10 feel-good lesbian movies to get you through the summer

As July suddenly marches into our lives and Pride Month fades away, there are, disappointingly, less events for wearing rainbow boas and sparkly attire, and more back-to-regular life doldrums. Yet there’s always another option left to help us still feel happy and gay. And for this option, we can wear pajamas and order pizza! Or heck, you could still wear your rainbow boas and sparkly attire, if you want!

This option, of course, is to sit back and watch a good movie.

I saw quite a few lists produced last month of Great Queer Movies to Watch for Pride. But these lists included all queer movies of all time, and while I tend to lean towards the Horrible and Depressing most of the time, for once I wanted a list of just The Happy Ones. The ones that gave me gay warm fuzzies and affirmed my belief in love, as opposed to emotional trauma caused by suicide and scary child murder and rape and heartbreak and sleeping with dudes and falling in love with straight people! Y’know?

Thankfully, these Happy Ones do indeed exist, and I spent my month watching and re-watching some of the best ones. Although I’m sure I’m missing some, here’s my Top Ten, in no particular order:

1. But I’m a Cheerleader! (1999)

From the first scene of our protagonist Megan exaggeratedly making out with her boyfriend while she pictures the bouncing boobs of her fellow cheerleaders, to her final adorable, earnest cheer for her girl Graham, this move is absolutely, delightfully, 100% gay camp. This movie takes the horrifying idea of programs that aim to turn people straight and makes it genuinely funny and charming and empowering all at once. I had also forgotten until my recent re-watch how much Clea DuVall really sets my loins on fire throughout the whole thing. Plus, RuPaul is in it. I mean, it’s perfect.

2. Show Me Love (1998)

Before Sweden gave us Kyss Mig, there was Show Me Love, originally titled F–king Amal in Sweden. (Imagine the horror of keeping an original title with a curse word in it! Gasp, we would never.) To my knowledge, there still hasn’t been a film since that portrays young lesbian love so positively and genuinely as Show Me Love. Not only does it explore Baby Lesbian Feelings, but both of the main characters, Agnes and Elin, brilliantly express different types of teen angst: Agnes the angst of being unpopular and lonely, Elin the angst of being popular and bored with everyone and everything around her. Also, the last scene of this movie is one of the most amazing last scenes of a movie ever. I laughed and clapped once it was over. I want to hug this movie and never let it go.

3. Saving Face (2004)

What I love about this movie is all the different types of love it celebrates. Multiple storylines criss-cross throughout Saving Face, and only one is really gay: that of Chinese-American surgeon Wil and her romance with the professional dancer Vivian. Wil and Vivian’s quiet dynamic is wonderful and sexy, with Wil being hesitant and private while Vivian is full of sass and assurance. Plus, Vivian is all, “I’ve loved you forever, Wil — I think I was 12.” Okay, she doesn’t say that, but it’s pretty much the same. The main storyline, however, really has to do with Wil’s mother, who is shunned from the Chinese-American community in Flushing, New York for being unwed and pregnant. She consequently moves in with Wil, an adjustment for both of them. And while she has a hard time accepting Wil’s lesbianism at first, there are commonalities in their shared experiences of rejecting what society expects of them, having to hide these rebellions, and then finally rejoicing in the joy that can come with accepting what they really want.