A good lesbian movie is hard to find, unfortunately. But as streaming services like Netflix become more and more popular, we’re seeing more films that feature lesbian, queer, and bisexual protagonists falling in love, breaking up, or just dancing and singing their way through a Midwestern high school prom. These films give audiences a chance to see characters, who have so often been left off-screen, just living their lives; these characters represent a slice of the population too often ignored by Hollywood.
According to GLAAD’s 2020 Studio Responsibility Index, more LGBTQ+ characters were prominently included in studio-backed feature films last year than any year previous. But lesbian and bisexual representation, specifically, decreased significantly. And the data also proved that the film industry has lengths to go in racial diversity and including queer characters with disabilities. So it’s more important than ever to stream lesbian-centric films, promote their numbers, and open up dialogues on the future of lesbian filmmaking—how it can be even better, more inclusive, and more thought-provoking. To start, check out these lesbian movies currently streaming on Netflix, from Oscar-nominated period films to easy-to-watch rom-coms.
1. 'The Prom'
Ryan Murphy’s big movie musical, adapted from the Broadway show, premiered in December 2020 and has left many singing the bubbly soundtrack since. The star-studded cast includes Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep as Broadway stars who travel to Indiana to advocate for a student who isn’t allowed to take her girlfriend to the senior prom. The dance numbers are glitzy, the songs catchy, and the straight-from-the-headlines plot will be relatable for LBGTQ+ and allied viewers alike.
2. 'The Half of It'
Filmmaker Alice Wu’s outstanding follow-up to her early aughts romcom, Saving Face, received high acclaim when it debuted on Netflix in spring 2020. Set in a small town, this movie follows social loner Ellie Chu who agrees to ghostwrite a jock’s love letter to a girl who Ellie also has a crush on. It’s heartwarming chaos from there on out.
3. 'Duck Butter'
A film that basically takes place in quarantine before many of us knew quarantine was a thing we’d have to do, this indie film from 2018 follows two women who meet at a bar and decide to go through all the stages of an intense romance within just 24 hours. No U-Haul required.
4. 'The Feels'
This mockumentary takes place during a wine country bachelorette weekend for two brides-to-be (Constance Wu and Angela Trimbur). Should that sound too pleasant, don’t worry. It’s not a breezy getaway because, obviously, dual bachelorette drama ensues. You’ll feel like you’re in a group text with all the film’s questionable characters.
5. 'A New York Christmas Wedding'
If you’re eager to take a trip, this queer holiday film is for you. The fantastical plot takes a bride-to-be on a journey alongside her guardian angel who shows her what life could be like if she coupled up with her childhood best friend: a woman who, in real life, died by suicide following a trauma. This film is both genre-less and mind-boggling, but simultaneously entertaining.
6. 'So My Grandma’s a Lesbian'
In this Spanish film, two women in their 70s come out to their families and reveal their plans to get married. It comes as a bit of a shocker—an entertaining shocker—to say the least.
7. 'To Each, Her Own'
A young Jewish woman, Simone, finally feels ready to tell her family that her roommate is, well, more than her roommate. But then she finds herself falling for the male chef at her local lunch spot. It's a French version of the classic bisexual indie film Kissing Jessica Stein but stands on its own as a fun (and controversial) story of a confused queer woman in love.
8. 'A Secret Love'
Produced by Ryan Murphy, this documentary about a former All-American Girls League baseball player named Terry Donahue and her partner, interior designer Pat Henschel, who had a seven-decade love—that they kept a secret from their families the entire time. It’s a beautiful story that celebrates the couple at the center while reminding us of just how far things have come for LGBTQIA+ people in America.
9. 'Elisa & Marcela'
A gorgeous period film about two women in 1901 Spain who want to get married, so one adopts a male identity so they could pose as a heterosexual couple. Based on a true story about the first (well, recorded) same-sex marriage in Spain, it’s a heartwrenching but ultimately very beautiful film about what women had to face to be together not so long ago. It ends with the hopeful postscript about how same-sex marriage was legalized in Spain in 2005.
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