Great British Gay Films
Britain is a known as a diverse and tolerant culture (individual idiots aside) so when it comes to making great movies, especially great gay movies, Britain is at the forefront of pushing boundaries and discovering great gay stories to show on screen.
Great gay films are made in Britain and when you look back they always have been – despite the illegality of homosexuality until 1967 and the still too often (but slowing) objections to gay rights – movies that have gay characters in them have been around since before films had sound!
A List of British Gay Films
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
An ambitious British Film that was Oscar nominated for best Screenplay which effectively explores themes of homosexuality, racism and other clashes of cultures. It is in essence a gay love story where two unlikely men fall in love. One is an immigrant from Pakistan and the other an ex national front member – it is unlikely their tale of romance and gay love it to run smoothly set against the backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain. This film was hit with the public and the critics and also launched the career of one Daniel Day Lewis.
Not a British sounding title, but a British film none the less, following the last days of a Christian martyr called Saint Sebastian. Not a gay porn movie but with a huge amount of naked male flesh as the story follows a set of hedonistic exiles that spend their time naked in the desert fighting and fucking each other while Saint Sebastian resists this behaviour which eventually leads to his death. A very strange film with a lot of naked men.
Beautiful Thing (1996)
Recently made into a play to celebrate its 20th anniversary this is a sweet story of gay teen love. Every teen boy dreams of finding love and it is the unlively pairing of these two troubled boys set against a gritty British estate backdrop that makes this film the hit that it was, and still is.
An oldie but a goodie, and starring Dirk Bogarde playing a character who after trying to blackmail gay men start to realise his own sexuality. This was set in a time when gay sex was still illegal in the UK and many have said this was a movie that helped change or liberalise some minds and so eventually the law.
While many gay silent films did have a not to homosexuality, it was not until Boarderline came along and its intricate and passionate interracial love triangle that we see overt nods and suggestive camera angles of an even more complicated and taboo love story. This British film was made in 1930, and was directed and produced by gay men, longing gazes between the men and the time the camera spends on one of the male characters torso area is evidence of the not too subtle subtext of this very early silent film.