Film & TV Recs: LGBT Period Dramas

The other day I reread one of my favourite classic novels (Evelina by Frances Burney, which I recommend wholeheartedly, even though it’s sadly not gay) (well, if you ask me there’s a butch lesbian there but) & ever since then, I was very much in the mood for period dramas.

Naturally, I started by rewatching some favourites, as well: Pride & Prejudice (2005) and Persuasion (2007). But then I realised what I’m actually craving are gay period dramas.

So that’s why I’m here today with 10 LGBT stories taking place in the past.

Sadly, only two titles with trans characters made it to my list. And that’s because while there is a number of arguably good period dramas with trans characters, I’m not about to rec you movies in which those roles are played by cis actors (like The Danish Girl or Albert Nobbs or Breakfast on Pluto).

Also, I feel like it’s important I make something clear: I did not rec any stories with Bury Your Gays trope.

(Edit: more LGBT period dramas can be found on part two of this rec list!)

inbtwn

Gentleman Jack (2019-present)

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creator: Sally Wainwright
IMDB
Rep: lesbian mc & li

Why Should I Watch It?

Okay, first of all, this show is based on a real historical lesbian (conversely one half of the first English lesbian marriage), which already makes it amazing. Apart from that, Anne Lister is a bit of a dick, but kind of a loving one. She breaks the fourth walls all the time, and it’s great. Also Sophie Rundle is very beautiful & looks incredible is period dresses.

inbtwn

Black Sails (2014-2017)

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creators: Jonathan E. Steinberg & Robert Levine
IMDB
Rep: gay mcs, lesbian mc, Black lesbian mc, bi mc

Why Should I Watch It?

Gay pirates! Do you honestly need more encouragement? Well, if you do, let me assure  you it’s one of the best shows I have ever seen & it validates gay people in such an amazing way!

Please be aware there’s a lot of violence & blood here (obviously) and in the first season there’s a very prominent arc involving rape.

inbtwn

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)

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dir. Angela Robinson
Letterboxd
Rep: bi mcs, polyam relationship

Why Should I Watch It?

Okay, another story based on facts & also one of my favourite movies. They woven Wonder Woman so well into the life of it’s creator but don’t be fooled, this is a movie about his female partners more than it is about him.

inbtwn

Olivia (1951)

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dir. Jacqueline Audry
Letterboxd
Rep: lesbian mc, lesbian side relationship

Why Should I Watch It?

I absolutely adore the book this is based on: Olivia by Dorothy Bussy (née Strachey). It’s not a romance in the sense that the mc falls in love. Rather, it’s a lesbian coming of age movie, where the mc expieriences her first crush & confronts all those emotions (while at a boarding school for girls in France!).

Related: rec list for books set at a boarding school
inbtwn

Gospel of Anasyrma (2014)

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dir. Elene Naveriani
Letterboxd
Rep: trans li

Why Should I Watch It?

One of the only two titles with trans characters. It’s a short feature, as well, because we just can’t have nice things. We should doubly appreciate what we do have, though, right?

inbtwn

Colette (2018)

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dir. Wash Westmoreland
Letterboxd
Rep: sapphic mc, lesbian li

Why Should I Watch It?

I couldn’t not rec a movie with Keira Knightley! I mean… It’s also just a very good movie & a second title (after Gentleman Jack) with a lesbian wearing pants, which is always a representation we could get more of.

Fun fact: it features two trans actors in (not so little) cis roles! Rebecca Root plays a journalist Rachilde & Jake Graf plays an accountant of Colette’s husband.

inbtwn

The Halcyon (2017)

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creator: Charlotte Jones
IMDB
Rep: gay mc, British Indian gay li

Why Should I Watch It?

It’s tragic that this show was cancelled after just one season, when it gave us so much! And among the many things, not one but two interracial couples! Anyway I binged it in one day & cried like a baby, so take that as you will.

inbtwn

The Handmaiden (2016)

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dir. Park Chan-wook
Letterboxd
Rep: Korean lesbian mc & li

Why Should I Watch It?

Can I call this movie a classic yet? Because I really want to. Based on Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, it puts so many wonderful spins on the novel & is so unapologetically lesbian! It’s a wonderful experience all around.

inbtwn

Pose (2018-present)

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creators: Steven Canals, Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy
IMDB
Rep: almost all Black cast, gay mcs, trans mcs

Why Should I Watch It?

Imagine my glee when I realised I can rec Pose in this post, since it is technically a historical drama. So what if it only takes place roughly 30 years ago? I have no words to describe this show, so let’s focus on the fact that it tells the stories of the members of LGBT community who are often overlooked: Black and trans ones. The magnificent of it all!

inbtwn

Bessie (2015)

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dir. Dee Rees
Letterboxd
Rep: Black bisexual mc, sapphic li, sapphic side characters

Why Should I Watch It?

Another biography, in case you guys are fans of those. This one of a music star from the ’30s. What I appreciate the most is that it doesn’t shy away from Bessie being bisexual, even though it could have. In fact, when we meet her she’s in a relationship with a woman!

inbtwn

I’d like to mention some upcoming movies & movies that already debuted at festivals, but I wasn’t able to watch them yet:

Surprisingly I know a few more gay period dramas, so who knows, maybe there will be a part two to this? But before then, enjoy! And as always, share your own recs with me!

And if you enjoyed this post, please consider supporting me on ko-fi.

anna

14 Replies to “Film & TV Recs: LGBT Period Dramas”

  1. I’m adding Olivia to my watchlist! Tbh, most of those are already there but I’ve only seen The Handmaiden lol. I really don’t watch many movies, huh?

    Also, I loved Mystère à la Tour Eiffel! It’s about Eiffel Tower, a rich woman trying to solve (I think her father’s?) murder and a black performer woman who gets mixed up in this because of a third party and wants to help her. It has some cute tropes too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i can vouch for them all, so hopefully u will have some time to watch gay movies! :>>

      oh yeah, it’s been on my watchlist for ages! if i ever make a second part to this rec list (and watch it by then), i’m definitely putting it down.

      – anna

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really really recommend A Place To Call Home which is an Australian period drama with one of the main characters being gay. It is full of forbidden love, plot twists and character you will grow to love and hate. IT IS AMAZING!! Plus it has quite a few seasons :)))).

    Liked by 1 person

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