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Celebrate Pride with the Best of LGBTQ+ Film from the UK

Group of people laughing and smiling in the back of a taxi

It’s June, which means the days are full of sunshine and rainbow flags to celebrate Pride month – culminating, in the UK at least, with the London Pride celebrations on July 1. If you’re ready to take a short break from partying but still want to mark the occasion with LGBTQ+ themed films, you’re in luck. These are stories that are inspiring, joyous, tragic, terrifying and everything in-between: a nod to the vast diversity of the community out marching this month.

The most obvious, and one of the most uplifting, is Matthew Warchus’ Pride, the comic, dramatic and true story of the alliance forged between striking Welsh miners and the LGBT community during the 1984 miners’ strike. Ben Schnetzer stars as activist Mark Ashton, who began the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners group and raised money for the strikers; he then went to deliver it with fellow activists played by the likes of Dominic West (The Crown) and Andrew Scott (Fleabag). It’s a beautiful call for alliance and mutual support, which feels well timed for this month.


But that’s far from alone. Disobedience is the love story of two women from an orthodox Jewish community, played by Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes) and Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener), and what happens when Weisz’s Ronit returns home to North London after years in New York to find McAdams’ Esti married to their childhood friend Dovit (Alessandro Nivola, You Were Never Really Here). Spoiler: their long-ago romance roars back to life, and forces them both to question what they want from the present day.

A-list stars also headline Supernova: the tender account of the long relationship and marriage of Sam (Colin Firth, Love Actually) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci, The Children Act), as Tusker’s developing dementia threatens to part them forever. If you have any tears left to shed after that, pop superstar Harry Styles made his leading man debut in My Policeman, director Michael Grandage’s decades-spanning account of a star-crossed love affair in 1950s Brighton. The delicate World War II-set drama Summerland, with Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, also tells a sweeping romance that spans decades and exists in spite of everything the world throws at its heroines.



Some of these films have won near-universal critical acclaim. One of the most compelling British debuts of recent years was director Francis Lee’s heart-breaking love story God’s Own Country, starring Josh O’Connor (Mothering Sunday) and Alec Secăreanu (Amulet) as farm workers who strike up a tentative, guarded relationship in a harsh and isolated environment. Lee followed that film with Ammonite in 2020, the story of 19th century palaeontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet, Sense and Sensibility). Anning struggles to gain professional recognition of her work but more importantly to express her feelings for Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan, Atonement), who has been sent to convalesce in her home.

When it comes to costume dramas, as you’d expect, the UK’s long history of great biopics and period dramas includes powerful LGBTQ+ stories. The Favourite chronicles a long-running relationship between Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and her lady-in-waiting Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), and how it’s disrupted by the arrival of Sarah’s distant cousin Abigail (Emma Stone). The film, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, was nominated for ten Oscars and won one for Colman. In a more recent historical era, The Imitation Game is the story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch, The Electric Life Of Louis Wain), who helped to break the Nazis’ Enigma code during World War II and was key in winning the War for the Allies. He was also gay, a prosecutable offence at the time, and his contributions were initially buried to history as a result.


God's Own Country

Legendary LGBT writers could almost be their own category. Benediction, from Terrence Davies, is the moving story of the war poet Siegfried Sassoon, played by Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots) and later in life by Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who), who married a woman but also had key romances with several men. From around the same period, Vita & Virginia showcases the passionate affair between writers Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) and Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki), both in open marriages to men. But if you prefer your lovers more outrageous and more out, Colette is the one for you. That stars Keira Knightley as the daring, defiant French writer Colette, who reclaimed her work from an overbearing husband (Dominic West) and began a happier life with the transgender Missy (Denise Gough).

The last few years have seen growing visibility for these LGBTQ+ stories, alongside documentaries about the struggle for acceptance like Rebel Dykes, revered TV hits like It’s a Sin, Gentleman Jack and Heartstopper, and even significant supporting characters and subplots in the likes of ensemble drama Our Ladies and the horror hit Saint Maud. The days of two-dimensional gay stereotypes, we can hope, are now behind us. Happy Pride, everyone!