The joke about gay movies is that there’s four of them that anyone has heard of and dozens more that fly enchantingly under the gaydar. Celebrate the romance of Valentine’s Day with these movies, some mainstream, some low budget, all romantic.
Imagine Me and You is the thinking lesbian’s version of a British romantic comedy. The plot is simple and charming – bride-to-be Rachel (Piper Pierbo) meets lesbian florist Luce (Lena Headley, who would go on to star in The Sarah Connor Chronicles and 300). Both women feel a connection, and Rachel finds herself falling head-over-high-heels in love, only to run in the other direction. All the elements of a good rom-com are here – Rachel’s boyfriend’s bumbling, obnoxious best friend and Luce’s supportive mom who has one of the best lines in the film. “Does Rachel love you?” she asks Luce. “It doesn’t matter,” replies Luce. “It’s all that matters,” she tells her daughter.
Fannie Flagg’s novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café put Ruth’s and Idgie’s romantic relationship front and center. Even though the tearjerker 1992 movie whitewashes their relationship and presents them as just-really-special-friends, it’s still pretty clear that proper Ruth (a pre-Weeds Mary-Louise Parker) and “bee charmer” tomboy Idgie (Mary Stuart Masterson) are crazy about each other as they raise a son and fight the Klan in 1930’s Alabama. Rounding out the cast are feisty, modern-day nursing home resident Jessica Tandy who tells the decades-old tale of Idgie and Ruth to depressed housewife Kathy Bates.
Ang Lee’s gorgeous 2005 epic about two young ranch hands who fall in love is a heartbreaking classic. Based on a short story by Annie Proulx and adapted for the screen by novelist Larry McMurty and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain follows Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as the star-crossed cowboys who struggle with closeted lives and homophobia in the 1960s.
Another straight-wedding-gone-wrong movie, this time for the boys. This 1993 romantic comedy is about a gay Taiwanese landlord who marries a straight female tenant to make his overbearing parents happy. Once his parents come to America to help with the wedding, the plan backfires with hilarious results. This movie was Ang Lee’s first film dealing with gay issues; the second, of course, was Brokeback Mountain.
Transwoman Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell) dreams of superstardom and searches for her soul mate in this fantastic and visionary rock opera based on the stage musical of the same name. The original music is powerful and courageous (check out “Origin of Love”), and the movie feels like an amazing, revolutionary concert.