The best LGBTQ+ shows, characters and movies on Netflix

Femme on Netflix stars George MacKay and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.
Femme on Netflix stars George MacKay and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett. (Image credit: Sky / © BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION AND AGILE FEMME LIMITED 2022)

Netflix has plenty of LGBTQ+ programming ranging from historically educational to downright fun, so consume as much queer content as your eyeballs can handle... Check out some of the best, but in no way exhaustive, gay offerings from Netflix’s LGBTQ+ category. We'll be updating this guide so do keep checking back for more and more LGBTQ+ shows on Netflix...

Femme (2023)

This heart-in-your-mouth thriller has won much praise and more than a few awards for its tension-filled scenes and amazing performances by its two main stars Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and George MacKay. It's nail-biting time from the very start as a London drag queen gets queer-bashed by a psychotic thug, then later tries to get a cunning revenge on his attacker. Yes it's very violent and sexually graphic in places but always fantastically gripping as you watch the intrigue of their warped relationship play out. You'll see George MacKay as never before. His character Preston is a complete headcase who's homophobic when with his criminal mates yet totally closeted and struggling with his feelings for men. Nathan too is wonderful as he takes Jules from being the flamboyant drag queen performer Aphrodite and friendly gay flat mate to pretending to be a streetwise ex con to get close to Preston. What a pairing and what amazing drama! 

Femme sees a twisted tale about thug Preston and drag performer Jules.

Femme is a twisted tale about thug Preston and drag performer Jules. (Image credit: Sky / © BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION AND AGILE FEMME LIMITED 2022)

Dead Boy Detectives (2024)

Dead Boy Detectives is set in the same fantasy world of Neil Gaiman's Sandman as it follows teen sleuths Edwin (George Rexstrew) and Charles (Jayden Revri), who happen to be ghosts and have set up a detective agency for those in the spirit world in need of mysteries to be solved. Edwin died in 1916, while Charles met his end in 1989. But it's Edwin who so obviously has hidden gay feelings and can't quite act on them as he was brought up in an era where that sort of thing was most definitely repressed. But as the pair set out to solve various cases, they end up in a small coastal town in America where Edwin comes across a supernatural being The Cat King, played by Lukas Gage, who's out and proud and most certainly has his eyes on Edwin...

Dead Boy Detectives is a fantasy sleuthing drama on Netflix.

Dead Boy Detectives duo Edwin (on left) and Charles. (Image credit: Netflix)

Lukas Gage as The Cat King in Dead Boy Detectives.

Lukas Gage as The Cat King in Dead Boy Detectives. (Image credit: Netlfix)

Schitt's Creek (2015-2020)

Schitt’s Creek is a comedy that follows the misadventures of a rich family who suddenly find themselves out of pocket and forced to move to a small rural town called Schitt’s Creek. Of course things turn hilarious as there are misunderstandings and mishaps with their new neighbours throughout the six seasons. The show features many now-iconic characters but the standout star is the openly-gay series creator, Daniel Levy, who plays the family's pansexual son, David Rose. Him being forced to live in the middle of nowhere makes for so many fish-out-of-water moments, but the show does explore his predicaments with quite a lot of sensitivity which is very endearing. Daniel's dad Eugene Levy plays his Schitt's Creek father Johnny Rose, while Home Alone icon  Catherine O'Hara is mum Moira Rose, and Annie Murphy is Daniel's sister Alexis Rose. Emily Hampshire (The Rig), Chris Elliot, Sarah Levy and Jennifer Robertson also star.

* All six seasons of Schitt's Creek are also going to start streaming on Hulu in October.

EastSiders (2012-2019)

This dark comedy series from Kit Williamson got its start on YouTube, but was later shown through Logo TV and Vimeo before finding a home at Netflix. Set in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, EastSiders follows Thom (Van Hansis) and Cal (Williamson) as they navigate their lives, community, substance abuse issues, and relationships. The mega-popular series has been praised for its vulnerable portrayal of LGBTQ+ relationships and last year earned two Emmy awards for Outstanding Casting for a Drama or Digital Drama Series and Outstanding Guest Performer for a Digital Daytime Drama Series (Lin Shaye).

Edge of Seventeen (1998)

Not to be confused by the 2016 film of a similar title, Edge of Seventeen is a groundbreaking coming of age story about a gay teen in 1984 Sandusky, Ohio from David Moreton and Todd Stephens. As pop stars like Boy George and Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics began smashing gender roles, 17-year-old Eric begins to come to terms with who he is, and what he desires all while capturing the spirit of a John Hughes movie, but a hell of a lot gayer.

The Perfection (2018)

First things first, the LGBTQ+ community is notoriously divided on The Perfection, which might be even more of a reason to give it a watch. Arguably one of the closest things we’ve gotten as a modern exploitation horror movie, The Perfection features stunning performances from Allison Williams and Logan Browning, and a script with more twists than a rollercoaster. Just when you think you know what’s coming next, the rug gets pulled out from underneath and you’re left guessing until the final credits.

Pose (2018-2021)

Thanks to Netflix’s relationship with FX, those without cable are fortunate enough to have access to one of the most important television series of all time. Pose (shown on BBC2 in the UK) is centered around New York City’s ballroom scene in the 1980s and the communities and families that were built because of it. For three seasons, the Emmy award winning show was a beacon for inclusivity showcasing queer and trans people of color as genuine human beings rather than punchlines, stereotypes, or monsters (for an elaboration, see Disclosure). Pose elevates the narrative surrounding queer and trans people, and isn’t afraid to showcase the nuanced realities of an oft-forgotten community with respect. Pose is a show that opened eyes, changed lives, and we are all better for it. There are three seasons of Pose to enjoy.

Elektra Abundance (Dominique Jackson) in Pose Season 3.

Elektra Abundance (Dominique Jackson) in Pose Season 3. (Image credit: BBC/FX/Eric Liebowitz)

Monsoon (2019)

Directed by openly gay filmmaker Hong Khaou, Monsoon is a beautiful drama about a British Vietnamese man named Kit (Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians fame) who visits his home country thirty years after his family escaped Saigon as refugees after the Vietnam War. It’s touching to see a story about a gay man learning more about the truth of his identity, but knowing full well who he is as a gay person. Kit’s story is more than his sexuality, it’s about discovering the whole of his heritage and what was left behind when his family fled. 

Disclosure (2020)

Let’s just cut right to the chase — transgender representation in film and television can be problematic. As stated in the documentary Disclosure and cited from GLAAD study, 80 percent of Americans don't actually know a transgender person, meaning many people develop their thoughts and opinions on trans people based on what they see in media. Serving somewhat as “Trans Representation 101,” the documentary presents a historical look at Hollywood's portrayal of transgender people and how these portrayals have real-life impact on the treatment and lives of the transgender community.

Mucho Mucho Amor (2020)

A hero hailing from Puerto Rico and a cultural phenomenon in the Latine community, astrologer/actor/dancer/writer/television personality Walter Mercado was undoubtedly one of the most fascinating people on the planet. For decades, Mercado hosted an astrological prediction show on Spanish speaking cable channels, that was less Miss Cleo and more Liberace. Mercado flaunted elaborate costumes and capes that would rival Elton John, and despite his flamboyant expression, was beloved the world over. The documentary is a celebration of Mercado’s life and impact on the Latine community, but also the complicated history of an icon.

Sex Education (2019 - 2024)

Trying to figure out sexualities during our teen years is tough, but for high school student Otis who lives with his sex therapist mother, a lifetime of frank discussions and education has turned him into somewhat of a teenage sexpert. Once his class gets wind, he joins up with the resident “bad influence” girl, Maeve, and starts an underground sex therapy clinic. Otis’ best friend Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa) is proudly Black and gay, and Sex Education allows him the space to be a truly multi-faceted character rather than a stereotype. Season 2 explores Eric’s story even more and has quickly become one of the most progressive shows for teens available. In Season 3 of Sex Education things have changed at the fictional British school. Headmaster Mr. Groff has been replaced by a new headmistress who has introduced a uniform and wants the students to adopt a new attitude to put the school back on the map!

(L-R) Steve, Aimee and Maeve from Sex Education Season 3.

(L-R) Steve, Aimee and Maeve from Sex Education Season 3. (Image credit: Sam Taylor / Netflix)

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018-2020)

The reboot of the 1980s cartoon series of the same name, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power might be the intentionally queerest animated series ever made (sorry, Steven Universe) and has captured the hearts of queer people from all ages and gender identities. It’s a show teaching people to find the power within themselves, to find the silver lining in all situations, and perhaps most importantly, the power of finding your chosen family. Created by openly queer Noelle Stevenson, She-Ra is groundbreaking queer entertainment for all-ages, and season 5 is a boundary shattering sensation.

What Keeps You Alive (2018)

Colin Minihan is one of the most promising up-and-coming genre directors, and the highly suspenseful, psychological horror film What Keeps You Alive is arguably his best thus far. Jackie and Jules celebrate their first wedding anniversary by visiting a remote cabin in the woods, and it soon becomes apparent that there’s something very, very wrong with Jackie, and that Jules may not actually know her wife as well as she once believed.

Wynonna Earp (2015)

I’m sorry, but there is no heterosexual explanation for a supernatural Western horror show starring a lady gunslinger who fights demons. While the show gets its name from the eldest great-great-granddaughter of the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp, it's Wynonna’s little sister Waverly that threw “shippers” into a frenzy. Waverly falls for a local lesbian cop named Nicole but unlike most shows, Wynonna Earp was created through a queer lens. The gaze for Waverly and Nicole’s relationship is distinctly queer and fans can’t get enough of it.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)

You didn't think we were going to make an LGBTQ+ Netflix list and not include the most groundbreaking piece of LGBTQ+ cinematic animation, did you? The Mitchells vs. The Machines is first and foremost a genuinely wonderful family adventure comedy that is sure to quickly become an all-time favorite, but having a queer teen girl act as the film's protagonist is just the robot apocalypse defeating cherry on top. Katie Mitchell is unapologetically queer, but her anxiety, insecurities about her future, and desire to make weird art feels relatable without being stereotypical. The fact she's included in an animated family feature, a genre notorious for queer exclusion, will genuinely change lives. This movie rules and we're so lucky to have it.

Single All The Way (2021)

Single All The Way gives you a lovely gay romance, with complications of course, to wallow in for Christmas. Desperate to avoid his family nagging him about his perpetual single status, Peter (Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie) persuades his best friend Nick (Will Philemon Chambers) to join him for the holidays and engage in a little fake dating to appease them. But as Peter's mother Carole has set up Peter on a blind date with her handsome spin instructor (Luke McFarlane), the fake romance plan begins to unravel. Also in the unhelpful mix is single Aunt Sandy, played by The White Lotus star Jennifer Coolidge.

"There's pageantry, wine, hunky Santas, a little bit of deception and a whole lotta do-gooding,’ laughs Michael Urie. ‘Peter’s parents are played by Barry Bostwick and Kathy Najimy, a combination that scientists agree can only produce gay sons who love Christmas. Peter's spent many Christmases perfecting choreography to a Britney Spears Christmas song with his nieces. He has a fern named Judith, is trapped in a social media job he doesn't love and is always single when he goes home for the holidays!’

Peter and fabulous Aunty Sandy (Jennifer Coolidge) in 'Single All The Way'.

Peter (Michael Urie) and fabulous Aunty Sandy (Jennifer Coolidge) in Single All The Way. (Image credit: Netflix)

Heartstopper (2022 to 2023)

Shy secondary school pupil Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) gets allocated the seat next to ‘rugby king’ Nick Nelson (Kit Connor) in their form period at the start of this emotional drama, and it ends up changing their lives. These two very different lads become best pals, leading Nick to question if his feelings for Charlie go beyond friendship. "Their relationship hits both by surprise - especially Nick," says Kit Connor, who starred as young Elton John in hit movie Rocketman. ‘Originally it’s just a friendship, and they enjoy spending time with each other. That’s when Nick realises it maybe something more."

Joe adds: "From the moment Charlie sees Nick, he has a crush on him, but to him it just seems like he’s “pining after a straight boy”. He doesn’t see it as a realistic crush, which partly stems from his low self-esteem, but also, quite a lot of young gay people have that experience, where they don’t feel like their crushes will happen."

Adapted from a popular comic book series, Heartstopper includes some animation to illustrate emotions. Charlie and Nick are constantly texting and have other school friends and family to call upon for advice. There are some surprise cameos in the eight-parter to look out for too! While Nick and Charlie inevitably face major obstacles as they navigate the tricky territory of falling in love, the story is ultimately uplifting… 

"It’s a realistic story told in an optimistic way,’ says acting newcomer Joe. "A lot of shows portray the more negative aspects of being gay, but it’s important to show the beauty of it, and all the lovely things that come along with it."

Kit adds: "It looks at the world through rose-tinted spectacles. It’s also just a good, old-fashioned love story."

Heartstopper season 2 sees NIck and Charlie's relationship go further as they are fully open at school. There's also a fun school trip to Paris and plenty more twists and turns

Heartstopper stars Kit Connor and Joe Locke as Nick and Charlie.

Heartstopper stars Kit Connor and Joe Locke as Nick and Charlie. (Image credit: Netflix)

Uncoupled (2022)

Join Neil Patrick Harris in eight-part comedy drama Uncoupled set in New York as he plays Michael Lawson who’s heading towards his 50th birthday thinking that he's loved up and happy in a relationship with his partner Colin (Tuc Watkins). Then Colin suddenly moves out and Michael must cope with losing his soulmate and becoming a single gay man of a certain age in New York. There's fun, heartache and some endearingly funny moments.

Brooks Ashmanskas as Stanley James, Neil Patrick Harris as Michael Lawson, Emerson Brooks as Billy Jackson

Neil Patrick Harris takes centre stage in Netflix series Uncoupled. (Image credit: Netflix)

It's A Sin (2021)

The lives of three gay friends at the height of the 1980s AIDS epidemic are followed in the uplifting and heartbreaking five-parter It's A Sin, written by Russell T. Davies and starring Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry and Neil Patrick Harris among others. It's also full of all the great music of the Eighties. It al; kicks off in 1981 as wannabe actor Ritchie (Years and Years singer Olly Alexander), party boy Roscoe (Omari Douglas) and shy Welsh lad Colin (Callum Scott Howells) end up sharing a London pad together with their friend Jill (Lydia West). They call their new home The Pink Palace which becomes party central with plenty of shenanigans and sex going on.  But soon news of a mystery illness hits the headlines, a deadly virus that casts a devastating shadow over all their lives…

* It's A Sin was shown on Channel 4 in the UK and on HBO Max in the US. It's now available on both Netflix and Disney Plus.

Olly Alexander as Ritchie in It's a Sin.

It's A Sin shows gay life in London in the 1980s. (Image credit: Channel 4)

Firefly Lane (2021- 2023)

While Firefly Lane, based on the bestselling Kristen Hannah novel of the same name, is essentially about a three-decades long friendship between two women Tully Hart (Katherine Heigl) and Kate Mularkey (Sarah Chalke) who first meet at school in 1974, there's a heartwarming gay story running throughout both seasons. Kate's older brother Sean Mularkey (Jason McKinnon) is secretly gay for much of the first two decades that play out. Tully finds out when she's a teenager when she sees Sean and a local lad smooching but keeps it a secret for many years, not even telling her best friend Kate. Then when Sean does eventually come out as gay — as a married father — Kate's shocked that her best pal knew but is impressed with her loyalty to Sean. 

Sarah Chalke and Katherine Heigl in Firefly Lane.

Sarah Chalke and Katherine Heigl in Firefly Lane. (Image credit: Netflix)

Read More:

Best LGBTQ+ shows and movies to watch on Disney Plus in 2021
Best LGBTQ+ shows and movies to watch free online in 2021
Best LGBTQ+ shows and movies to watch on HBO Max in 2021
Best LGBTQ+ shows and movies to watch on Apple TV+ in 2021  

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.

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