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8 of the best films to celebrate LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month is a very important time for our LGBT advocates, friends, heroes and brothers and sisters. In the UK it is celebrated in February to commemorate the abolition of the controversial Section 28 back in 2003, while in the US and Canada LGBT History Month takes place in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day on 11th October.

LGBT History Month

There are have been a number of great films and documentaries over the years which highlight the journey and fights that groups of or individual LGBT people in different corners of the globe have faced over the decades. We’ve rounded up our favourite LGBT history films for you here:

Before Stonewall (and After Stonewall)

There have been countless films and documentaries about the Stonewall riots, including the poorly received 2015 film, which the less said about the better. There was also a semi-fictionalised comedy-drama version in 1995 based on the riots. However, Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community, is an award-winning documentary released back in 1984 that is definitely a must-watch for those interested in the history of one of the most famous moments in LGBT history. After Stonewall, kind of like a sequel focusing on the 30 years of LGBT activism since the riots, was released in 1999.

Paris Is Burning

Filmed in the 80s, Paris Is Burning is a documentary about the “ball culture” of New York City and pays particular attention to the African-American, Latino and transgender communities living there during the time. It is still considered one of the best LGBT history films and documentaries of all time, so much so that in 2016 it was selected for “preservation” in the United States National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant”.


One of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/Aids, homosexuality and homophobia, Philadelphia stars Tom Hanks – who won the Oscar for Best Actor for his leading role – addresses issues of closeting one’s sexuality and hiding their HIV status. The film was a work a fiction but the events were based on the similar lives of Geoffrey Bowers and Clarence B. Cain.

Boys Don’t Cry

Based on the real-life story of trans man Brandon Teena, Boys Don’t Cry was one of the first Hollywood films to focus on transpeople and trans issues. Hilary Swank rightfully won the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of Brandon in what was a hauntingly frank but brilliant film.


Many films and documentaries have revolved around LGBT activist and politician Harvey Milk, but it wasn’t until 2008 that Milk’s life was given more of a global platform and recognition through this biopic. Nominated for 8 Oscars, winning 2, including one for lead actor Sean Penn, Milk was strategically released to tie in with Proposition 8 on gay marriage in 2008.


Starring an ensemble cast of great actors, Pride is probably the one and only or at least most notable British film that focuses on the plight of LGBT people in the UK. This historical drama highlights the events leading up to the UK’s first Pride event and the first time the British LGBT community really made a move for their voices to be heard in the country, making it a beautiful yet poignant LGBT history film. It is now reportedly being adapted into a stage musical.

The Imitation Game

Loosely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, The Imitation Game looks at the life of one of the UK’s most prolific LGBT heroes, Alan Turing. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, the film – although apparently not fully faithful to Turing’s life – is noted for bringing his legacy to a wider audience and was a great commercial success.

The Danish Girl

Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne took on what was probably his toughest (and most controversial) role of his career so far as Lili Elbe, one of the world’s first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery. An emotional film that tries to portray the lives of trans people of that time period and helps us appreciate the progress of both trans rights and surgery has come so far.

What is your favourite LGBT history film from this list or are there any you think we’ve missed off? Let us know in the comments section below and on social media! And you can also find out more about LGBT History Month in the UK here.