatening to expose her in order to get custody of their daughter. A complicated relationship ensues where both Carol and Therese have to figure out if they’re willing to pay the price to live authentically in a time of rigid moral constructs for women. — Sonya Iryna
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Sara Century started writing through personal and music zines and pretty much just ran with it. She loves a lot of things, including but not limited to pets, comics, museums, libraries, and horror novels. She's the co-host of the podcast Bitches On Comics and the co-founder of the Decoded Pride queer speculative fiction anthology.
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