FILM & TV
As performers, directors, writers, and designers, LGBTQ individuals have made invaluable contributions to the film and television industries.
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Ramon Novarro, a Mexican-American actor, appeared in his first silent film.
Dorothy Arzner directed The Wild Party, Paramount’s first sound film.
William Haines was forced out of acting by MGM studios due to his homosexual identity. He subsequently became an influential interior designer.
Vincente Minnelli directed Meet Me in St. Louis, which starred his soon-to-be wife Judy Garland (who herself was a gay icon).
Farley Granger starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Rope.
Montgomery Clift appeared opposite Elizabeth Taylor in George Stevens’ A Place in the Sun.
James Dean, Sal Mineo, and Natalie Wood starred in the epochal film Rebel Without a Cause.
Child actor Tommy Kirk starred in the popular Disney film Old Yeller.
Featuring Raymond Burr in the title role, Perry Mason premiered on CBS.
With a screenplay by Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams (who also wrote the original play), Suddenly, Last Summer addressed the topic of homosexuality. The film also featured lead performances from queer icons Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift. More
Anthony Perkins had his career-defining role, Norman Bates, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Richard Chamberlain became a teen idol in the TV medical drama Dr. Kildare.
Jim Nabors developed the role of naive auto mechanic Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show.
Paul Lynde appeared as Uncle Arthur on the sitcom Bewitched.
Cesar Romero portrayed the villain of Joker in the influential television series Batman.
George Takei originated the role of Hikaru Sulu in the TV series Star Trek.
Sandy Dennis won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Hollywood adaptation of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
The black comedy The Killing of Sister George revolved around an aging lesbian television actress.
The Queen documented drag queens planning and participating in the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Contest in New York City.
Directed by John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy—the story of a friendship between two hustlers—won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards.
Robert Reed played the role of the father, Mike Brady, in the hit TV show The Brady Bunch.
Based on the Mart Crowley’s off-Broadway play, and featuring the same cast, The Boys in the Band captured the complexity of contemporary gay life and relationships.
Adapted from Gore Vidal’s novel, Myra Breckinridge was about the journey of a transgender woman.
James Bidgood released his dreamy queer arthouse film Pink Narcissus.
Joel Grey starred as the Master of Ceremonies in the screen version of Cabaret—a role for which he won an Academy Award the following year.
John Waters directed Pink Flamingos, which starred Divine, and it instantly became a cult classic.
Meredith Baxter appeared in the CBS sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie.
Directed by Lamont Johnson, That Certain Summer was a made-for-television film that framed homosexuality in positive terms.
On the pioneering reality TV show An American Family, Lance Loud boldly came out to his family—and to millions of viewers.
Arthur Laurents wrote the screenplay for The Way We Were, the Barbra Streisand vehicle based on his own experiences at Cornell University.
Tim Curry gave an iconic performance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Jodie Foster had her breakthrough performance in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.
Allan Carr produced the film version of the musical hit Grease.
Gay activists protested and boycotted the psycho-thriller Cruising, which they believed depicted homosexuality in a negative light.
Lily Tomlin starred in 9 to 5 alongside Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton.
The queer punk science fiction movie Liquid Sky became the most commercially successful independent film of the year.
Greta Schiller and Robert Rosenberg's Before Stonewall was the first major documentary project to chronicle gay and lesbian life in the years before 1969.
Desert Hearts, a wide-release romantic drama, positively portrayed lesbian sexuality.
Arthur J. Bressan, Jr.’s Buddies movingly depicted the relationship between a man dying of AIDS and his “buddy”—a volunteer friend.
Closeted Hollywood star Rock Hudson died of AIDS at the age of 59. His death was reported widely and sensationally in the media, bringing the virus into public consciousness like never before.
Directed by Bill Sherwood, Parting Glances became one of the first fairly mainstream films to confront HIV/AIDS.
Amanda Bearse starred in the sitcom Married... with Children.
Marlon Riggs’ experimental documentary Tongues Untied broke ground in its lyrical portrayal of Black gay identity.
Neil Patrick Harris starred as the title character on Doogie Howser, M.D.
Directed by Jennie Livingston, Paris is Burning offered a window on ball culture in New York City.
A creative retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, My Own Private Idaho brought to life a gritty world of street hustlers.
Kathy Najimy starred alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the musical comedy film Sister Act.
Harvey Fierstein appeared as the gay brother of Robin Williams’ character in Mrs. Doubtfire.
A mainstream Hollywood film starring Tom Hanks, Philadelphia confronted HIV/AIDS and homophobia.
David Hyde Pierce gave an unforgettable performance as Dr. Niles Crane on the popular NBC sitcom Frasier.
Australian film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, became a critically acclaimed world-wide hit as it depicted LGBTQ individuals in a positive light and introduced gay culture to a broader audience.
Go Fish, an independent drama, told the story of a lesbian relationship.
Margaret Cho rose to prominence after her lead role in the ABC sitcom All-American Girl.
Based on Vito Russo’s classic 1981 book, The Celluloid Closet delved into LGBTQ representation in the history of motion pictures.
Jeffrey was a gay romantic comedy against a backdrop of the AIDS crisis in New York City.
Cheryl Dunye’s landmark The Watermelon Woman wove together the history of African American women in film and contemporary lesbian interracial relationships.
The Rosie O’Donnell Show premiered on television.
Nathan Lane starred in The Birdcage—the American remake of the Franco-Italian play and film La Cage aux Folles.
Ellen DeGeneres famously came out on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
An adaptation of Terrence McNally’s play, Love! Valor! Compassion! represented gay friendship in the era of HIV/AIDS.
Alan Cumming starred in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.
Cynthia Nixon rose to prominence with her portrayal of Miranda Hobbes in Sex and the City.
Centering on a friendship between a gay man and a straight woman, Will & Grace became one of the most mainstream television shows to broach LGBT issues.
Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry was about the life and horrific murder of trans man Brandon Teena—a role for which Hilary Swank received an Academy Award.
BD Wong gained recognition for his role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
The American-Canadian version of Queer as Folk became the first hour-long TV show to focus on gay lives.
Based on the stage musical of the same name, Hedwig and the Angry Inch charted the experience of a genderqueer East German rock singer.
Frida brought the life story of Frida Kahlo, a bisexual modern artist, to the big screen.
Angels in America, the multi-parted screen adaptation of Tony Kushner’s play, captured the AIDS epidemic in mid-1980s New York City.
The reality TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy premiered on Bravo.
A series about West Hollywood lesbian life, The L Word was a milestone in the history of LGBTQ representation on television.
Portraying the queer lives of two cowboys in the American West, Brokeback Mountain became one of the most critically successful films of the year, garnering multiple awards and nominations.
Jim Parsons portrayed the character of Sheldon Cooper on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory.
Milk, Gus Van Sant’s biopic about gay activist Harvey Milk, received numerous accolades, including Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Original Screenplay (Dustin Lance Black) at the Oscars.
The first season of the immensely popular TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race aired.
The sitcom Modern Family progressively featured a family with gay parents.
Dee Rees’ Pariah told a coming-of-age Black lesbian story.
Ira Sachs’ Keep the Lights On focused on a gay relationship and its addiction-related unraveling.
Orange Is the New Black—Netflix’s most watched original series—foregrounded queer and trans narratives in prison.
Looking painted a bleak picture of contemporary gay life in San Francisco.
Created by Joey Soloway, the TV series Transparent explored the interconnections of transgender and Jewish identity.
Directed by Todd Haynes, Carol brought Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt to the silver screen.
Vincent Rodriguez III starred in the TV series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Shot on an iPhone, Tangerine centered on transgender sex workers in Los Angeles.
A nuanced Black, queer coming-of-age drama, Moonlight won an Oscar for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Call Me by Your Name represented a gay romance in the lush Italian countryside in the 1980s.
Featuring a fresh cast, the reboot of Queer Eye was released on Netflix.
Hari Nef starred in the mainstream film Assassination Nation.
Celebrating the ballroom scene of 1980s New York City, the TV show Pose made a mark with its unprecedented casting of many talented trans and queer actors of color.
Directed by Sam Feder and produced by Laverne Cox, Disclosure critically investigated the history of transgender representation in Hollywood cinema.
Featuring an all-gay cast, the colorful remake of the 1970 film The Boys in the Band was released on Netflix.