1. Philadelphia (1994)
When lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) with HIV is fired by his law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit. This is a landmark film on the AIDS crisis, celebrating 25 years this year. Coupled with raw emotions and great performances by the actor’s involved, the film’s subject matter is carried firmly and doesn’t exploit the sadness that AIDS brings into people’s lives. As much as this is a LGBT-themed film, it widely caters for a heterosexual audience.
2. Dallas Buyers’ Club (2013)
The film starring Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey is loosely based on the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, a drug taking, women loving, homophobic man who, in 1985 was diagnosed with full blown HIV/AIDS and given thirty days to live. Woodroof (McConaughey) started taking the FDA approved AZT, the only legal drug available in the U.S, which brought him to the brink of death. To survive, he smuggled non-toxic, anti-viral medications from all over the world yet still illegal in the U.S. The film explores the seedy underworld that is the fight against AIDS. This movie is not easy to watch with the homophobic slurs and imagery but McConaughey and Leto give brilliant performances in this film.
3. Jeffrey (1995)
Based on a popular Broadway play, this comedy chronicles the experiences that made formerly-promiscuous homosexual Jeffrey (Steven Weber) take a vow of celibacy. After having several sexual disasters, Jeffrey decides to not have sex again. Unfortunately, no sooner does he take his vow than he meets the man of his dreams. This is an outstanding comedy, which effectively portrays the romance in gay relationships.
4. Boys on the side (1995)
After breaking up with her girlfriend, a nightclub singer, Jane (Whoopi Goldberg), answers a personal ad from Robin (Mary-Louise Parker), a real estate agent with AIDS, seeking a cross-country travel partner. On their journey from New York City to Los Angeles, the two stop by Pittsburgh to pick up Robin’s friend Holly (Drew Barrymore), who is trying to escape an abusive relationship. With three distinct personalities, the women must overcome their differences to help one another. The performances are so sharp, funny and wholehearted that this film creates an unexpected groundswell of real emotion.
5. Red Ribbon Blues (1996)
Three HIV positive Los Angeles men (Paul Mercurio, RuPaul Charles, John Epperson) rob pharmacies of a pricey AIDS drug to distribute to those who can’t afford it. The film’s overall tone is humorous and humanist with stellar performances from the actors.