Pride

Streaming While Social Distancing: 10 Essential Queer Music Movies to Watch at Home

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Sophie Giraud/New Line/Kobal/Shutterstock

John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and The Angry Inch.

As cities and countries around the world continue to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, many people practicing  social distancing by remaining at home have been looking for ways to keep themselves entertained while on lockdown. Unsurprisingly, movie and TV streaming has skyrocketed: Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said “all viewing is up” with regard to both Netflix and other forms of entertainment. This in spite of companies -- including Netflix -- halting TV and film production for the duration of the pandemic. 

With a whole world of movies available at your fingertips from the comfort of your own home, it may be hard to sort through the countless options to find something you like. For LGBTQ+ music lovers, we’ve got you covered. To help get you through your time in self-isolation, we’ve picked out 10 of the best LGBTQ music movies available to watch online.

The Runaways

In the late 1970s, rock music was a boys’ club with little room for women to express themselves on a large platform. That all changed when Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, Jackie Fox, Lita Ford, and Sandy West came together to form The Runaways, an all-female band that launched the rockers’ careers with smash hits such as “Cherry Bomb” and their cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Rock & Roll.” Their story was adapted into a movie in 2010, with Kristen Stewart playing the role of Joan Jett, and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie, though Jett has famously not publicly disclosed her sexuality and had little to say about the lesbian sex scene with Currie upon the movie’s release. 

Available on Amazon PrimeiTunesYouTube, and Google Play.

Rent

Since its Broadway debut in 1996, Rent has become one of the world’s most beloved stories about strength, struggle, and -- perhaps most importantly -- song. At the height of the AIDS crisis, LGBTQ+ people in New York City had very few places to turn, and often created their own communities as a way of feeling safe and secure. The 2005 film adaptation of the show brought the gripping stage experience to the screen, and features an all-star cast including Idina Menzel, Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, and original cast member Anthony Rapp bringing classics such as “Seasons of Love” and “La Vie Bohème” to the screen. In this case, it’s better to not go out tonight. 

Available on Amazon Prime, Hulu, iTunes, and YouTube.

Victor/Victoria

Julie Andrews’ biggest claims to fame may be The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, but her starring role in the 1982 film Victor/Victoria often doesn’t receive as much recognition, despite the Oscar nomination for her role. Andrews plays the fun and flirty singer Victoria, who finds herself in a successful career as a female impersonator named Victor at the behest of gay men around her. The story only gets more and more ridiculous as it progresses, and musical numbers such as “Le Jazz Hot!” give viewers a unique Parisian cabaret experience. 

Available on Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, and Google Play.

Becks

This indie flick follows the titular character (played by Broadway diva Lena Hall) as she navigates life and love as an aspiring singer, and sheds a light on the struggles that many LGBTQ+ people in religious families face. It’s a refreshingly honest and personable take on a common story, making it an undiscovered gem for all LGBTQ+ entertainment fans looking for something new while in self-isolation. And because no lesbian movie would be complete without “Lesbian Jesus,” Hayley Kiyoko makes a brief -- if shining -- appearance as Becks’ one-time girlfriend. 

Available on Amazon Prime, Showtime, Hulu, YouTube, and Google Play.

Bohemian Rhapsody

It should come as no surprise that Rami Malek won his first Oscar for portraying Freddie Mercury in this blockbuster biopic. Mercury was a visionary far beyond his time, and pictured a life for himself and his Queen bandmates that was larger than anything any rock band could ever imagine. Malek captures the frontman's energy perfectly, embodying much of Mercury’s lively spirit up until his dying days as he suffered from AIDS complications. 

Available on HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Google Play.

Saturday Church

This 2017 indie movie stars a few familiar faces who found fame not long after its release:  Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore, and Alexia Garcia of FX’s hit series Pose. Saturday Church follows the lives of LGBTQ+ youths who find happiness in each other, in music, and in ballroom. It also speaks to the tenacity of the human spirit -- all with cast members such as Rodriguez showing how much trans and queer vocalists shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Available on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Google Play.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Neil Patrick Harris won a Tony for his role on Broadway as Hedwig, a boundary-busting genderqueer rock singer on a mission to perform in front of audiences around the world. The 2001 film adaptation stars John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote the original stage show himself alongside composer Stephen Trask, and directed the accompanying movie in addition to his starring role. Two decades later, Hedwig remains loved by fans everywhere for its touching story and angst-filled soundtrack. 

Available on HBO, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Hulu, and Google Play.

Rocketman

Throughout his illustrious career spanning more than half a century, Elton John has made music that transcends generations and brings people of all backgrounds together. Welsh actor Taron Egerton stars as John in this award-winning 2019 biopic that chronicles the singer’s life from his interest in music at a young age, his start with the Royal Academy of Music, to his domination of music and culture in the following decades. 

Available on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Google Play.

The Transparent Musicale Finale

Amazon Prime Video’s original series Transparent was at the height of a beautiful story arc when lead actor Jeffrey Tambor was fired following sexual harassment allegations in 2018. The subsequent fifth season was turned into a one-off movie musical that wraps up the stories of everyone in the Pfefferman family -- albeit in a format unfamiliar to fans of the show, and with a new character played by transgender actress and activist Shakina Nayfack. If you’ve been a fan of the show but never got around to watching its polarizing “Musicale Finale,” this self-quarantine would be the time to do so. 

Available on Amazon Prime.

Cabaret

When Cabaret was first released in 1972, it made waves everywhere not just because of the Oscar-winning performance of Liza Minnelli or its portrayal of pre-Hitler Berlin, but due to a main character's (and Minnelli’s love interest) bisexual identity. Bisexual men often don’t receive much screen time or storylines even in film and TV today, so Cabaret’s acknowledgment of Brian Roberts’ sexual fluidity remains a groundbreaking moment. 

Available on Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, and Google Play.