Films like Brokeback Mountain and Call Me By Your Name are LGBTQ+ films that are on everybody’s radars, and are films often at the top of recommendations from critics and interested audiences alike. But what about the lesser-known gems of LGBTQ+ cinema, the films specifically focused on gay relationships that typically fly under the radar?
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1. Summer Storm (2004)
Summer Storm is a German-language film that follows Tobi, a young man who is secretly in love with his best friend, Achim. Both of the boys are members of their local rowing team and end up at camp for an upcoming competition. When an openly gay rowing team arrives at the camp, it causes havoc for Tobi’s relationship with Achim and his other teammates.
While Summer Storm is part coming-of-age film and part sports film, it’s creative enough to avoid the cliques inherent to both genres. It’s a provocative and fun coming out story, with just the right amount of heart. Its climax even features the song “Flames” by VAST. What more could anyone ask for from a gay sports film?
2. Innocent (2005)
Eric is a young man plucked from the life he knows in Hong Kong and made to move to Toronto with his family. He struggles to come to terms with his sexuality and get his bearings on this new landscape. Eric tries to form romantic relationships with those around him (including a much older lawyer), though each new romantic interest seems to leave him feeling worse and lonelier than the last.
Directed by Simon Chung, Innocence isn’t afraid to show the uglier reality of growing up gay. According to him, “I don’t just want to celebrate gay life with pretty love stories. I want to show the darker sides of gay life, and gay audiences don’t always appreciate seeing that.”
The expectation is that gay films are supposed to let the audience know that it all gets better. It’s no surprise that a film that says “maybe it doesn’t” didn’t receive wider distribution and appeal.