pictures gay cinemaWith the release of Gus Van Sant‘s film Milk coinciding with the current issues of Prop 8, gay cinema was finally pushed into the forefront of everyones attention both on screen and off. Although this genre may be a touchy subject, more and more directors and actors are choosing to discuss the issues behind the repression of homosexuality both in politics and ones life.

The month of June is Gay & Lesbian Pride Month so in honor of that, we have put together a list of some of the most influential gay films which have helped inspire, educate, and encourage audiences to make a change and support equal rights.

Take a look after the jump…

5. Philadelphia (1993)Philadelphia is a great gay/Aids movie starring Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Antonio Banderas. The film tells the story of Andrew Beckett (Hanks), a gay lawyer infected with AIDS who is fired from his law firm because his colleagues fear they might contract AIDs. This film is important because it was one of the first all-star casts, which could pull in big audiences, that tackled the issues of AIDs in the United States, and also introduced a more realistic picture of gays and lesbians. Although the film is about two gay lovers, the AIDs issue in the film was meant for everyone. The film exploited the discrimination that gays and AIDs patients still undergo in our democratic society and began the change towards AIDs no longer just being associated with the homosexual community.

Overall the film was very successful at the box office ($200 million worldwide) and in encouraging AIDS awareness and acceptance.

Check out the trailer below . . .

4. Bad Education (2004) – A stand-out film by Pedro Almodóvar, about two childhood friends who discovered love and cinema as young pupils. The film deals with sexual abuse, trans-sexuality and gender abuse, and it is known for it’s nearly all-male cast and considered one of Almodóvar’s more serious and poignant films. The film doesn’t let anyone off the hook especially the Catholic church. It brings awareness to the sexual abuse happening in churches everywhere; from the priest to the young boys that spend there days inside the church.

Overall it holds a powerful message that churches can be just as hypocritical as anyone. It’s better to be a good person than to say you’re a good person, and being gay has nothing to do with whether or not you’re “good.”

Bad Education received mixed reviews, but made over $40 million worldwide.

Check out the trailer below.

3. Fire (1996) – Get’s points for a unique perspective on the gay community. Fire is the first Indian film to explicitly show homosexual relations, and after its release many right-wing Hindu groups violently protested against homosexuality. In the film, two daughters-in-law who were forced to marry into the family in an arranged marriage become lovers. The women go through many hardships, but in the end prove that following ones heart is the only way to live no matter what the consequences. Although many critics loved the film calling it “explosive” and “pathbreaking,” many were outraged by the explicit lesbian relationship shown in the film.

There were many protest against the film, but gay activist Ashok Row Kavi criticized the protest as “gay bashing” and argued against lesbianism being against Indian tradition. Director of the film Deepa Mehta said in an interview about the film, “Fire is not a film about lesbians [but rather about] the choices we make in life.” Sounds like a good message for everyone.

Check out the trailer below.

2. Brokeback Mountain (2005) – Why? Because this film is iconic. Perhaps the issues of homosexuality aren’t in the forefront as they are with some of the other films on this list, but Ang Lee‘s film consists of some of the finest performances (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) and an extremely personal exploration of the pain behind hiding who one really is.

The thing about Brokeback Mountain is that although it isn’t outwardly about gay rights, it’s about the misery of having to live in secret and denying one’s true self. Instead of taking an activist perspective, it went through the struggles of real people and shows how lying to oneself doesn’t make things better, it destroys lives.

What could inspire more honest activism then a message like that?

Brokeback Mountain made over $170 million worldwide and seemed to be well received by audiences all over.

Check out the trailer below.

1. Milk (2008)Milk is an award winning biopic film about the life of activist and politician Harvey Milk. Milk has received very high acclaim and redefined Queer Cinema. I had never seen a gay film like Milk; most gay films are about two or three characters, but Milk is about the suffrage of an entire people. Although the movement started in Castro it stretched far and wide, and now with the film, hopefully Harvey Milk’s message can stretch even further especially in a time when it’s needed most.

Sadly, we haven’t come that since the 60′s-70′s, in fact some people may even say we’ve taken some steps backwards. The disappointing thing about this film is that not many people went to see it. In fact, for the most part it was only pro-gay audiences who were already accepting that purchased tickets. Although Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black both won Academy Awards for the film it was probably the least well received, which shows that people aren’t ready for change.

That being said, this film was not made to persuade people, it was made to move them.

So what better time than now to let this great film motivate you. You can’t just sit and let things happen, get out there and make a difference like, Harvey did and like Black is currently doing with the couragecampaign and more!

Milk has made over $53 million so far, and I believe Milk to be a film that deserves a month like June to honor it because it’s currently out fighting to make a difference.

Check out the trailer below.

Which films do you think are the better ones in gay cinema?