Happy June, and happy Pride! While there are plenty of parties and lectures to attend — and let’s not forget our dear Club Quarantine — what better way to celebrate this glorious month than watching an LGBTQ+ flick? If you’re Jewish, then the answer is watching a Jewish LGBTQ+ flick. Within the massive canon of LGBTQ+ movies, tons deal with the unique intersection of being both queer and Jewish. The list below, which includes everything from “Yentl” to “Disobedience,” proves there is absolutely no shortage of queer Jewish films for those hoping to catch a glimpse of themselves and this unique intersection on-screen.
Shiva Baby (2020)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, queer Jews are quite familiar with Emma Seligman’s debut feature and emerging cult classic “Shiva Baby.” Featuring Rachel Sennott’s Danielle, and as far as I know, the first depiction of a Jewish bisexual character in any film, “Shiva Baby” gives the tone of “Uncut Gems,” the comedy of a Coen Brothers movie, topped with the intersectionality of a Joey Soloway project.
Available to rent on digital
Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
In this indie darling from the early aughts, Jessica Stein, a neurotic New York copy editor, finds herself dating her first woman, Helen Cooper, a non-Jewish art gallery worker and essentially the antithesis to everything that Jessica is. Part bi, part anxious, and very very Jewish, this hidden gem is a must-watch.
A gay Orthodox love story set in 1980s Brooklyn, the film navigates the emotional terrain of religion and sexuality exquisitely. Recently released to rave reviews, its subtlety speaks volumes to the gay Orthodox experience.
Coming soon to digital
Torch Song Trilogy (1988)
Harvey Fierstein!!! This film, which was adapted from a play, depicts the life of drag performer Arnold Beckoff. With some heartbreaking scenes that perfectly encapsulate the complexities of (some!) Jewish mother’s experience with their children’s sexuality, this film is a timeless watch with a mesmerizing performance from Fierstein.
Available on HBO Max
Papa, can you hear me? Barbra Streisand’s classic film follows the life of Yentl, an ambitious woman residing in 18th century Eastern Europe, who disguises herself as a man to attend yeshiva. The film’s exploration of gender performativity is beyond ahead of its time. The premise combined with Streisand’s iconic songs makes for a memorable watch.
This Israeli film tells the story of a New York Times writer who travels to Tel Aviv and meets a young film student. A love story unfolds. Directed by esteemed LGBT Israeli film director Eytan Fox, Sublet is set to hit theaters this June in both Israel and the US.
I mean, Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz as Orthodox Jewish women in love? The film sensitively touches on the difficulties of navigating queerness within the Orthodox world. Stunning performances from our two favorite Rachels give viewers a glimpse into the realities of exploring queerness within the Orthodox world.
Set in the Rachel Sennott queer Jewish cinematic universe, Olivia Peace’s film shares the story of Hannah romantically pursuing her friend while at their former Hebrew school classmate’s funeral. Exuding very 2020 vibes on what it means to be both queer and Jewish, and with a memorable pimple-popping scene, “Tahara” should not be missed.
Not currently streaming
Yossi & Jagger (2002)
Another Israeli film by esteemed LGBT Israeli director Eytan Fox, “Yossi & Jagger” follows a gay relationship within the confinements of the Israeli Defense Forces. An LGBT classic for Israelis, this film expertly navigates gay romance within the limitations of the IDF.
Available to rent/buy on Amazon
To Each Her Own (2018)
This French film is essentially the opposite of “Kissing Jessica Stein” in the sense that it follows Simone, a lesbian who lives with her partner Claire but ultimately realizes she’s attracted to a man. Beautifully capturing the confusion and complexity of sexuality, “To Each Her Own” is a gorgeous and relatable telling of sexual exploration coupled with the parental pressures of dating Jewish.
Available on Netflix