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Best LGBTQ+ Shows and Movies to Watch on Netflix in 2020

Moonlight

Source: Amazon (Image credit: Amazon)

LGBTQ+ shows and movies are for everyone, because good stories are captivating and exciting for all audiences who embrace them. Netflix is a streaming service with large and wide-ranging audiences around the world, and they want to find the best things to watch. Whether you are celebrating Pride Month, or looking for the more great stories to enjoy, you can find fantastic content focused on LGBTQ+ stories on Netflix, including the film Moonlight .

Best Overall: Moonlight

Moonlight is a phenomenal 2016 film that earned acclaim from audiences, critics, and even the Academy Awards. Written and directed by Barry Jenkins, the powerful coming of age story is presented in three distinct acts. In each act, audiences see a different stage in the life of Chiron as he navigates a tragic childhood, bullied adolescence, and conflicted adulthood.

As a timid young gay black male in a culture that values toughness and machismo, Chiron struggles to define himself as he discovers who he is inside. That culture is mostly contained in the toughest projects of Miami, and the city and its culture serves as a sort of character throughout the movie. It's people, music, food, and drug culture flow through the story, and Chiron's journey towards self discovery.

It's his journey as a gay black man that defines that discovery, as we watch him express and explore the identity in ways that feel natural even to an audience without their own experiences. We see him learn how to deal with finding love, facing rejection, and expressing his identity in a way that brings him peace. The diner scene between Chiron and Kevin is a masterpiece of pacing and emotion. Moonlight's Best Picture win was very well deserved.

Pros:

  • Full of originality
  • Gripping for all audiences
  • Dynamic storytelling
  • Portrait of gay black masculinity

Cons:

  • Violence could be off-putting

Best Original: Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black was one of the biggest early hits for Netflix as an original series, yet the series has grown beyond its original appeal to tell a broader story. This is a story about women in prison, originally framed around Piper Chapman, who is a privileged white woman who is suddenly thrust into jail for a crime she committed years before.

The series started with a fish-out-of-water story, as Piper dealt with hardened criminals, crazy situations, and her ex-girlfriend. She had to explain her past (and future?) time as a lesbian to her boyfriend and family as she also dealt with the consequences of her past. As the seasons go on, Orange is the New Black develops a deep roster of characters with stories to tell, and their love for each other is central as this black comedy finds funny in the strangest places.

Pros:

  • Shockingly funny
  • A unique voice
  • Huge ensemble cast

Cons:

  • Can be too dark at times
  • Funny can become too silly

Animated Original: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

She-Ra may have begun back in the 1980's as a companion story to He-Man, but in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, this hero has complex adventures that stand on their own. In this animated Netflix original, an orphan named Adora is transformed by a magic sword into the Princess of Power ⁠— She-Ra. As she becomes a powerful force for good, she turns on the Horde that raised her, along with her best friend.

She-Ra has put representation of LGBTQ+ characters and stories at the core. You see established relationships between major and side characters. The show also features Double Trouble, who is non-binary character voiced by a non-binary actor. It all builds to central moments in later seasons, where She-Ra reveals her love for a woman who has long been a part of her life. It's clear why the show has twice been nominated for GLAAD Media Awards.

Pros:

  • Exciting action
  • Representation across LGBTQ+
  • Appealing art design
  • Great humor

Cons:

  • Storylines could feel familiar
  • Young adult appeal may not extend to all ages

Best Laughs: Schitt's Creek

Schitt's Creek is an offbeat family comedy originally from the Canadian network CBC Television. The show centers around the Rose family, which used to be very wealthy but now find themselves down on their luck and living in a town they owned after buying it as a joke. The family tries to run the town's motel while struggling to adjust to life without money. The show really strikes gold with the family's interactions with the people of this small town.

Representation of LGBTQ+ lives through all parts of the show, starting with David, the son of the Rose family who is a pansexual character who explores romance as the show goes on. As his story moves from discovery to secret romance to an out love, everything is treated with grace and normalcy, which lets the audience find peace in how these characters' lives are seen. Instead of the small town falling into cliches of hate, we mostly see love and support as they build towards a funny, loving finale.

Pros:

  • Comic legends doing work
  • Absurdly funny from all angles
  • Representation that feels normal

Cons:

  • An acquired taste
  • Some deadpan comedy misses the mark

The Nightlife: Pose

Pose delves into drag ball culture of the late 1980s and early 90s, giving viewers a look into the families these characters create on and off the streets. This series is like a spiritual successor to the legendary documentary Paris is Burning, which gave many who didn't know their first glimpses of drag culture and Houses, and drove slang that was adopted by wider culture.

Pose focuses on Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ figures, whose stories can be some of the last to be told. Characters struggle with the rising HIV/AIDS epidemic, family rejection, gender surgeries, and drug use. Characters are bound to one another by their common experiences, as well as their Houses, which provide stability and a home to those who need it. Jump into the Houses of Abundance, Evangelista, Ferocity, and Wintour in this exciting and gritty series.

Pros:

  • Earnest and unapologetic
  • Billy Porter is amazing
  • A modern soap opera
  • Stories about people who don't get their stories told

Cons:

  • Only Season 1 on Netflix now
  • Third season in production

Best Documentary: A Secret Love

A Secret Love provides a story of life and love between two women over many decades, as well as a look at a history of attitudes towards LGBTQ+ over that time. The couple was closeted through most of their lives, calling their relationship a friendship as they navigated the world. One played in the women's pro baseball leagues that many of us know for inspiring the movie A League of Their Own.

Although Pat and Terry have been together 65 years, they are still learning in their old age how to live out as a couple. You can learn how they dealt with the possibilities of marriage and senior living as lovers. This film centers around love, and how it is undeniable, even against the wishes of family or laws or hate that may come.

Pros:

  • A heartwarming true story
  • A new look at romance
  • A deep dive into history of gay life

Cons:

  • Could make you cry

Bottom line

There is a wonderful variety of LGBTQ+ shows and movies on Netflix, but if you are looking for where to begin you should clearly start with Moonlight . The film has a depth and artistic vision that is so difficult to come by, and it tells an interesting original story. The cast is outstanding, and many of the performances are breathtaking. Make sure to leave yourself time to process your thoughts once it ends, as Moonlight deserves consideration of all it has to say.

If you are looking for a fun series, without the heaviness of that kind of story, make sure to check out She-Ra and the Princesses of Power . This is a fun show that could be enjoyed by the whole family, with episodic action and adventure mixed with a longer series story arc.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Roy Delgado is a freelance writer for CordCutters. He focuses on a wide range of streaming topics, including sports, prestige series and award-winning films. He loves binges, marathons, and representation of all kinds. Find him on Twitter @RoyD77