Welcome to the Chaotic Guide to the Queer Moving Image.

A celebration of key LGBTQ movies and shows that forged the long path that got us to now — where films and shows like Booksmart, Moonlight, Pose and Heartstopper are popular hits.

This website — and the accompanying poster — were designed as a thank you for the Heartstopper cast, crew,  See-Saw Films, and the teams at Netflix and Netflix UK — as well as creator Alice Oseman.

(The poster’s other side features Post-It notes with Heartstopper snippets or references that prompt lists of films. Can you figure out the connections?)

Below are links to more in-depth lists — with trailers, clips, where to watch, ratings and more. You can comment or create your own lists there.

This project was curated by LGBTQ film historian and filmmaker Jenni Olson (@JenniOlsonSF) and Tom Rielly (@trielly), founder of PlanetOut and Digital Queers. Jenni and Tom co-founded the first LGBTQ film and TV website, PopcornQ, 10 years before YouTube. (Click here for bios.)

Youth Movies

From Booksmart to Beautiful Thing, these films celebrate coming out, coming of age, first love, growing up, and dealing with one’s family.

Essential Movies

25 of the most important (and entertaining) works of LGBT cinema which span all parts of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, all backgrounds and different countries.

Essential Movies

25 of the most important (and entertaining) works of LGBT cinema which span all parts of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, all backgrounds and different countries.

Out on TV

The last decade has seen an explosion of queer television. But it didn’t happen overnight. From Brideshead Revisited to Killing Eve, these shows will inspire you with the journey. 

Russell T Davies

For 30 years, TV’s most vital and urgent queer writer-producer. His groundbreaking shows include Queer as Folk (1999), Doctor Who (2005–2023) and Torchwood (2006), Tofu / Cucumber / Banana (2015), A Very British Scandal (2021), and It’s a Sin (2021). Mandatory viewing.

View the Russell TV List


We recommend you watch The Celluloid Closet (Amazon Prime UK) for an incredible history of queer people in cinema since the silent era. There is no faster way to go to Queer Film School than this incredible, entertaining, fun and emotional documentary (1hr 42 min).

Also, watch the AppleTV + miniseries Visible: Out on Television, a five-part history of queer people on TV.

Both will provoke conversation and sharing and are great to watch in a group.


Jenni Olson (@JenniOlsonSF) is a queer film historian/archivist, writer and non-fiction filmmaker based in Berkeley, California. Her two feature-length essay films — The Joy of Life (2005) and The Royal Road (2015) — premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and, like her many short films, have screened internationally to awards and acclaim.

Her work as an experimental filmmaker and her expansive collection of LGBTQ film prints and memorabilia are part of the Harvard Film Archive (in Harvard’s Jenni Olson Queer Film Collection). Jenni’s reflection on the last 30 years of LGBT film history is featured in The Oxford Handbook of Queer Cinema (Oxford University Press, 2021). She was named to the Out Magazine Out 100 list in 2020, and in 2021 was recognized with the prestigious Special TEDDY Award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Jenni is a former co-director of Frameline (the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival), the oldest and largest queer film festival on the planet, and served as director of marketing at LGBTQ film distributor Wolfe Video for more than a decade where she also created the global LGBTQ streaming VOD platform WolfeOnDemand.com.

She co-founded the pioneering LGBTQ online platform, PlanetOut.com as well as the legendary Queer Brunch at Sundance. She is also the proud proprietor of Butch.org. Her work as a film historian includes the Lambda Award nominated The Queer Movie Poster Book (Chronicle Books, 2005) and her many vintage movie trailer presentations (Homo Promo, Afro Promo, etc.). A 2018 MacDowell Fellow, Jenni is now in development on her third feature-length essay film, The Quiet World and an essayistic memoir of the same name.

Tom Rielly (@trielly) was founder and CEO of PlanetOut, the largest digital home for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from 1995–2002. With noted film archivist and historian Jenni Olson, Rielly co-founded PopcornQ, the first online website for the Queer Moving Image, with the most comprehensive collection of video trailers and clips, 10 years before YouTube.

With Karen Wickre, Rielly also co-founded the influential nonprofit Digital Queers, which brought and taught technology to LGBTQ+ leaders and citizens 1993-2000. Rielly served on the board of Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Rielly served as Executive Producer for Jenni Olson’s celebrated feature film The Joy of Life. In 1980 at 15, Rielly played a supporting role in the sleeper U.S. hit film My Bodyguard where he played a possibly gay nerd being bullied by…Matt Dillon. Rielly, who as part of the wildly successful TED/TEDTalks NGO created the acclaimed international TED Fellows program (2009-), with 532 Fellows from 100 countries who affect at least 500 million lives per year.

With protegé and best-selling author and of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba and he founded Moving Windmills Project, a 15 year old NGO that works on innovation and community economic development in Malawi. Netflix has a celebrated film based on his life (BBC in the UK)

Rielly was educated at The Sorbonne, Georgetown, and Yale, where he dropped out to enter the nascent tech industry. He enjoys his grandchild Lorraine, film, tech, instant comedy, LGBTQ+ activism, all things African community development, and mentoring. He resides in the Palm Springs, California area. tom@chaoticguide.com.

Elizabeth Purchell is a queer film historian and programmer. She is the creator of Ask Any Buddy, a multimedia project that explores the history of the gay adult film industry and its role in the development of queer cinema and the spread of gay male visual culture. The project consists of an Instagram feed, a feature-length mashup film that was selected to play nearly two-dozen international film festivals, and a companion podcast.

Recently she has appeared on home video releases by Altered Innocence, the American Genre Film Archive, and Vinegar Syndrome. She also programs and hosts the monthly Queer Cinema: Lost and Found screening series at Austin Film Society. Her work has been featured in publications such as Artforum and The New York Times.