Be gay, watch great movies. We’re riffing a little bit on the member “be gay, do crimes”, but for a long time in our history it was a crime to be gay. That’s utterly abhorrent. Yet a lot of really excellent gay movies do focus on the act of committing a crime. From murder to bank robbery, there’s a litany of stories across queer cinema that have a criminal focus to them.
Now why that is a thesis for an overworked doctoral student or something, but for lovers of the crime genre or if you like great gay movies, then these films are worth checking out.
Given the time when the film was made, the homoeroticism is very much subtext rather than text. Even so, this lesser-known Alfred Hitchcock directed film is still a) a great psychological crime thriller and b) doing what 1917 did before it was even a thing.
Rope is shot in a series of long takes to make it look like one unbroken shot. Based on the true-crime story of Leopold and Loeb, Rope follows two young men who host a dinner party after committing “the perfect murder”.
Now before you go, it’s all subtext. Well, Rope was based on a play, in the play, Phillip and Brandon were explicitly written as a gay couple.
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Before Percy Jackson took audiences throughout the world of Middle Earth, he brought this notorious true crime case to the screen. The film follows the relationship between Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet) from 1952 to 1954.
During this two year period, they create an elaborate fantasy world together and fell into a relationship of mutual obsession, culminating in the death of Pauline’s mother.
Eerie, intense, and, at times, oddly beautiful, Heavenly Creatures puts the Parker-Hulme murder at center stage.
In the debut of the Wachowskis, who went on to create Sense8 and The Matrix, we get a compelling heist movie. In the film, mob girlfriend Violet (Jennifer Tilly) longs to escape the life she finds herself in when along comes ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon).
The pair enter into an affair and decide to steal $2 million USD from Violet’s money launderer boyfriend (Joe Pantoliano).
The film was praised at the time for its humor, style, and the genuine depiction of a lesbian relationship. It’s a fun watch with a lot of tense action and, yes, a pretty happy ending.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
As this was made in the 70s, some stuff probably hasn’t aged too well. Even so, Dog Day Afternoon is an absolutely thrilling ride. Al Pacino stars as Sonny Wortzik who walks into a bank with his friend Sal (John Cazale) on a hot August afternoon to rob it.
Things go wrong pretty much immediately, but Sonny makes the attempt to rob the bank in order to get his trans girlfriend her gender confirmation surgery.
Based on the real-life story of John Wojtowicz, Dog Day Afternoon is a wild ride from start to finish. It’s notable for not using a score and the intense instant media fame will still feel true in 2020. Maybe even more so.
Boy Don’t Cry (1999)
Starring Hilary Swank, this 1999 film is the dramatization of the life and murder of Brandon Teena, a trans man in Nebraska who was killed in a hate crime by two acquaintances. With the murders of those in the transgender community continuing to happen, Boys Don’t Cry remains a brutal and very real look at how the trans community is still treated.
Considered groundbreaking at the time it was made, some may not like a cisgender woman (Swank) playing the part of Brandon. Still, it remains ranked as one of the best LGBTQ+ movies ever made.