LGBT Britain

This colourful and challenging collection explores screen representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives over the past century.

British cinema boasts a long history of carefully coded queerness, but for much of the 20th century explicit depictions of gay life in drama or documentary were more or less taboo. Gay men were subject to vicious state-sanctioned persecution, while lesbians were socially ostracised and the transgender community ignored and misunderstood. Cinematic and small-screen breakthroughs in the 1950s and 60s played their part in the public debate. Finally acting on the recommendations of the Wolfenden Committee a decade earlier, the 1967 Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales, between two men over 21, in private. As those caveats suggest, the legislation remained problematic. But it was a step forward, paving the way for further battles - some yet to be won. From early glimpses of 'queer' characters, this collection charts the path towards '67 and beyond, through responses to the AIDS crisis to diverse reflections on queer life today.

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Rebel DykesRebel Dykes

Documentary202191 minsDirector: Harri Shanahan and Sîan Williams

A brilliant and refreshing story of UK post-punk dyke culture, told by those who lived it.

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Fantasy199393 minsDirector: Sally Potter

Tilda Swinton stars in Sally Potter's dazzling interpretation of Virginia Woolf's novel.

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Biopic2021118 minsDirector: Francis Lee

Francis Lee follows up God’s Own Country with a film that is every bit as immersive, tactile and emotionally powerful, aided by the devastatingly good Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

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The Crying GameThe Crying Game

Drama1992112 minsDirector: Neil Jordan

Neil Jordan's acclaimed 1992 drama-mystery tells the story of Fergus (Stephen Rea), who looks after the lover (Jaye Davidson) of a British soldier he once knew. But what is Dil hiding?

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Comedy2014120 minsDirector: Matthew Warchus

The smash culture-clash comedy tells the incredible true story of how miners and a Gay Pride support group come together to fight a common cause.

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50 Years Legal50 Years Legal

Documentary201777 minsDirector: Simon Napier-Bell

Five decades on from the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, a range of LGBTQ+ stars (including Sir Elton John and Stephen Fry) reflect on Britain's history of prejudice, persecution and liberation.

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Prick Up Your EarsPrick Up Your Ears

Biopic1987110 minsDirector: Stephen Frears

A celebration of outrageous British playwright Joe Orton’s irreverent and charismatic talent, starring Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina.

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Are You Proud?Are You Proud?

Documentary201896 minsDirector: Ashley Joiner

Celebratory yet reflective documentary charting the LGBTQ+ movement's momentous journey towards equality.

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The Book of GabrielleThe Book of Gabrielle

Drama201679 minsDirector: Lisa Gornick

Lisa Gornick's funny and frank drama sketches the relationship between a sex-obsessed lesbian illustrator and a randy hetero author, who bond over their favourite subject.

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Drama1961100 minsDirector: Basil Dearden

This thought-provoking classic stars Dirk Bogarde as a homosexual lawyer who risks his career to hunt down a blackmailer.

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A Bit of ScarletA Bit of Scarlet

Documentary199671 minsDirector: Andrea Weiss

Mapping how British film and TV depicts the gay and lesbian lifestyle, Andrea Weiss raids the archives for her funny and persuasive documentary.

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Drama2020137 minsDirector: Terence Davies

Terence Davies’ moving and lyrical portrait of the life of celebrated war poet Siegfried Sassoon.

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The Fruit MachineThe Fruit Machine

Drama1988103 minsDirector: Philip Saville

Berated by his father for his camp behaviour, Eddie runs away from his Liverpool home and joins his friend Michael, a streetwise hustler who is also on the run.

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Entertaining Mr SloaneEntertaining Mr Sloane

Comedy197094 minsDirector: Douglas Hickox

Joe Orton’s delicious slice of suburban perversity, in which Beryl Reid’s lascivious landlady and her gay brother attempt to seduce their psychopathic tenant.

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Comedy1971102 minsDirector: Silvio Narizzano

Silvio Narizzano adapts Joe Orton’s extraordinarily funny satire on police corruption and the conventions of detective fiction.

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Beautiful ThingBeautiful Thing

Comedy199691 minsDirector: Hettie Macdonald

Hettie MacDonald’s 1996 comedy tells the story of two classmates and neighbours (Glen Berry, Scott Neal) who fall in love over one summer in South East London.

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One in FiveOne in Five

198252 minsSilentDirector: Ken Howard

Endearingly right-on concoction bringing together lesbians and gay men for dancing and debate at Heaven nightclub

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Boys and Girls TogetherBoys and Girls Together

Sex comedy197955 minsDirector: Ralph Lawrence Marsden

Extraordinary 1970s sexploitation film, groundbreaking in its portrayal of interracial and homosexual sex.

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The PassThe Pass

Drama201686 minsDirector: Ben A. Williams

Russell Tovey stars as a Premier League footballer who shares a fumbled pass (of the sexual kind) with a teammate (Arinzé Kene), changing everything - both on and off the pitch.

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Crime198726 minsDirector: Julian Cole

Ostia is a fascinating short film directed by Julian Cole and starring Derek Jarman, which reconstructs the events leading up to the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini.

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Wild FlowersWild Flowers

Romance198968 minsDirector: Robert Smith

Robert Smith's Wild Flowers is an exquisite drama set at the funeral for a daughter, where her mother remembers the passionate yet painful affair she once had with another woman in Scotland.

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Drama201486 minsDirector: Hong Khaou

Ben Whishaw stars in an intimate portrait of two strangers brought together by the common language of grief.

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Drama200012 minsDirector: Wiz

A teenager (Ben Whishaw) pays a sexually charged visit to the swimming pool.

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Greek PeteGreek Pete

Drama200970 minsDirector: Andrew Haigh

Acclaimed filmmaker Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years) made his feature debut with this bold, sexually explicit drama-documentary about London rent boys.

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Yellow FeverYellow Fever

Comedy199827 minsDirector: Raymond Yeung

A gay British-Chinese man refuses to date Chinese men. But then Jai Ming moves in next door.

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3 Steps to Heaven3 Steps to Heaven

Drama199587 minsDirector: Constantine Giannaris

Edgy mixture of black comedy and urban drama about a woman uncovering the hidden truths about her dead lover.

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Drama2016108 minsDirector: Andrew Steggall

Andrew Steggall’s deft and delicate drama about a teenage dreamer who falls for the rough beauty of a local boy while staying in France.

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The L-shaped RoomThe L-shaped Room

Drama1962126 minsDirector: Bryan Forbes

Bryan Forbes directs the Oscar-nominated story of a French woman (Leslie Caron) moving to London while unmarried, pregnant, and alone.

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The Chocolate AcrobatThe Chocolate Acrobat

Fantasy199538 minsDirector: Tessa Sheridan

An elderly woman in a care home strikes up a sensual, nostalgic relationship with a young nurse.

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Drama197175 minsDirector: Joseph Despins and William Dumaresq

A bizarre study of obsession focusing on a teenage boy who is torn between the charms of a fleshly female prostitute and the sadism of an older man.

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Drama198293 minsDirector: Mai Zetterling

The borstal drama – billed as the female Scum – features Amanda York and Kathy Burke as inmates of a ruthless women’s prison.

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Remembrance of Things FastRemembrance of Things Fast

Animation & Artists Moving Image199362 minsDirector: John Maybury

John Maybury’s dark, queer state of the nation film starring Tilda Swinton and Rupert Everett

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Madagascar SkinMadagascar Skin

Drama199591 minsDirector: Christopher Newby

John Hannah stars as a painfully shy gay man who escapes the city in Chris Newby’s extraordinary second feature.

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Andy the Furniture MakerAndy the Furniture Maker

198653 minsDirector: Paul Oremland

How did a cute, gay Essex boy go from oyster fishing to becoming the toast of the London arts scene?

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The ComedianThe Comedian

Drama201379 minsDirector: Tom Shkolnik

Touching drama about a thirtysomething comedian looking for happiness.

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More than a JourneyMore than a Journey

198652 minsDirector: Caroline Mylon

From Sudan to the Greek islands via the East Midlands - a young gay woman seeks love, happiness and fulfilment

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A Boy Called MaryA Boy Called Mary

198652 minsDirector: Paul Oremland

The fabulous life and times of queer writer Kris Kirk, who became one of the UK’s most influential music journalists.

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Tides of LaughterTides of Laughter

198649 minsDirector: Paul Oremland

A female ‘end-of-the-pier’ double act find out a surprising secret about their landlady - and about each other.

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Tall Dark StrangerTall Dark Stranger

198648 minsDirector: Paul Oremland

Are you ready to strut your stuff? Take a bracing, sexy cruise around the diverse 1980s gay scene.

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Caught LookingCaught Looking

Drama199135 minsDirector: Constantine Giannaris

Years before Grindr, a gay man turns to virtual reality to satisfy his sexual fantasies in this strangely prophetic short film.

Caught Looking

More LGBT Britain films in our Subscription collection.

More LGBT Britain films in our Free collection.

More related films in our Rentals collection, BFI Flare Presents

The home of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival on BFI Player.