As Valentine’s Day approaches, many queer-identifying people feel left out when it comes to representation, and not just in romantic movies. Romantic comedies are among the most popular movies for this holiday. Typically, those stories feature love between a man and a woman.
Celebrating queer love and feeling represented on Valentine’s Day is essential to feeling safe and included. Whether single, in a relationship, or dealing with complicated feelings, anyone can enjoy these queer love movies on Valentine’s Day.
1. Carol (2015)
Carol tells the story of one woman (Carol, played by Cate Blanchett) in a loveless marriage and her relationship with Therese (played by Rooney Mara), a department store worker and photographer. The movie was a warm, romantic surprise with a magical score.
2. The Way He Looks (2014)
Looking for something to watch that’s both romantic and inspiring? A blind teenager (Leonardo) sets out to gain more independence and branch out from his everyday life, family, and friends. What happens when he starts to get attention from a new boy at school? Find out in this coming-of-age tale that touches on what life is like for a queer person in the blind community.
3. Happiest Season (2020)
Starring Dan Levy and Kristen Stewart, this Christmas movie follows the character of a woman who invites her girlfriend to meet her family over the holidays. Of course, there are quite a few twists and turns that follow along the way. Although the film garnered mixed reviews, it has many heartwarming elements viewers will enjoy.
4. But I’m a Cheerleader (2000)
This movie follows a young woman whose friends and family believe she’s gay and in need of intervention. Natasha Lyonne stars, and the movie also features Michelle Williams, RuPaul, and Clea DuVall. More sensitive viewers should be aware that this movie touches on some sensitive topics, including conversion therapy, though always with a satirical bend.
5. Love, Simon (2018)
Following the film’s main character, Simon, this movie tells the story of a teenage boy planted firmly in the closet, afraid to make his true identity known to those around him. Unfortunately, Simon finds it challenging to stay closeted.
Viewers will enjoy watching Simon discover more about himself as he becomes interested in someone going by the online pseudonym Blue whom he meets online. Love, Simon was released before the show set in the same world, and with a similar name, Love, Victor, both created by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger.
6. Laurence Anyways (2012)
Viewers have labeled this film a “masterpiece” and “heart-achingly beautiful” as it navigates the heartwarming tale of one person’s journey (Laurence, played by Melvil Poupaud). With visuals that have been called stunning and intense, this film tells a complex and vital story as he chooses to transition and open up to his fiancée Fred (Suzanne Clément) about his choice.
7. Booksmart (2019)
Booksmart is an adorable and modern coming-of-age tale that many young queer people found heartwarming and relatable. Women of all ages said they felt genuinely represented by Amy’s character; one even said it was the lesbian teen representation she’d wanted her entire life. The story explores relatable and complicated topics like teenage anxiety about first experiences and discovering their sexuality while navigating high school.
8. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Written, directed by, and starring John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is one of the most iconic movies that explore queer experiences and themes. A fellow writer and movie-lover at Wealth of Geeks, Michael Pollick, called it his favorite romantic LGBTQIA+ friendly movie, and his choice is absolutely well-justified. He mentioned that John Cameron Mitchell gives a “amazingly nuanced” performance and cited the power of the musical numbers. Michael noted that the film’s final scene captures a feeling many members of the trans community could strongly relate to.
9. Imagine Me & You (2005)
Ol Parker, an English producer, screenwriter, and director, wrote and helmed this picture. It follows the romance of Luce and Rachel and explores controversial themes like infidelity. There are highly mixed reviews of this movie, with many finding it emotional and romantic and others finding it tired as it follows the “same old” script for romance movies, unredeemable by lesbianism.
10. Ma Belle, My Beauty (2021)
This story explores the complexities of a relationship between women and a polyamorous relationship between two women with a romantic history (Bertie and Lane) and Bertie’s husband, Fred. Fans of this movie frequently expressed an appreciation for the summery, soothing atmosphere (set in the beautiful South of France) rather than the plot and story itself.
11. Rafiki (2018)
Homosexuality is forbidden in Kenya, the setting of Rafiki. In fact, Kenya banned this film because it featured two women in love and portrayed the relationship positively. This tale follows the modest relationship between Ziki (played by Sheila Munyiva) and Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) as they pursue their dreams and try not to be seen together.
12. Moonlight (2016)
Moonlight took the world by storm upon release. It follows the main character, Chiron, through three stages of his life as he navigates his identity and sexuality.
The film earned itself a reputation as one of the best films of the 21st century, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor at the 89th Academy Awards after receiving eight nominations. It also received glowing reviews from highly respected critics like Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian. This film also explores themes that may trigger some, such as depictions of emotional and physical abuse.
13. Dating Amber (2020)
What do two young teens do when they're both being bullied, and neither of them is straight? Date each other, apparently. Dating Amber follows the fake affair between these two queer Irish teens (Amber, played by Lola Petticrew) and Eddie (Fionn O’Shea), but the story fell short for some.
14. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2020)
This film immerses an audience in a beautiful story that explores the forbidden romance between two women. Written and directed by Céline Sciamma and set in the late eighteenth century, this French film tells the tale of Marianne, who’s been hired to paint Héloïse’s portrait. Héloïse initially refuses to pose for the portrait, but their relationship develops as she earns her trust.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called it “a superbly elegant, enigmatic drama” that kept him on the edge of his seat.
15. God’s Own Country (2017)
Viewers looking for a movie with a slow burn that grows between two quiet men and tells more than just a love story needn't search further. Johnny (played by Josh O’Connor) and Gheorghe (played by Alec Secăreanu) have rugged demeanors and deeply guarded emotions, making for a wild, messy romance.
16. Call Me By Your Name
Call Me By Your Name, directed by Luca Guadagnino, explores the romantic relationship between 17-year-old (Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (played by Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old graduate student who moved to Italy to learn from Elio’s father. Although the reviews for this film were mostly positive and earned numerous nominations and awards, many people felt the age gap and power dynamic between the two were problematic.
17. In a Heartbeat (2017)
The story follows a shy boy (Sherwin) hiding his crush on another boy (Jonathan). Although this animated short, directed and written by Esteban Bravo and Beth David, is not a full-length film, it deserves to be included. Put this on while deciding what to watch next or as a palate cleanser between queer romance movies.
18. Badhaai Do (2022)
Bollywood films rarely tackle topics such as lavender marriages, and this film took many people by surprise. Unfamiliar with the concept of a lavender marriage? It will shock viewers to learn how common it is for gay men and lesbians to get married for the sake of convenience and to avoid judgment or disapproval from their families.
Badhaai Do tackles complicated topics sensitively, including the sense of loneliness that queer people feel when they’re unable to talk to their families openly about their identity and sexuality.
19. Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
This film tells the love story between Adèle (played by Adèle Exarchopoulos) and Emma (played by Léa Seydoux) as Adèle discovers and explores her sexual identity.
Unfortunately, a controversy that has affected director Abdellatif Kechiche overshadowed the original release. Regardless of the controversy surrounding the director, the movie earned numerous awards nominations and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language.
20. Ammonite (2020)
Kate Winslet’s performance in this lesbian drama has been called one of her most powerful. This movie is breathtaking, from the seaside setting to the forbidden romance. Starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, it received mixed reviews.
21. Disobedience (2017)
Looking queer romance movies that tackle deeper topics, such as a queer romance within the Orthodox Jewish community? In many religious communities, queer relationships and attraction are kept secret, which can be a significant source of conflict and struggle for those involved.
The tale follows the budding romance between Ronit (Rachel Weisz) and Esti (Rachel McAdams), long-time friends whose relationship develops into something more.
22. The Handmaiden (2016)
Although more a thriller, it will take movie enthusiasts on a wildly enjoyable ride. Directed and co-written by Park Chan-wook, it tells the suspenseful, sensual story of a relationship that develops between a Korean pickpocket (Sook-hee) and a wealthy and elegant Japanese heiress (Lady Hideko).
23. Weekend (2011)
Looking for a modern gay romance to watch on Valentine's Day? Check out Weekend, a slice-of-life movie that follows two men who set out for what they expect to be a one-night stand (or a weekend fling) and instead find an unexpected romantic connection. The acting and dialogue play so realistic that audiences may forget they're watching a fictional movie.
24. The Thing About Harry (2020)
Plenty of people watch Lifetime or Hallmark romance movies and wish they made more films featuring queer or gay couples. The Thing About Harry makes a perfect Valentine's Day watch. Why? It comforts as it explores the romance between two young men who were rivals in high school as they reunite later in life.