Russell T. Davies’ blistering AIDS-era drama It’s a Sin is the talk of TV-land. As the series comes out in an unabashed blaze of glory on DVD, we shuffle through our catalogue of outstanding LGBTQ dramas that together track the advances in gay rights, freedom of identity and expression across the decades.
What will you watch next?
Queer As Folk creator Russell T. Davies’ hedonistic, proud and intensely moving AIDS-era drama for Channel 4 is a story of friends, lovers and families set to a thumping soundtrack of the gay scene of the 1980s. Ritchie (Olly Alexander), Roscoe (Omari Douglas) and Colin (Callum Scott Howells) move to London, and together with Ritchie’s best friend Jill, (Lydia West), throw themselves into every freedom the city has to offer.
“A poignant masterpiece.” Guardian
Laura Linney stars as naive country girl Mary Ann Singleton in this double-bill based on Armistead Maupin’s iconic books about wild and lovable gay boys and queer girls in 1970s San Francisco and beyond. Presiding over them all is exotic, free-thinking, matriarchal trans landlady Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis). Two-and-a-half decades on from the original series, the Netflix revival sees the actors re-inhabit their much-loved characters in a brave new LGBTQ world.
“A revival that keeps up with the times.” Rolling Stone
Double bill of drama mini-series based on the books by Armistead Maupin.
HBO’s acclaimed heavyweight drama, adapted from two Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway plays by Tony Kushner, stars Al Pacino and Meryl Streep with Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon and Simon Callow. Set in a turbulent New York City in the mid-1980s, it follows the interconnected lives of various New Yorkers affected by issues of the day including Reaganism, AIDS, religious bigotry, sexual angst – and miraculous visitations. Winner of six Golden Globes, including Best Mini Series.
“Watch it with friends; Angels in America calls for celebration.” The New Yorker
Oscar-winner Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington star in this landmark legal drama. A film that dazzles with deep emotion and exceptional acting, Hanks and Washington are competing lawyers who join forces to sue a prestigious law firm for AIDS discrimination. And as their unlikely friendship develops, their courage overcomes the prejudice and corruption of their powerful adversaries.
“The narrative engages one’s sympathies and slyly grips with a falsely laid trail of tension.” Empire
Imelda Staunton, Andrew Scott and Bill Nighy star in this heartwarming drama inspired by real events during the 1984 miners’ strike. When activist Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) garners support for his plan to raise funds in support of the striking miners, he encounters a surprising impediment: most miners refuse to take money from gay and lesbian groups. But one Welsh village warms to Mark and his friends as they come to understand the common causes that bind them.
“One of the most irresistibly uplifting films of the year.” Guardian
Winner of the 2018 Oscar for Best Picture in a Foreign Language, this is a groundbreaking, deeply humane story about a transgender woman’s fight for acceptance. Daniela Vega is Marina, a young trans woman whose loving older partner dies, leaving her to face prejudice alone. An outstanding, timely work that recalls the best films of Pedro Almodóvar.
“A sublime study of love.” Guardian
Todd Haynes directs this flawless adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel of forbidden love. In the 1950s, New York department store employee and amateur photographer Therese (Rooney Mara) meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an older divorcee who has popped in to buy a Christmas present for her daughter. As they strike up a relationship, they embark on a road trip to Chicago to test its depths.
“An intoxicating triumph.” Guardian
Set against the sweeping vistas of Wyoming and Texas, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger star as rodeo cowboy Jack and ranch-hand Ennis, who meet in the summer of 1963 and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection. When Aguirre (Randy Quaid) dispatches them to work as shepherds on the eponymous mountain, they gravitate towards camaraderie and then deeper intimacy. Based on a short story by Annie Proulx, the film won three Oscars, four Golden Globes and three BAFTAs for director Ang Lee and his cast and crew.
“A wonderful meditation on longing and regret.” Empire
This captivating BBC drama from the makers of Broadchurch and Apple Tree Yard explores forbidden wartime love – and a present-day romance that is almost derailed by the consequences of the 1940s tale with which it is intertwined. Because while external obstacles have fallen away, a minefield of internalised issues and dangerous temptations still line the road to happiness. Written by Patrick Gale and starring Vanessa Redgrave, Joanna Vanderham, David Gyasi, Julian Morris, James McArdle and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.
“Casual heartlessness, however justified by societal oppression, always comes at a cost.” Financial Times
Daniel Mays stars in this powerful dramatisation of one of the most sensational and controversial court cases of the 1950s, and the catalyst for a campaign that paved the way for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Britain. The exposure of an affair between celebrated Fleet Street journalist Peter Wildeblood and serviceman Eddy McNally has devastating consequences, leading to public vilification and prison sentences for Wildeblood and his friends Michael Pitt-Rivers and Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. Mark Gatiss co-stars.
“A moving story of men who refused to feel ashamed.” Telegraph
Directed by Stephen Frears and written by Russell T. Davies, Hugh Grant stars as Jeremy Thorpe and Ben Whishaw as his ex-lover Norman Scott in this critically acclaimed fact-based BBC drama. It is the late 1960s, homosexuality has just been decriminalised, and Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal party, has a secret he is desperate to hide. As his political career takes off, he is determined to silence his resentful ex-lover – and is sensationally put on trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder.
“A ravishing study of vengeance, tabloid titillation and the high camp of British politicians.” Guardian
Browse our complete LGBT collection of film & TV drama, comedy and World Cinema.