While a handful of films portray single gay parents — including TransAmerica, In & Out and Beginners — there are very few films about gay parent couples raising kids. In those that do exist, many of the gay couples aren’t legally married because marriage was only legalized across the entire United States in 2015. With a little digging, though, we uncovered five films about gay parents (actual couples) that are worth watching, especially since one of them will be released in June of this year.
1. The Birdcage (1996)
Nightclub owner Armand (Robin Williams) and his partner, the flamboyant drag performer Albert (Nathan Lane), both love their son, Val. Although he’s Armand’s son from a long-ago one-night stand, they raised him from a young age and Val now recognizes them as his parents.
So when the conservative and judgmental parents of Val’s new fiancée come to meet them, Val and Armand try to pass off Albert as butch “Uncle Al.” But Armand is way too expressive to pull it off, so instead Albert tries to help out by attending the dinner dressed as Val’s biological mother.
It turns out that Albert actually makes a pretty good mother, even if his young son tried to shove “her” — wigs, makeup and all — back into the closet.
2. Breakfast with Scot (2007)
Retired hockey player-turned-TV sportscaster Eric lives a peaceful life with his sports lawyer partner Sam. But when Sam’s irresponsible brother Billy goes missing and Billy’s girlfriend Julie ends up dead, the couple is forced to start caring for Julie’s son Scot.
While Eric and Sam are both fairly butch, Scot is proudly flamboyant. He loves musicals, has his bedroom decked out like a fairy princess and isn’t afraid to wear makeup in public or admit to other boys that he’d like to kiss them.
Eric and Sam aren’t entirely sure what to do when Scot starts getting bullied, but then they introduce him to the sport of ice skating. Scot begins to blossom in ways neither of them ever expected.
Based on Michael Downing’s 1999 novel of the same name, the National Hockey League and the Toronto Maple Leafs approved of the use of the Leafs uniforms in this movie, making it the first of all films about gay parents (or gay films period) ever to be approved by a pro-sports league. That’s kind of a big deal.
3. Patrik, Age 1.5 (2008)
Sven and Göran just moved into a new neighborhood, they’ve met their neighbors in a charming welcoming party and they’re looking forward to adopting a child. They’ve found the perfect kid, too: a 1.5-year-old from a troubled background named Patrik.
Wait, did the adoption form say 1.5? That’s a typo. It was supposed to say 15. Patrik’s not a baby; he’s a juvenile delinquent with a criminal background and also a homophobe who thinks all gays are pedophiles. Patrik’s aggression freaks Sven out, but Göran thinks the kid deserves a chance.
The struggle of whether or not to keep Patrik forms the heart of this Swedish film. It was based on a play, and the director interviewed the first Swedish gay couple given permission to adopt while editing the screenplay.
Also, a fun fact: Although marriage equality didn’t become legal in Sweden until 2008, Sven and Göran have a “registered partnership,” a legal arrangement that grants them all the privileges of marriage, including adoption.
4. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Nic the obstetrician (Annette Bening) and Jules the landscape designer (Julianne Moore) are lesbian parents raising a son and daughter in a nice Los Angeles area home. Their 15-year-old son, Laser (Josh Hutcherson), decides to seek out the sperm donor who helped create him. When he discovers the donor, a man named Paul (Mark Ruffalo), Nic and Jules invite him over for dinner, just like loving, supportive parents.
Sadly, that dinner marks the start of major drama. We won’t give away everything, but Nic and Jules are currently experiencing “bed death,” and Jules feels like Nic, the family’s primary breadwinner, has never really been supportive of her career. As the kids get closer to Paul, Nic worries that Paul may be undermining their parental influence.
This film has been hailed as one of the only Hollywood films about gay parents. Overall, the couple’s dependence on each other, love towards their children and the complex nature of their relationship makes this one of the stronger and more multifaceted films about gay parents worth re-visiting.
5. Ideal Home (2018)
Celebrity chef Erasmus (Steve Coogan) and his filmmaking husband Paul (Paul Rudd) bicker quite a bit. Paul seems quite tired of his husband’s flamboyance, and Erasmus has become aware of his partner’s growing jadedness. But then a 10-year-old boy named William shows up, claiming to be Erasmus’ estranged grandson.
William’s father is in jail, and the gay couple must adjust to accommodate their grandkid — better hide the porn! But as William grows closer to his grandfather and his husband, William’s dad’s imminent release from jail threatens to rip this newly formed family apart.
Erasmus and Paul seem more able to give William a quality life, full of love, laughter and quality southwest cuisine. But does their love for William trump the father’s biological connection, or will the gay couple simply rekindle their romance by nurturing young William? You can find out when Ideal Home hits theaters on June 21.