Apple Inc. has produced and distributed original content since 2016 and launched its streaming service Apple TV+ in 2019. The streamer offers a selection of exclusive film and television series called Apple Originals. In 2021, Apple released the documentary The Velvet Underground, which touched on gay culture and Lou Reed’s queerness. They also released Palmer, about a cisgender straight man growing close with a gender-nonconforming child and eventually raising them, however, this movie fell into the trap of focusing on the straight man’s redemption more than anything else. Apple also released the filmed musical Come From Away, which features a gay couple in the ensemble.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video and in-house Amazon Studios have distributed original content since 2013 and original films since 2018. In May 2022, Amazon acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, allowing MGM to continue operating as a label alongside them. Previous LGBTQ-inclusive releases from Amazon include GLAAD Media Award winners and nominees Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) and Uncle Frank (2020). In 2021, Amazon released GLAAD Media Award nominee Everybody’s Talking about Jamie, a film that was originally slated to be a Disney release, but was moved to the streamer. The musical film follows a young man discovering the art of drag and the community that grows to surround him. Amazon also released documentaries My Name is Pauli Murray, about the queer trailblazing civil rights activist and Mayor Pete, which followed out gay politician Pete Buttigieg on his run for President.
Newly launched in 2020 by parent company WarnerMedia, HBO Max encompasses an extensive library including Warner Bros.’ theatrical releases and original films. Previous LGBTQ-inclusive releases include GLAAD Media Award nominees La Layenra Negra (2020) and Unpregnant (2020). In 2021, HBO Max released documentary LFG, which followed the U.S. National Womens’ Soccer team’s fight for equal pay. Out athlete Megan Rapinoe was a central focus of the doc, speaking on her experience as a gay woman in the league and her relationship with WNBA player Sue Bird. The streamer also released the documentary Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground, a continuation of docuseries Eyes on the Prize, following the Black liberation movement and highlighting how it intersects with the queer and trans movements. HBO Max also released heist film Locked Down, where one of the protagonists has an affair with another woman, though she is reunited with her male partner by the end.
Hulu has released original films since its 2017 documentary Batman and Bill. The streamer was acquired by Disney in 2019 and handled previously scheduled theatrical releases when the 2020 pandemic shuttered theaters which greatly increased their content and included GLAAD Media Award-winning film Happiest Season (2020). In 2021, Hulu released GLAAD Media Award-winning documentary Changing the Game, which follows four transgender teen athletes across the country, looking at their daily lives, families, and communities. Comedy Plan B came out on Hulu in 2021, and followed two best friends on a quest for the morning-after pill. Midway through the film, it’s revealed that one of the friends has a crush on another girl. Hulu also released biopic The United States vs Billie Holiday about the infamous bisexual singer, which delves into her relationship with Tallulah Bankhead. However, the film noticeably cuts back on the physicality compared to Holiday’s relationships with men.
Netflix has been distributing original films since Beasts of No Nation in 2015, and in the wake of the pandemic shutting down theaters in 2020, has purchased and released several films originally scheduled for theatrical releases. Notable LGBTQ-inclusive highlights include GLAAD Media Award nominees and recipients Tig (2015), The Boys in the Band (2020), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020), The Half of It (2020), Alice Júnior (2020), Disclosure (2020), Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado (2020) and more. In 2021, Netflix released its adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical Tick, Tick… Boom!, which includes Michael, a gay character with HIV and Larson’s best friend, as well as the community of queer people surrounding Larson. Another notable 2021 Netflix project is The Mitchells Vs. The Machines, an animated family film that follows queer filmmaker and daughter Katie, along with the rest of the Mitchell family, as they attempt to subvert a robot apocalypse. Last year also saw the release of the Fear Street films, a trilogy of horror films that told a love story between two women in both the 90s and the 1600s; Christmas film Single All the Way, about a young man who pretends to date his best friend, while his family sets him up with a new handsome man, forcing him to choose; and documentary Pray Away, a look into the so-called “conversion therapy” movement of the ‘70s told from the survivors and ex-leaders’ perspective. All of the above films were nominated for GLAAD Media Awards. Other LGBTQ-inclusive films include Bruised, Carnaval, Good on Paper, Lulli, Moxie, Operation Hyacinth, Sentinelle, and more.
Paramount’s streaming service launched in 2014 as CBS All Access and introduced original programming in 2016. As CBS re-merged into Viacom to form ViacomCBS in 2019 (now Paramount Global), the company expanded its library of content to include Paramount Pictures and officially relaunched as Paramount+ in 2021. Last year, Paramount+ released the short documentary and GLAAD Media Award recipient Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker, which explored the untold story of the titular illustrator, highlighting both how he coded his queerness into his art and its influence on popular culture. Hopefully in the future, Paramount+ will create meaningful feature-length LGBTQ stories as well.