The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

10 Must Watch LGBT+ Comedies

Celebrating Pride 2020 safely at home, we take a look at 10 LGBT+ comedy films that are as diverse as the community itself. A special thanks to Frida Board Member Atalia Lopez and Frida volunteer Dina Bdaiwi for their advising contributions for the films on this list.

10. Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)

Based on the Off-Broadway play, this indie rom-com evaluates how love can come from unexpected places. Jessica has been on a series of awful blind dates and fears that she will never find her special someone. After Jessica meets Helen, they blossom into a romantic relationship, leading Jessica to discover her bisexuality and learning that love is beyond a label.

9. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

The unique Off-Broadway musical has become a beloved cult film, which explores gender identity. East Berlin-born Hedwig, who as always dreamed of being an American rock star, is unhappily married to an American GI in Kansas, for whom she suffered a botched sex-change surgery. After he leaves her, a chain of events, including the theft of her songs, inspire Hedwig to start her dream band, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and go on tours at restaurants and very small venues.

8. To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)

A drag queen comedy starring two of the biggest action film stars of the 1990s, Patrick Swayze and Westly Snipes, alongside comedian John Leguizamo. When drag queens Vida (Swayze) and Noxeema (Snipes) win the chance to compete in the “Miss Drag Queen of America Pageant” in Los Angles, they bring along Chi-Chi (Leguizamo) as their protégé cross country. When their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they bring the sleepy little local town to life, while also growing as individuals and becoming closer as three friends.

7. Love, Simon (2018)

The first gay coming of age story released by a major Hollywood studio, 20th Century Fox. High school student Simon seems to have the perfect life on the outside, however, he is afraid to reveal to his loved ones that he is gay. He makes contact with another closeted student via the internet, leading him down a path of self-realization and finding the courage to come out. 

6. Polyester (1981)

One of the funniest comedic films by LGBT+ film icon John Waters, this film pokes fun at stale suburbia and the soap operas of the 1950s and 1960s. Living a life of continuous disappointments one by one, including delinquent children, housewife Francine (Divine) finds the courage to get a divorce after catching her husband with his secretary. After her divorce, Francine’s life takes a turn for the better, when she meets the handsome Todd (Tab Hunter), or does it? The film is also known for being filmed with “Odorama”, with scratch-n-sniff cards, making the film a smelly fun time. 

5. The Adventures of Pricilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

A trailblazing international LGBT film, which won the Oscar for Best Costume Design in 1995. It follows two drag queens and a transgender woman, who travel in a rickety bus to a small remote town in central Australia, for a 4-week gig at a local casino resort. Along the way, the twists and turns of their adventures bring them closer together, including climbing Kings Canyon in their full drag glory.

4. The Wedding Banquet (1993)

Before Ang Lee directed Brokeback Mountain (2015), Lee directed and co-wrote his first LGBT+ film The Wedding Banquet, evaluating the generational struggles that traditional Asian parents face with their Americanized children. Wai-Tung is living happily in Manhattan, with his Partner Simon, while his traditional Taiwanese parents, who are in the dark about him being gay, try to arrange for him a marriage with a woman. Afraid of disappointing his parents by being gay, Wai-Tung, with Simon’s help, come up with a plan to marry a Chinese woman who desperately needs a green card. When the wacky façade beings to fall apart, everyone involved must come to terms with the reality of a changing world.

3. Tangerine (2015)

A groundbreaking comedy, featuring two African-American transgender lead actresses and a unique visual film style, filmed on 3 iPhone 5S smartphones. Two transgender friends and fellow sex workers in Los Angeles, Sin-Dee Rella, and Alexandria are having a mini Christmas get together in a donut shop. Their fun ends when Alexandria reveals to Sin-Dee Rella that her pimp/boyfriend Chester has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman. An upset Sin-Dee Rella goes on a quest to confront Chester and the other woman, with Alexandria close behind to help her friend in a time of need.   

2. Kinky Boots (2005)

Based on a fabulous true story, this film reminds us of the importance of taking risks in life. After the change encounter between struggling English shoe factory owner Charlie and Lola, a drag performer, Lola helps Charlie reinvent his factory, from making boring and out of date men’s shoes, to making kinky boots, catering to the “niche market” of drag queens. Through Lola’s presence in the factory, she positively impacts everyone at the factory, changing minds, while inspiring Charlie to take chances in both his professional and personal life.

Honorable Mentions:

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
My Beautiful Launderette (1985)

1.     The Birdcage (1996)

A heartwarming story and screwball comedy classic, showing the importance of family, no matter how dramatic they can be. Arman (Robin Williams), a gay Miami drag club owner, and his partner/leading drag queen performer, Albert (Nathan Lane), “play straight” to meet their son’s fiancé and her conservative mother and controversial republican senator father for the first time. However, when their plan hilariously falls apart at the seams, the conservative parents are forced to face their misconceptions of the LGBT+ community and put their daughter before themselves and their political views.