Today marks the 35th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. Observed annually on Oct 11, National Coming Out Day is a day to support and celebrate gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, and other members of the LGBTQ+ community who recognized and revealed their authentic selves.
In honor of National Coming Out Day, A.frame partnered with members of the Academy's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group for a list of films that portray the resilience, strength, and beauty of queer people. The films selected showcase a diverse range of queer stories throughout history.
From groundbreaking documentaries to romantic comedies, these films explore the complexities and the nuances of LGBTQ+ experiences, depict the struggles and the triumphs of living in a world that has not always been accepting of queer identities, and celebrate the love and the joy that can be found within queer communities.
Set in Nazi Germany, this romantic drama follows the secret love affair between a Jewish woman (Maria Schrader) and a Nazi officer's wife (Juliane Köhler). The film explores the complexities of forbidden love and the many challenges of living during a time of war and persecution.
This romantic comedy-drama from director Desiree Akhavan follows Shirin (played by Akhavan herself), a bisexual Iranian-American in Brooklyn struggling to find her place in the world following her breakup with Maxine (Rebecca Henderson). Witty and honest, Appropriate Behavior explores the complexities of identity and the challenges of living in between cultures.
In this romantic comedy-drama from writer-director Mike Mills, Oliver (Ewan McGregor), following the death of his mother, is shocked to learn that his father (Christopher Plummer) is terminally ill and that he has come out of the closet. For his performance, Plummer won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Set in the '80s, this coming-of-age comedy-drama follows Eric (Chris Stafford), a closeted gay teenager, as he discovers his own identity. Edge of Seventeen captures the fear and excitement of youthful exploration and depicts the challenges of growing up gay at a time of prejudice.
In this satirical comedy from writer-director Kelli Herd, a woman (Keri Jo Chapman) stuck in a loveless marriage begins to have an affair with another woman (Teresa Garrett) in the fictional small town of Azalea Springs, Texas in the '90s. Meanwhile, a rumor begins to spread that the water in the town can turn people gay, leading some residents to go into a panic. It's in the Water explores, among other themes, coming out, and homophobia.
Based on the bestselling novel, this heartwarming romantic comedy follows teenager Simon as he navigates his first love and struggles to come out to his friends and family. Love, Simon captures the fear and vulnerability of coming out while celebrating the power of acceptance and community.
Based on the true story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, Gus Van Sant's Milk depicts the politician's journey as he becomes a leader in the LGBTQ+ rights movement and fights for equality and justice.
The film received eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Directing, and went on to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and another for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Sean Penn who delivered a powerhouse performance as Harvey Milk.
In Jonathan Demme's powerful drama, a successful lawyer (Tom Hanks) is fired from his firm after his colleagues discover that he has AIDS. With the help of a tenacious lawyer (Denzel Washington), he fights back against discrimination in a wrongful dismissal suit. Philadelphia was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Original Screenplay, and went on to win Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Hanks and Best Original Song for Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia."
Set in a small Swedish town, this coming-of-age romantic drama follows two teenage girls (Alexandra Dahlström and Rebecka Liljeberg) as they navigate first love and the challenges of growing up in a conservative community. Written and directed by Lukas Moodysson, Show Me Love captures both the excitement and the pain of first love, while also celebrating the power of self-discovery.
Watching The Watermelon Woman today, its charm nearly belies its landmark place in history: It is the first feature film directed by an out Black lesbian. Cheryl Dunye, who wrote, produced, and directed The Watermelon Woman, stars in the film as Cheryl, a Black lesbian and aspiring director in '90s Philadelphia who works in a video rental store while making a documentary that is attempting to uncover the identity of an obscure Black actress from the '30s who was credited for a role in a film as "The Watermelon Woman." The film is a unique blend of autofiction and romantic comedy.
A groundbreaking documentary that could now be looked at as an artifact of another era, Word Is Out, directed by Nancy Adair, Andrew Brown, and Rob Epstein, shines a light on over two dozen queer people from various backgrounds as they share their personal stories and experiences. The interviews in Word Is Out, among other things, cover bigotry, stereotyping, and coming out. The beautifully crafted portraits show the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community.