Lately, the gay blogosphere has been buzzing noise about Handsome Devil, a 2016 independent Irish film about two young men of indeterminate sexuality who form a friendship while attending a rugby-obsessed Irish boarding school. One critic called it “the Irish Moonlight” (haha, no) while others compared it to a John Hughes-esque version of Dead Poet’s Society.
If you haven’t heard of Handsome Devil, check out its trailer below:
The trailer got us thinking about the other LGBTQ sports films we love, which made us realize how very few there are. Perhaps it’s because most LGBTQ people see sports as very homophobic or because professional sports have so few openly LGBTQ players and offer very little LGBTQ social support.
Regardless, here’s five LGBTQ sports films we love — two of them are documentaries and no, we didn’t include A League of Their Own because even though it’s about an all-female baseball team and stars Madonna and lesbian comedian Rosie O’Donnell, it doesn’t feature any actual scenes of same-sex romance, so…
1. Back on Board (2014)
Had Greg Louganis been a straight athlete, he would have made millions. At least, that’s what the Olympic diver’s former coach says in this HBO documentary. The film recounts the homophobia, HIV-diagnosis and financial troubles that Louganis faced after his Olympic career.
Another excellent documentary that we almost chose was the 2013 documentary With You: The Mark Bingham Story, a film about the openly gay rugby player who helped take down the terrorists of United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.
2. Broken Hearts Club (2000)
Dennis, a 28-year-old gay man living in West Hollywood, plays on a softball team with several of his closest and cattiest friends including a young party boy, an older drag performer and a sexpot played by Dean Cain. While sports serves as a backdrop to the comedy, this film delivers a light-hearted look at the importance of friendship and letting romance develop slowly.
3. The Pass (2016)
Openly gay actor Russell Tovey has made a career playing deceptive gay characters who use hunkiness and charm to manipulate others. The Pass is no different, except that it occurs in the realm of professional soccer as Tovey depicts a closeted footballer who reconnects with a gay teammate years after their estrangement. The film is based on a stage play of the same name (which also featured Tovey) and features about 25-minutes of Tovey wearing nothing but briefs and a smile.
4. Training Rules (2009)
While former Pennsylvania State women’s basketball coach Rene Portland lead her teams to victory, she also forged a legacy of homophobia that pushed away some of the team’s most talented lesbian athletes. In 2006, when Portland dismissed Jennifer Harris, Harris fought back and uncovered decades of lesbophobia that crippled the athletic aspirations of at least six women. This documentary focuses on Harris’ lawsuit and Portland’s toxic (albeit accomplished) legacy.
5. Personal Best (1982)
When America boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in protest of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, American female athletes who had trained to compete were suddenly left chasing after their own “personal bests” (that is, their quickest record times). In her quest to be a world-class athlete, fictional track-and-field star Chris Cahill falls in love with her female coach, something that gets more complicated when another coach takes part in her training.
(Featured image via Handsome Devil)