Meant To Be: Amazing LGBTQ+ Romances
By: Stephanie R. C. Harageones
Whether on screen or page, there are plenty of lovely LGBTQ+ romances to enjoy this Valentine’s Day, (or any day of the year with your special someone!) Some are books that make a great gift, others would be great movies to snuggle up and watch together. Some you’ve probably heard of, others you may not have. Here they are, in no particular order. Enjoy!
1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
This is an amazing book. The writing is beautiful, the love scenes are tantalizing and the emotional bond is unforgettable. It reimagines Achilles and Patroclus becoming friends as children and falling in love a few short years later. If you’re familiar with The Illiad you know there’s some heartbreak but this is a wonderful retelling of a love story which has been debated for the past 2,000 years. Oh, how I wish there were a movie version!
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters.
This book was a landmark for LGBTQ+ lit. Printed in 1998, it tells of passionate lesbian romances in the 1890s. Sheltered working-class Nan is 18 and falls in and out of love in London, going through heartbreak and all kinds of wild situations: cross-dressing to get by as a rent boy, a whirlwind theatre career and more offstage drama than she bargained for! In 2002, it was successfully adapted into a TV miniseries by the BBC. More recently, it’s become a stage play as well.
- Maurice, by E. M. Forster
Set against the backdrop of England’s oppressively heterosexist Edwardian Era, we watch twentysomething Maurice Hall struggle with his sexuality, and an intense affection for his best friend Clive which is reciprocated, but it’s only a short time until it ends in heartbreak. Maurice is tormented by a deepening loneliness that comes from feeling out of step in his rigid world. Until, that is, a particularly swoony gamekeeper catches his eye. The 1987 movie is superb. It stars James Wilby as Maurice, Rupert Graves & a very young Hugh Grant.
- The Errant Prince by Sasha Miler.
If you love fantasy series like Merlin, this would be an interesting read. Talented wizard Myron is tasked with finding & bringing stubborn Prince Tamsen back home, which sounds easy enough. When he does find him, instead of trying to force him out, he’s patient and the pair find themselves understanding each other–and maybe even falling in love! The fact that Myron is trans isn’t made into a big deal. It’s thankfully (and surprisingly) a non-issue. The romance isn’t overtly sexual, but the feelings are strong–and sweet. Short, sweet, and magical to boot!
- But I’m A Cheerleader
This 1999 indie film got mixed reviews. Some loved how sweet it was, other derided it as too stereotypical. However, it was a satire where everything was over the top on purpose, from the color-coordinated set and clothing to the attitudes of almost every character, except for Megan (a young Natasha Lyonne), who breaks the typical expectations. Her loving, yet concerned parents send her to a conversion camp to “cure” her lesbianism. She soon finds she’s attracted to Graham, a snarky, brooding brunette who seems her exact opposite. Megan is willing to put it all on the line and be with Graham, but is she willing too?
This drama was recently made into a successful movie starring Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara. Terese (Mara) meets the polished, upper-class Carol while working in a department store. The older women (Blanchett) is a lesbian in a failing, loveless marriage, but she loves her young daughter deeply. Terese begins an affair with Carol and soon, both women are in over their heads in this thrilling drama. The book version (The Price of Salt) set and released in the early 1950s was shocking for its time. The 2015 adaptation is a powerful film with beautiful costumes, artsy love scenes and a stunning performance by everyone involved.
This film broke ground and barriers as a staggering will-they-or-won’t-they dramatic romance. It explores the struggles of shy, quiet Chiron (impressively played at three ages by 3 different actors) with being gay and black in rather homophobic surroundings as he falls for his best friend Kevin. More broadly, it reflects the strained dynamics between the African American community and the LGBTQ+ community, and the version of masculinity Chiron feels he needs to fulfill. The cinematography, the music, the acting…pretty much everything about this movie is brilliant.
- Love, Simon
This is the newest entry on this list and was adapted from the (amusingly titled) 2015 novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. It’s also one of the first LGBTQ+-themed stories that’s rated PG-13, which is a major accomplishment. The coming-of-age premises is simple: Simon wants to come out to his family and friends, but on his own terms and also find out: who is the mysterious classmates he’s fallen for online? Sweet, funny in the right places & heartwarming without being saccharine. It’s delightfully quirky–perhaps a John Hughes film for the 2010s!