Let’s be honest, straight love stories are pretty boring—filled with baby-having, stability and inevitable monogamy. Maybe that’s why some of the best love stories of the screen have been queer. Below is the crème de la crème (I defy you to try not to picture semen with that phrase).
Brokeback Mountain: Arguably the greatest forbidden love story of the twenty-first century, Ang Lee’s masterpiece (though The Ice Storm is a close second) tells the story of the tormented Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) grappling with the fact that his love of “playing rough” in the tent with his fellow cowboy, Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), is about more than just passing the time.
Black Mirror, “San Junipero”: When it comes to tasteful lesbian romances, one certainly can’t look to The Handmaiden. She can, however, turn to Black Mirror for the fourth episode of the third series, entitled “San Junipero.” Centered on the bizarre, euthanasia-contingent love affair between reserved/new to lesbianism Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) and free-spirited, bisexual Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the episode begins in a Santa Cruz-like (think Lost Boys) abyss in 1987. After surrendering her virginity to Kelly, Yorkie can no longer find her “in the same time,” and it is in her decade-hopping quest that she must admit to herself just how gay she really is.
Sex and the City 2: I maintain that the partnership of Stanford Blatch and Anthony Marantino is one of the most important onscreen pairings because of how true to life it is with regard to settling for whoever’s left over when you look around and find that it’s just you and one other missing link.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) and Mikey Politano (Mike Carlsen) prove the old adage: opposites attract. Not only that, but Mikey was able to melt the cold icy shell formerly surrounding Titus’ heart so that he could preempt the inevitability of rejection—which seems to be a strong possibility based on the latest trailer showing our boy spoofing Beyonce’s “Hold Up” video.
The Crying Game: From the moment IRA volunteer Fergus (Stephen Rea) sees Dil (Jaye Davidson) singing “The Crying Game” at a London nightclub, he instantly understands why Jody (Forest Whitaker) specifically asked him to find her should he die while in the service of the government. Her true gender (whatever that really means), however, is not something Jody felt compelled to mention before dying and, at first, it repels Fergus—that is, until he realizes he’s in love with the person not the genitalia.
Blue is the Warmest Color: Though I’ve always maintained this movie would actually be a lot more romantic without all the porno sex scenes, what can one expect with the misogynistic eye of Abdellatif Kechiche behind the camera? Just as in “San Junipero,” Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is the novice of the couple, new to the lesbian “scene” as she finds herself undeniably attracted to a blue-haired art student named Emma (Léa Seydoux). But, as we all know, it’s always the novice that gets burned.
My Own Private Idaho: Most assuredly River Phoenix’s crowning role—and Gus Van Sant’s crowning film, come to think of it—Idaho focuses on the tender romance between rent boys Mike Waters (Phoenix) and Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves). Only it feels to be more of a one-sided romance, as we gradually learn that Scott is just doing this until he can inherit Daddy’s money and retire from the street life. The moral? Never fall for a rich boy, least of all a straight one.
The Birdcage: The love between Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) and Albert Goldman (Nathan Lane) is so strong, so ironclad, that Albert is willing to hide his true self—quite literally—by dressing as a woman to convince the future Republican parents-in-law of Armand’s son, Val (Dan Futterman), that Val comes from a “straight”-laced family. And nothing says “I love you” like suppression of one’s identity.
Fox and His Friends: Tragic as fuck, the eponymous Fox (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) proves that no matter what sexuality you are, you’re still bound to get pummeled by love—especially when you’re the one who cares more about the other person.