Netflix Removing Iconic LGBTQ Movie

Amid criticism surrounding its handling of LGBTQ+ titles, the Netflix streaming library is about to lose a groundbreaking LGBTQ+ movie. On Friday, March 31, Brokeback Mountain, the Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal-starring film that helped pave the way for the queer cinema landscape that exists today, is set to leave Netflix, it was confirmed with the release of the streamer's outgoing March 2023 titles.

Based on the short story by Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain stars Ledger and Gyllenhaal as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, two cowboys who, in 1963, are hired by rancher Joe Aguirre as sheep herders in Wyoming. Throughout the course of the movie, and some 20 years, their relationship develops into a sexual relationship. Brokeback Mountain was released in 2005 and also stars Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams.

Although the film has an 88% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, it was marred in some controversy, mainly surrounding the same-sex love story at the center of the movie. One movie theater owner in Utah canceled the film's screenings in one of his venues when he became aware of the film's plot, and several church leaders came out against the movie, some dubbing the film, "morally offensive."

Despite those criticisms, Brokeback Mountain was mostly met with critical acclaim and commercial success, grossing over $178 million worldwide against its $14 million budget. It was nominated for Best Picture and won for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Original Score at the 78th Academy Awards. It was also nominated for nine awards, winning Best Film, Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, at the 59th British Academy Film Awards, and received seven nominations at the 63rd Golden Globe Awards. In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Although Brokeback Mountain's upcoming departure likely comes down to licensing issues, namely an expired deal, Netflix has faced plenty of scrutiny in recent years and months for its handling of LGBTQ+ content. The streamer has canceled numerous original series centered around LGBTQ+ characters, including First Kill, Uncoupled, and Warrior Nun, among many others, with many accusing Netflix of playing into the "cancel your gays trope." Netflix does, however, still boast an LGBTQ section on its platform, with titles including Heartstopper, Sex Education, and the hit original Orange Is the New Black.