10 Queer Movies to Turn Your Straight Friends Gay Before Pride

Countdown to Pride header image with a clock replacing the first o and the number 2

To misquote Harvey Milk, my name is Drew Burnett Gregory and I’m here to recruit your straight friends.

For generations, conservatives have panicked that gay people are trying to convert innocent straight people to the homosexual lifestyle. This is obviously not true. You can’t convert anyone to transness or gayness who isn’t already trans or gay. But, I think, the conservatives know this. They aren’t worried we’re making more queers, they’re worried more queers will feel comfortable coming out. And by that definition? Yeah I’ve recruited, yeah I’ve converted. Since coming out over seven years ago, I’ve watched my friends join me in queerness or transness (or both!) one by one by one. All I did was live my life… and show them some movies.

This is why the Hays Code and other forms of censorship have insisted upon queer people being punished. They didn’t want queerness to appear too attractive. (This often failed even with the tacked on tragedy.) But when the Hays Code was abolished, movies started to pop up that did, in fact, make being queer irresistible.

So, hey, why let your straight friends miss out on another Pride when they could watch these ten movies that might just jumpstart some self-discovery?

Desert Hearts (1985)

A middle aged woman in a blue suit looks at a younger woman in a red top by a train.

I mean, if you’re straight after this one, then you’re really straight. This gets my vote for the romantic movie of all time and it certainly nudged me closer to coming out when I saw it. I love how the out queer character — even in a movie from the 80s, set in the 50s — has a straight bestie who is totally comfortable with her. And also the sex scene is really hot. Throw in a happy ending and this remains our greatest recruitment tool.

Bound (1996)

Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon make eye contact.

If you’re friend has a bit more edge and bit less tenderness, try this other compelling portrait of queerness. The Wachowskis’ debut also has hot sex scenes — the hottest ever maybe — and has the added bonus of several shitty straight guys. Personally, I don’t think hating men is a requirement for people embracing their queerness, but sometimes it can be an effective stepping stone.

Anaïs in Love (2021)

A close up of a hand on a sandy thigh

Speaking of men, how about a movie that starts straight and then surprises with its queerness? If your friend has a high tolerance for chaos, they’ll love this movie about a young woman who is having an affair with an older man — only to fall even harder for his wife.

Alice Júnior (2019)

A teen boy and a teen girl lean their heads on another teen girl's shoulder as they watch the sunset

If coming in hot with lesbian sex scenes is too much, try out this delightful coming-of-age movie to a similar effect. It begins as a story about a teen trans girl who wants her first kiss and develops a crush on a boy with a girlfriend. But there is a real delightful surprise as her relationship deepends with the girlfriend as well!

The Half Of It (2020)

A close up on a girl in glasses sitting in a body of water with her shirt still on.

Follow that up with another wonderful coming-of-age movie, Alice Wu’s take on Cyrano de Bergerac. This is a movie filled with gay pining that centers just as much, if not more, on the friendship between a gay character and a straight character. I love this movie and I think your friends of all sexualities will too.

Foxfire (1996)

A girl puts a hand on a young Angelina Jolie's lip

One last coming-of-age movie. It may be less explicitly queer than the others, but as Annette Haywood-Carter told me, the queerness was always there. This is another one that makes men look very bad, and, more importantly, shows the power in female camaraderie. Oh also it has butch Angelina Jolie and her IRL at the time girlfriend Jenny Shimizu.

Second Star On the Right (2019)

A black and white image of a woman freaking out in a car.

Well, one last coming of age movie about teens. This film from Ruth Caudeli follows a bisexual woman in arrested development who has a big group of straight friends and a secret girlfriend. It captures the closeted shame while also showing a way forward. And being really fun and beautiful along the way!

Shakedown (2018)

A stud grinds on a Black femme while another stud watches.

From no community to amazing community. This documentary is about a Black lesbian club in Los Angeles from 2002 to 2015 when it closed down. While it’s tragic the space no longer exists, it’s a fantastic portrait that will make many yearn for lesbian community — and lesbian sex.

Holy Camp! (2017)

A blonde girl watches with glee as a nun talks.

This is a weird one, but it’s just so fun! Yes, one of its main characters is falling for God, an older man who sings Whitney Houston songs, and its other main character is falling for a nun. But both romances are framed as so positive by the movie! If those connections can be celebrated, why not whatever gay crush your friend has?

Lianna (1983)

Two women lie in bed together smiling

Most of the movies on this list make queerness look super fun. What I love about lesbian classic Lianna is that it follows the beats of similar movies, but does them with so much compassion. This isn’t a movie that shies away from the challenges of coming out — it also doesn’t provide its protagonist with the ease of successful romance. Instead, it shows that life as a queer person is still life, but that it’s worth it to go through any challenges while being truer to yourself and your desires. It’s not the most seductive movie on the list, but for any straight friend who isn’t actually straight, this one might provide a lot of comfort.

If any of your friends come out after these movie nights, they have to name their first strap after me.

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 550 articles for us.

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