by Matthew Yapp
Love is in the air as we approach the anniversary of everyone’s favorite massacre. That’s right Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate love, as if it wasn’t already held to a high enough regard in our society. While today may be many peoples favorite holiday and a prime opportunity to cuddle up with their significant other, for many queer people it’s not quite as enamoring.
For a lot of queer youth, they spent their early years in the closet, unable to truly celebrate love on a day centered around it. Even people who are out often find trouble participating seeing as how it’s fairly common for people to run into opposition when being romantic as a queer person. But hey, even if queer people can’t always celebrate in the same way everyone else does at least they can go with a classic Netflix and chill and watch some endearing gay movie, right? Actually, as you’ve probably guessed from my sarcastic set-up, that’s not the case either.
Whether it be uncomfortable age gaps or the fact that many of these LGBTQ movies really only focus on white, cisgender, gay men queer love stories can run into quite a few issues. Perhaps the biggest problem they run into though is they get really depressing. I mean, debatably the most popular queer love story of all time is Brokeback Mountain, which will make you weep just thinking about it.
“Bury your gays” is a trope that has dominated pop culture for quite some time now. What it means is that movies have started creating queer characters and love plots, but they always end in death. While representation is fantastic, it doesn’t always feel amazing to have the love stories that you relate with end in tragedy over and over again. Now a major reason behind this is many of the current queer writers and filmmakers grew up in a less accepting world and thus writing from their own experience made their stories a bit darker. So yes, while it is very realistic that a lot of queer love of the past and even present can be riddled with tragedy, you don’t always want to see it on the big screen. Sometimes you want to just sit back and watch a cheesy romcom that has characters like you in it.
With all these issues in mind, I’ve set out to create the perfect queer Valentine’s movie list all available to stream online right now either on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon. Hopefully these movies will be perfect for you to cuddle up with everyone you love and won’t make you cry since they don’t end with a depressing long shot of sad Timothée Chalamet that will break your heart (he’s a good boy, he deserved better).
1. The Way He Looks
It’s not all that common to find a movie about disabled queer people, even less so to find one about disabled queer people of color. The Way He Looks comes through delivering a truly touching story that is perfect for Valentine’s Day, if you don’t mind subtitles that is, as the film is entirely in Portuguese (it’s worth it, trust me). Leonardo is a blind teenager coming to the realization that he has feelings for one of his closest friends. A movie that truly moves, The Way He Looks captures that all-too-familiar feeling of awkwardness you get when you fall for your friends and the nostalgic charm of a first crush. With a soundtrack to die for and characters who don’t, this film is certainly worth a watch.
2. The Birdcage
It’s a Robin Williams movie. That should be enough for you. I’ll explain more though. Robin Williams is a man in a loving relationship with a drag queen. When their son reveals that he wants his fathers to meet his fiancés’ conservative Christian parents, they devise a scheme to fake straight in order to make things a little easier. This film is as heartwarming as can be and most importantly it’s hilarious. With its charm lying in its characters, The Birdcage is a fantastic film about love, acceptance, and the perfection of Robin Williams.
3. But I’m a Cheerleader
Finally, a lesbian romcom. It’s what we all deserve really. Megan is the girl at school everyone wants to be. She’s a cheerleader, she’s popular, and she’s dating a football star. What more could you want? Well, in Megan’s case, she wanted to date girls. When her parents send her to a conversion therapy camp, she begins to truly find herself and love. While it sounds a little dramatic, it’s actually a very sweet and funny movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Also, RuPaul plays a conversion therapist which is something everyone needs to see, so check it out.
4. Boy Meets Girl
It was depressingly hard to find a trans love story which is fairly reflective of the representation that trans folks often receive from the media. However, after some searching, I found Boy Meets Girl. The story centers around a young woman named Ricky who wants to abandon her small town and move to New York. Things grow more complicated as we see her relationships with her friends change and a relationship with a new woman in town blossom. Without spoiling anything, this movie is tender, touching, and unexpected. I think it is a pretty solid queer love story that can satisfy your desire for some good trans representation this holiday
5. 4th Man Out
This movie shines a light on one of the very realistic but often ignored struggle for queer people, which is coming out in your adult life. Far too often in media it is looked at as something that is done tearfully and simply in your teen years, but for many people, they go well into their adulthood before feeling comfortable discussing their sexuality with their loved ones. 4th Man Out centers around Adam’s changing life as he comes out as gay to his three extremely close, extremely bro-ish, best friends. It explores the dynamics of friendships between straight and gay men rather well, and, at the end of the day, it’s really charming and funny. Als,o without telling too much, there is some nice queer romance in there for you.
6. Love, Simon
Come on, you had to expect this one. This film was a trailblazer in its own right having a major company putting into theaters all across the country, Love, Simon focuses on a young man named Simon and his journey through self-acceptance and desire for love. In a similar vein to But I’m a Cheerleader, this movie is just a classic high school love flick. I think that is good though because the generation of queer teenagers in high school right now deserve to see the same campy love stories that their straight peers get to see. It’s nothing groundbreaking in terms of story but genuinely sometimes you just want to watch something dumb and romantic. Love, Simon is easy listening in terms of queer love and would be an excellent movie to end a romantic night with your boo thing.
7. San Junipero
Okay listen, I know not everyone classifies this one as a movie, but it’s an hour long stand-alone story, it’s perfect, and it’s my list, so we’re going with it. San Junipero is equal parts mysterious and moving. It is the only movie on this list that brought me to genuine tears just from the emotion it creates. The story centers around Kelly and Yorkie, two women who meet in the ’80s and their relationship develops from there. Everything about this movie is beautiful: the costumes, the cinematography, the score, and most importantly, the relationship between the characters.
Although queer people can have an odd relationship with cinema, hopefully this list can give you a couple of ideas for films to watch when you’re in a bit more of a romantic mood as opposed to wanting to weep over dead spouses. Rather you’re looking for something to watch with your partner, or just something sweet to watch by yourself, this list should be able to leave you with a night full of love.
Featured Image: McKenna Kolb
Matt is a Communications Major and the Managing Editor (2018-2019) of Byte.