Cinema has always played a vital role for the LGBTQ community. Whether we’re trying to escape our daily lives or find someone just like us on screen, comfort can be found in queer movies that explore our experience in ways that no other art form can match. The very best of these films don’t just affect us on an individual level. LGBTQ movies that cross over to the mainstream can also help kickstart real change on both a legal and societal scale.
Given the power that such movies hold over us, it’s only natural to try and find out as much as we can about some of our favorites. That’s where we come in. Join us as we dive deep into the realms of rainbow cinema and reveal 12 facts that you might not know about your favorite queer movies.
Out of every movie that Alfred Hitchcock made in his illustrious career, Rope is arguably the most experimental due to the fact that the entire film is cut to look like it was shot in one long, continuous take. However, Rope blew minds for a different reason upon release due to the implied relationship between Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) and Brandon Shaw (John Dall), two intellectuals who decide to commit the perfect murder. Although the film was approved by censors, Hitchcock’s controversial movie was still banned in a number of American regions, including Seattle and Massachusetts.
Before filming for Maurice began, stars Hugh Grant and James Wilby previously met while working on the movie Privileged (1982). Because they already knew each other, the pair decided to help each other out and practice their scenes together the night before Wilby’s audition. In the DVD extras for Maurice, Grant revealed that it was “a surprise to my banker brother when he came home and found me kissing James Wilby in the front room”. It looks like their practice makeout sessions worked, though, as Wilby subsequently won the part.
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Despite starring as the lead in Gus Van Sant’s iconic movie, River Phoenix missed the New York premiere of My Own Private Idaho because he decided to drive there from Florida and didn’t give himself enough time for the journey. The young star disliked flying, so he ended up being late to the premiere of his own movie, which proceeded to start without him.
Happy Together (1997)
When he was initially cast in the role of Lai Yiu-fai, lead actor Tony Chiu-Wai Leung was given a fake script that left out his character’s sexuality. It wasn’t until Leung arrived in Argentina for filming that director Wong Kar-Wai revealed Leung would have to film a gay sex scene. Despite this initial deception, everyone’s work was critically lauded upon the film’s release and Happy Together remains one of Kar-Wai’s most beloved movies.
Bad Education (2004)
To take on the femme fatale role in Bad Education, Mexican actor Gael García Bernal had to master both Spanish body language and a convincing accent, but that’s not all. The popular actor also studied the work of Barbara Stanwyck and Spanish icon Sara Montiel to play his transgender character, as well as other leading ladies from Pedro Almodovar’s vast filmography. Above all else though, Bernal’s biggest influence was Alain Delon’s Ripley in the French movie Plein Soleil (1960), whose sexually ambiguous take on the character proved to be a powerful inspiration.
Andrew Haigh’s gay British drama has been lauded for its authenticity, exploring what happens when two lives briefly intersect for a weekend of passion, but not everything on set was authentic. For the graphic sex scenes, actor Chris New revealed that “finely carved carrots” were used to simulate ‘erections’ and the ‘semen’ depicted on screen was actually liquid soap. DIY filmmaking at its finest.
Despite exploring the same kind of teen-friendly subject matter that the likes of Glee did on TV, Darren Stein’s movie G.B.F. was given an R rating by the MPAA upon release. Stein openly criticized the ratings board soon after, claiming that a PG-13 rating would have been far more suitable — and he was right. If the central character had been straight instead of gay, it’s highly unlikely that G.B.F. would have been given such an extreme rating.
Cate Blanchett’s Oscar-nominated performance in Carol is truly out of this world, but the story itself is closer to reality than you might think. The character of Carol Aird was originally inspired by a Philadelphia socialite called Virginia Kent Catherwood (1915-1966) who had an affair with author Patricia Highsmith back in the ’40s. Just like we see in the film, Catherwood lost custody of her daughter after a taped recording of her lesbian liaisons was used against her in court.
In Moonlight, a small Easter Egg of sorts visually connects the teenage portion of the movie with the final segment, but it’s not easy to spot. If you look closely at adult Chiron’s (Trevante Rhodes) car, you might notice that the license plate number is “BLACK305.” Kevin used the nickname ‘Black’ for Chiron when they were younger and 305 is the area code for Miami where the film is set.
God’s Own Country (2017)
To strive for authenticity, director Francis Lee asked his two leads to live on a real Yorkshire farm prior to filming, providing them with the experience needed to actually help deliver lambs on camera. In fact, every aspect of farming seen on screen is something that actors Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu really did on set, securing them both with a career to fall back on should acting not work out in the future.
While filming the penultimate sex scene for Disobedience, director Sebastián Lelio initially shot both the characters of Ronit (Rachel Weisz) and Esti (Rachel McAdams) reaching climax. However, he later decided to remove Ronit’s orgasm so that the focus would be more on Esti as this scene signified an important moment of growth for her character.
Love, Simon (2018)
One of the most popular scenes from Love, Simon occurs towards the end of the film when Simon’s mother gives the infamous “exhale” speech that featured prominently in the marketing. Surprisingly enough, this signature moment wasn’t originally included in the script. Jennifer Garner asked director Greg Berlanti if another scene could be added where Emily connects with her son and this ended up becoming one of the most important parts of the entire movie.