Top 10 Most Heartbreaking LGBTQ+ Movie Moments

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Top 10 Most Heartbreaking LGBTQ+ Movie Moments

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
Get the tissues ready for the most heartbreaking LGBTQ+ movie moments. For this list, we'll be looking at all of the saddest moments from queer storylines on the big screen. Our countdown includes "Boys Don't Cry," "Carol," "Moonlight," and more!
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Top 10 Most Heartbreaking LGBTQ+ Movie Moments


Get the tissues ready, this one is going to be a tearjerker. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Heartbreaking LGBTQ+ Movie Moments.

For this list, we’ll be looking at all of the saddest moments from queer storylines on the big screen. Beware of spoilers ahead, as well as difficult to watch content.

#10: “Silent Night”
“Mysterious Skin” (2004)


“Mysterious Skin” tells a difficult story that covers a wide range of issues, but is centered on a childhood episode that traumatized two young boys in very different ways. The inciting incident is being abused by their Little League coach, which results in Brian blocking out the event entirely. It is only in the film’s final moments that he is reminded of what actually happened to him after the two boys are reunited as adults. Neil comforts Brian as he processes this information in a tender moment that is understandably difficult to watch.

#9: Roy’s Arrest
“Out in the Dark” (2012)


Almost all queer love stories face an extra layer of challenge, but as if that isn’t hard enough, this tale is about an Israeli lawyer (Roy) and a Palestinian psychology student (Nimer) who fall in love. Things are complicated even further by the fact that Nimer’s brother, Nabil, is involved in a militant movement. Near the film’s end, after Nimer becomes embroiled in Nabil’s criminal activity, Roy has to distract the police so that his lover can escape to safety. Roy is arrested, and tragically, Nimer doesn’t even know what happened because he has already managed to sail away.

#8: Felice Being Captured by the Gestapo
“Aimée & Jaguar” (1999)


This German film takes place during the Second World War and is set in Berlin, so you already know from the premise that it will be filled with tragedy - and just think: it’s based on a true story. Two women, Lilly and Felice, fall in love during this tumultuous time and begin a clandestine relationship that has countless hurdles to overcome. When Felice reveals that she’s actually Jewish, she considers fleeing Germany but decides to stay with the woman she loves - which ends up being a deadly mistake. She is taken in by the Gestapo and brought to a concentration camp, where Lilly stops hearing from her in 1944.

#7: Brandon's Death
“Boys Don’t Cry” (1999)


“Boys Don’t Cry” was ahead of its time when it was released in 1999, telling the real life story of transgender man Brandon Teena. Though modern critics would likely prefer to see a trans actor playing the lead role, the movie was emotionally effective, a stepping stone in representation and shows us how far we’ve come when it comes to public perceptions of the transgender community. Brandon is tragically murdered after being attacked as a hate crime at the end of the film. This series of scenes is so enraging that they are difficult to watch and should definitely come with a content warning for the targeted violence they depict.

#6: The Phone Call
“A Single Man” (2009)


So many LGBTQ+ stories follow characters in adolescence, so it’s refreshing to see a film focusing on a protagonist who is in middle age. “A Single Man” focuses on George, an English college professor who is processing the grief of losing his partner in a car accident eight months earlier. In this scene, we see George receive the call telling him that Jim has been killed, and his sorrow is compounded by the fact that he is explicitly excluded from attending the funeral service. The acting is superb, with Colin Firth at the top of his game.

#5: Albert's Death
“The Normal Heart” (2014)


It’s difficult to believe now that we are better informed, but at the onset of the AIDS crisis, there was so much misinformation about the disease that patients were treated in abysmal ways. In “The Normal Heart”, the story follows activist Ned Weeks, who at one point in the story has to deal with his friend’s boyfriend Albert dying from this new and mysterious illness. Because of the prejudices involved, he doesn’t receive care or help from hospital staff, who only go as far as to wrap his body in a garbage bag and attempt to throw him out with the trash. It’s a shocking and terrifying moment that makes us appreciate how much progress has been made since the ‘80s.

#4: Carol Leaving Therese
“Carol” (2015)


Carol and Therese meet when Carol is shopping for a Christmas present for her daughter Rindy at the store where Therese works in the early 1950s. The two women end up embarking on a relationship together, but Carol is in the midst of a custody battle for her daughter after going through a divorce. Carol finds out that she is at risk of being deemed an unfit parent because of her sexuality, and makes the difficult choice to leave Therese behind. Choosing between her daughter and the woman she loves is obviously not an easy choice, and it’s a heartbreaking one to bear witness to.

#3: Andy’s Death
“Philadelphia” (1993)


Released in 1993, “Philadelphia” was one of the first major Hollywood films to focus on homosexuality and the AIDS crisis. In it, Tom Hanks plays a senior associate at a prominent law firm who is receiving treatment for AIDS and wants to avoid having it affect his job. Unfortunately by the film’s end, he succumbs to his illness after a long struggle (and legal battle concerning his treatment in the workplace). The scene where his loved ones say goodbye to him is gut wrenching and his memorial featuring video of him as a child had us all wiping the tears from our eyes.

#2: Kevin Punching Chiron
“Moonlight” (2016)


“Moonlight” won Best Picture at the Academy Awards for the year it was released, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen it. The story is told in three parts, following the protagonist, Chiron, through childhood, adolescence and finally adulthood. He faces many challenges being both black and queer, and in the second portion of the film his close friend Kevin ends up punching him after a bully instigates him. The fact that this all happens after the two teens have shared an intimate moment together makes the entire episode all the more challenging to watch.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Vanessa's Family's Homophobia
“Gun Hill Road” (2011)

Marie Antoinette's Last Kiss
“Farewell, My Queen” (2012)

Martha's Death
“The Children's Hour” (1961)

Jean Going to a Concentration Camp
“A Love to Hide” (2005)

#1: The Shirts
“Brokeback Mountain” (2005)


The most iconic line of this romantic drama is definitely “I wish I knew how to quit you”, which encompasses so much of what the two men feel for one another, but the film’s ending is even more poignant. After Jack suddenly dies, Ennis goes to Jack’s family home and sees his childhood bedroom. Here, he discovers that Jack was keeping his bloodstained shirt from a fight they had on the mountain along with his own. Jack’s mother lets Ennis keep the clothing, and in a flash forward years later we see that Ennis keeps them hung in his closet along with a postcard from Brokeback.
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