Queer Romance Media For Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day isn’t for everyone. It’s a made-up holiday designed to sell cards and candy. Yet, with reminders of it everywhere you might be in the mood for a RomCom or want to binge watch a series about that big L word; love.

But for us LGBTIQ folk, seeking out representation in movies and TV can be tricky. Firstly, we have a way smaller pool to pick from and we often end up doing mental gymnastics over the cost of this representation, who is it for? Does it pander to the male gaze? Is it stereotypical and reductive? Next thing you know your popcorn is burnt on the stove and you have a hand strain from Netflix scrolling.

To save you the headache we’re going to briefly discuss some of the Queer movies, TV series, and media available for your pop culture enjoyment this Valentine's Day. If you have suggestions to add, share them with us on social media. (Twitter, Facebook)

Movies

  • Rafiki (2018) — Kenya
    Rafiki is a Kenyan drama directed by Wanuri Kahiu. The movie follows Kena, the daughter of a local politician who starts a romance with the daughter of her father's political rival. Bittersweet and beautifully shot, Rafiki was banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board due to the “homosexual content”. The director successfully sued the Kenyan government to allow the film to be screened so it could be eligible for the Academy Awards. As a result, the film has been screened in Nairobi and sold out at every viewing. Unfortunately, it was still not selected as Kenya’s submission in the Foreign Language Film Category for the Academy Awards.  

     

  • A Fantastic Woman (2017) — Chile
    Not strictly a romantic film, but the love in this movie is undeniable. The self-love, self-respect, and resilience portrayed by our protagonist, Marina, is palpable. Marina is played by Daniela Vega Hernandez, a singer, and actress who is also a trans woman, a refreshing change from the onslaught of cis men selected to play trans women on screen. A Fantastic Woman won best foreign language film in the 2018 Academy Awards.

     

  • Pride (2014) — The UK
    This movie is all about love, love for workers rights! Based on true events, this movie is about gay rights activists in the 80s who decide to advocate for the miners who are on strike. They fundraise for them and travel to a mining town in Wales where the locals aren’t sure what to make of their new campaigners. Funny, heartwarming and Welsh accents - a great watch!

     

  • Liz in September (2014) — Venezuelan
    Following the death of her child and finding out her husband is cheating on her, Eva hits the road to escape her grief. After her car breaks down she ends up in a small hotel run by Margot, who is having a celebration with her friends. To Eva’s surprise, Margot and all her friends are lesbians. One of Margot’s friends, Liz, takes an immediate liking to Eva. Over the weekend they become close. Drama ensues!

     

  • Happy Together (1997) — Hong Kong
    Happy together follows Ho Po-wing and Lai Yiu-Fai, a couple from Hong Kong who has had a tough relationship, often breaking up and getting back together. The pair visit Argentina in search of emotional healing. It’s not an easy watch so prepare to cry your little heart out. The film won best director at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival along with many other awards.

     

  • Viva (2015) — Cuba
    Hairdresser and budding drag queen, Jesus, lives in modern-day Havana. One night, as he is performing a man, gets on stage and punches him. This man turns out to be his father who has been in jail for 15 years. Have we reached saturation point on queer movies about parental rejection? Maybe. Does this film justify itself with a nuanced view on an old theme? Yes.

     

  • A Date for Mad Mary (2016) — Ireland
    If you need refuge from disapproving parents and oppressive communities in queer cinema (and to actually LOL), this is the movie for you. Mary has just been released from prison to find her best friend, Charlene, has changed in the interim. Charlene is soon to wed and won’t give Mary a plus one as she probably couldn’t find a boyfriend. Determined to prove Charlene wrong Mary goes to find a date and finds a lot more along the way.


  • Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) — The UK
    Bob Elkin is bi and openly dating both Jewish Doctor, Daniel Hirsh, and divorcee Alex Greville. All parties to this love triangle know about each other and struggle with the impermanence of the situation. For its time, Sunday Bloody Sunday was remarkably progressive in its content and doesn’t want to place Bob as closeted gay as so many films do with bi characters.


  • Moonlight (2016) — USA
    This is split into three chapters; Little, Chiron and Black and tells the story of Chiron growing up in Liberty City, Miami. Chiron is played by a new actor in each chapter as he grows into a man, but yet the story feels fluid throughout. Chiron has a brief moment of romance with his friend Kevin, however, the two are soon torn apart when Kevin punches Chiron in a hazing ritual. Moonlight won the 89th Academy Award for best picture.


  • All About My Mother (1999) — Spain
    Set in Spain, this film is about Manuela, an Argentinian nurse and single mother to Esteban. Following the tragic death of her son, Manuela goes searching for people from her past and ends up befriending trans sex workers, a nun, and an actress. At 20 years old, All About My Mother may feel outdated in its treatment of transgender women, sex workers, and HIV/AIDs. However, while stereotypes are being deployed here, the characters feel very real and their voices in the story are clear and affecting.


TV shows

But if movies aren’t your thing, there are plenty of TV series to binge over the Valentines period.

  • Sugar Rush — Sugar Rush is a lesbian coming of age drama which aired in 2005. And if you go to look for it on Netflix, don’t get your hopes up when you see Sugar Rush the baking show pop up. Many a hopeful queer lady have had their hopes dashed this way.

  • Please Like Me — This Australian dramedy following Josh, a young gay man dealing with coming out, getting a job and his mothers failing mental health. Funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. Also, Hannah Gadsby of Nanette fame is in it!

  • Pose — Set in the 80’s pose follows a bunch of fabulous characters who are in the New York ballroom scene during the AIDs crisis and the violent continuing rise of capitalism. Starring trans actors, and written by trans writers, Pose is an authentic viewing experience like no other.

  • Vida — Two sisters reunite after the death of their mother to find out their mother's long term roommate was actually her wife. Vida explores internalized homophobia, sexual exploration and what it means to be family.

  • One day at a time — If you’ve scrolled past this comedy and thought “meh” give it a second glance because there is more here than meets the eye. It’s a potential spoiler to discuss the LGBTIQ representation in the show, so just watch it already!

  • How to get away with murder — The Shonda Rhimeiest of Shonda Rhimes shows, this dramatic soapy series is half law, half murder; think Ally McBeal has a baby with Law & Order but even sillier than that. Still, the bi representation is very appreciated.  

Webcomics

There is nary (a fancy way of saying “not”) a medium freer than webcomics. There is a webcomic for everyone out there, so if you don’t already have a favorite here’s some to get you started.

  • Always Human — For the Sci-Fi fans out there, Always Human follows two girls in love as they resist being taken over by technology.

  • Rain LGBT — Rain LGBT is about Rain Flaherty, trans girl, and high school student, figuring life out and making friends along the way.

  • Bi-assed — Olivia is bisexual and biracial, and she is sick of all the stupid things people say to her!

  • Comic Fishes — Ghosts and monsters trying to change for the better, and the main character is ace/aro (asexual and aromantic).

  • Tripping over you — Follow Milo and Liam as they muddle through life and love.

  • Rock & Riot — What Grease should have been: a 1950s story about two rival troops and a whole lot of representation.

  • Rat Queens — Not technically a webcomic but we couldn’t *not* mention Rat Queens. A medieval fantasy adventure like no other, we hope you hate gender norms because there are none to be found here!