These are the best LGBTQ films you need to see in 2019
Love in all shades
Based on Garrard Conley's 2016 memoir of the same name, Boy Erased centres around Jared Eamons, the teenaged son of a Baptist pastor who gets sent to Refuge, a church-supported gay conversion programme after he comes out to his parents. Set in middle-class Arkansas, the second directorial effort by Australian actor Joel Edgerton (who also stars as the programme's leader Victor Sykes) is underpinned by Oscar-nominated actor Lucas Hedges' ever-so-delicate performance of self-acceptance in the face of ostracisation, discrimination and antiquated religiosity. Unlike last year's The Miseducation of Cameron Post, there are no obvious villains in this film. Even his fanatical mother — played superbly by Nicole Kidman — leads with her heart that it's hard to not to come away with a sense of hope for how cultural attitudes towards the LGBTQ community are moving forward globally. The cherry on top of it all — youth queer icon Troye Sivan makes a cameo and lends his angelic vocals to the soundtrack with "Revelation".
It's hard not to make comparisons between Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody. After all, both are biopics of music's larger-than-life LGBTQ personalities Sir Elton John and Freddie Mercury respectively in the 1970s (although Mercury remained in the closet during his lifetime); and both are directed by Dexter Fletcher, the man who replaced Bryan Singer at the helm of Bohemian Rhapsody late in the game. The only striking difference here is that Mercury lived a rocky and tragic life while Sir Elton John is still very much alive and kicking, happily married to David Furnish and has two adorable kids today. Rocketman isn't a traditional rags-to-riches sob story either; star Taron Edgerton, who plays and sings the musical legend and his gay tunes, has reiterated that it's a fantasy musical with John's most popular hits chronicling the most pivotal moments of his life. Expect some razzle-dazzle in the form of shimmery costume design, campy dance-alongs and dramatic mic-drops.
Director Wanuri Kahiu's modern-day tale revolves around the friendship of two provincial women that slowly fruits into a blossoming romance under the protective disguise of being "rafiki", aka friends. Rafiki's run-of-the-mill narrative of star-crossed lesbian love might seem like a diluted spin on 2013's spectacularly authentic Blue Is The Warmest Colour, but when placed within the contexts of orthodox Kenyan culture, it is ground-breaking, to say the least. Kenya is notorious for its anti-gay discourse and legalities, which still sentences those "guilty" of homosexual acts to up to 14 years of prison. The film did deliver a small win for the local LGBTQ community when the Kenya Film Classification Board lifted its ban so it could be considered for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars. While it didn't end up getting a nod, it became the first Kenyan film to play at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.