Are These Hollywood’s Worst LGBTQ Portrayals Ever?

Written by | Entertainment, Screen

Al Pacino in "Cruising" 1980

Al Pacino hunts a killer in the midst of NYC 's leather community in "Cruising" (1980).

Crimes against the LGBTQ Community are at their highest level in a decade. The end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, transgendered Americans being allowed into the military and the passage of marriage equality left many believing that queer people might finally be approaching full citizenship.

But in this age of reversals and attacks from the highest offices in the land, it’s well to remember that our society has been fed a steady stream of disinformation about what it means to be LGBTQ. Long before there was Will & Grace, Orange is the New Black or Pose, these are just a few of the ugliest representations the media pushed about queer people.

Here, in chronological order, is our handpicked list of the Top 13 worst offenders:

Rebecca (1940)

This old chestnut: An evil housekeeper’s obsession with the late Mrs. De Winter causes no small amount of trouble for the new Mrs. De Winter. Creepy.

Rope (1948)

And then we have murder at your leisure as John Dall and Farley Granger star in a fictional variation on the real-life Leopold and Loeb case — a story of two upper-crust gayboys who kill because it’s so much fun. Check out how erotic they find their crime:

The Children’s Hour (1961)

Shirley MacLaine wants to run away with Audrey Hepburn and start a new life as lovers. Hold up, says Audrey. Thelma and Louise haven’t even been born yet, and besides: I love you like a thousand other women love their friends. This anti-love scene will slow anyone’s roll.

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Myra Breckinridge (1970)

Based on Gore Vidal’s satirical novel, this gem depicts a transgender woman who travels to Europe in order to get a sex-change procedure. The movie stars Rex Reed, Mae West (!) John Huston and Raquel Welch as the leading character, who rapes a man with a dildo. Is this merely wacky offensive, or do we just write it off as another drug-induced byproduct of the ’60s?

Deliverance (1972)

What could be scarier than mindless random violence miles from where anyone can help? Why, mindless random emasculating gay rape violence, that’s what.

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Freebie and the Bean (1974)

If you’re looking to be offended as a gay man, you’ve come to the right place. “Female impersonator” Christopher Morley plays a heartless killer who looks like he’s channeling David Bowie from the “ch-ch-ch-ch Changes” era. When you see how Hollywood uses him to equate being effeminate with being psychopathic, it just may make you nauseated. Here’s his death scene, which tells you everything you need to know about prevailing attitudes at the time.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)

Richard Gere gets his first big role onscreen here as a playa who just can’t treat Diane Keaton’s character with any dignity whatsoever. It’s also Tom Berenger’s breakout appearance (you may remember him as the Tom Selleck-wannabe in The Big Chill a few years later), and he’s playing a man whose conflicted sexuality turns suddenly homicidal.

Cruising (1980)

Here’s one of the best-known films on the list. Al Pacino isn’t gay, but he’s sent into “the underworld” of New York’s gay leather scene to track a killer in their midst. Cruising contains enough gay stereotypes to populate a city of Village People.

Basic Instinct (1992)

Sharon Stone uses her feminine wiles to keep detectives off her trail and on her scent as she flashes the most famous crotch-shot in history. Oh, and remember: bisexuals and lesbians are amoral and lethal, kids.

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Braveheart (1995)

Apparently director Mel Gibson liked the femme prince in Monty Python and the Holy Grail so much, he hired Peter Hanly to recreate him in this historically inaccurate film that nonetheless swept the Oscars. Also, audiences cheered when the prince’s lover met his doom. Is America Great Again Yet?

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

This is actually a splendid little film — except that once again, our homosexual hero turns out to be a serial killer. The film boasts terrific performances from Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007)

Here’s a homophobe’s dream movie: Two very butch firefighters (Kevin James and a gum-chomping Adam Sandler) decide to get married to safeguard a pension. Hilarity, hijinks and every gay-bashing trope in the book ensue.

Get Hard (2015)

Will Farell is going to prison for embezzlement, so he hires Kevin Hart to prepare him for life inside the joint. This is the movie that demonstrates the difference between progress and evolution. It rates a score of 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s generous. Here’s a sample of how low they go. Cue the potty humor:

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Last modified: September 13, 2019