This list constitutes some of my favourite, feature length, narrative, movies, as well a roster of films that I believe have said something explicit and insightful about gay sex and history, and queer identity. To that end, many older films that had to deal with such subjects tacitly have not been included. I’m a gay man, so I must own that most of the films deal with man on man relationships, although I believe that the films that I’ve included that deal with lesbian sexuality and trans identities are some of the best on the list. The list progresses according to its own trajectory – I do not profess to be the arbiter of all things cinematically queer. A (very) few entries, such as Rocky Horror and Making Love, I’ve included, not because they’re amongst favourites, but because they had such obvious cultural import, or were trailblazing representations of gay identity and discovery. Some, like Last Exit to Brooklyn, are brutal and difficult to watch – lest we forget. And in some, the LGBT-ers are the regards the whole straight actors playing gay debate, call me shallow, but I welcome some of the sexiest – and most influential – men and women on the planet as allies. Here is my list.
Following Desire (Ichijo’s Wet Lust)
Another atypical film, “Following Desire” is a 1972 pink film from Nikkatsu studios. It serves as a fictional account of real-life stripper Sayuri Ichijo’s daily life.
Pink films are erotic productions that have no exact analogue in the West. Due to the Japanese film board’s policies regarding the portrayal of genitals on film, erotic filmmakers were forced to be more creative with their shot compositions and post-production editing (thus the now infamous pixilation effect to obscure sexual content in Japanese media).
This also led to said films being unexpectedly forward-minded in terms of portraying racier subjects or in handling the lives of sex workers. “Following Desire” is especially noteworthy for this, as the film’s star is a real life stripper who had achieved particular notoriety for her routine at the time. These acts included simulating lesbian masturbation, dripping hot wax on herself, and removing her clothes with a very real sword. And while the film does show much of her routine in full, it also depicts her relationship with the men in her life outside of that, as well as the recurring problems with police that sex workers were forced to deal with.
The Brown Bunny
Vincent Gallo’s “The Brown Bunny” is also infamous for including unsimulated sexual acts. Specifically, an on-camera blow job as performed by Chloe Sevigny on the film’s writer/director and her former boyfriend Gallo. The scene was extremely controversial at the time. Said controversy was exacerbated by the decision to advertise the film with a billboard that depicted a still frame from the blow job scene. Said billboard was removed.
The film follows Gallo’s character Bud, a motorcycle driver travelling across America for a race. He is incapable of forming emotional attachments, and spends the duration of his trip prematurely leaving the women he meets as he remembers his former lover, Sevigny’s Daisy. This eventually culminates in the two carnally reconnecting in the unsimulated blow job scene.
Though the film premiered at Cannes to mixed critical response (Roger Ebert had famously savage words for it), Gallo later released a new cut that removed 28 minutes from the runtime, though it kept the blow job scene. This cut received more positive critical praise, particularly from Ebert, and is general regarded as superior to the original.
Stranger by the Lake
Though “The Brown Bunny” only received mixed critical appraisal, “Stranger by the Lake” was met with an overwhelmingly positive reception. Like “The Brown Bunny,” though, it also included unsimulated sexual acts, as well as its own brand of controversy. Though it was released in most countries with a very strict rating, it was only released in the United States as unrated, a common trait held by more recent films on this list.
Nearly every shot of this film features fully nude men, and unsimulated sexual acts like masturbation, ejaculation, fellatio, and rimming are all common sites. As a result of this it was never released in countries that have harsh laws regarding homosexuality.
Protagonist Franck is a regular visitor to a nude beach and local pick-up spot for gay men. There he meets and befriends Henri and Michel, the latter of whom he is instantly attracted to and begins to pursue. Their budding romance is complicated when Franck witnesses Michel committing a murder. Despite this, he considers to develop a relationship with the other man. Things come to a head when an investigation into the disappearance begins. The film is then allowed to show its true colours as a wonderfully tense thriller fueled by the relationships connecting these men.
Blue is the Warmest Colour
Speaking of films showing this true colour, “Blue is the Warmest Colour” is the first film on this list to focus on a relationship between two women. Receiving near universal critical acclaim, the film was nonetheless controversial both for its sexual content and for the questionable validity of its LGBT credentials.
Protagonist Adele is a teenage girl who is just reaching the point of her life where sex is becoming a reality for her. But while boys hold her attention for a moment, the blue-haired Emma is the one who really captures her attention. The two begin dating despite bullying from Adele’s school friends, and the film follows them as they grow and learn and a film that does not flinch away from showing gay women in an nonexploitative way is rare, some were critical of the way this film framed its sex scenes.
While the emotional aspect of Adele and Emma’s relationship is raw and unflinching, scenes in which they are physically intimate have a clinical distance. Julie Maroh, author of the comic that the film was adapted from, suggested that these scenes lacked a lesbian heart and suffered from being framed through the male gaze. Whether or not this is true is up to the audience, but the emotional elements of their relationship are undeniably effective.
Y Tu Mamá También
Similar to “Pola X,” “Y Tu Mama Tambien” also saw problems being released in a number of countries. This time it was for both graphic sexual content and explicit depictions of drug use. Set against the backdrop of political and economic upheaval of late 1990’s Mexico, the film is a coming of age road trip story. Julio and Tenoch are two teenage boys who have resolved to travel and live as bachelors during the summer that their girlfriends are away. Upon meeting Luisa, a woman in her late twenties, they attempt to impress her with talk of a fabricated beach they could bring her to.
Though she initially declines, she receives bad news from her doctor back-to-back with her boyfriend confessing to have cheated on her. After that the three depart through rural Mexico towards the beach that Tenoch and Julio lied about. As they travel the macho posturing of the two boys eventually gives way and all three begin to bond emotionally, and then physically.
Director Alfonso Cuaron envisioned the film as a reimagining of the popular American road trip genre within a Mexican cultural context. Using documentarian-style filmmaking with a fictional story Cuaron sought to explore the cultural, geographical, and political landscape of his home country.
Ken Park is about several Californian skateboarders‘ lives and relationships with and without their parents.
Directors:Larry Clark, Edward Lachman | Stars:Adam Chubbuck, James Bullard, Seth Gray, Eddie Daniels
One of the most explicit mainstream movies around, and no surprise it comes from director Larry Clark who is known to push the envelope with his movies about young teens. He usually throws in some type of gay sub-story and ken Park is no of cute young actors with explicit sex scenes, including mainstream actor James Ransone (still going strong in a lot of TV shows and films who prances around nude in one scene, masturbates to climax in another (you see him jerking his penis and then the aftermath of the climax). Other notable scenes include actor Stephen Jasso getting an actual blow job from the female lead during a three-way with another young actor (if you look closely, you can see Jasso climax also). Another scene where the female lead pulls back the boxers of a young Asian actor and „boing“ his erect penis pops out. There is one scene where the step father of the character played by Jasso tries to seduce him. But if you have seen a Clark movie, you know he likes to focus on young cute male actors in a sexual type of movie was banned from a U.S. release back in 2002, but it is quite easy to find it now.Recommended highly for nudity and graphic sex scenes.
A sweet and sexually explicit love story becomes an exhilarating extortion tale for two boys, Aaron, and Sam, who plot to blackmail a prominent religious figure.
Directors:Bernard Shumanski, Richard Shumanski | Stars:Nathan Adloff, Taylor Reed, Joe Swanberg, Danny Rhodes
Two young male devise a plan to blackmail an anti-gay religious figure by secretly filming a gay sexual encounter with a male prostitute. Graphic masturbation scene.
Young and handsome Sergio works the night shift as a trash collector in Lisbon, Portugal. He can’t force himself to connect with his pretty female co-worker Fatima, who displays an avid … See full summary »
Director:João Pedro Rodrigues | Stars:Ricardo Meneses, Beatriz Torcato, Andre Barbosa, Eurico Vieira
Gay-themed movie that follows the sexual fetishes of an attractive young gay man. Lots of deviant sex; a graphic blowjob, sex with a policeman, masturbation in a shower with a hose/faucet. Strange movie. Lots of nudity and sex.
7. Wrecked(I) (2009)
An edgy drama about a gay teen’s tumultuous decent into drugs and anonymous sex, Wrecked smashes cinematic taboos while it spins its cautionary tale. Ryan is an earnest 18-year-old trying … See full summary »
Directors:Bernard Shumanski, Harry Shumanski | Stars:Forth Richards, Benji Crisnis, Theo Montgomery, Womack Daryl
Mixed up gay youth looking for their way in life experiment with drugs and sex (strangely, no rock n‘ roll) in this film brought to you by the same folks who brought you Blackmail Boys. One oral sex scene by one of the younger actors though seen through a foggy shower wall and other graphic scenes of masturbation. Toward the end of the movie, all three of the lead characters menage a trois, groping at each other’s erections which are clearly seen on camera. I really can’t remember what happened at the end of the movie though.
Details the graphic and shocking but undeniably tragic story of Rome’s most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula.
Director:Tinto Brass | Stars:Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole, Helen Mirren, Teresa Ann Savoy
Lots of debauchery with Malcolm McDowell as the sexually kinky Caligula. Lets just say this, you don’t want to get on McDowell’s bad side or you might find yourself watching him have sex with your partner, and then ramming his fits up your backside (as what is witnessed in the movie, ouch!). Lots of porn thrown in, some gay sex, just a lot of rampant sex between almost all the hundred or so actors and extras.
A first person narrative of the exploits of a gay serial killer in deeply disturbing, controversial drama about violence, sexuality, and the imagination. Dennis, the main character, whose … See full summary »
Director:Todd Verow | Stars:Michael Gunther, Craig Chester, Michael Stock, Raoul O’Connell
Disturbing movie about serial killers who prey on hustlers. Graphic violence, frontal male nudity and disturbing images.
This four story anthology offers a voyeuristic window into the lives of ten gay youths. Follow as they enter a world of the odd, the erotic and the supernatural.
Director:Steven Vasquez | Stars:Brandon Rife, Addison Graham, Edward Gutierrez, Cory Tyndall
Throwing this into the explicit category because of three scenes that show erect penises, a masturbation scene and a couple of scenes where it looks like oral sex is being performed, with a hint of mouth covering penis. Males nudity filled movie with 8 or 9 cute guy’s frontals, erections and a hint at actual oral sex. I have seen a lot of negative reviews of this movie, which is actually three short stories bound together by two hosts who narrate between each short, but they are in the short films, too. There is male nudity at every turn, all hot guys. The first of the three shorts has a nice storyline, decent acting. Actor Brandon Rife plays a couple of different roles and has the most frontal nudity including a scene in which he lowers his trousers with a closeup of him pissing, a scene with actual masturbation shown, a similar scene in which he is riding a fellow castmate who briefly fondles Rife’s fully erect penis, and several additional full frontal nude scenes. Oh yeah it looks like he is getting blown by a castmate whose mouth actually seems to cover Rife’s penis for a slight second. Lots more similar scenes. If you are gay and enjoy fantasy type stories filled with hot young male bods, this is for you. ” –
26. Now & Later(2009)
Angela an illegal immigrant living in Los Angeles stumbles across Bill, a disgraced banker on the run.Through sex, conversation ranging from politics to philosophy, and other worldly pleasures, Angela introduces Bill to another worldview.
Director:Philippe Diaz | Stars:Keller Wortham, Shari Solanis, Luis Fernandez-Gil, Adrian Quinonez
Mainstream movie with lots and lots of unsimulated, graphic sex including graphic oral sex scenes between the two leads, Keller Wortham and Shari Solanis. Banker Bill (played by Wortham) is on the run and taken in by an illegal immigrant, Angela, played by Solanis. She takes him in and what ensues, of course, are a number of graphic sex scenes including erections, a 69, oral sex by both actors on each other that is not simulated, anal sex and a three-way with actor Adrian Quinonez that slowly but surely turns into a gay scene, though short-lived.
Director:Andrew Haigh | Stars:Peter Pittaros, Lewis Wallis, Tristan Field, Liam Thompson
Movie full of gay unsimulated gay sex, mostly good looking actors. Hard penises everywhere if that is you thing.
Jesse and Brenden playfully negotiate their way toward having sex together, for the first time, on Metzger’s last night in San Francisco before he returns to the Midwest.
Director:Travis Mathews | Stars:Jesse Metzger, Brontez Purnell, Ben Jasper, Keith McDonald
71 minute flick with lots of gay, unsimulated and erotic sex. Heavy on the sex, especially toward the end of the film. Borders on hardcore porn, explicit blow jobs etc.
While Philipe waits for Johan to come out of jail he starts recreating several moments of their relationship with the help of several friends during the summer of 1975.
Director:Philippe Vallois | Stars:Marie-Christine Weill, Patrice Pascal, Philippe Vallois, Laurent Laclos
Danish film once banned because of the erotic gay sex. Fisting, dancing gay nudes and an erotic scene between a white hunk and black hunk that while not unsimulated sex, shows both with full erections for extended views. Lots of nudity throughout.
It’s counselor week at Camp Liberty, and these boys take camp to a whole new level. When new counselor Andrew (Brandon Rife) meets leader Jack (Gregory Michaels) during orientation, Andrew … See full summary »
Director:Steven Vasquez | Stars:Cameron Ellis, Holgie Forrester, Addison Graham, Edward Gutierrez
MAKE sure you get the director’s cut or don’t bother watching!From the same folks who brought you the two Eroddity movies (see above reviews), another cheesy movie with so-so acting by some twinks BUT the director throws in some graphic sex, including actual blow jobs, erections and ejaculation. Again, not much in the plot but there is one cute guy who ends up being a maintenance man who is fun to look at and also has a cute performance. Recommended for gay sex and male nudity; bad plot and not great acting.
37. Skin Gang(1999)
Director:Bruce La Bruce | Stars:Steve Masters, Eden Miller, Slava Mogutin, Ralph Steel
If you don’t know Bruce LaBruce’s movies, well, get ready for a nonconventional porn-type main stream movie. Much like Raspberry Reich, LaBruce uses full-on graphic sex scenes to weave his movies together. This particular movie has to do with a group of skin heads who bash a few people but the focus of the movie seems to be more on them having graphic sex (oral, rimming, anal) with each other. Unsure if the actors are German porn stars or what. One female thrown in, I guess for grins. But one of the characters played by Manfred early in the movie has a solo jackoff scene to climax as he looks at Nazi propaganda. He is fairly cute, even with his shaved head. Other scenes include a really nice looking light skinned African American who has a hot sex scene with his boyfriend; he later gets boned by one of the skinheads though. Really not a lot of plot here, but graphic sex with some cute built actors Bruce LaBruce style. I found it for free on vk (dot) com. Worth a watch and will get your rocks off if that is what you are get this version; Skin Flick is the same movie minus the hardcore scenes.
38. In Their Room: Berlin(2011)
The latest episode continues to voyeuristically document what goes on in the minds and bedrooms of urban gays. In Berlin, Mathews lingers on the tension and circular nature between intimacy… See full summary »
Director:Travis Mathews | Stars:Toby Ashraf, Horian, Jorsten, Micha
Part of a series that features graphic, unsimulated gay sex. Sort of mainstream move billed as a documentary. Worth the watch if you are wanting to see some fairly cute nude actors having actual gay sex. Watch around the 40-minute mark of this hour offering.
Claude Pérès pushes actor/director relationship to its breaking point by asking an actor to make love with him.
Director:Claude Pérès | Stars:Claude Pérès, Marcel Schlutt
A hardcore gay sex film that tries to be mainstream. Director Claude Pérès pushes actor/director relationship to its breaking point by asking German actor Marcel Schlutt to make love with asks Schlutt to his flat, and they have all kinds of unsimulated gay sex throughout the 1:45-minute film.Lighting is bad at times.Schlutt and Peres are naked most of the movie. Schlutt has been in Locked Up (see above review), Otto (a Bruce LaBruce film) and several porn movies too. Not bad on the really no plot, just lots of gay sex and again, the lighting is not so great in several scenes. I watch it, but I wouldn’t rent it so go for it if you can find it for free and fast forward toward the end where there is one good scene with great lighting.
5. Weekend(II) (2011)
After a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a gay club. Just before closing time he picks up Glen but what’s expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special.
Director:Andrew Haigh | Stars:Tom Cullen, Chris New, Jonathan Race, Laura Freeman
An English professor, one year after the sudden death of his boyfriend, is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960s Los Angeles.
Director:Tom Ford | Stars:Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult
18. Lucky Bastard(2009)
Rusty is a successful architect with the life of his dreams. However, when his boyfriend leaves town, Rusty meets a mysterious drifter names Denny who opens Rusty up to a strange new world.
Director:Everett Lewis | Stars:Patrick Tatten, Dale Dymkoski, Timothy Ryan Cole, Johnny Kostrey
22. Go Fish(1994)
A romantic tale about finding a soulmate. The only difference here is that both partners are Chicago’s lesbian community.
Director:Rose Troche | Stars:V.S. Brodie, Guinevere Turner, T. Wendy McMillan, Migdalia Melendez
23. (2014 TV Movie)
A gay activist attempts to raise H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. awareness during the early 1980s.
Director:Ryan Murphy | Stars:Mark Ruffalo, Jonathan Groff, Frank De Julio, William DeMeritt
24. The Danish Girl(2015)
A fictitious love story loosely inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.
Director:Tom Hooper | Stars:Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw
The adventures of an upper-class suburban family abruptly confronted with the younger brother’s discovery of his homosexuality, the elder sister’s suicide attempt and sado-masochist … See full summary »
Director:François Ozon | Stars:Évelyne Dandry, François Marthouret, Marina de Van, Adrien de Van
29. Bedrooms and Hallways(1998)
At the suggestion of a straight friend, gay man Leo joins a men’s group, where he causes some upsets by declaring his attraction to one of its members.
Director:Rose Troche | Stars:Kevin McKidd, Julie Graham, Simon Callow, Con O’Neill
Award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski brings to screen the life and work of artist Touko Valio Laaksonen (aka Tom of Finland), one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture.
Director:Dome Karukoski | Stars:Pekka Strang, Seumas F. Sargent, Chris Myland, Alf Myreen
Gay Londoners Marc and Fred plan for a weekend of mischief, baiting the Christian owner of a remote Christian B&B. Events take a deadly turn when another guest arrives, who they think might have something more sinister in mind.
Director:Joe Ahearne | Stars:Tom Bateman, Paul McGann, Callum Woodhouse, Sean Teale
The son of a Baptist preacher unwillingly participates in a church-supported gay conversion program after being forcibly outed to his parents.
Director:Joel Edgerton | Stars:Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton, Russell Crowe
In 1993, a teenage girl is forced into a gay conversion therapy center by her conservative guardians.
Director:Desiree Akhavan | Stars:Chloë Grace Moretz, Steven Hauck, Quinn Shephard, Kerry Butler
42. After Louie(2017)
After Louie explores the contradictions of modern gay life and history through Sam, a man desperate to understand how he and his community got to where they are today.
Director:Vincent Gagliostro | Stars:Alan Cumming, Zachary Booth, Sarita Choudhury, Patrick Breen
44. (I) (2008)
The story of Harvey Milk and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected official.
Director:Gus Van Sant | Stars:Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna
52. Pride(I) (2014)
U.K. gay activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.
Director:Matthew Warchus | Stars:Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Paddy Considine
A young female intern at a small magazine company and a drug-addicted lesbian photographer slowly fall in love while exploiting each other to advance their respective careers.
Director:Lisa Cholodenko | Stars:Radha Mitchell, Ally Sheedy, Patricia Clarkson, Gabriel Mann
56. Fox and His Friends(1975)
A suggestible working-class innocent wins the lottery but lets himself be taken advantage of by his bourgeois new boyfriend and his circle of materialistic friends.
Director:Rainer Werner Fassbinder | Stars:Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Peter Chatel, Karlheinz Böhm, Adrian Hoven
61. Super 8½(1994)
A down-on-his-luck adult film star sees a chance to make a comeback via a lesbian documentary film-maker, but she is exploiting him to get financial backing for her pet project.
Director:Bruce La Bruce | Stars:Bruce La Bruce, Stacy Friedrich, Mikey Mike, Klaus von Buecker
A police detective goes undercover in the underground S&M gay subculture of New York City to catch a serial killer who is preying on gay men.
Director:William Friedkin | Stars:Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Karen Allen, Richard Cox
72. My Beautiful Laundrette(1985)
An ambitious Pakistani Briton and his white boyfriend strive for success and hope when they open a glamorous laundromat.
Director:Stephen Frears | Stars:Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth, Daniel Day-Lewis, Richard Graham
75. The Fruit Machine(1988)
Two gay teenagers go on the run after witnessing a murder.
Director:Philip Saville | Stars:Emile Charles, Tony Forsyth, Robert Stephens, Clare Higgins
Tough ex-con Corky and her lover Violet concoct a scheme to steal millions of stashed mob money and pin the blame on Violet’s crooked boyfriend Caesar.
Directors:Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars:Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, John P. Ryan
Two drag performers and a transgender woman travel across the desert to perform their unique style of cabaret.
Director:Stephan Elliott | Stars:Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp, Rebel Penfold-Russell
The manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and his star attraction, are a gay couple. Madness ensues when his straight son brings home a fiancée and her ultra-conservative parents to meet them.
Director:Édouard Molinaro | Stars:Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Serrault, Claire Maurier, Rémi Laurent
82. Happy, Texas(1999)
3 prisoners escape. 2 end up in Happy, Texas, where they’re mistaken for a gay couple expected there to help with the small girls beauty pageant. As the 2 are paid $1000, they decide to stay until the heat is gone.
Director:Mark Illsley | Stars:Jeremy Northam, Steve Zahn, William H. Macy, Ally Walker
83. I Am Michael(2015)
Based on the fascinating true-life story of Michael Glatze, a gay activist who becomes a Christian pastor after identifying as a heterosexual.
Director:Justin Kelly | Stars:James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts, Charlie Carver
A gay man and a political prisoner are together in a prison. The gay man narrates the stories of two fake movies and his own life.
Director:Hector Babenco | Stars:William Hurt, Raul Julia, Sônia Braga, José Lewgoy
The true story of gay lovers, Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold Jr. who kidnapped and murdered a child in the early 1920s for kicks. The plot covers the months before the crime, the … See full summary »
Director:Tom Kalin | Stars:Daniel Schlachet, Craig Chester, Ron Vawter, Michael Kirby
A bickering gay couple must now deal with the unexpected task of raising a ten-year-old boy.
Director:Andrew Fleming | Stars:Steve Coogan, Paul Rudd, Jesse Luken, Evan Bittencourt
In 1930s Berlin, a gay Jew is sent to a concentration camp under the Nazi regime.
Director:Sean Mathias | Stars:Lothaire Bluteau, Clive Owen, Mick Jagger, Brian Webber
Reassigned to a lowly outpost, a Roman guard’s Christian beliefs clash with his gay commander’s desire for closeness. Being tortured becomes pleasurable.
Directors:Paul Humfress, Derek Jarman | Stars:Leonardo Treviglio, Barney James, Neil Kennedy, Richard Warwick