20 LGBTQIA+ stories with upbeat endings

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15. Moonlight

There is no one way to be queer. If nothing else, the LGBTQIA+ acronym and its many variations should be enough to tell you that there are a myriad of different identities, orientations, and contexts within the sphere of “not straight.”

That goes for race and ethnicity, too. Many of the different stories that feature LGBTQIA+ characters (including quite a few on this list) predominantly focus on white people. However, that doesn’t mean people of color can’t be gay. Moonlight, the award-winning film that eventually won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Picture, beautifully illustrates this.

But to say that Moonlight is a story about a gay man of color does not fully describe the film. It’s beautifully complicated, growing perhaps even more so as its central character, Chiron, grows into young adulthood.

Chiron begins his life in a poor Miami neighborhood with his drug-addicted mother, Paula. Young Chiron forms a kind of friendship or even father-son relationship with Juan, a local drug dealer.

“A word that people use to try to make gay people feel bad”

Juan tells Chiron, nicknamed “Little,” that a gay slur is “a word that people use to try to make gay people feel bad”. He tells the boy that it’s alright to be gay and that Chiron shouldn’t let people belittle him. However, their relationship grows uneasy: Juan is the dealer who is helping to feed Paula’s addiction.

Eventually, Chiron grows into a conflicted teenager in the next section of the film. Here, he forms a bond with his classmate, Kevin, and begins to confront his sexuality. In the final chapter, Chiron has grown into an adult, now dealing drugs himself in Atlanta. However, a reunion with Kevin causes him to reflect on his life and future.

While Moonlight does not flinch away from the hard truth of Chiron’s life or the difficulties he encounters because of his sexuality, neither is the movie a sob story. It presents the story of a gay black man who is conflicted, sensitive, strong and deeply complex. Ultimately, Moonlight is beautiful and affirming, not least because it rises far above cliches about genre, race and sexuality.