It’s long been the case that stories about queer love are tragic, or steeped in some kind of coming of age drama. As queer people we constantly see ourselves die onscreen just as we find the person we love, or live in a perpetual state of sadness as we never find them at all. But that trope is finally changing and we couldn’t be happier.
To fill the long days and often lonely nights of the world as it stands, we’ve curated this list of charming, thrilling, and life-affirming stories about queer love that will leave you breathless.
What isn’t life-affirming about a class war period drama featuring two queer women trying to break down the barriers that society has put between them? Well, the fact that it all starts as a devastating scam might throw some viewers, but Park Chan-wook’s stunning Korean set adaptation of Sarah Walter’s brilliant victorian London lesbian thief yarn Fingersmith, is not only incredibly sexy–often to the point of distraction–but also completely thrilling. Filled with stylistic flair, thoughtful narrative deception that will keep you guessing and brilliant performances The Handmaiden is an exciting, erotic, and ultimately romantic watch.
The Handmaiden is currently streaming on Amazon.
God’s Own Country
Samuel Goldwyn Pictures
You probably didn’t see God’s Own Country when it was quietly released in 2017. Lost in the shadow of the shinier and more star-studded gay romance that came out that year, God’s Own Country has made waves in queer cinema circles ever since. This beautiful, rugged, and authentic drama centers on two young men who meet whilst working on a farm in Northern England. Johnny is isolated and lonely as he tends his family’s land, filling his days with casual sex and hard-drinking, but that all changes when a new Romanian worker comes into his life. God’s Own Country is not only gorgeous to watch, but it’s also a brutal yet hopeful balm for tired hearts.
God’s Own Country is currently streaming on Netflix.
Wanuri Kahiu brought her unique eye to this stunning story about two young women in Nairobi on the verge of falling in love. Sweet, beautifully shot–Kahiu is the leader of the Afrobubblegum film movement and when you watch Rafiki you’ll know why–this is a wonderful tale of finding someone to connect within a world that doesn’t seem to care. With fathers who are political and power rivals it seems like it could just be a modern take on Romeo and Juliet, but Kahiu has no interest in seeding tragedy where there could be great happiness, light, and love. Though it was censored on release there is nothing controversial or harmful about this queer love story which is both a feast for the eyes and the soul.
You can rent Rafiki from Vudu and Amazon now.
Black Mirror: San Junipero
Probably the most well known and talked about entry in our list, “San Junipero” is the extremely rare Black Mirror episode with a happy ending. A neon-hued time travel extravaganza, the double Emmy-winning entry into Charlie Brooker’s smash sci-fi anthology series is nothing short of bubblegum pink, gay, romance magic. Following two women Yorkie and Kelly as they fall for each other over multiple decades, this heart-wrenching and hopeful story has a twist you won’t see coming. Plus, two stirring central performances from Gugu Mbatha Raw and Mackenzie Davis. Lovely!
Black Mirror: San Junipero is currently streaming on Netflix.
Queer period dramas are slowly becoming more common, but in 2019 multi-award-winning working-class British superstar Sally Wainwright brought a whole new hero to the grassy rolling hills of 1800s England: a queer woman called Jack. Gentleman Jack is based on the real-life of landowner Anne Lister, an entirely radical figure during the Industrial Revolution, not least for the fact that she was a proud and out queer woman. It’s a thrill to see queer characters we might not expect to find love do just that — and in a lush period piece to boot.
Gentleman Jack is currently streaming on Hulu and HBO Now.
On a Sunbeam
It’s not just the film and television industries delivering sumptuous queer tales. Talented sequential storytellers like Tillie Walden have used the comics medium to weave moving and visually stunning stories such as her sci-fi epic, On a Sunbeam. It’s hard to describe what makes this story so special, so we’ll leave it to Walden’s own words to give you a taste of the sprawling and gorgeous adventure. “I wanted to set a story in space, this is what happened. Includes many gays, ancient buildings, mystical creatures, boarding school, and family.”
You can read On a Sunbeam for free here or buy it here.
Another queer webcomic phenom that has become a best-selling book in its own right is Ngozi Ukazu’s Check Please! This coming of age story is not only super cute but also incredibly relatable. Eric Bitty is an ex-junior figure skating champion who loves to bake and has made the transition to college hockey player. That’s a sweet enough set-up in itself but the real treat that Check Please! has in store is the fact that Eric just happens to have a major crush on handsome team captain Jack… Whatever will happen? You’ll have to read it to find out!
You can read Check Please! for free here or buy it here.
Header Image: Big World Pictures