Bucket List of 21 High School Films Every Gay Must See

Bucket List of 21 High School films every gay must see – BUT DO YOU AGREE?  Write in on our comments and let us know your best films!


21 High School Films Every Gay Must See

Bullies. Cliques. Mean girls. Insecurities. Cafeteria food. The high school experience can be rough — especially for LGBT kids who may be struggling with their sexual identities while trying to fit in.

These films explore the teen experience, and that jungle known as high school, with humor and compassion. Many of them feature queer characters and/or queen bees that LGBT viewers love to see get shot down (or emulate). Some of them explore the minefield of gender identity, with teen characters swapping genders. But whether they explicitly deal with LGBT characters, or simply question and challenge the teen world’s cultural status quo, there’s something in each of them that should resonate with queer viewers.

G.B.F. (2013)
In this candy-colored comedy from director Darren Stein (Jawbreaker), an out gay kid is fought over by the high school queen bees, each of whom wants him as their “gay best friend.” The United States of Tara’s Michael Willett stars with Paul Iacono as his geeky gay buddy, with a fun cameo by Megan Mullally as a much too gay-friendly mom.

Geography Club (2013)
A group of queer kids form a secret after-school club to share their feelings and experiences in this LGBT variation on The Breakfast Club. The film stars Cameron Dean Stewart as a closeted jock, and the cast includes Scott Bakula as his dad, Hairspray’s Nikki Blonsky, and Glee’s Alex Newell.

Just One of the Guys (1985)
Joyce Hyser stars as an aspiring teen journalist who goes undercover as a boy at a rival high school to win a summer internship at a local newspaper. Gender-bending romantic tension, an R-rated reveal, and various high jinks ensue.

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
Natasha Lyonne plays an all-American cheerleader whose parents send her to a gay “rehab camp” when they suspect she’s a lesbian. The strong cast includes Michelle Williams, Melanie Lynsky, Clea Duvall, and an out-of-drag RuPaul.

Struck by Lightning (2012)
Glee’s Chris Colfer wrote and stars in this film about an ambitious teen who challenges the high school status quo by blackmailing his classmates into contributing to his literary magazine. The cast includes Pitch Perfect‘s Rebel Wilson, Allison Janney, Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, andModern Family’s Sarah Hyland.

She’s the Man (2006)
Amanda Bynes and a very young Channing Tatum are both delightful in this update of Shakespeare’s classic sex farce Twelfth Night. This tale of a girl posing as her twin brother to attend an elite boarding school remains faithful to the Bard’s gender-bending play as it hits all the time-honored high school comedy notes.

The Curiosity of Chance (2006)
Tad Hilgenbrink stars as an out-of-the-closet gay teen who earns the support of an eclectic group of friends while contending with a homophobic bully at an international high school.

It’s a Boy Girl Thing (2006)
Samaire Armstrong (of TV’s Resurrection and The O.C.) and Kevin Zegers (Gossip Girl andTransamerica) play sworn rivals who magically find themselves living in each other’s body in this gender-bending comic fantasy.

Hairspray (2007)
As gay filmmaker John Waters once told this journalist, “The musical version of Hairspray was really my most subversive work. It tricked families into embracing two men singing a love song to each other, and believing that it’s a great thing for your daughter to fall in love with a black guy.” Nikki Blonsky plays the chubby teen who strikes dual blows for big girl power and racial equality in 1960s Baltimore.

Fame (1980)
Skip the 2009 remake and see the gritty original from director Alan Parker (Evita) about talented teens coming of age at New York’s High School for the Performing Arts. Irene Cara, Lee Curreri, Barry Miller, and Maureen Teefy star along with Paul McCrane as a sensitive gay actor. The film earned Oscars for original score and for its infectious title song.

Clueless (1995)
Alicia Silverstone stars in this clever update of Jane Austen’s Emma that informed every ditz-girl comedy that followed, including Legally Blonde and Mean Girls. Justin Walker plays the adorable boy she sets her sights on — without realizing that he’s gay.

Saved! (2004)
Jena Malone stars as a teenager who finds herself pregnant by her gay boyfriend and is then ostracized and demonized at her Christian high school. The wicked satire features Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin, Patrick Fugit, and out actress Heather Matarazzo as it skewers fundamentalist Christian hypocrisy.

The Adventures of Sebastian Cole (1998)
A pre-Entourage Adrian Grenier plays a high school student who must contend with the typical teenage challenges — as well as his recently transitioned transgender father, played by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Clark Gregg.

Lost and Delirious (2001)
In this sexual coming of age drama, The O.C.’s Mischa Barton plays a shy freshman at a posh boarding school who discovers that her roommates — Piper Perabo (of TV’s Covert Affairs) and Jessica Pare (Mad Men) — are lovers.

Heathers (1988)
Winona Ryder and Christian Slater star in this dark comedy cult classic as teenagers who plot to kill the high school’s evil queen bees (Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, and Kim Walker), all of whom happen to be named Heather. Ryder and Slater’s characters off two football players and then trick everyone into thinking they were gay lovers — leading to the infamous line “I love my dead gay son!”

Mean Girls (2004)
Tina Fey wrote this tale of an innocent teen (Lindsay Lohan) grappling with her high school’s reigning mean girls (Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, and Amanda Seyfried). Looking’s Daniel Franzese plays her gay buddy, Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex) is her allegedly lesbian pal, and out gay actor Jonathan Bennett plays the hunky object of her affection.

Easy A (2010)
Emma Stone shot to stardom as a teenage virgin who tries to increase her social standing by pretending to have sex with her bullied gay friend (Dan Byrd). Rumors of her fictitious promiscuity spin out of control in this sly nod to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter.

Pleasantville (1998)
With no gay characters or storylines, this is one of the most queer-friendly, socially subversive teen movies of all. Two siblings (Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon) are magically transported into the black-and-white world of a 1950s sitcom, where they challenge and transform the sexually puritanical community into living, breathing life — and color. William H. Macy and Joan Allen are outstanding as their sitcom parents in this modern masterpiece.

Get Real (1998)
Ben Silverstone and Brad Gorton star as two British schoolboys discovering love in this tough but tender romantic coming-of-age story.

The Way He Looks (2014)
This sweetly naturalistic Brazilian film about a blind teenager yearning for independence, his best girl buddy, and the new boy in town who changes their lives is a subtle, charming, and totally winning tale of first love.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson, Noah) proves to be the best young actor of his generation as a troubled freshman who blossoms under the friendship of two seniors. The glorious Emma Watson plays the object of his affection and Ezra Miller is outstanding as his edgy gay friend in what may be the most evocative coming-of-age film ever made.

Reprinted from the Advocate: advocate_logo

Breaking the Gay Code in the Movies

Before obviously gay characters were allowed on the big screen, subtle (and not so subtle) indicators were used. Here are our favorite 12.


APRIL 23 2015 5:00 AM

It took a long time for Hollywood to call a spade a spade. Then it took even longer for positive representation, so get prepared for weak but psychotic murderers and the like. Now that it’s all out in the open, the hide-and-seek aspects of these old film characters seem like risqué fun. Back then, for those in the know, there was nothing ambiguous here — like a big wink from Hollywood.

John “Plato” Crawford (Sal Mineo), Rebel Without a Cause, 1955 
In the tribute montage above (which includes some beefcake of Mineo for good measure) it’s hard to see how people didn’t understand that Plato was, well, in love with James Dean’s character. And Dean is doing nothing to discourage it. Just follow Mineo’s eyes. The mirror on his locker, with the photo of Alan Ladd, are like giant hairpins dropping. — C.H.

Luz (Mercedes McCambridge), Giant, 1956 
OK, first of all, her name is Luz. Get it? Plus Giant gets some kind of an award for the most gay and bisexual actors ever in one film: James Dean, Rock Hudson, Sal Mineo, Earl Holliman, and while Mercedes never personally came out, she played the most fiercely dykey roles on-screen to perfection.  — C.H.

Jo (Barbara Stanwyck), Walk on the Wild Side, 1966
Even the ferociously closeted actress Barbara Stanwyck admitted that her character, the madam of the bordello, Jo Courtney, is a lesbian. And in the spooky way that only Hollywood can create, the love interest/prostitute is Capucine, one of the most beautiful but icily sexless women to have graced the silver screen. Stanwyck smacks Capucine around some, which is the equivalent at the time of hot lesbian sex, at least in the male film creator’s eyes. Don’t miss the very hot Jane Fonda as a baby whore and Anne Baxter as a Mexican. — C.H.

Dill Harris (John Megna) and Scout (Mary Badham), To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
I would love to have been on the set of this film when the director, Robert Mulligan, told John Megna, the actor playing Dill, to swish it up somewhat. Megna actually nails it without a lot of fuss. Dill Harris is based on Truman Capote, author Harper Lee’s childhood friend. Lee later helped Truman with his work on In Cold Blood. That the Harper character is named Scout and has a haircut that looks as it was done with an egg beater is sophisticated gender role-play for the time.— C.H.

Brandon (John Dall) and Phillip (Farley Granger) Rope, 1948
Alfred Hitchcock was fascinated by gay and lesbian characters, and there are sly and not so sly references in many of his films. Rope is fairly overt. The movie is based on a play, which was based on the the true story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, who murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in Chicago in 1924. This time bi actor Farley Granger gets to be smacked around some for being hysterical and nelly, which is definitely code for gay. But the biggest whiff of lavender is that two young well-dressed male roommates are throwing an odd dinner–cocktail party hybrid. Who does that? James Stewart’s Rupert Cadell may or may not be gay in intention, but if the original casting choice of Ray Milland had played the role we would have been much more likely to see him as gay. — C.H.

Phillip Vandamm (James Mason) and Leonard (Martin Landau), North by Northwest, 1959
In another gay-inclusive Hitchcock classic, suave villain Phillip Vandamm has a thing going with Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint), who’s actually an American spy trying to find out how he’s exporting secrets to our Cold War–era enemies. He also may have a thing going with his devoted “right hand,” Leonard, or at least Leonard would like that to be the case. Leonard is suspicious of Eve, leading Vandamm to say, “I think you’re jealous.” “Call it my woman’s intuition,” Leonard responds. He’s undoubtedly jealous but he’s also on to her, and he ends up pursuing Eve and the film’s reluctant hero, Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), in a climactic chase over Mount Rushmore. —T.R.

Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), The Maltese Falcon, 1941
The effete, curly-haired, heavily perfumed Joel Cairo is among the shady characters seeking the priceless title statuette; detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) goes along with the quest in order to find out who killed his business partner. Cairo was clearly gay in the 1930 Dashiell Hammett novel on which the film is based; movies of the era couldn’t be quite so overt, but Lorre’s Cairo is so effeminate that he fits a certain stereotype of a gay man. Also, as The Peter Lorre Companion notes, he suggestively fondles an umbrella handle and gets his hand on Spade’s posterior briefly. Film experts have also observed that Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) and his “gunsel,” Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.), seem to be a couple. — T.R.

Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), Rebecca, 1940
In Hitchcock’s first U.S. release, soon after British aristocrat Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) brings his new bride (Joan Fontaine) home to his great estate Manderley, we learn that Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, “adored Rebecca,” Maxim’s now-deceased first wife. That point is driven home as “Danny” fondles Rebecca’s lingerie — “Did you ever see anything so delicate?” she tells Fontaine’s character. “Look, you can see my hand through it!” She resents the presence of the second Mrs. De Winter (“Even in the same dress you couldn’t compare”) and does all she can to get rid of the new wife, and she also fondly remembers brushing Rebecca’s hair and laughing with her at the idea that Rebecca could ever love any man. Every housekeeper is that devoted, right? — T.R.

Bruno (Robert Walker), Strangers on a Train, 1951
In this Hitchcock film about a plot to trade murders , Farley Granger plays the hot straight guy that the unctuous Bruno, played by Robert Walker, inveigles into his lurid plan. Bruno’s nelliness would have been enough — plus he practically drools on Farley’s extra-wide lapels — but Hitchcock wants no ambiguity, so two-tone spectator shoes and flashy dressing gowns are used for the less-than-perceptive. — C.H.

Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), All About Eve, 1950
One of the greatest pleasures in a film with many is Sanders’s performance as drama critic Addison DeWitt, with his pitch-perfect delivery of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sardonic dialogue: “To those of you who do not read, attend the theater, listen to unsponsored radio programs, or know anything of the world in which you live, it is perhaps necessary to introduce myself,” he says in a voice-over as the movie begins. Addison is the ultimate condescending snob, described by one character as a “venomous fishwife”; in a less censored time, that would be “bitchy queen.” Along with his high-toned manner of speaking, his impeccable clothing and cigarette holder signal gayness, and he seems interested in women only to make them stars. “That I should want you at all suddenly strikes me as the height of improbability,” he says to the titular Eve (Anne Baxter). Addison is said to have been based on one of two acerbic New York critics of the 20th century, George Jean Nathan (apparently straight) or Alexander Woollcott, who was gay. Woollcott inspired other film portrayals as well; read on. — T.R.

Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), Laura, 1944
Another character based on Woollcott, Waldo Lydecker is just as bitchy as Addison DeWitt and a lot more queeny. A powerful columnist and radio commentator, he’s helped the film’s title character to rise in the advertising business and he’s obsessed with her, but there are several indicators that his obsession isn’t of a sexual nature — those interests lie elsewhere. Key signs: the elaborately decorated apartment (“It’s lavish, but I call it home”), the walking stick, the perfection in dress and diction, and the fact that he answers questions from a hunky detective while in the bathtub. Played unforgettably by gay actor Clifton Webb, Waldo is the most fascinating character in the film, and he’d agree with that assessment. “In my case, self-absorption is completely justified,” he says at one point. “I have never discovered any other subject quite so worthy of my attention.” — T.R.

Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley), The Man Who Came to Dinner, 1942
Is it a sign of our culture’s dumbing-down or just its fragmentation that we can’t think of any contemporary figure who’d inspire three fictional portrayals? Yet another character based on Woollcott is famed critic Sheridan Whiteside, a sophisticated New Yorker who gets stuck at a bourgeois Ohio couple’s home when he slips on the ice and breaks his leg while visiting. In this film adaptation of the George S. Kaufman–Moss Hart play, “Sherry” (played by gay actor Monty Woolley, a pal of Cole Porter’s) make lifes miserable for the couple, his nurse, and his secretary, and encourages his hosts’ son and daughter to rebel. Like Addison DeWitt and Waldo Lydecker, he does not lack for ego; “Is there a man in the world who suffers as I do from the gross inadequacies of the human race?” he wonders. Also like them, he has an effete manner and acid tongue that mark him as a certain type of gay man. And when a local journalist asks him how he thinks Ohio women stack up, he responds, “I’ve never gone in for stacking women up, so I really can’t say.” Whiteside entertains some showbiz visitors during his convalescence. They include playwright Beverly Carlton, who talks about seducing South Seas maidens but, as played by Reginald Gardiner, reads as pretty gay, and after all, the character is based on Noël Coward. Then there’s comedian Banjo (Jimmy Durante), inspired by Harpo Marx, with whom Woollcott was in love. Whether Harpo reciprocated is subject to debate. — T.R.

GLAAD: LGBT Characters All But Disappeared in Movies

GLAAD’s 2015 survey reports that only 17.5 percent of Hollywood studio films featured LGBT characters — and gives failing grades to Sony and Disney.

Republished from The Advocate: BY ADAM SANDEL  APRIL 15 2015 11:40 AM ET

GLAAD monitored films such as The Interview with Eminem.

GLAAD monitored films such as The Interview with Eminem.

In its third annual survey of LGBT representation in Hollywood movies, GLAAD reports that only 17.5 percent of studio releases featured queer characters — and many of them appear only fleetingly.

No studio earned an “excellent” grade in GLAAD’s report. Warner Bros. was graded “good,” Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount and Universal were deemed “adequate,” while Sony and Disney “failed.”

Although fewer defamatory LGBT images appeared in Hollywood films than in years past, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Horrible Bosses 2, and the Will Ferrell comedy Get Hard featured damaging attitudes and stereotypes.

“More inclusive portrayals of LGBT characters are being seen on television and through streamed content than ever before,” says GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “But according to GLAAD’s third annual Studio Responsibility Index, released today, America’s major film studios lag far behind other media when it comes to nuanced portrayals of LGBT people.” Ellis also explores the findings of this year’s report in this Hollywood Reporter column.

Read the complete 2015 Studio Responsibility Index.

GLAAD monitored films such as The Interview with Eminem.


Oscars’ Foreign Language Preview: Gay Contenders Come Out With Pride

Oscar Contenders Gay Cinema

Oscars’ Foreging Language Preview


At last year’s Cesar Awards, three of the top contenders for France’s top film prize — specifically, “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” “Stranger by the Lake” and “Me, Myself and Mum” — centered on LGBT issues. Compare that with the Oscars, where just one of the nine best picture nominees — “Dallas Buyers Club” — even so much as acknowledged homosexuality as a part of human existence.

What gives? It’s not merely a question of France being more progressive than the U.S. (It’s not, judging by widespread protests against marriage equality seen in Gaul over the past year.) Other countries, including several we think of as more conservative than the States, are also getting behind gay-themed pics.

Study the list of submissions for the upcoming Oscar foreign language prize — always an interesting indicator, since selection committees from each country are allowed only one film to represent them at the Academy Awards — and it’s clear that the U.S. lags in its willingness to make, much less celebrate, films dealing with homosexual themes.

Brazil picked Daniel Ribeiro’s “The Way He Looks,” a coming-out story centered on a blind teen.

Portugal went for Joaquim Pinto’s first-person documentary “What Now? Remind Me,” in which the HIV-positive helmer reflects on living with the virus. It was awarded the Fipresci prize at the Locarno film fest.

Switzerland’s selection, “The Circle,” from director Stefan Haupt, blends scripted reenactment and non-fiction interview segments to convey a sense of the country’s nascent post-war gay scene.

Finally, France is sending Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint Laurent,” a Cannes-anointed biopic on the influential fashion designer that doesn’t shy away from its subject’s sexual proclivities.

(One could also count Canadian submission “Mommy,” from openly gay director Xavier Dolan, whose flamboyant protagonist isn’t identified as gay, per se, but certainly defies Hollywood’s heteronormative paradigm in nearly all respects.)

Past Is Prologue

Considering the Academy’s historical reluctance to reward films with queer content (exceptions being “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Milk”), it’s surprising to see five countries submit pics that, were they competing in other categories, show little precedent for nominations. Such a move suggests that regardless of how Oscar voters might feel, a group of key influencers in each country sincerely believes these films are the best they have to offer.

It’s hard to imagine an American committee deciding to throw its support behind a “gay movie.” But then, Americans seem uniquely inclined to pigeonhole films according to the sexual persuasion of their protagonists, whereas foreign directors have been far more successful in achieving mainstream success with human-interest stories in which the characters happen to be gay — though it hardly goes for all countries, with serious cultural obstacles in Russia, Iran, the Middle East and Japan.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., cinematic representations of homosexual identity are typically relegated to one of two categories: either “gay movies” (typically low-budget fare made for LGBT auds and released, often directly to homevid, by a handful of specialty distribs) or as side characters in mainstream movies (a relatively recent phenom for pics looking to score PC points, often revealing the news as a third-act surprise, a la “ParaNorman’s” gay jock).

Rare Crossover Success

This year brings an interesting exception in Ira Sachs’ “Love Is Strange,” a sweet, low-key romantic drama centered on a longtime gay couple, finally allowed to marry, who find themselves kicked out of their New York apartment and forced to rely on family and friends for housing — essentially a same-sex twist on Leo McCarey’s 1937 “Make Way for Tomorrow.” Sachs’ film was a rare crossover success, overcoming the obstacles one imagines facing a film in which the characters are not only gay, but gray (that is, well past the age of the average American moviegoer). This, of course, is what filmmakers want: for their work to appeal beyond the rigidly defined demographic of the characters themselves.

“If you look at the bulk of the work coming out of other countries, they’re still making human dramas about everyday life that are not being made here,” says Sachs, who deliberately — and somewhat defiantly — chose to tell stories centered on gay lead characters (first “Keep the Lights On” and now “Love Is Strange”) after a gap of 15 years.

The vast majority of independent helmers responsible for making the landmarks of American queer cinema — Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Kimberly Peirce, Gregg Araki — have subsequently gravitated toward more mainstream (i.e. straight) subjects in order to sustain their careers and court a wider audience. Sachs blames the system, not the filmmakers, since American distribs remain gun-shy about supporting directors who incorporate that aspect of their identity into their work.

“If there’s no economic incentive or possibility of sustaining a career as an American filmmaker making strictly personal, human films, there’s no way for those filmmakers to develop or become better over time,” notes Sachs, whose freedom comes from working outside the system. “I’ve built a community (of individual investors) around me that has supported my own personal filmmaking.”

Alternative to Hollywood

In other countries, where big-budget Hollywood tentpoles make it tough for local cinema to compete, there remains a wide gap for relatively inexpensive adult dramas, which have all but disappeared from American studios’ diet.

That creates an opportunity for foreign directors working to tackle stories not being done bigger and better by Hollywood — which is where gay-themed pics stand to shine and be recognized in their respective countries. The phenomenon is hardly limited to LGBT stories either: In Germany, a modest, black-and-white portrait of a twentysomething slacker called “Oh Boy” (retitled “A Coffee in Berlin” for U.S. release) connected in a big way, winning six Lolas.

The same was true in France of “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” “Stranger by the Lake” and “Me, Myself and Mum”: All three connected with audiences because they presented mature, human-interest portraits seen lacking among the flashier American imports.

Ironically, the most commercially successful — Guillaume Gallienne’s “Me, Myself and Mum,” about an effeminate young mama’s boy who’s the last to accept himself as gay, whereas his entire family has long since accepted his identity — has yet to find distribution in the U.S., where it has two big strikes against it: The film is not only perceived as “gay,” but it’s also foreign to boot (whereas “Blue Is the Warmest Color” and “Stranger by the Lake” had a more sexually explicit hook, landing distribution from Sundance Selects and Strand Releasing, respectively).

Just because a film is submitted by its country to compete for the foreign-language Oscar doesn’t mean it’s assured a U.S. release. Of the five pics mentioned, only “Saint Laurent” (Sony Pictures Classics) and “Mommy” (Roadside Attractions) stand to do much business in the U.S. But they also represent what pics like “Love Is Strange” and British-made Alan Turing biopic “The Imitation Game” got right: They tell compelling human-interest stories in which the characters’ sexuality is acknowledged, but not the pic’s sole focus.

“People are always asking me, ‘Don’t you think this is a great time for gay cinema?’ And I think, what about Visconti, Fassbinder, Chereau? There’s a history that I feel connected to, that American cinema has forgotten, that existed of gay filmmakers making films that were not culturally positioned: They were part of art cinema in a larger way,” says Sachs.

Granted, there is more gay representation on American screens than ever before, but it’s been pushed to the margins: supporting characters and niche pics. However progressive its politics, the U.S. could stand to learn from other countries, where such stories are getting the treatment — and recognition — they deserve.


Variety –