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We all know the typical American romantic comedy formula: heterosexual boy meets heterosexual girl, and they bond, but then a conflict happens that keeps them apart. Eventually, they find their way back to each other. This is a structure that many romantic comedy fans love, but it’s time to expand your horizon. There are plenty of gay romantic comedies and LGBTQ+ movies that are romantic, light-hearted, compelling, and comedic, like Love, Simon,
Love, Simon gained a lot of attention and buzz during its 2018 release, mainly because it was one of the first mainstream gay romantic comedies. The film industry is still working on diversifying its content, but since Love, Simon, films like Happiest Season and Prom have been allowing more LGBTQ+ romantic stories to be told to a broader audience. For this list, I wanted to highlight some LGBTQ+ movies and gay romantic comedies that are worth watching. Some may not follow the traditional romantic comedy formats, but all tell very captivating and entertaining love stories.
Love, Simon follows Simon (Nick Robinson), a teen who fears coming out as gay. He believes that his family and friends will be supportive, but he still worries about revealing his true self to the world. Simon decides to write to another student who anonymously posts about being gay on their high school website. They fall in love.
Like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks before them, Love, Simon shows a love story that mainly happens online. So the film not only gets you invested in a romance between two characters who barely have face-to-face interactions, but it creates this intriguing mystery of who is “Blue?” Love, Simon is a coming-of-age story about a boy finding love and learning to be himself without fear. Arrowverse’s Greg Berlanti directed Love, Simon, and really makes you invested in Simon’s happiness.
Wil (Michelle Krusiec) is a successful surgeon whose life gets turned upside down when her pregnant mother, Gao (Joan Chen) moves in with her. Also at this time, Wil begins a relationship with a dancer, Vivian (Lynn Chen). Though Wil is out to her friends, Gao doesn’t know that Wil is a lesbian (or at least, she ignores it).
Anyone who has a strict or traditional parent knows the burden of trying to constantly please them. This is the case with Wil, but it’s also about Wil knowing herself but still scared to show herself to the world. Instantly, Vivian and Wil make you root for them. Saving Face is not only a really good romantic story, but it's really funny. Gao and some of the other friends and family members in Wil’s life are extremely entertaining.
Jeffrey is a gay romantic comedy based on a play. It’s about a man who really enjoys sex but gives it up. Jeffrey (Steven Weber) used to be promiscuous but due to the AIDS epidemic, sex has lost its appeal, and he’s also now in fear of the disease--getting it or losing someone he loves because of it. Jeffrey’s sex-less quest receives a major wrench when he meets the man of his dreams, Steve (Michael T. Weiss).
Jeffrey’s cast also includes Patrick Stewart and appearances by Christine Baranski, Victor Garber, and Sigourney Weaver. Christopher Ashley directed Jeffrey. Though the film deals with the AIDS epidemic, it’s a quirky film about not being afraid to love and live.
The Half Of It
Alice Wu directed The Half Of It. She also directed Saving Face. Ellie (Leah Lewis) is a smart, socially isolated student who runs an essay writing service for her classmates. One day, nice guy, jock, kind of simpleminded, Paul (Daniel Diemer) asks for her help to write his crush Aster (Alexxis Lemire) a love letter. Ellie also has a secret crush on Aster.
The Half of It starts by declaring itself not a love story, at least not in the traditional sense, and I agree. Yes, you are invested in Aster and Ellie’s connection, but you’re more invested in Paul and Ellie’s friendship, and both of their personal growth. It’s a sweet blend of coming-of-age and romantic comedy.
Stream it on Netflix here.
The Way He Looks
The Way He Looks is a Portuguese gay romantic comedy directed by Daniel Ribeiro. It follows blind high school student Leo (Ghilherme Lobo) as he forms an instant bond with new student Gabriel (Fabio Audi). The Way He Looks tells the story of two teen boys who are attracted to each other, not because of physical looks, but because of their personalities, spirits, beliefs, etc. It’s a very sweet film that thrives because of Leo and Gabriel’s chemistry.
The Way He Looks is also a film that’s not dramatic. Leo and Gabriel face some conflict in their budding romance, but it never feels like a deal-breaker. Viewers are left with a sense all throughout the movie that whatever obstacles they face, they’ll work it out. You never really feel like these characters won’t end up together.
Rent it here.
Boy Meets Girl
Boy Meets Girl is about a transgender woman, Ricky (Michelle Hendley) who finds herself attracted to a woman, Francesca (Alexandra Turshen). This relationship presents many complications in both women’s lives, including with Francesca’s fiance and Ricky’s best friend Robby (Michael Welch). Boy Meets Girl has many entertaining and captivating elements. The first is that there aren’t many romantic comedies with transgender characters as leads, and there also aren’t many about sexually fluid transgender characters.
Boy Meets Girl is not only a really charming romantic comedy, but it also uses the film to help educate people on what it's like to be transgender. It does this through Ricky, but also her relationship with Francesca. It’s also just nice to see a film that shows a transgender character, for the most part, accepted by her friends, family, and community. Eric Schaeffer directed Boy Meets Girl.
Imagine Me And You
What’s the worst thing that could happen at your wedding? Falling in love with someone else. Imagine Me and You, directed by Ol Parker, starts with Rachel (Piper Perabo) and Heck's (Matthew Goode) wedding. While walking down the aisle, Rachel notices the florist Luce (Lena Headey). Luce and Rachel are drawn to each other, and they must decide whether to fight their feelings or go for it.
Imagine Me and You has the rare romantic comedy trope of an actual decent romantic rival. They made Heck such a nice and good guy that you’re devastated for him, but that makes the film’s message even stronger. Rachel and Heck have a great relationship but when you truly find your soulmate, there is no fighting it. Imagine Me And You is a film about an undeniable connection that makes you willing to risk it all for the right person.
Rent it here.
Alex Strangelove is a Netflix original film about virgin Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) who plans to lose his virginity to his girlfriend, Claire (Madeline Weinstein), but can’t seem to make it happen. Then he meets Elliot (Antonio Marziale) and he starts to question his sexuality.
Alex Strangelove offers a satisfying conclusion--you’re definitely cheering at the end kiss. However, the credits make the film even stronger with director Craig Johnson incorporating real-life coming-out stories. It grounds the film more and shows the importance of movies about coming out stories.
Stream it on Netflix here.
Kissing Jessica Stein
Kissing Jessica Stein follows Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt) as she decides to meet a woman who puts out a personal ad looking for love. When Jessica and Helen (Heather Juergensen) meet there is instant chemistry. They start dating (a secret Jessica keeps from her friends and family) and their relationship has one big hiccup: Jessica isn’t ready for intimacy with Helen.
Kissing Jessica Stein explores a relationship with two bisexual women. One who is very in touch with her sexuality, and another who doesn’t know what she wants in life and in love. The film has a very interesting ending that some may love, or it'll make the movie a waste of time for others. Kissing Jessica Stein shows a relationship that helps both women grow and get closer to figuring out what they want and desire in love and life. Charles Herman-Wurmfeld directed Kissing Jessica Stein.
The Thing About Harry
Peter Paige (The Fosters and Good Trouble co-creator) directed The Thing About Harry as a Freeform original movie. The film starts with Sam (Jake Borelli) forced on a road-trip with his former high school bully, Harry (Niko Terho). On the trip, Sam learns that Harry has evolved a lot from his high school days, and the only reason he bullied him was because he was hiding that he is pansexual.
The Thing About Harry is a romantic movie rollercoaster from start to finish. Just when you think Harry and Sam will finally have their happy ending, some crazy new obstacle appears. Luckily for the movie, Harry and Sam are likable characters, so you hope and hope they will make it work, despite the film constantly tearing them apart. Unfortunately, The Truth About Harry isn’t available to stream (yes not even on Freeform’s site) or rent, but it is available to purchase.
Purchase It here.
But I’m A Cheerleader
But I’m a Cheerleader may be one of the most well-known LGBTQ+ movies. It’s Jamie Babbit’s satirical film about a teen girl, Megan (Natasha Lyonne) who is sent to a conversion therapy camp by her parents. There she meets Graham (Clea DuVall).
But I’m A Cheerleader is a satirical film, but at its heart, it’s a romantic comedy. Megan and Graham have the typical opposites-attract relationship that grows into love, respect, and in this film’s case, hope. The world of But I’m a Cheerleader may be against them, but as long as they have each other, they’ll take it on together. RuPaul and Cathy Moriarty give hilarious performances in their roles as the conversion therapy camp leaders.
Romeos is a German movie about a male transgender character named Lukas (Rick Okon). Lukas is still transitioning, so he’s self-conscious about his body, and he is trying to hide that he’s transgender. He finds himself attracted to Fabio (Maximilian Befort). At first Lukas's attraction is based on the fact that Fabio represents what he wants to be in terms of manliness, but their relationship grows deeper.
Sabine Bernardi offers another really compelling transgender story, and though Romeos kind of toes the line between comedy and drama. Fabio and Lukas’s longing glances alone make Romeos worth renting.
Rent it here.
Also consider these films: Booksmart, Wild Nights with Emily, Appropriate Behavior, and In and Out. For this list, I tried to include as many movies that represent different parts of the LGBTQ+ community (gay, bisexual, questioning, transgender, lesbian, pansexual, etc.) as I could find. However, the world of gay romantic comedies and LGBTQ+ movies is constantly growing, so if I missed some of your favorites, feel free to share them in the comment section.