Coming out is a special and signification milestone for every queer person. For some, it’s a positive experience as family and friends both welcome and may have already suspected it. For others it may not be the best experience of their lives, but it works out in the end. Mine falls into that category, and you can read all about it HERE. But for many, it still is a negative moment; something that is not celebrated and often creates more issues than acknowledging one’s sexuality should bring. Some don’t even have a say in when it happens, as they are outed by someone else.
But one thing is for certain: everyone has a coming out moment. (Heck, some could argue that a queer person’s life is full of coming out moments rather than just the one big one… but that’s a discussion for another day!) So partly to acknowledge National Coming Out Day on October 11 but also to highlight this significant moment, I’ve selected five queer coming out films for this month’s post.
While there actually are a handful of films that include a coming out scene, I’ve gone with films where it’s an integral element to the story. There are also a few well-known films that equally are NOT on this list, mainly because I did not want to highlight films where a person was outted. So grab a cup of coffee and check out these five queer coming out films!
[Note: Not all of these films have full reviews yet – but they’re added to the quickly growing list of films I plan to tackle soon!]
5 Queer Coming Out Films
The bitter fight for supremacy between the three most popular girls at North Gateway High takes an unexpected turn when their classmate, Tanner (Michael J. Willett), is outed and becomes the school’s first openly gay student. The trio races to bag the big trend in fashion accessories, the Gay Best Friend, while Tanner must decide whether his skyrocketing popularity is more important than the friendships he is leaving behind.
When most folks think of queer coming out films, “G.B.F.” is likely at the top of their list. This modern teenage romcom takes the cliché stereotype of the gay best friend and flips it on its head making him not integral to the plot rather than a sidekick, but also someone who is wanted. Granted, even this goes a bit too far as the extra attention turns into a three-way fight over the epitome of high school celebrity status: prom queen. Tanner eventually calls everyone out that they are after his status as GBF rather than wanting to be friends with him for who he is. But this actually makes the storyline rather relatable. It does need to be noted that “G.B.F.” does toe the line of a queer coming out film because Tanner is actually outted, and then outs his best friend. However, even Tanner has to come out to his own parents in a rather cute and comical scene. There’s very little wrong with “G.B.F.” and it is certainly a queer coming out film that is worth watching!
The summer of 1984 was about as 80s as the 80s ever got. Stuck right in the middle of it is Eric Hunter (Chris Stafford), heading towards his senior year, and passing the summer working at a local amusement park in the fast food restaurant. He is joined by his long time girl/friend Maggie (Tina Holmes), as they don their ugly brown polyester uniforms and face the world – while experimenting and questioning his own sexuality.
“Edge of Seventeen” was one of the first queer films that I had discovered as a teenager. It’s actually a rather iconic and groundbreaking queer film, with scenes and characters being parodied in other queer films such as “Another Gay Movie”. Set in the 80’s and full of period clothes, attitudes, and an iconic 80’s music soundtrack, it’s one enjoyable film! However, the reason that it leaves such a formidable impression is that while Eric is discovering his own sexuality, other parts of his life are not going so great. Eric’s best friend, Maggie, gets hurt because of Eric’s confusion. His mother becomes extremely suspicious and in the end, she is not really supportive of her son being gay. Yet the iconic coming-out scene is one that is actually quite realistic; not everyone’s parents are supportive of their children coming out. But the film still ends on a positive note due to Eric fully realizing who he is along with having supportive friends. If you haven’t watched this queer coming out film yet, then you need to watch it today!
Oliver (Ewan McGregor) meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent) only months after his father Hal Fields (Christopher Plummer) has passed away. This new love floods Oliver with memories of his father, who, following the death of his wife of 44 years, came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life – which included a younger boyfriend, Andy (Goran Visnjic).
I have to confess that I started to lose interest while watching “Beginners”. It comes across as yet another film where the main gay character is sick and dying. (Not from AIDS, but that trope has been beaten to death!) However the constant back and forth in timelines, the contrasting and jarring jumps between the happiness of an older gay man finally coming out and the deep dive into the sadness of the son kept thwarting any effort to really get into the film. I even made a note that despite a slight uptick at the end, the entire film felt like a drawn-out prologue to that final scene. I likely need to rewatch “Beginners” to make a full recommendation, but my first impression wasn’t that great.
Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) is a well-rounded high school senior with a wonderful girlfriend Claire (Madeline Weinstein) and a bright future ahead of him – and with plans to achieve his last teenage milestone by losing his virginity. But things get complicated when he meets Elliot (Antonio Marziale), a handsome and charming gay kid from the other side of town, who unwittingly sends Alex on a rollercoaster journey of sexual exploration, kicking off a hilarious and moving adventure of love, sex and friendship in our liberated and confusing modern times.
With a handful of other teenage coming-of-age and coming-out films in recent years, even Netflix hopped on the bandwagon with “Alex Strangelove”. The plot itself has become rather standard among queer films: a high school teenage boy entering the world of sex while discovering his own sexuality is a bit different than the norm. And with a handful of moments that are very reminiscent of “Edge of Seventeen”, this is a film that feels familiar; like we have seen it before. But thankfully, “Alex Strangelove” has an updated plot to reach a modern audience. Although the entire film has received the “Disney” treatment, aka removal of any hint of sexual activity beyond kissing and a “sex scene” that happens entirely under blankets, this queer coming out film does adequately portray the struggles of a modern teenager learning about their sexuality. I will always support more coming out films so that our queer and questioning youth can see themselves represented during this challenging time, “Alex Strangelove” is a film that sits in the middle. It’s not bad; it’s not a standout. But it’s still an enjoyable queer coming out film to watch.
Watch Alex Strangelove on Netflix.
Alim (Jimi Mistry) is a gay man living in London to escape the domineering eye of his conservative Muslim mother, Nuru (Suleka Mathew), back in Canada. Alim keeps his homosexuality secret from his mother, so when she comes for a surprise visit, he and his boyfriend, Giles (Kris Holden-Ried), must put on a straight facade to hide the truth.
“Touch of Pink” likely slid through the cracks for many queer film viewers however, it’s one that should not be missed! This queer coming-out film combines many different facets together into a rather enjoyable film. By taking the cultural differences of a Muslim immigrant family, a closeted gay son who’s also given up his faith, and a mother who intervenes in her son’s life, it’s all woven together with perhaps the weirdest element – the reincarnation of Cary Grant! However, it oddly works. This resulting queer coming-out film portrays the awkward ups and downs of coming out as a gay Muslim, with a dash of comedy along the way. I highly suggest you give “Touch of Pink” a watch, especially if you haven’t seen it before.