“You are not unlovable. There is always something to love. Even in a stupid, stupid universe where we have hot dogs for fingers, we get very good with our feet.,” says Evelyn, played by Michelle Yeoh, the main protagonist of A24’s recent hit in the multiverse: Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. Whilst the film dabbles in well, everything, everywhere, all at once—from familial ties to the big themes of existentialism—its premise is one of free love and acceptance, in this case, of Evelyn’s daughter, Joy’s relationship with her girlfriend, Becky. The film’s message is poignant, and timely even, as we enter the month of Pride: a significant time for all in the LGBTQIA+ community. Indeed it is now, more than ever, that solidarity is shown collectively against discrimination towards our more vulnerable groups.
And what better way to show your allyship than to actually delve into a deeper, and more nuanced understanding of the community? Apart from a bold showing of pink in your outfits or psychedelic rainbows on your digits, perhaps immersing yourself in a representative film or show featuring LGBTQIA+ individuals, or relationships, might be something to consider as well. Whilst our mainstream media is populated with typical depictions of normative relationships and individuals, genuine representation of our queer communities is often one that falls through the cracks.
It’s no doubt, however, that in recent years, we’ve seen a steady stream of more inclusive films and TV shows, dedicated to celebrating LGBTQIA+ audiences, and giving them significant representation on screen. Perhaps you’ve found yourself enjoying the cult coming-of-age film favourites such as Call Me By Your Name and Blue Is The Warmest Colour, but what we might often overlook is that not all representation of queer communities require a rooting in only romance.
In fact, the best ones might just possibly be those that meld it all together, resisting easy labels and exploring the space for belonging at its core. So from a lesbian psychological thriller to a celebration of sweet high-school love between gays and the day-to-day of transgender sex workers, Vogue Singapore offers you a curation of diverse films and TV shows—mostly available on our regular streaming services—that might be worth a shot for you this Pride Month.
1 / 17
Portrait of A Lady on Fire (2019)
A poignant story of love—in a single, all-too-knowing glance. Set in the 18th century, on a remote island off the shores of mainland France, Céline Sciamma’s masterpiece is one for the record books. The story follows a portrait painter, Marianne (Noémie Merlant) and her unattainable subject, Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) who refuses to be painted, leading to the initial tension between them. Between intense glances and drawn out silences, discord grows into passion, and their forbidden intimacy only grows—securing its win for the Queer Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Rent Portrait of A Lady on Fire on The Projector.
2 / 17
The Handmaiden (2016)
Delve into a rapturous thriller sequence that keeps you on the edge of your seat—from start to end. The Handmaiden leans far away from being your typified romance show, as Park Chan Wook, who previously helmed Oldboy, takes the director’s seat. Thrown into the brilliant narrative of Sarah Waters’ crime novel, Fingersmith and adapted for Japanese-ruled colonial Korea, Park’s camera leads you further into 144 minutes of increasing distrust, suspense and treachery between a conman who wishes to rob an heiress of her entire fortune, the heiress herself, and the handmaiden the conman initially hires to be his spy within the household. And with a plot as volatile as this, the sexual tension that builds between Sook-Hee (Kim Tae Ri) and Hideko (Kim Min-hee) is equally eruptive, if not more.
Catch The Handmaiden on Apple TV.
3 / 17
How far would you go for love? In Supernova, Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth take the lead, playing a gay couple, Tusker and Sam, who have been together for decades. And now, their careers, their lives, and quite possibly their relationship, are suddenly threatened to a stop, as Tusker discovers he has early onset of dementia. Lauded for its breathtaking cinematography amidst a heartbreaking plot of an irreparable turning point, the film asks its audiences to really dig deep, and find compassion within themselves to empathise with its on-screen characters.
Rent Supernova on The Projector.
4 / 17
This Netflix high-school drama is the latest release on the list. Based on an original webtoon, the central plot of the 8-episode series is straightforward enough, but also an accurate representation of what a coming-of-age narrative should look like for teens who are struggling to figure out their sexuality and developing bonds—both platonic and romantic—that will last for a lifetime. Sweet, uplifting and moving past an era of toxic tropes, the drama’s strength is its approach to teen romance; cautious, yet carefree.
Catch Heartstopper on Netflix.
5 / 17
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once (2022)
A24’s latest hit release doesn’t just deal with multiple versions of Michelle Yeoh’s character, Evelyn, cutting through the multiverse, but the initial sequence is immediately telling of what truly sits at the core of the film: Evelyn’s daughter, Joy, simply wants to be wholly accepted for her relationship with her girlfriend, Becky, and come to terms with her heritage, despite the language-barrier driven distance between her and her ‘Ah Gong’, her grandfather. Her desire for acceptance is what manifests into a singularity-shifting moment for the multiverse and thus begins her multiverse-magnitude quest for answers.
Watch Everything, Everywhere, All At Once in cinemas or Amazon Prime.
6 / 17
In the 1950s, when any leanings towards homosexuality would be heavily shunned, if not punished, Carol tackles the relationship between two women of severely different socio-economic backgrounds: Carol (Cate Blanchett) and Therese (Rooney Mara). One in a loveless marriage and the other in a mundane dead-end job, they both find themselves passionately seeking each other out to fulfil their inner desires to escape and express themselves freely. Framed in a romantic (and forbidden) love affair narrative, the film tackles the highs of romance with an underpinning of the shackles of society that women seek to break out from.
Watch Carol on Apple TV.
7 / 17
In a faithfully animated adaptation of a true story of Nawabi—his real moniker protected for safety—this documentary took the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Documentary section at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021. The title is indicative of escape, as Nawabi charts his anguished flee path as a young refugee who has been forced to leave his only home in Afghanistan, for Denmark. Now living with his fiance, this suspense-led narrative of loss, overcoming adversity against all odds, and secrecy that is shrouded away from the common eye due to a debilitating sense of belonging, comes to light in a devastatingly personal manner, albeit its complex premise.
Catch Flee at The Projector.
8 / 17
Your Name Engraved Herein (2020)
Your Name Engraved Herein is quite simply a story of first love. Much like the other coming-of-age pictures on this list, the film is heartfelt in its dealings with boys who are coming to terms with their own sexual orientations and undeniable modes of intimacy. Friendship lines are blurred—and feelings are forcibly suppressed, much like the repressive overcast of the reigning martial law in Taiwan, till just before the beginning of the film’s context. An awkward, yet believable physicality lingers in the air for most of the film and its rewarding factor might just be in how the progress of romantic discovery between the two, is done at its own considered pace.
Watch Your Name Engraved Herein on Netflix.
9 / 17
Sex Education (2019)
Now with 3 seasons on its mantle, the Netflix coming-of-age series fresh take on intimacy, friendships, and both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, is light-hearted but positively influential in its own right. Its secondary school protagonists—namely Asa Butterfield, Ncuti Gatwa, and Emma Mackey—are definitively awkward in a relatable way, whilst grappling with what it really means to be themselves at that age. Along the way, it also deals with the understated subject of asexuality and the social taboo of discussing sex openly.
Watch Sex Education on Netflix.
10 / 17
The Half Of It (2020)
The Half of It is an unlikely showing of representation in itself already, with an Asian-American protagonist, Ellie Chu. The film follows her forming an unexpectedly genuine friendship with the school jock: Paul Munsky, who needs some help on the love front—which is where Ellie comes in. What forms is a tricky triangle, but one that is assuredly done with so much tenderness and grace. Wu, who is queer herself, chooses to move past an overt focus of typical representations of homosexuality: distancing the narrative from one that doubles down on the struggles, offering instead a respectful framework for looking into the everyday of a queer teenager.
Stream The Half of It on Netflix.
11 / 17
Right from the get go, Moonlight is honest in its portrayal of grappling with one’s identity: refusing one-dimensional classifications of being simply gay or simply black in America. Barry Jenkins hangs the delicate question of how it might feel like for one’s masculinity to become undone in the air—through a careful undoing of his protagonist, Chiron (Ashton Sanders). The film’s poignant quality lies in its most muted moments: powerfully emotional, with a refrain from overt drama, for a narrative telling of how our choices can indeed, sometimes define us.
Watch Moonlight on Amazon Prime.
12 / 17
First off, this film was already a win for the queer community since they cast actual trans women for the leads. At the crux of its plot, a pair of transgender sex workers take to the streets in a targeted search for Sin-Dee’s ex-boyfriend, who was a serial two-timers. Shot entirely on iPhones, this microbudget film infuses a sense of immediacy and rawness—which perhaps might be comfortably suited for the film’s subject matter. As they travel in, out and about the cityscape, the two share intimate moments of secrecy, bold truths, and an undeniable chemistry with one another.
Watch Tangerine on Amazon Prime.
13 / 17
And Then We Danced (2019)
Vividly enthralling, And Then We Danced delves into the devotion of a traditional Georgian dancer, as he comes to terms with his own sexuality. The politically-charged landscape of Tblisi, Georgia, combined with the hyper-masculinity that runs throughout the dance form, sets up the film as a highly sensitive narrative—rendering queer discourse as inevitably political. The tension between Levan Akin’s characters are mostly palpable, but it is the lyrical sequences in-between that pose a beautifully raw quality, as if caught in a fleeting moment in time.
Watch And Then We Danced on Amazon Prime.
14 / 17
House of Hummingbird (2018)
In a changing industrial landscape of 1994 Seoul, we see life pass by as Eun-Hee, our protagonist, embarks on her everyday. She slips in and out of her family home, with no real consequence and finds herself in awkward situations her unreserved nature cannot escape. What lends a spark to her otherwise mundane life, however, is perhaps the friendships, that sometimes evolve into more intimate moments—with both boys and girls. It is gentle, soft and perhaps one that deals with the understated moments of discovering one self at the cusp of adolescence.
Watch House of Hummingbird now on The Projector.
15 / 17
Happy Together (1997)
There’s no denying that on the front of showcasing the high of relationships—running on intoxication and leanings towards toxicity—Wong Kar Wai’s Happy Together does it all. In most parts of the show that is set in Buenos Aires, the dynamic of our protagonists played by Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung, is textbook abusive, and one that was never meant to last. But perhaps therein lies its appeal: for its focused approach on a relationship that cannot be salvaged, not because of their sexuality, but mere incompatibility and toxic codependency, a more-often-than-not issue that plagues much of modern romance as well.
Watch Happy Together on Amazon Prime.
16 / 17
Whilst its driving narrative surrounds a main character who has autism, Sam, the show weaves in a well-developed romantic plot between Sam’s sister Casey, and her best friend, Izzy as well. Not too on the nose, their attempts to draw the lines between friendship, sexual attraction, and an intimate romance—especially when socialised to think otherwise, is one that might strike a chord with many in the queer community, who has often had to deal with figuring it all out on their own.
Stream Atypical on Netflix.
17 / 17
Love, Simon (2018)
In its own giddy little way, Love, Simon dials in on the coming-of-age aspect of a young boy trying to grapple with his sexuality, down to a tee. From the emotional turmoil that he inwardly faces, to the strange socialised straight-ness of Simon, the film reminds us all of this teenager’s awkward phases of life as he corresponds with his Internet friend, ‘Blue’—in what is ultimately a lighthearted comedy genre. Between supportive friends and even more supportive parents, it might purport a sort of utopic vision for anyone who relates to Simon’s position, but there is perhaps little fault in its attempt to do so.
Rent Love, Simon on Amazon Prime.