Queer representation in films – it’s something we talk about a lot here, but we’re still amazed every time we come across an instance of “good” representation. Truthfully, it’s hard to judge what counts as “good” representation, because in every community there are going to be sub-communities of different opinions – and that’s part of what makes humanity so great.
Sex scenes, however, are a little easier to quantify. Are the women sexy? Are the women having “real” lesbian sex, instead of the male fantasy version? Well… That’s pretty much it. A good sex scene looks like inspiration for your own bedroom routine, or maybe it looks artistic and beautiful (in a more-than-skin-deep sort of way). Maybe we’re just drawn to the idea of writhing female bodies…
Whatever it is, we’ve decided to put together another list of female sex scenes that we loved. Are there more that we’re still missing? Feel free to let us know in the comments!
I’ll admit: I love artsy sex scenes. I also love happy endings, where the queer characters don’t end up dead or in a relationship with a man. Desert Hearts has both of these things, and that makes it especially great – especially since this movie came out in the 80s! (I’m recently discovering that there are more queer 80s movies than I thought there were, and that makes me so happy.) Shaver and Charbonneu play Cay and Viv, who actually have lovely, artistic, beautiful, and believable sex, and it stands as one of the most pivotal lesbian films of all time.
Maria de Medeiros and Uma Thurman in Henry and June (1990)
Long before Pulp Fiction threw both actresses into the front lines of cinema, Medeiros and Thurman played the bisexual characters Anaïs and June in Henry and June. Okay, so it wasn’t that long before, but since I was only five months old when this movie came out, it seems like so much earlier. For those who love costume dramas (read: garters) and lesbian subplots, it’s so great to see these two women hooking up in such a taboo way. Sure, both women were married to men at the time, which is a stereotype we’d like to get away from, but hey… This one is based on a true story.
Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall in But I’m a Cheerleader! (1999)
This is another one of my personal favorites – Natasha Lyonne as Megan is a completely believable representation of those of us who started off completely uncomfortable with our “not-normal sexuality”, but later came to terms and fully embraced every ounce of gay we could muster up. (That one can’t be just me.) Unlike the normal boarding school cliché, Lyonne and DuVall play lesbians forced to attend a conversion therapy camp – something that hits close to home for so many of us. Graham (played by DuVall) is the perfect bad girl to complement Lyonne’s good girl Megan. And then, they break the #1 rule of straight camp: Beautiful, passionate, homosexual sex.
Michelle Williams and Chloe Sevigny in If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000)
Those who are familiar with the first If These Walls Could Talk will undoubtedly be familiar with the second, and its glorious lesbian storylines. I know, not everyone was a fan of this movie, but the dapper (and gorgeous!) butch Amy (played by Sevigny) manages to seduce the young college student Linda (played by Williams)… After quite a bit of trying. Surely, there’s something special at play here, and while they weren’t the only lesbian couple in the movie (far from it!), their sex scene felt so real and so passionate that it’s hard to find another we like as much as this one.
Piper Perabo and Jessica Paré in Lost and Delirious (2001)
However you might feel about the movie itself (because apparently there are a lot of people who really hated this movie), there’s no denying the fact that these two share a great on-screen chemistry and fully embody the scary, romantic, super awkward moments involved with your first (lesbian) love – including, of course, sharing a love scene. Plus, it takes place at a boarding school, which embodies something I think is most lesbians’ fantasy: The idea of going to an all-girl school, with Piper Perabo… No? Just me?
Naomi Watts and Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
I’m a huge fan of Naomi Watts, so the idea that she could, theoretically, play a lesbian/bisexual character makes me really excited – especially when there’s sex involved. Okay, so this one isn’t technically a sex scene. It’s a foreplay scene that’s wrapped up with some wit, some raw honesty, and a whole bunch of sensuality – it actually makes up for the fact that there was no actual “sex” here. And besides, there’s nothing wrong with foreplay – we should really be featuring more foreplay in our movies, so I’m just going to leave this one on the list.
Salma Hayek and Karine Plantadit in Frida (2002)
Personally, this one checks off several of my go-to topics. Bisexual leading character(s)? Check. Historical fiction that’s based on real characters? Check. One of my favorite artists from the past? Definitely check. And Salma Hayek, arguably one of the sexiest women to ever grace the big screen… Big check. While Frida Kahlo (played here by Hayek) was rumored to have many lovers over the course of her life, I was slightly disappointed that she never hooked up with Ashley Judd’s character, despite the obvious sexual tension present… There was only one brief (but beautiful) lesbian sex scene in the movie, with a character referred to on the IMDB page as “Paris chanteuse” – played by Plantadit.
Rachel Stirling and Anna Chancellor in Tipping the Velvet (2002)
Queer movies are still fairly new to the visibility they so greatly deserve. But queer movies based on queer books? Even less visible. Of course, Sarah Waters’ books are part of a very small list of exceptions – and Tipping the Velvet gives an incredible look at the wonderful meshing of historical fiction with an awesome queer storyline. Oh, and there’s a dildo-sex scene that was probably the most risqué view of lesbian life to be shown on television in those days before The L Word. The movie chronicles “male impersonators” in London at the end of the 19th century, and we get to see Nan (played by Stirling) pleasuring her new sugar mama, Diana (played by Chancellor). It’s probably not the dirtiest sex scene out there, but for a TV movie in the early 2000s, this was pretty racy.
Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen in Saving Face (2004)
What do you get when you mix cultural differences, romantic love stories, and the awkwardness of having your pregnant mom move in with you? Saving Face explores the intersection of these three usually-separated topics in a way that feels so real, and simultaneously so surreal. It’s not often that you really can have both, but Krusiec and Chen do such a wonderful job that you can feel the sexual tension through the screen – and you’re just as “relieved” as they are when they finally get to business.
Ah, that forbidden student-teacher romance, at… Wait, is this another boarding school movie? It sure is! I’m sensing maybe I’m not the only one who’s thought about this type of fantasy. Or, maybe it’s a fantasy because of all these awesome queer movies set in boarding schools. Either way, Annabelle (played by Kelly) and her teacher Simone (played by Gaidry) are electric together – and may possibly have ignited that other fantasy of getting it on with your hot teacher. Never personally had that one, myself, but most of my teachers were old, married, and men, so maybe that’s it.
Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried in Chloe (2009)
First of all, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, this movie is seriously twisted, and probably one of my favorites. (It’s also the first movie I saw either of these lovely actresses play a bisexual character.) Anyway, it’s questionable as to whether Chloe (played by Seyfried) ever actually seduced Catherine’s husband, but we do know that she seduced Catherine (played by Moore) and it was completely intense. The entire movie is intense. I’m sure not everyone will like the portrayal of a bisexual character as a raging psychopath, but to me, it feels real. Not because bisexuals are psychopaths, of course, but because sometimes, the crazies are the ones you’d least expect.
Heather Graham and Diane Farr in About Cherry (2012)
For those who really aren’t into that floaty, artistic, gorgeously romantic sex stuff, About Cherry offers a different side of things – the dirty, gritty, opposite-side-of-passion that exists between Graham’s Margaret and her estranged wife Jillian (played by Farr). As much as I’ve loved Ashley Hinshaw (who plays the titular character) and wish she would have gotten some girl-on-girl action in this movie, sadly, she doesn’t – but it’s still nice to see lesbians getting freaky without it being over-feminized. Plus, who doesn’t love Heather Graham playing a queer character? I can’t get enough!