In the mood for a good, old-fashioned love story? Here are a few films that focus on romance with a queer twist. All of the films are available on DVD and streaming platforms.
Boy Meets Girl (2014)
Director: Eric Schaeffer
A charming, romantic comedy about love, sexual exploration, and pursuing one’s dreams. Boy Meets Girl is a no-budgeter about Ricky (Michelle Hendley), a transgender girl living in small-town Kentucky. Ricky has big dreams; she hopes to move to New York to become a fashion designer. She and Robby (Michael Welch), her best friend since childhood, are close confidants, though their relationship is strictly platonic.
Sparks fly when Ricky meets Francesca (Alexandra Turshen), a wealthy debutante. Their attraction to each other is instantaneous, and pretty soon they find themselves in bed together. Francesca, who identifies as straight, is engaged to be married to a young soldier currently serving in Iraq. This sudden turn of events confuses her.
“I’m curious; does this make me gay?” Francesca asks.
“I don’t think so,” says Ricky.
“I don’t know,” replies Ricky.
“Well, it has to make me something!”
The two carry on their flirtation while Robby stands by. He and Ricky engage in several graphic, hilarious discussions about sexuality which raise the question: how do Robby and Ricky really feel about each other?
Boy Meets Girl is a delightful film that questions gender and sexuality roles in a good-natured way. It’s very much a love story. As the film progresses, it becomes obvious that there’s more going on between Ricky and Robby than mere friendship; there’s a chemistry between them that cannot be denied. Will they act on it?
Michelle Hendley shows real star power in this, her screen debut. Hendley is herself transgender, and she plays Ricky with a self-assurance that a cisgender actor could never have accomplished. It’s a rare thing to see a trans role played by a trans performer, and director Eric Schaeffer should be commended for bucking the Hollywood system in making his casting choice.
Funny, thought provoking, and romantic, Boy Meets Girl is a delight. Highly recommended.
In addition to DVD, Boy Meets Girl is available via YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.
Brotherly Love (2017)
Director: Anthony J. Caruso
At nearly two hours, Anthony J. Caruso’s slow-paced film feels a bit long. Some of the characters might be seen as negative stereotypes, yet there’s something oddly likable about this low-budget indie.
Director Caruso also stars as Brother Vito, who lives in a Catholic monastery and is about to take his final vows. Vito is torn between his calling and the gay life he’ll be leaving behind. He still goes out cruising with his somewhat flamboyant gay best friend Tim (Chance McKee), though he stops himself when he spots a hot guy checking him out.
Vito agrees to spend the summer doing live-in volunteer work at a church-run home for people living with AIDS. Sparks fly when he meets Gabe (Derek Babb), the home’s pretty-boy gardener. The two are obviously falling for each other, but Vito has his vows to think of. Will he succumb to his natural desires, or will he remain true to his vows? Will he and Gabe find happiness together, or are they fated to go their separate ways?
Brotherly Love is, first and foremost, a love story about two people who seem destined for each other. Vito and Gabe have quite a hurdle to overcome, but Gabe never gives up hope. Both characters are so good-looking and so sweet viewers can’t help but root for them. Auteur Caruso creates some real tension as the guys become closer and closer, each struggling with their feelings for the other, each wanting to act on those feelings.
Shamelessly romantic, Brotherly Love is a film about what can happen when your soulmate comes along. Though the film has its flaws, it’s a sweet story, worth a look while cuddling with the one you love. In addition to DVD, the film is available via Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play.
The Bubble (2006)
Director: Eytan Fox
Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, Eytan Fox’s The Bubble is set in the hip, Israeli city of Tel Aviv, often referred to as “the bubble” because it’s isolated from the endless wars the rest of the country is so often plagued by.
The Bubble tells the story of Noam (Ohad Knoller) and Ashraf (Yousef Joe Sweid). Noam is Israeli; Ashraf is Palestinian. Both are gay. They meet and instantly fall deeply in love. But this is no simple love story. These men have to overcome the animosity that exists between the two peoples, the harsh restrictions which the Israeli government places on Palestinians, and the intense homophobia of Palestinian society. But they love each other so completely that they cannot be apart. For a brief while, it looks like things may work out.
The Bubble is a powerful film, a strong cry for an end to the Israeli occupation and to the perpetual state of war the Israelis and Palestinians have lived in for many decades. It’s a cry for peace and a call for both peoples to learn how to love each other. It was a courageous move for director Eytan Fox to frame this message around a gay love story. Like Romeo and Juliet, Noam and Ashraf are star-crossed lovers surrounded by a world that will not accept them. Theirs is a love that cannot have a happy ending.
Profoundly romantic, moving, and sad, The Bubble is a must-see film that will stay with viewers long after the final fade-out.In addition to DVD, The Bubble is available on You Tube, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play.
Desert Hearts (1985)
Director: Donna Deitch
Desert Hearts captured the imagination of LGBTQ people when it was first released in 1985. At the time, queer films were rarely produced, yet here, bucking the norm, was a lesbian love story directed by a lesbian filmmaker.
The film beautifully captures the ambiance of its setting: Reno, Nevada in 1959. It tells the story of Vivian (Helen Shaver), an emotionally repressed straight (so it seems) woman who comes to Reno for a quickie divorce from an empty marriage. While there, she meets the much younger Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), a free-spirited gal who flaunts her lesbianism and doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks about it. Cay takes one look at Vivian and is instantly smitten.
Vivian accepts Cay’s friendship, but at first, she rejects the other woman’s sexual advances. But soon it becomes apparent that Vivian’s long-suppressed attraction to women is coming to the surface. The two women make love in a scene that’s both tender and quite erotic.
Desert Hearts remains a groundbreaking film more than 30 years after its initial release. As one of the first positive portrayals of lesbian love in the movies, it was years ahead of its time. Today, it’s considered historic; a print of the film has even been donated to the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBTQ Film Preservation.
As a love story, Desert Hearts is sweet, tender, and uplifting. A must-see for women, but this male viewer was also captivated by the timeless love story of Vivian and Cay. In addition to DVD, Desert Hearts is available on Amazon Prime.