15 Essential Soundtracks From LGBTQ Movies

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Armie Hammer as Oliver and Timothée Chalamet as Elio in Call Me By Your Name. 

Truly great LGBTQ films can not only touch hearts and open minds -- in some cases, they can even move the wheels of progress forward in the world around us. They also happen to have some truly incredible soundtracks.

In honor of Pride Month, we’re giving another listen to some of the very best soundtracks from LGBTQ movies over the past 45 years. These are 15 essential albums you should listen to all month and to have in your collection for life.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Some of the nomenclature on this 1975 soundtrack might be dated, but the entire album is still a timeless classic (s/o Tim Curry’s vocals). It’s nothing short of a rite of passage to know—and perform—all of the words and moves to tracks like “Time Warp,” “I Can Make You a Man” and “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me.”

Call Me By Your Name

Whether you’re biting into an, um, fresh peach or having a good cry in front of the fireplace, this is the only soundtrack you need. Oscar and Grammy-nominated in 2018, Sufjan Stevens’ “Mystery of Love” is a soundtrack all-timer, but “Visions of Gideon" is no slouch either.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The Off-Broadway (and subsequent Broadway revival) cast albums are great, but for an entire generation, the film soundtrack to 2001’s cult masterpiece Hedwig and the Angry Inch was the introduction to Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell). From the sexy “Sugar Daddy” to the stirring “Origin of Love,” life is never quite the same after listening to this album.

Tangerine

As frantic and gorgeous as the 2015 indie itself, the soundtrack to Tangerine is a thrilling compilation of DJs, dance tracks, and electronica beats. Just one listen and you’re transported to West Hollywood right alongside Sin-Dee Rella and Alexandra.

Carol

Carter Burwell’s sumptuous Oscar-nominated score is as heartbreaking and hopeful as Carol, and while you can (and should) enjoy to the 2015 soundtrack any time, it always sounds better in the wintertime, with the snow falling outside.

Philadelphia

There’s no denying that Bruce Springsteen’s gut-wrenching anthem “Streets of Philadelphia” made the biggest impact (earning Oscar and Grammy wins), but the 1993 soundtrack packs some other emotional wallops in the form of Sade’s "Please Send Me Someone to Love" and, of course, Neil Young’s “Philadelphia.”

Moonlight

La La Land may have bested Moonlight in the best original score category at the 2017 Oscars (no foolin’) but Nicholas Britell’s stunner of a soundtrack still left its mark on many. A glorious mix of instrumentals and hip-hop, the Moonlight soundtrack gives us insight to Chiron's soul throughout his life, as well as a chance to look into our own.

Love, Simon

The little romcom that could: this sweet 2018 flick has become a favorite amongst the youths thanks, in part, to the pitch-perfect soundtrack. Peaking at No. 37 on the Billboard 200, the eclectic and joyful Love, Simon soundtrack features the likes of Whitney Houston, The 1975 and Bleachers.

Set It Off

The 1996 crime drama had a pretty killer lineup with its cast of actresses, including Queen Latifah as a bank-robbing lesbian in her breakout film performance. She is also featured as an artist on the equally impressive soundtrack, which additionally boasted talent such as Brandy and En Vogue. 

Rocketman

C'mon, of course a movie about Sir Elton John featuring the music of Sir Elton John is immediately one for the collection. Leading man Taron Egerton absolutely does the legend justice in the 2019 biopic/musical Rocketman with his impressive vocal work on classics like "Your Song," "Tiny Dancer," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "I'm Still Standing" and, you guessed it, the titular "Rocket Man."

Victor/Victoria

Pretty much anything with Julie Andrews can be considered part of the gay canon, and the 1982 soundtrack to Victor/Victoria featuring music from Henry Mancini is no exception. Like the Hedwig soundtrack, you can take your pick between the movie and the stage recording, as they’re both great in their own ways.

Brokeback Mountain

It’s still nothing short of insane that this bona fide masterpiece lost best picture to Crash at the 2006 Oscars, but at least the Academy got this one right: Gustavo Santaolalla took home the trophy for best original score. The score is just as haunting today, and once you get to the finale “The Wings”...forget it, you’ll be a puddle all over again.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

A soundtrack that’s pretty much wall-to-wall gay anthems, including Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” the Village People’s “Go West,” and CeCe Peniston’s “Finally.” If you’re not blasting this essential 1994 album throughout Pride Month, you’re doing it wrong.

But I’m a Cheerleader

An underrated gem—both the 2000 comedy and its accompanying soundtrack—But I’m a Cheerleader led to a whole lot of awakenings with the help of leading lady Natasha Lyonne and artists like Tattle Tale. 

Boys Don’t Cry

The Cure song of the same name doesn’t appear on the soundtrack of harrowing 1999 Oscar winner, but it does still make beautiful music thanks to the likes of The Smithereens, the Isley Brothers and an unforgettable duet from Nathan Larson and Nina Persson.