Kristen Stewart says she was unfazed by having to get naked on camera while filming scenes for French director Olivier Assayas’ indie film, Personal Shopper.
Talking to W Magazine, she said the attitudes towards sex and nudity on screen differ greatly in the US, where people are much more “weird” and “precious” about both.
I wasn’t apprehensive. I feel super great with director Olivier [Assayas], as well. The scenes in which I don’t have clothes on or the scenes that seem ‘risqué’ from an outsider’s perspective, there was no acknowledgement on his part.
They’re very f**king French. We are weirder about shit like that. You kind of have to take yourself personally out of it. My personal feeling about that is that I’m really unashamed. […] it’s kind of nice to see someone stripped and bare, totally bare. There’s a strength in it.”
Stewart was pleased with the sex scene in the film, describing how its “rawness” only served to depict her character with more depth.
I think people are way, way, way too precious about that. It is precious, that’s probably the wrong word to use. I still want women’s bodies and the way they want to reveal them, it should be a precious thing, I don’t want to de-sexualise it in some way. But at the same time, I’m not weird about it. I’m pretty open. I think people are a little too f**king weird about it, to be honest, but that’s kind of why I was like, ‘I’ll do it.’”
The last few years have been incredible, as far as queer representation in the media goes. There has been a huge surge in the number of LGBT-themed movies and TV shows lately – and, much to everyone’s delight, they’ve actually been pretty good. One of the greatest things about this surge is that the LGBT youth of today doesn’t have to turn to The L Word and Queer as Folk for all their gay media. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those two shows, of course, but… they’re not exactly great examples of the everyday queer experience.)
Looking to watch something inspiring your next date night? The following movies all have relatable storylines and realistic LGBT characters (including, of course, the ones who never really thought of themselves as LGBT before the events in the film).
Do you have any more we should add? Let us know in the comments and we’ll check them out as soon as we can!
When Michal Vinik started casting for Barash/Blush, she knew she wanted to portray a “certain truth [she] didn’t see other places”. She spent months casting the characters, because she wanted to make sure they were portrayed authentically – which meant using real lesbian actresses. The resulting film was an almost-standard coming-of-age lesbian drama. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but this one happens to have a strong sociopolitical climate as its backdrop.
In modern Tel Aviv (which happens to be the most gay-friendly city in the world), an angsty, rebellious teen girl from a bickering home life falls in love with the new girl at school. Thankfully, Vinik wanted to rewrite her own history – one in which she was not “out” as a teenager – so these girls happen to live in a playground of queer possibility. Between the front-and-center romance and the back-burner tensions at home, these girls learn to navigate their world around one another, and learn to lean on each other for support when things get rough (or just plain weird).
While most of us don’t actually live in Tel Aviv, we all exist in places where love and acceptance are often intertwined with hate and fear – and this movie delicately dances the lines between the two. However, contrary to most queer movies we see, the hate and fear aren’t based around the characters’ sexuality, per se, but rather Barash’s sister’s love for a Palestinian man – a romance that has been all-but-forbidden for over a century.
Naz & Maalik (2015)
With the increasing tension and pressure faced by the Muslim community in America (and the increasing denial of homophobia, too), it’s inspiring for me to see a film that examines the cross-section of Islamophobia and homophobia so close to my home. (Okay, so Brooklyn isn’t super close to me, but I did spend time in New York when I was a teenager, and that’s what counts, right?)
In Jay Dockendorf’s fiction debut, the characters of Naz and Maalik are closeted Muslims living in Brooklyn, whose secret relationship with one another catches the attention of the FBI. With the heightened state of security since the “War on Terror” started, as well as the secrecy that Naz and Maalik rely on for their survival, it’s not hard to imagine how things can get out of hand pretty fast.
Naz & Maalik has received mixed reviews from IMDb users, but it exists as one of few realistic representations of queer Muslim life in the United States. Whether you’re a Muslim-American yourself or you’re just trying to understand what struggles they face, Naz and Maalik is worth watching at least once.
Girls Lost (2015)
This one is a bit different than any of the movies I’ve personally seen, but in a way that makes it all the more relatable. (Well, if you happen to be a nerd for all things supernatural, like I am.) This film revolves around three friends, who are all relentlessly tormented in school. They often find themselves hanging out in the greenhouse of one of the girls, but then everything changes when they receive that magical seed…
Even though this movie is, at its forefront, about using magic to overcome your obstacles, it also gives a delicate look at gender navigation and sexism as it pertains to teenagers. Sex, drugs, and cruelty take their toll on the girls, and although it’s not exactly the gentlest look at trans male aggression I’ve seen, it does offer up three (six?) characters that are definitely worth fighting for.
Girls Lost is based on a Swedish YA novel (Pojkarna, Jessica Shiefauer), but the way it appears on the screen is magical and poignant. It actually makes me wish I could read Swedish, because the book is almost always better than the movie – and this movie is pretty good already.
Sworn Virgin (2015)
In a mountain village in northern Albania, girls face a cruel fate – being kidnapped and blindfolded as they’re taken to their new husbands for a life of servitude. Desperate to escape that fate, Hana takes the vow of burrnesha, which says that she will live a life of eternal celibacy, in exchange for the ability to live her life as a man. This is a story about being caught between two realities – in this case, Hana’s curiosity toward the sex she swore off, as well as the man that she became.
Elegantly told through two intertwining linear storylines, Sworn Virgin offers a rarely-seen glimpse into the world of detransitioning and the additional struggles that people face when making this type of a transition. These are the stories that are often used by LGBT dissenters to deny rights to transgender men and women – these are the stories we need to get more educated about, in order to be better allies.
In her directorial debut, Laura Bispuri carefully crafted this film based on the book Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones. While the book and the movie have different settings and specifics, it’s important to realize that real-life sworn virgins do exist. Dones has also filmed a documentary about the burrnesha vows in Albania.
In the queer community, there are certain expectations we have for ourselves and one another. Lesbians watching other lesbians on TV or the big screen? Definitely lands pretty close to the top of the list. Since (realistic) representation is still a pretty new thing for us, we end up settling for whatever we can find – and Hollywood knows this.
They know that they can feed us terrible excuses for lesbian love, and we’re going to eat it up anyway. Queer-baiting seems to be happening more and more, and despite knowing that the stereotypes we see are Hollywood’s stereotypes – not our own – we watch anyway. We signal boost these horrible shows and movies on social media, often with a disclaimer that we’ve been “hate-watching” them (but not always).
Interested in watching a lesbian movie that doesn’t suck? We’ve got you covered!
All Over Me (1994, English)
Let me preface this movie’s introduction by saying… I love Leisha Hailey. I have ever since The L Word. But if you want to see a glimpse of her before she got huge, All Over Me shows her in fun, cute, punk style – which resonates pretty strong with me because I was, in fact, a little bit pop-punk as a teenager. (I’m talking Crayola-colored hair and a doorknocker hanging from my nostril, with those pants that had a million chains hanging from them that most of us are ashamed to admit we used to have…)
This movie wasn’t billed as a lesbian love story, although there are a number of queer or questioning characters. It was marketed as a story of friendship, and this is something I’d actually like to see more of – why does every lesbian film have to be a romantic drama? Why can’t we have more lesbian movies that don’t require sex to get your attention?! OK… Rant over.
Even if you aren’t into the whole idea, the fact that one of the main characters happens to fall in love with her straight BFF is something that rings true for most of us – that one girl you can’t really get over, despite knowing that it was never really going to happen. Hey – maybe sometimes it does.
Bound (1996, English)
If you’re looking for a film with lesbians in it that’s not a “lesbian film”, Bound is probably exactly what you’ve been looking for. Officially, this is a suspense film, with one of the writer-slash-producers being a trans lesbian – we love to see diversity in our movies, and it’s wonderful that this film does that for us.
Bound centers around a lesbian ex-con and her secret lover – played by the beautiful Jennifer Tilly – as they make their way through things. One of our favorite things about this movie, however, is that the gay characters don’t feel forced, nor is their gay-ness the center of attention. (Although, there are some pretty steamy love scenes, which we definitely appreciate – since they’re done tastefully).
While the writer-slash-producers didn’t want the homosexuality to be the main focus of the film, it was important for them that the character be a lesbian, and a realistic one. When the studios told them to change Gina Gershon’s character to a man, they declined – “that movie’s been made a million times”. More than just that, they hired a feminist sex educator to make sure that the love scenes were actually realistic – making this movie a huge accomplishment for the queer community at large.
Fucking Amal/Show Me Love (1998, Swedish)
This movie is inarguably one of the greatest examples of lesbian movies that don’t suck – it actually beat Titanic’s opening sales when it was released. This is a giant accomplishment, as there are not many queer-themed movies that receive the attention they deserve.
This movie centers around the realistic interpretation of high-school confusion. The leading characters come from different backgrounds, which we do see a lot of, but in this representation, the realism is very real. On the one hand, we have Ellin, who faces a great deal of homophobia from her friends. On the other hand, we have Agnes, whose mother says that a lesbian is “a perfectly normal woman who just happens to fall in love with another woman”.
It is nice to see a movie that shows both sides of the picture – so many movies center either on acceptance or discrimination, but not both. Of course, you will have to deal with subtitles if you don’t speak Swedish, but that’s ok – this movie is well worth it.
Gia (1998, English)
Another based-on-a-true-story movie about a queer character, played by someone who catapulted into the hearts (and sexual fantasies) of almost every lesbian ever, Gia tells the tale of “America’s first supermodel”. Gia Carangi was a fashion model who happened to be a lesbian, struggling with a drug addiction that led to her eventual death from AIDS. It’s not too often that we hear of female AIDS victims (although they do exist!), so the attention was much appreciated.
One of the things that sets this movie apart is that it’s actually done in “mockumentary” style – but without the satire the label usually implies. Sprinkled with real-life journal pages (from the real Gia) and interviews from her closest confidants, as well as passionate sex scenes starring Angelina Jolie.
If you haven’t yet seen Gia, you should try to find it and watch it as soon as possible – but don’t be surprised when you cry. Hey, there’s no shame in that!
High Art (1998, English)
This is one that hits a little close to home for me – drug use is a very real problem, especially in the queer community. (I also happened to be an assistant at a photography company, which – while not exactly the same as the job held by the leading lady – is pretty close.) I have yet to actually watch this one, but the trailer is breathtaking and makes me want to watch it like right now. (Maybe I’ll grab it on payday.)
This movie focuses on the power of ambition – what would you do to get ahead? There’s this stereotype that drug users don’t have ambition, and this movie helps to prove that that’s not necessarily the case – sometimes, an addiction is just an addiction, and while it might alter your motivations, it probably won’t completely get rid of your drive. It all comes at a cost, though, and for those who have yet to experience the gripping power of a drug addiction, hopefully this movie will help you see that drugs are never the right answer. They don’t solve your problems; they just distract you from them for a while.
Biggest takeaway from this movie’s description: Drugs are bad, lesbians are good, and ambition is everything. Which sounds an awful lot like my life story, too… Hmm. Coincidence?
But I’m a Cheerleader! (1999, English)
This movie was the very first lesbian film that I ever watched – and it has owned a special place in my heart ever since. This movie follows Graham and Megan (played by Clea DuVall and Natasha Lyonne, respectively) as they navigate the waters of a conversion therapy camp – something that is unfortunately still a real thing.
For those of us who never faced this type of disapproval from our families, this movie might not seem the most realistic, as it deals with obvious camp and over-eccentric straightwashing of the gay community. However, for those who live with societally-enforced gender norms and exclusion from their families based purely on their sexuality, this movie resonates even stronger – sometimes, the easiest way to deal with a difficult situation is to poke fun at it.
More than just the great storyline (and totally believable love story – yay!), we’ve got fun colors (girly pink and boyish blue – of course) that paint a picture reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands and Barbie. However, the movie received an NC-17 rating originally – due to its portrayal of homosexual activities – which was financially damaging and took it right out of the hands that needed it the most: The teens who are actually living in the world that the movie portrays. It was later edited and re-released with an R rating, but it’s still not fair that the MPAA chooses to rate gay sex as more offensive than straight sex. (Us gays don’t exactly agree.)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999, English)
This movie was a huge pinnacle in the trans community, as one of the first representations that wasn’t outright offensive, and it even has a familiar face playing the lead. Of course, it received a bit of backlash because there’s a non-trans-actor playing a trans role, but Hillary Swank did a great job at presenting the character as he really was. Often mistakenly labeled as a “lesbian movie”, this is no such thing – like a few other “lesbian movies”, the character is only presumed to be a lesbian. The truth is, trans characters are not necessarily gay characters, even though they do share some similar challenges.
This movie is based on a true story, which always makes it a bit more relatable – Brandon Teena was a real person, a transman in a conservative Nebraska town who was raped and killed after some jerks found out that he was born anatomically female. This movie (and the events that inspired it) took place before trans issues reached the mainstream airwaves, but it helped pave the way for the events that would come.
It’s very artfully done, and even if you don’t think you care about trans issues, this movie will prove to you otherwise. It’s going to rip at your heartstrings and expose you to issues that either you thought you faced alone, or that you never knew existed.
If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000, English)
Here is another one I haven’t seen yet, but it surrounds a magical house that turns all of its inhabitants into lesbians. (No, not really – but there are three sets of lesbians who happen to live in the same house.) Just like the original If These Walls Could Talk, the stories are connected by the house itself, although it spans three separate eras.
According to the description I found, this movie covers pretty much every important issue facing the lesbian community – the dynamics of butch-femme relationships, pregnancy in the lesbian community, hospital visitation rights, and (of course) sex. And it stars Ellen Degeneres (our collective lesbian mama) as well as some other pretty big names. Basically, it’s an in-depth look at the lesbian community, with an actual lesbian writer (Anne Heche, who we all know was dating Ellen at the time).
This movie probably isn’t perfect (although I don’t know for sure, since I haven’t seen it) but it does offer insight to those who think they might be alone – and sometimes, that’s all we need.
D.E.B.S. (2004, English)
Okay, I was turned onto D.E.B.S. when I was in high school, by this woman I was dating at the time – she was absolutely in love with Jordana Brewster and I really can’t say that I blame her. We ended up breaking up after she told me about it, but before I’d actually watched it, so I had this totally unfair reason to reject the movie entirely and didn’t actually watch it until like 5 years later. (What can I say? I hold grudges sometimes.)
For those who don’t have some unfair grudge against this movie, you’ll be delighted to know that it’s full of campy fun and freaking spies – it’s not often you see lesbian spies, but I want to see them more because… Well, spies are sexy, and lesbians are sexy, so lesbian spies are twice as sexy, obviously.
For a low-budget lesbian film, this movie actually blew me away. All too often lesbian movies are forced into independent production because the mainstream media just isn’t ready for it yet – but thankfully we’re getting there these days. It is a bit cheesy, but that’s part of its charm.
Saving Face (2005, English/Mandarin)
Saving Face offers up a not-often-seen look into the world of lesbian characters that don’t just scream “super gay” – dealing with more than just “lesbian issues”, while still presenting a fair view of the struggles involved with the lesbian community. It’s also a benchmark for Asian-American lesbians – the first movie of its kind about the particular subculture of the invisible lesbian community.
While I could never pretend to understand the specific challenges that face someone from a different cultural background, this movie is sure to receive praise from those who do see themselves reflected in the main characters. Sweet, shy Wil is a doctor who works her butt off to prove that she deserves to be promoted to head of surgery. Then, she falls in love with the daughter of the man who’s currently holding the position: The gorgeous dancer, Vivian. Oh, and did I mention that Wil’s mother ends up moving in with her? Talk about awkward!
Saving Face is one of those rarities that presents an awkward situation without making it excessively awkward, and for that it receives all our praise. If you haven’t had the chance to check this one out, definitely do – you won’t regret it!
Of course, there are more lesbian movies that are sure to blow your mind, but these ten should hold you over for now. Do you have any more movies you think we should check out? Leave them in the comments!
Queer movies have a complicated place in our hearts. On the one hand, there are queer characters, who promise to fill some deep void we have when looking for relatable fiction characters. But, on the other hand, there are so many problems with so, so many of these movies.
Most of them have terrible stories that we keep eating up just because we’re so desperate to be included. So much of the world still pretends we don’t even exist – even in forward-thinking, first-world countries.
When it comes to film and television representation, there isn’t a lot to choose from – even still. While lesbian relationships are widely becoming a more mainstream topic, that still doesn’t exactly mean that we can feel totally comfortable discussing things openly.
Case in point? Lesbian movies on Netflix.
Okay, so there are a few good ones out there, and we definitely appreciate those ones. But more often, we come across a movie that we know is not even remotely relatable to actual lesbian life.
But there are boobs. And girls kissing other girls. And… Well, boobs.
So we watch them, because we have to watch them. (You can actually have your Lesbianism revoked if you don’t binge-watch any media with queer subtext, so make sure you’re keeping up.) But we don’t really like ourselves afterward.
What are your least favorite lesbian movies?
Kissing Jessica Stein
This movie probably drew you in because, hello, kissing a woman is literally in the title of the movie, so it’s got to be good, right? The only problem is that these characters are really annoying. We want to watch movies that seem relatable – and if you can’t like the characters, you can’t get into the plot (even though it’s actually not bad). Top that off with the preachy tone it starts to develop throughout the course of the movie, and this is one that you’ll probably rewatch parts of, but skip others. Hey, you can’t win ‘em all.
As both a lesbian and a writer, I find myself drawn toward kindred spirits. (I feel like I was probably the only person ever who loved Jenny Schecter – although I can’t say I agreed with all her choices.)
When I heard about a lesbian movie that tells the tale of the original lesbian icon – the poet Sappho – it seemed like it was going to be great.
The whole thing is gorgeous, too, from casting choices to scenery. But the story is so predictable that, by the time you realize it, it’s an hour and a half later and you know exactly nothing new. (But, then again, gorgeous movie – maybe there’ll be something when you watch it again…
You Will Be Mine
First off, what is it about lesbian romance movies where they draw you in with women crawling all over each other on the cover? I mean, it works, but it feels a little manipulative after a while. But these actresses are gorgeous, and the score is pretty gorgeous too. Unfortunately, the story fell a little flat, as you can actually predict every twist and turn. This movie is all about a dysfunctional lesbian relationship, which is something we just can’t get fully on-board with.
Room in Rome
This is one of those movies where you’ll probably want to pretend you were watching it for totally artistic reasons. After all, it’s two naked women, in a hotel room, in Rome… Obviously, there are certain things involved. But the fact that it’s subtitled means you’re going to have to pick between following the plot or… Well, staring at boobs. We’ve got a pretty good idea what most of you are going to pick.
Therese and Isabelle
An old black-and-white lesbian romance film, you say? And it’s set at a boarding school, which releases all those inner schoolgirl fantasies, too. (Oh, don’t pretend you haven’t thought about it.) But this is an older movie, so the love scenes are pretty tame. The overall story follows the predictable “men-suck-let’s-be-lesbians” route, too, which is always a little disappointing.
Lost and Delirious
Piper Perabo and Mischa Barton. Need I say more? These two women are sexy, and they’re already almost kissing on the cover so you know it’s going to be good. But this one is a big sob-fest… so you’re only going to want to watch it on those days you just need to let it all out. Cuddle up with a pint (beer or ice cream – your choice) and cry it out between long, loving stares at Piper Perabo.
More women crawling all over each other? OK, if you insist… And the actresses actually have an undeniable chemistry. This movie deals with the whole teacher/student fantasy dynamic, like we’ve seen in Loving Annabelle. The problem with Bloomington is that the sexiness is lacking when the relationship starts developing a mother/daughter complex – making it super creepy and awkward.
Lesbians. Not only that, but French lesbians. This one just oozes with the possibility of romance. Then, teen angst comes in and almost ruins the show. Thankfully, this one isn’t one of the worst offenders on this list, and it’s pretty short, too – so you’re not likely to regret the time spent watching it.
Okay, so, I love Melanie Lynsky – and Kate Winslet isn’t so bad, either. So then we get into this one: Two girls with this super-secret fantasy life and mean parents who want to keep them apart. (That’s not exactly what happened, but you’ll figure that one out on your own.) Anyway, this one is bad in such a good way, because it’s actually horrific and based on a true story – which is even more chilling.
What are your favorite lesbian movie guilty pleasures?
Of course, we’re always looking for new lesbian representation in movies and TV. It’s understandable that some of these are going to be really, really bad, and we can’t even justify to ourselves why we watch them. Which ones are yours? I might have to check them out for myself!
I am a sucker for sad movies. I like to pretend that I don’t sit around watching tear-jerking movies and eating popcorn, but… Well, that pretty much sums up my weekend.
Make the main characters gay and it’s even worse. I mean, sad stories are sad stories, and all, but it’s always a little harder when you can see a piece of yourself in the cast. (Which of course means that, if they’re just a bit snarky – like Graham in But I’m a Cheerleader! – I cry like a baby.)
But for some reason, it seems like queer movies are just inherently sad. Even in the super campy ones, someone gets their heart smashed to pieces, and my poor little sarcastic heart gets squished a little, too. Half the time I stick with straight romances because, well, they’re a little easier on my makeup. What is it that makes them so sad?
It’s not just the movies, either. Remember how much pain you felt watching The L Word? No spoilers for those who have yet to experience the rite of passage that is binge-watching all six seasons, but trust me… I think each of us felt emotionally connected to at least one of those characters, even if we didn’t have anything actually in common with them.
I think some of the pain has to do with how infrequently we actually see realistic lesbian pairings in the media. When we find a show that makes us seem real, we start to feel more real ourselves.
As someone whose sexuality is questioned by others on a regular basis, it’s comforting for me to see a picture of myself on the screen, so to speak.
Good lesbian movies don’t rely on the stereotypes that we often see played out in straight romance movies. Even though there are some similarities, we have our own dynamic, and we don’t always do things the same way. There’s nothing wrong with that – that’s just how we are.
Men and women are understandably different, so the approaches necessary when dealing with women are (understandably) different than when dealing with men.
Even though I’m sure of my sexuality now, there are a great deal of lesbian movies that deal with at least one of the main character being completely unsure about who she is. I’m not sure how it stands for people who knew they were gay at an early age, but that’s not who I am.
Seeing a woman start to question things even though she’s with a guy who should be perfect for her reminds me of the days of my own uncertainty – and I can relate.
Aside from relatability, though, what is it that makes lesbian movies so damn sad?! It pains me to think it’s just us living into the heteronormative stereotype that women are emotional creatures… And besides, I’ve met some women who definitely didn’t show much emotion ‘till the end of something sappy.
What do you think – are lesbian movies sadder, or do we just connect more deeply with the characters? Let us know in the comments!
The lesbian community is rife with stereotypes and clichés. As much as they may hold true in the actual, real life world, they’re usually not based on solid facts, but rather what sells movies. Often, these movies aren’t even written by actual lesbians, but by the men who think that lesbians are cool.
(Which, we totally are, but that’s not the point.)
If you have yet to come out, and you’ve been relying on lesbian movies to paint a picture of what lesbians are like, here are some things that usually don’t happen in the real world.
1. A coffee shop is the best place to talk about your feelings.
OK, so there’s this cliché amongst lesbians in general that there is going to be a lot of talk about feelings. I guess it’s because we’re women, and women have a lot of overflowing emotions, or something like that. Oh – and we love to talk. If we don’t, are we really women?
Hopefully the sarcasm in that last paragraph was apparent. Not all women love to talk. Sure, many do, but why is a coffee shop the chosen locale to talk about these feelings?
It’s quieter than a bar, so there’s that. There’s less of a chance of messed-up inhibitions than a bar, too, although coffee can definitely have an intoxicating effect if you haven’t had nearly enough sleep. But, realistically speaking, your chats are probably better if kept in the privacy of your home – strangers don’t need to know all your business.
2. If you’d rather dwell on your feelings, a walk through the forest is a good choice.
Maybe I’m a bit cynical on this one, because I grew up in areas where it really wasn’t safe to walk alone. (I mean, I still do a lot of walking by myself to clear my head, so maybe this cliché isn’t so far off.) But in lesbian movies, the pensive protagonist will often go for a walk in the woods or another private-like area to empty her mind from all the stressors and confusion of Lesbian Life.
An important step that’s sometimes skipped when this is portrayed in a movie, however, is that you do actually need to talk about your feelings once you’ve got them narrowed down. Your partner (or prospective partner) isn’t going to automatically know what’s on your mind, and in most cases, she should.
(And also, walking at night by yourself is really not safe some places, especially for lesbians – make sure you’re being careful, please! And at least let someone know where you’ll be, just in case something comes up.)
3. Lesbians like to bathe together while talking about things.
There’s something about two women talking nakedly about their feelings and troubles. We see this a lot in movies, and while it’s a nice change of pace from – say, sex scenes that focus on “nudity means sex”, if you’ve ever actually tried to have a chat in the bath tub, chances are you know it doesn’t work out so well.
If you and the woman you are attracted to are bathing together, it’s almost always got sexual undertones. Plus, it’s sort of awkward in most bath tubs – they’re really only built for one person. The idea of having sex in the bath tub (or a long, intimate talk) are all fine and dandy when there’s a makeup artist there to make sure the actress looks her best at all times – but the steamy nature will mess up your hair. The slippery surfaces will mess up your game. And what could be more distracting than boobs?
If you can actually have a serious talk while naked with your partner, I envy you. I’ve had it happen a few times, but it’s definitely the exception more than the rule. You shouldn’t expect that every naked chat is going to go according to plan – especially if you’ve got a massaging showerhead at your disposal.
4. Lesbians like swimming together – and it usually leads to sexual tension.
This is one of those things that we just know was thought up by a straight man. The idea that two women who are both attracted to women will definitely end up in a body of water, either completely nude or scantily-clad plays on the idea that “wet” automatically means sexy. This isn’t always the case. Have you ever seen a cat stuck out in the rain?
The act of swimming itself is often chosen to represent the metaphorical cleansing that is done by the power of love – or something like that. Truly, it’s usually an excuse to strip down the actresses without making it seem “gratuitous”. After all, sexuality (when expressed non-sexually) is a beautiful thing, and it’s nice to be able to embrace those things.
Really, though, most movies will use this as a segue into sexual tension. After all, a naked (or half-naked woman) who is literally dripping wet will automatically activate the parts of the brain that say she’s ready to go. While it’s important to realize that these two things aren’t mutually exclusive, the connection is easy to understand – but you shouldn’t expect it to be a part of lesbianism in a broad sense. But if you can talk your new boo into skinnydipping with you, it is a lot of fun – just make sure you don’t get arrested!
5. If the girl doesn’t get the girl, she’s going to die, tragically.
The high-concept death is seen so often in romantic movies that we don’t really associate it with lesbians in particular, but it seems that we are a little more prone to this type of death than other sexualities. This death can’t be something simple, though – it’s got to be much bigger than that.
In a way, this is done as a sort of comfort. If you haven’t found your soul mate, maybe she’s just been hit by a bus. OK, so that’s not the most romantic way to put it, but not every story has a happy ending, and when the not-so-happy ending is tragic and unexpected, it makes for better movie sales.
Don’t believe me? Ask a group of Titanic fans whether they think Jack would have fit on the raft or not. There are going to be worlds of assumptions here, ranging from people who think that he definitely would have fit (he and Rose were both thin, after all) to those who think that he had to die (two people on the raft, shivering and what have you, would definitely have sunk it). Which one is right? Only the director knows for sure.
In any gay-or-lesbian themed movies, there are implied methods of offing one of your main characters. Things such as the suicide rate for in-the-closet homosexuals give way for an easy method of killing off a character that everyone fell in love with. And since we usually love sad, sappy endings (and have since the dawn of time – or at least the dawn of the theater), sales are better if the audience cries. True story.
6. Two women who hate each other will eventually have sex.
I don’t know why this is the case in so many lesbian movies. It seems like the more the women are at each other’s throats, the more likely they’re going to have sex later on. This can lead some of us to mistakenly think that we’re falling for the women we really do hate – and hate-sex is usually a bad choice.
This is especially true since the brain releases oxytocin, a bonding chemical, during orgasm. This means that if you have sex with someone you hate, you probably will start to fall for them – which isn’t usually a healthy step. Try to remember the reasons you hate them, and maybe just picture them naked when you’re pleasuring yourself.
If you do find yourself having sex with someone you don’t get along with, you’re not totally doomed. Usually, we can rationalize better a little while after an orgasm than we can when we’re sexually frustrated, so it’s possible that the sex will actually work to remind you why they’re wrong for you. If that’s not the case, maybe some self-persuasion is in order. Hate plus sex does not equal love.
7. When in the presence of an Ultimate Lesbian, straight girls will magically become gay.
In most lesbian movies, the protagonist will identify as heterosexual for her whole life. Often she will be in a committed relationship with a man, sometimes even engaged to be married (Imagine Me & You immediately comes to mind). Then, suddenly, a super-hot lesbian will come along and BAM, the straight protagonist will suddenly be gay – or at the very least, she’ll cheat on her man with this new woman.
When bi-curious women watch these movies, they get the impression that cheating on their husband or boyfriend is OK, as long as it’s with a girl. Sometimes, the men they’re with will even agree to these terms, but it really needs to be discussed beforehand. Cheating is bad, regardless of the gender you cheat with, and if you don’t have explicit permission from your partner, you are cheating.
When young lesbians watch these movies, they might get the idea that sexuality is always to be questioned. The truth is, it is meant to be questioned – but not by outsiders. It’s important to question your own sexuality, but questioning someone else’s is no different than questioning their overall identity. It’s rude, and presumes that you know more about them than they know about themselves. Even if it’s true, just stop before you do something ridiculous.
8. Retro and indie music are the only things you need for a good soundtrack.
OK, this isn’t a bad cliché, because often indie and retro music is a great choice. But why is it that all lesbian movies seem to follow this rule? Maybe it has something to do with the lack of good lesbian music out there. (Note: There’s not actually a lack of it – it just gets less mainstream attention than heterosexual love songs. We’re working to collect lists of the best lesbian-themed-and-produced songs, but that’s still a work in progress, for now.)
I get it, though. Really, I do. Music is really important for a lot of people, myself included, and often we can feel slighted if our lesbian movies have totally heterosexual soundtracks. Most of us “adopt” straight songs and use them for our own benefit (I had an ex who used Usher as a reference for her pick-up game), but it’s always a joy to find a song that suits your exact specifications – without having to swap genders in the song.
(For what it’s worth, I really want someone to “gay up” the songs I heard in my childhood. If we could get a lesbian covering *NSYNC and a gay man covering early Britney Spears, my heart would be so happy. If this already exists, I would be eternally grateful to the first person to slap a link in the comments!)
9. Lesbian movies are, generally, horrible.
Lesbian movies don’t often get the mainstream attention they deserve. It was briefly addressed in the final season of The L Word – making “too gay” of a movie will alienate many of the straight viewers. Thankfully, I think that’s starting to turn around a bit, but if you inject too much gayness into a movie, it’s likely to lose a lot of its potential following.
So, we end up settling for movies directed by new directors with little experience, or by those who never wanted to direct in the first place, but were disappointed in the lack of good lesbian movies… So they tried their hand at making it better. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. When will someone finally appeal to the leaders of Hollywood and demand a blockbuster lesbian film?!
OK, so this is changing a bit these days, thankfully. Most queer movies don’t win awards, at least not outside of the independent circuits. This is fine, because most lesbians are going to watch them anyway, but wouldn’t it be great if we had a gay Academy Award year – one where gay movies were actually honored for their true value? Sigh. A girl can dream.
Are there any stereotypes and cliches that we forgot? Drop them in the comments!
Have you ever noticed that after crying your eyes out watching a real tearjerker, you suddenly feel slightly exhilarated?
Well, it turns out you’re not the only one. Scientists in the Netherlands tested the effect of crying during particularly emotional films, and they discovered that it can actually have a positive effect on our emotions.
A group of 60 adults were asked to watch two seriously weepy films, La Vita E Bella and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. The participants’ emotions were then charted for the hours after the films were switched off.
Those who shed a tear during the films (28 out of 60) felt sad initially, but experienced a positive change in emotion around 90 minutes later. As for those who didn’t cry, their mood remained unchanged.
Leading author Dr Asmir Gracanin of the University of Tilburg, explained
“After the initial deterioration of mood following crying, it takes some time for the mood not only to recover but also to be lifted above the levels at which it had been before the emotional event.”
So, if you’re in the mood for a good weepy film after reading this, here are a few lesbian classics we can always count on to have us in floods…
1. The Children’s Hour
Really you just weep for all the lesbos in the 60s who had this as their one and only lesbian movie.
2. Lost & Delirious
This is one of the most depressing coming out films you’ll ever watch. Tear and tissues required.
In my brain, the movie begins when she’s topless by the gate. If you start the movie there and stop it before she gets on the plane, you’d be a lot happier. She’s way emotional and needy. Like an orphan kitten. An orphan kitten who does drugs. There’s no greater hope in the end, just a beautiful woman who’s dead. And happens to be queer.
Powerful film about a tragic life. After you watch this film, you’ll be left pretty blue.
5. Boys Don’t Cry
The epic depression brought on by Boys Don’t Cry is multi-layered. If you know the story even before watching the movie and you think you’re prepared? No, you aren’t. Also, it’s CALLED Boys Don’t Cry! So even if you’re a girl or an otherwise-gendered-or-not-person, you’re already thinking about whether or not you’re gonna cry.
Did you watch the Oscars last month? I didn’t, not because I don’t love a good celebrity shindig – especially when there are cameras and copious amounts of alcohol involved – but because if I wanted to see a mostly white, mostly male group of people in power award other mostly white people then I would turn on the news or simply look at the world around me.
In an awards season where Dear White People took on the issue of white people, black culture and racial microaggressions, when Selma looked at the civil rights movement and countless other films about people of colour captivated audiences, the Academy (the group of people who decides who is nominated for and who wins at the Oscars) conveniently engaged its ‘whites only’ tunnel vision.
Despite all of the astonishing achievements of by actors of colour in Hollywood in the past year, not a single actor of colour was even nominated in the lead or supporting categories. It’s one thing to snub actors of colour but to not even invite them to the party? Hollywood, that’s cold.
The conversation that the controversy has created has been great, however. #OscarsSoWhite trended on Twitter and critics and and moviegoers alike have all being asking the question of ‘why’ and also ‘how’ of Hollywood’s stark whiteness.
The why can be answered with ‘Hollywood is racist’, as despite the the fact that Latino@s and black people are the two fastest growing groups of moviegoers, Hollywood is still quick to ignore or gloss over their stories.
This is especially obvious in the cases of things like The Hunger Games when despite the series of books saying that Katniss isn’t white, the multi-million dollar movie franchise decided to take some real, racist creative license and casted a white actress for the role instead.
As for the ‘how’ the Oscars ended up being so biased, many critics are chalking it down to the popularity and success of films like 12 Years a Slave,Django Unchained, Life of Pi and Beasts of the Southern Wild (which all featured people of colour in lead or main roles) in previous years. Many feel that as Hollywood ‘threw people of colour a bone’ with that previous acknowledgement, they feel that their work is now done and that people of colour will be satisfied.
This year Selma was snubbed almost across the board (although it won for Best Original Song and it was nominated for Best Picture) despite everyone who saw it having raved about its brilliance. British actor David Oyelowo (who plays Martin Luther King Jr.) explained in an interview with Variety that:
“We’ve just got to come to the point whereby there isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy — a notion of who black people are — that feeds into what we are celebrated as. Not just in the Academy, just in life generally. We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals, we have been all of those things. But we have been leaders, we have been kings, we have been those who changed the world.”
In short, unless the media shows people of colour being let down, trodden on or oppressed, Hollywood just ain’t that interested.
Unless it comes to television.
One prevalent argument coming out of the debate is that television is the next frontier of diversity. This television season alone we saw the mostly-Hispanic TV show Jane The Virgin grace our screens, recent debut Empire focuses on a massively wealthy black family in the music business, How To Get Away With Murder features a no-nonsense black, female lawyer surrounded by several fearless people of colour and black-ish also focuses on a rich black family looking to fit with their white counterparts.
Television has been an absolutely joy to watch these coming months as we’re no longer forced to put up with monotonous white men at the helm, for the sake of a glimpse of a bitpart black woman – we now have a plethora of brilliant, POC-featuring media gracing our screens each and every single night of the week.
So why does TV get it right while the silver screen cannot?
Part of the reason behind the recent emergence of people of colour on television (this year at least) is because it’s driven by business decisions and a need for variety. It’s a well known fact that services like Netflix are steadily chipping away at cable TV viewership and on top of the ease of TV watching that Netflix offers us, it’s also filling a serious diversity gap.
Just look at Orange is the New Black which has a cast almost entirely made of women who are flawed and funny, racially diverse and also aren’t just straight or cisgendered either.
Given that traditional TV networks need to compete and need to offer us something different and better than the many mostly white and male protagonists that have been littering our screen, it makes sense for them to finally do right by ethnic minorities and put some non-white faces on TV.
It should also be noted that black people watch more TV (in the United States) than white people (Nielsen estimates that black people watch at least two hours more each week) so that may also have been a driving factor.
The statistics aren’t perfect though and while it’s beautiful that TV is becoming more diverse, there’s still lots of work to be done. For example, queer people of colour are still a rarity and there are still plenty of shows that are still mostly white and definitely not representative of the people who are watching them.
As for the hope of TV’s prowess rubbing off on Hollywood, it may take much longer than one awards season to right those racially homogenous wrongs. It’s not just the casting directors of Hollywood that are racist – or just plain ignorant – towards people of colour but it’s the whole damn hierarchy.
It is notoriously difficult for non-white filmmakers and actors to breakthrough to the big leagues and be considered for the same opportunities as white people. So unless those at the top want to make a real, serious change, things may be stuck like this forever.
The ball is rolling now and it will not stop until finally, the media on offer represents the people who are actually watching it.
So it christmas, and TV viewing is poor. The problem is that too much turkey, stuffing, and wine have made making the decision just a bit too difficult and you’e been scrolling for hours. Now you don’t have to decide. This quiz will do it for you!
Which Lesbian Movie Should You Watch Tonight?
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Kitsch Mix, is a rapidly growing social platform developed to promote the diverse creative ventures of women in the LGBT community. It aims to chronicle and celebrate the stories, people and voices that are emerging and inspiring all of us, ranging in topics from pop culture and style to politics and news, all through the lens of today’s LGBTQ community.
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