With LGBTQ+ characters becoming more and more represented in popular culture, we have the social movements that have been fighting for the rights of the community to thank. While the political and legal position of the LGBTQ+ community is far more important in an existential sense, the necessity for their artistic representation cannot be ignored.
Here’s a short roundup of some LGBTQ+ movie characters from modern cinema that made an impact. While there are of course many many more, this is just a tiny selection to get you started!
Ennis Del Mar
Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain, as portrayed by Heath Ledger, is one of those characters that defined modern queer cinema. Ang Lee’s film was a massive hit that changed how the average moviegoers perceived LGBTQ+ characters.
Lisbeth Salander is the principal anti-hero of Stieg Larsson’s successful mystery movie Millennium trilogy that has been adapted on the big screen on several occasions, most notably The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth is a genius investigator and one of the most popular anti-heroines in modern fiction, which only makes us even more proud that she is an “active bisexual” as the critics usually describe her.
When Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia hit theatres back in 1993, it was a controversial movie, but one that did so much to raise awareness in the mainstream of the AIDS crisis. Portrayed by Tom Hanks, attorney Andrew Beckett battles homophobia, stigma and ignorance with the help of attorney, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), who himself overcomes his own prejudice in the process. Philadelphia was one of the first mainstream American movies to deal with the issues of homosexuality, homophobia and AIDS, and Hanks’ Andy Beckett was a deserved Oscar-winning performance.
Although Chiron was the protagonist of Moonlight, the Oscar-winning 2016 drama directed by Barry Jenkins, the character of Kevin stood out as he dealt with unrequited love and the struggles of being an African-American homosexual in a small and conservative community. André Holland beautifully portrayed the older Kevin, but his whole story and the development of his feelings towards Chiron was truly beautiful.
Elio Perlman from Call Me by Your Name is the protagonist of writer André Aciman’s two novels and the critically-acclaimed movie adaptation, where he was portrayed by Timothée Chalamet. Chalamet’s Oscar-nominated performance is instantly memorable.
Tom Ford’s A Serious Man was a surprisingly good directorial debut and a film that gave Colin Firth a well-deserved Oscar nomination. Firth portrays George Falconer, a depressed homosexual university professor struggling with a deceased lover, nostalgia, melancholy and his sexual orientation in a time when being gay was still a taboo topic.
If you haven’t seen A Fantastic Woman yet, do so as soon as possible. Depicting the life of a transgender woman that is turned upside down when her lover dies, Marina is refreshingly played by a trans actress instead of the usual cis depictions.
The legendary character from Gus Van Sant’s movie My Own Private Idaho is portrayed by the unforgettable and dearly missed River Phoenix. Waters was Phoenix’s most important role in his short career and one of the most memorable depictions in the history of the big screen.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a major hit when it came out. A coming-of-age drama that beautifully painted all the layers of growing up and maturing in modern American society. And while not the lead, Ezra Miller’s masterfully portrayed Patrick Stewart was a breakout character that portrayed the perils and struggles of growing up homosexual in a small community.
And that was our brief summary of the memorable LGBTQ+ characters on the big screen! Now matter how big or small the roles, the movies we all love would not be the same without them.
For more film news, keep up to date with Hrvoje Milaković and the fine folk at Fiction Horizon.
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