Depictions of romance between men are still seldom on the silver screen, but we chose couples who demonstrate loving and support throughout their cinematic adventure together. If you prefer fighting, drama and heartbreak, don’t fret — we’ll be publishing a list of the least romantic gay couples in film next week.
Editor’s Note: This article totally has spoilers for most of these gay romantic movies. If you haven’t seen them, you might want to just skim the titles and skip the descriptions.
1. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
What’s most romantic about the romance between aspiring laundromat owner Omar Ali and his thuggish childhood friend, Johnny Burfoot, is that the young British-Pakistani man and leader of a fascist street gang look past their class and racial differences to help each other succeed at business, all while secretly fucking in the laundromat’s backroom — is it any wonder we’re excited for the My Beautiful Laundrette TV remake?
2. Moonlight (2016)
What makes the Moonlight romance between Chiron and Juan so fantastic is that we get to see it blossom during three separate parts of their lives — as children, teenagers and young men. Juan always provides a safe space where Chiron can be himself without judgement and yet challenges Chiron to be strong yet authentic, whether it means wrestling around with him in the schoolyard, smoking weed and talking about their feelings on the beach or flirting over Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger” in a cafe.
3. Beautiful Thing (1996)
Sure, Ste’s guarded and closety — mostly because he’s been so abused by his father and older brother — but his schoolmate Jamie clocks him as a young guy needing some tender loving care and Jamie provides it in the form of backrubs and frontrubs. Luckily Ste’s happy to reciprocate by buying him a cap after he snaps at Jamie. And when the two make out in the woods and dance to Mama Cass’ “Dream A Little Dream Of Me,” its absolutely heartmelting.
4. Jeffrey (1995)
Jeffrey and Steve’s chemistry ignites the instant they meet at the gym, and even though Jeffrey’s HIV-phobia initially prevents him from dating Steve, Jeffrey also starts doing the self-work to get over his biases and get his hands on his hunky paramour. Yes, their coupling on screen is brief, but when they finally get their hands on each other, it’s hot and long in the making.
5. Call Me By Your Name (2018)
Despite the fact that 31-year-old Armie Hammer looked way too old to play the 24-year-old character of Oliver from the book Call Me By Your Name (adding a eyebrow raising dynamic to his relationship with his colleague’s 17-year-old son), their relationship is all about the slow burn. Watching Elio pine for Oliver reminds many gay and bisexual fans of gay romantic movies of their own angsty teenage years spent waiting for a lover. When the two start to explore Italy (and each other in a few cum-drenched scenes), it’s literally the fulfillment of a teenage fantasy.
6. Weekend (2011)
What starts as a Friday night hookup between shy lifeguard Russell and outspoken art student Glen quickly blossoms into a warm, intimate and life-changing (and somewhat druggy) weekend-long encounter between two guys who didn’t realize how much they needed one another. And what’s refreshing about their relationship and romance is that it’s temporary. There’s no indication or judgment on whether the two will try to have anything more than a friendly acquaintance after their weekend together, but it doesn’t make their passion or its effects any less wonderful or important — a rare occurrence in gay romantic movies.
7. Big Eden (2000)
When Henry Hart originally returns to his hometown of Big Eden, Montana to tend to his ailing grandfather, Hart harbors unresolved romantic feelings towards his hunky childhood friend Dean Stewart. But Hart gradually discovers that a shy Native American man named Pike Dexter has been supporting him from the shadows, and although their romance blossoms in a sort of fairy tale environment, listening to the two talk about constellations and watching both struggle with loneliness resonates with even the most amorous of gay viewers.
8. The Way He Looks (2014)
With idiot school bullies and overprotective parents smothering Leonardo over his blindness, the young teen secretly yearns to live free and travel abroad. When he meets a new student named Gabriel, their relationship develops gradually and authentically, with Gabriel witnessing Leonardo’s hardships yet sublimating his desire for Leo in games of Spin the Bottle and rubs of suntan lotion. Watching them reach out for each other, in turns both confident and insecure, plays the heartstrings and lets this Brazilian film give a slow yet satisfying burn. Plus, Leo is one of the few characters with a disability ever to appear in gay romantic movies.
9. Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom (2008)
Fans of the LOGO dramedy Noah’s Arc got a send-off with this two-hour film finale featuring Noah and his bisexual fiancé Wade working out their differences on their way down the aisle (with Noah’s flamboyant and promiscuous friends in tow). Even though their relationship is far from perfect, the show’s viewers saw Noah help Wade come to terms with his homosexuality and nurse Wade back to health after a serious car crash. To see them navigate matrimony, even as Wade continues to feel embarrassed by his partner’s “feminine qualities,” seems refreshingly honest in a world of whitewashed Hollywood gay romantic movies.
10. Maurice (1987)
The film adaptation of E.M. Forster’s posthumosly published 1971 novel of the same name shows the lusty and treacherous back-and-forth romance between Maurice, a gay stockbroker living in London’s East End and Alec Scudder, a young lower-class under-gamekeeper whose affections threaten to destabilize Maurice’s class standing. What’s great is how ably Scudder picks up on Maurice’s homosexuality and how the two men can’t seem to resist one another, even when they’re both freaking out and threatening to blackmail each other. Oh, the courtship is dramatic, but the undeniable chemistry between the two men at least makes the sex hot.