For The LGBT-Queue

17 Movies & Shows To Watch With Your Queer Teen

Three LGBTQ+ 21-year-olds helped me make this list.

Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Shutterstock, Discovery Toons, Netflix, United Artists Releasing, A24

When my trans child, Henry, was a young teen, they were not out. So, when I chose movies to watch, I considered general appropriateness but wasn't looking for gay love stories. I can remember some "what if?" questions, though, like, "What if Disney made Elsa gay?" Alas, Disney still does not have an overtly gay main character, though Luca comes close. We are in 2024, and it’s still super tough to find entertainment — especially movies — with a positive, queer story at the forefront.

Now, Henry is older. The other night I got him, his partner, and their best friend — all told, three queer 21-year-olds — in the living room and asked, "What movies would you show a queer teen?" They had a lot of thoughts.

Let's not pretend there's much to choose from.

"Queerness for young people is so new that there are not a lot of queer family-friendly film choices," Lux, my kid’s best friend, said off the bat. And they quickly dismissed my lousy suggestions. What about Clueless? The queer character in that, they pointed out, is the "gay friend" trope, and you want something richer than that.

We went around dismissing a lot of old films. For instance, I offered Billy Elliot, but my husband pointed out that we never learn whether the main character is gay (although it's implied, and he endures being called a "puff" for liking ballet). We kept trying...

A lot of queer movies are also overtly sexual.

More words of truth, this time from Simon, my kid’s partner: "Queer people have historically been considered sexual deviants, so representation of us has usually been sexual," he said. Movie after movie we'd come up with, they'd squeal and say, "Wait, NOT for a teen." Bottoms is gay but raunchy, for instance, though I am not sure these kids know the kind of smut we watched in the '80s.

We also worried about showing movies where the characters are not accepted and face a lot of trauma. For instance, I love The Color Purple (both versions!), but my sounding board pointed out that between the racism, sexism, and closetedness portrayed, there are plenty of triggers. (I still say, read the book, one of the great works by a Black author that frequently gets banned.)

So, here are our 10 movie suggestions for queer teens.

Love, Simon

"Why is straight the default?" asks the title character in this 2018 film. Ironically, actor Nick Robinson was hired to play Simon without being gay himself. After some debate, we decided this casting disaster shouldn't disqualify this from our list. It's an affirming story about coming out and finding acceptance.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

A stunning parent-child portrait. This one is especially key for its parenting truths.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

It just came out in 2023, so my brain trust was too busy with college to catch it, but Simon said the book version is one of his favorite reads. This one receives the Common Sense Media seal for teens and is rated for ages 13+. (Read the Common Sense Media review.)

The Half of It

Just a sweet choice, they all agreed, about a teen girl's crush.

Your Name Engraved Herein

This movie, which you can find on Netflix, is based on a true story of two high school boys who fell in love in '80s Taiwan.


This teen comedy follows Amy, a young lesbian finishing high school, and her bisexual friend Ryan as they live it up before college. There's no forced romance, just a lot of fun from director Olivia Wilde.


I don't remember liking this movie as much as the musical, but it does have gay main characters. The love story at the center, however, is hetero. It's about the '80s AIDS epidemic, and the main selling point is the spectacular soundtrack.

But I'm a Cheerleader

This campy comedy from 1999 was among the first for a young LGBTQ+ audience. "It brings religion into it," Simon noted, as the movie tackles conversion therapy, but in a boffo way.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

"It's in the canon," Lux said. It follows several teens, including Patrick, an openly gay senior in high school. I asked why it's popular, and Lux said, "All of the marginalized babies out there want the feeling of being accepted and the feeling of found family." Though the movie is not sexually explicit, it's pretty heavy, with an aunt who sexually abused one of the main characters. There's also gay-bashing depicted. "While this movie holds a special place in my heart, it reflects the lack of political correctness of the early 2000s," Lux added.


"Disney says it's not queer, but it can be read that way," Henry said. Apparently, inside-Disney sources have said there was going to be a was going to be a queer character. However, Disney dropped it when there wasn't an easy way to give the character a love interest, which is disappointing, to say the least. Queer tweens, especially, deserve to see themselves outside of a romance storyline. In the meantime, this is our animated movie choice since the rest of the animation picks are in binge-able episodes.

We'd also like to recommend seven LGBTQ+-friendly shows. Our animated picks are:

Adventure Time

The 21-year-olds got super excited when talking about this 10-season animated show. "It's a slow burn!" Henry said of vampire Marceline and Princess Bubblegum's love rekindling.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

"They're just casually queer, it's really good," Lux said of this 30-episode animated series.

She-Ra and the Princess of Power

It's a modern reboot of the superhero show from the '80s. In 2021 it won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Kids & Family Programming for its representation of queer characters.

The Owl House

The young adults in my house had not watched this, which came out while they were starting college, but Common Sense Media gives it its seal and puts it first on its list of thoughtful shows about LGBTQ+ youth, where it's age-graded for 8+.

Plus, three more (non-animated) things to watch on Netflix:


Stream Seasons 1 and 2 of this sweet high school romance between two boys before Season 3 arrives on Oct. 3.


This powerful trans documentary dissects the history of trans representation in Hollywood. It runs on Netflix.


"Very theatrical, emotionally dense, and not raunchy," Simon said of this episodic, fictionalized drama about the LGBTQ+ subculture in New York City in the '80s. It's shot like a documentary; watch the trailer, which brings parents right back to Madonna's "Vogue" vibes.