15 LGBTQ Asian And Asian American Movies To Watch Now

1.Spa Night (2016)

Youn Ho Cho, Haerry Kim, Joe Seo

18-year-old Korean American David lives in Los Angeles with his deeply conservative immigrant family, and he begins working at a spa to help his parents out financially. He discovers that the spa is a meeting ground for gay couplings between customers, which brings David face-to-face with his own burgeoning sexuality. David loves his family deeply and feels guilty for every way he thinks he "fails" them: not getting good grades, not being able to help much financially, not being straight. This is an intimate portrait of a boy struggling with his own uncertainties in a rigid community as he enters adulthood.

Strand Releasing / courtesy Everett Collection

2.Happy Together (1997)

Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-wai in a car

In this Asian cinema classic, Hong Kong couple Ho (Leslie Cheung) and Lai (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) head to Argentina seeking a better life and to mend their tumultuous relationship. Through a series of increasingly abusive breakups and reconciliations, Ho goes on his own personal journey, and the two men eventually drift apart, with Lai befriending another man, Chang (Chen Chang). Ho and Lai struggle with their own demons far away from home in a series of quiet, beautifully shot scenes.

Kino International / courtesy Everett Collection

3.I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (2006)

Lee Kang-sheng, Norman Bin Atun resting next to each other

Malaysian Taiwanese romantic drama I Don't Want to Sleep Alone is a tough movie to watch, but if you make it through, you will be touched. Taiwan-based director Tsai Ming-liang returned to his native Malaysia for this gripping film starring Lee Kang-sheng as the victim of a vicious beating being nursed back to health by Bangladeshi immigrant worker Rawang (Norman Atun). Parallel story lines run, and Lee plays both "Paralyzed Guy" and "Homeless Guy," eventually culminating with a ferocious display of yearning.

Strand Releasing / courtesy Everett Collection

4.Saving Face (2004)

Joan Chen in wedding dress

Saving Face is millennial early Asian American classic, exploring the intersectionality of being a minority within a marginalized community. Closeted Asian American surgeon Wil (Michelle Krusiec) falls for openly gay ballerina Vivian (Lynn Chen), but their relationship is complicated when her widowed mother (Joan Chen) gets pregnant and kicked out from her own traditional parents' house. Alice Wu's GLAAD Award-nominated directorial debut was produced by Will Smith's company, who helped the small-budget film get aerial shots of New York from the same helicopter used in Hitch.

Destination Films

5.Ethan Mao (2004)

Margin Films

Writer-director Quentin Lee's award-winning drama-thriller about a gay Asian American teenager (Jun Hee Lee) is an intense depiction of desperation. The low-budget indie film focuses on Lee's character, who turns to prostitution after being kicked out by his homophobic father. He returns to his family home on Thanksgiving to steal his late mother's necklace, taking his father, stepmother, and siblings hostage in the process.

Amazon Video

6.The Half of It (2020)

from left: Leah Lewis, Alexxis Lemire

Alice Wu continues to make strides in LGBTQ Asian American film with Netflix movie The Half of It. The queer Cyrano de Bergerac-meets-John Hughes movie features a quiet, nerdy Chinese American teen, Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), who helps genial jock (Daniel Diemer) woo a girl (Alexxis Lemire) whom she quickly falls for. Ellie and Paul's blossoming friendship is a joy to watch, and Lewis conveys all the tortured emotions of innocent high school romance.

KC Bailey / © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Loev (2015)

Sahil and Jai

Homosexuality was still illegal in India when writer-director Sudhanshu Saria secretly shot this gripping gay romantic drama. Sparks fly between reunited childhood friends Sahil (Dhruv Ganesh) and Jai (Shiv Pandit) as they go on a road trip through India, and plenty of drama happens as Sahil's boyfriend, Alex, recognizes their attraction.

Bombay Berlin Film Productions

8.Twilight's Kiss (2019)

from left: Ben Yuen, Tai-Bo walking outside

Inspired by 2014's nonfiction book Oral History of Older Gay Men in Hong Kong, Twilight's Kiss features the love affair of two closeted gay men in their twilight years. 65-year-old retired single father Hoi meet-cutes with 70-year-old taxi driver Pak in a park, awakening desires they have repressed for years. While they both yearn to love openly, they are proud of the children and families they have worked hard to build, and the film shows many touching moments between two men finding love in the last decades of their lives.

Strand Releasing / Courtesy Everett Collection

9.Fire (1996)

Sita looking at Radha

Deepa Mehta's Fire is a deeply erotic, intimate love story between a young woman, Sita, in an arranged marriage and her older brother-in-law's wife, Radha. They are both trapped in unhappy marriages — Sita's husband, Jatin, is cruel and unfaithful, while his older brother, Ashok, is a religious zealot. Banned in India shortly after its release, Fire is a bolt and poignant outcry against repressive societal conventions.

Amazon Prime Video

10.Your Name Engraved Herein (2020)

Birdy and Chang Jia-Han

Your Name Engraved Herein is Taiwan's top-grossing LGBTQ-themed film of all time, and is set toward the end of martial law in1980s Taiwan. Wang Po Te (Birdy), a new student at a Catholic all-boys high school, meets Chang Jia-han (A-han), and the two form a friendship that quickly blossoms into romance during a time of social upheaval. This coming-of-age tale explores love, homophobia, and family pressures as their relationship develops.


11.Die Beautiful (2016)

Trisha Eschevarria and her friend

This strange and innovative film stars acclaimed makeup artist Paolo Ballesteros as Trisha Echevarria, a transgender woman who passes away after winning a gay beauty pageant. The film flashes back from her wake, where she is made up to be a different celebrity each night, to her youth and to her family, and it shows how she fought to always live (and die) as her real self.

The IdeaFirst Company

12.Present Perfect (2017)

Toey and Oat kissing

This Thai movie depicts heartbroken Toey (Tonawanik Adisorn), who escapes to Higashikawa in Hokkaido following a bad breakup, where he meets Oat (Maroukasonti Kritsana). Oat is in Japan as a "last hurrah" before getting married. The two bond and quickly develop a budding attraction, forcing themselves to face their personal problems and the realities of their lives.

Commetive Production

13.The Handmaiden (2016)

KIM Tae-Ri starring across from her

The Handmaiden is a gorgeously shot South Korean thriller filled with stunning twists and turns, all centering around a lesbian romance. Set in Korea under Japanese colonial rule, a young girl is sent to scam a rich heiress into marrying a con man, but all is not as it seems.

Amazon Studios /Courtesy Everett Collection

14.Fruit Fly (2009)

Bethesda striding around the Castro

This tiny-budget, limited-run musical comedy follows the adventures of Filipina American performance artist Bethesda, who moves into San Francisco's vibrant Castro neighborhood in search of her birth mother. As she explores her career in an artist commune and tries to workshop her latest piece, which centers on finding her biological mother, she builds a loving gay family. With only a one-week run in New York, Fruit Fly won several independent film awards at small film festivals.

Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)

15.The Wedding Banquet (1993)

Winston Chao, May Chin, Mitchell Lichtenstein

One of iconic-LGBTQ-film director Ang Lee's early directorial efforts, The Wedding Banquet is a co-production between Taiwan and the United States, featuring the story of Wai-Tung (Winston Chao), who lives happily with his boyfriend (Mitchell Lichtenstein) in New York City, but keeps his sexuality hidden from his Taiwanese parents. He appeases their wish for a traditional Chinese union by marrying a struggling artist looking for a green card, but their plans backfire when his parents plan an extravagant wedding banquet.

Samuel Goldwyn / courtesy Everett Collection