Coming out: The best LGBTQI indie teen movies
Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon received some major critical plaudits for being the first blockbuster studio film about a gay teenager coming out. With a cast including Jennifer Garner (Juno), Josh Duhamel (Safe Haven), Nick Robinson (The Kings of Summer), and Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why), the movie was hailed “groundbreaking” for the LGBTQI community. It’s the sort of rom-com many queer kids longed for while they were coming-of-age and wanting some comfort and guidance regarding their sexual identity.
But if that’s the sort of movie you were after then you needn’t have waited until 2018 for a major movie studio to “bravely” release one, because there’s a whole range of great indie movies that have beautifully covered this subject in the past. With that in mind, here are ten gay indie teen movies you could (and should) watch instead of Love, Simon.
Freak Show (2017)
Directed by Trudie Styler
Trudie Styler’s adaptation of James St. James’s book of the same name is an unabashedly gleeful celebration of being queer in the face of oppression. Following Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther) as he runs for homecoming queen against a conservative bully (Abigail Breslin), Freak Show is a queer high-school fairytale offering a twist on the happily ever ending.
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
Directed by Jamie Babbit
Easily one of the greatest teen movies of all time, Natasha Lyonne (American Pie) plays Megan – a young woman forced to come to terms with her burgeoning sexuality after she’s shipped off to gay camp to learn how to be hetero. However, while there she falls in love with Graham (Clea DuVall) and is forced to decide whether to fight against the brainwashing she’s been subjected to.
Totally F***ed Up (1993)
Directed by Gregg Araki
Araki has consistently made amazing gay teen films throughout his career. This has to be one of his finest offerings, showing six queer teenagers as they become each other’s chosen family and steer each other through life’s varying challenges.
Directed by Gregg Araki
For the queer teenager who simply wants to enjoy a good old-fashioned story full of horny college students and experimental sexual behaviour, Araki’s Kaboom is exactly what you need. Featuring standout performances from Juno Temple (Atonement) & Thomas Dekker (My Sister’s Keeper) as two lovers without gender preference, and a plotline revolving around a strange international conspiracy, Kaboom isn’t your average gay movie . . . but it is a lot fun.
The Way He Looks (2014)
Directed by Daniel Ribeiro
The Way He Looks is an incredible queer coming-of-age flick with a stunning love story at its center. Following Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) – a blind teenager whose life is changed by the arrival of the charismatic Gabriel (Fabio Audi) – this Italian teen drama is stacked with romance and themes surrounding sexual discovery.
All Over Me (1997)
Directed by Alex Sichel
Set against the tough backdrop of Hell’s Kitchen, New York, Claude (Alison Folland) is hesitant to act on her feelings for best friend Ellen (Tara Subkoff). When one of their neighbors is violently murdered, they grow closer, only to realize there’s a further complication standing in the way of their happiness: Claude has a boyfriend (Cole Hauser) and he may be involved in their neighbor’s death.
Get Real (1998)
Directed by Simon Shore
This British coming-of-age story is as tender & sweet as they come. Following gay teenager Steven (Ben Silverstone) as he decides to come out in a small-minded, insensitive town, the movie features a low-key but warm relationship between two young men as they come to terms with their sexuality together.
Beautiful Thing (1996)
Directed by Hettie Macdonald
Following two young working class men as they attempt to navigate their feelings for one another, accept their sexuality, and deal with some enormous life challenges, Beautiful Thing is a British queer coming-of-age movie with one of the sweetest closing scenes you’ll ever see.
I Killed My Mother (2009)
Directed by Xavier Dolan
Dolan’s critically acclaimed semi-autobiographical story follows Hubert – a young homosexual who confesses that although he loves his mother, he hates being her son. Amid their increasingly fraught relationship, Hubert explores his sexuality while also trying to keep his family relationship in tact.
NB: No mothers were actually harmed in the making of this movie.
Spa Night (2016)
Directed by Andrew Ahn
Timid Korean-American teenager David (Joe Seo) takes a spa job to help his struggling family. However, while working there he discovers a hidden underground world of gay sex which both excites and terrifies him. But will the experience force him to finally acknowledge and accept his own sexuality?