The 15 Best LGBTQ+ Rom-Coms Ranked

Though there have been some beloved, memorable LGBTQ+ romances in film over the years, most of them are dramas. Though many of these films have been stirring, impactful, and beautifully told, a question comes up again and again: Where are the happy endings? Where is the gay couple riding off into the sunset, the trans protagonist kissing their crush in the rain, an impassioned prom speech about love from one girl to another? There is a notable lack of romantic comedies featuring characters from the LGBTQ+ community (no, the gay best friend of the heterosexual lead with no inner life of their own doesn't count). As a member of the LGBTQ+ community who sometimes just wants to put up her feet, pour some wine, and watch a bit of fluffy entertainment without Matthew McConaughey sweeping a lady off her feet, these relatively slim pickings are frustrating. 

Those of us who adore love and laughter but are in desperate need of a break from attractive straight people have to comb through the various streaming services. It's like panning for gold in a pretty shallow river, but don't fret as there are still some glittering nuggets of delightful non-heteronormative romance to be found! With those formalities out of the way, let's get ready to run through the airport, perform a grand gesture, or share a number of increasingly meaningful longing glances as we take a look at 15 of the best LGBTQ+ romantic comedies of all time.

15. Love, Simon (2018)

"Love, Simon," the 2018 adaptation of Becky Albertalli's novel "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda," tells the story of a closeted high school student named Simon who falls for an anonymous classmate through an online chat, and faces the threat of being outed by an unknown blackmailer. From its release, the film drew criticism for its homogenized, easily-digestible version of the young gay experience. 

Other critics argued that the ordinariness of "Love, Simon" is part of its merit as a charming-if-cutesy teen movie that fits right in with the rest of the Hollywood teen rom-com canon. There's nothing inherently revolutionary in its story, but to some viewers, there doesn't need to be, as long as there are lovable characters, a heartfelt story, and a kiss between the two love interests as triumphant music swells in the background. Your mileage may vary when it comes to "Love, Simon." If you're looking for something a bit more defiant of the status quo, with something to say and a diverse look at the LGBTQ+ experience, then this is not the film for you. If you want a mainstream teen romantic comedy that just so happens to feature two boys falling in love, then you'll have a perfectly lovely time. 

14. Imagine Me and You (2005)

Six years before Lena Headey was getting murderous (and incestuous) as Cersei Lannister on "Game of Thrones," she was a lesbian flower shop owner capturing Piper Perabo's heart in "Imagine Me and You." This 2005 film was written and directed by Ol Parker, the man behind "Mamma Mia" and its sequel "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," and though it features a lot less Abba, don't let that put you off. 

The story of "Imagine Me and You" begins like many rom-coms, with a woman about to marry a man that you just know is going to be single before the hour-and-a-half runtime is over. Rachel (Piper Perabo) and Heck (Matthew Goode) are getting ready to say their I Do's at the start of the film when, as she is walking down the aisle, Rachel spots Luce (Lena Headey) sitting in the crowd. Not the most promising meet-cute, and from there Rachel struggles with her burgeoning attraction to Luce, her loyalty to her new husband, and a whole lot of guilt and sexual tension. You can stop bracing yourself for a tragic story, go ahead and unclench! As stressful as the initial premise might be, everyone here gets their happy ending. 

13. Wild Nights with Emily (2018)

English class meets whirlwind historical romance with "Wild Nights with Emily," a sapphic romantic comedy about famous poet Emily Dickinson. If you're worried that sounds a little bit like homework, then you should know that director Madeline Olnek derived inspiration for the film's tone from Comedy Central's "Drunk History," a show where inebriated comedians attempt to recount the details of famous historical events. "Wild Nights with Emily" is less like a dry English Literature lecture and more like a beloved English teacher: Witty, quick, and more than a little bit gay. 

The film, which is based on the true events of Dickinson's life, follows the poet's journey as a writer, her struggles with getting her work published and recognized, and her romance with Susan Gilbert, a relationship which spanned most of her life. Like Dickinson's work itself, "Wild Nights with Emily" is whimsical, introspective, and incredibly affecting. It dares to unearth aspects of an iconic literary voice that were long ignored, blow the dust off of her legacy, and shine a warm light on a buried truth: We have always been here.

12. Duck Butter (2018)

Have you ever wished you could speed past the early stages of dating? Just cut through the artifice and the various social masks we wear and get right to the heart of the other person's desires, fears, and flaws? That's essentially the premise of "Duck Butter," the story of two women attempting to spend 24 hours together (having sex once every hour) in order to get to know each other as quickly and intimately as they possibly can. 

The film begins with Nima (Alia Shawkat), an actor struggling with opening herself up to vulnerability. After meeting a woman named Sergio (Laia Costa) at a gay bar, and becoming infatuated with her, Sergio proposes this bizarre, enticing experiment. From there, the 24 hour period unfolds in a flurry of emotional revelations, primal impulses, and a mixture of moments ranging from beautiful to truly disgusting. You won't get a Hollywood ending here, but rather a witty, weird deep dive into human connection and all of its extreme highs and lows. 

11. The Half of It (2020)

Modern retellings of classic works are a teen rom-com staple. From "Clueless" bringing Jane Austen's "Emma" into the '90s (Regency era? As if!) to the rash of loose Shakespeare adaptations that brought us "10 Things I Hate About You" and "She's the Man," it's a formula that almost never fails. One work that's been a bit tricky to convert into a high school romantic comedy is "Cyrano de Bergerac," the tale of a man ghostwriting love letters to help a more classically handsome gentleman win a lady's heart. Some previous takes on the story like "Sierra Burgess is a Loser" were a swing and a pretty big miss.

Enter 2020's "The Half of It," written and directed by Alice Wu. It's the story of Ellie, a teenage girl who helps a lovelorn boy named Paul write letters to Aster, the girl he has a crush on. Except (plot twist!) Ellie has a crush on her too. As Ellie's friendship with Paul grows closer, and his relationship with Aster begins to blossom, Ellie wrestles with keeping a secret from her new friend and hiding her sexuality from the rest of her deeply religious town. As she navigates this maze of love and heartache, Ellie grows into herself and realizes that she doesn't need to find a romantic other half to complete her, she's already whole. 

10. D.E.B.S. (2004)

Sometimes you want a romantic comedy with a bit of action thrown in, some Spy vs. Spy subterfuge, sneaking around, and maybe a gunfight or two. Sure, you could go with a classic like "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," or you could strap in for an absolutely ridiculous good time with 2004's "D.E.B.S." Written and directed by Angela Robinson and based on her 2003 short film of the same name, "D.E.B.S." follows a group of spies-in-training at the D.E.B.S. (Discipline, Energy, Beauty, and Strength) academy as they investigate supervillain Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster). 

When one of the spies named Amy (Sara Foster) confronts Lucy face to face, more sparks end up flying than bullets as the two develop an attraction to one another. From there, the two embark on a chaotic journey from enemies to lovers as Amy grapples with the tension between her identity as one of the D.E.B.S. and her intense connection with the organization's greatest threat. Cartoonish, adorable, and always entertaining, "D.E.B.S." is a perfect popcorn flick with a ton of enthusiasm. It was a passion project for its creator, and that love and joy really shine through.

9. Appropriate Behavior (2014)

"Appropriate Behavior" is less of a romantic comedy and more of a comedy about romance — specifically about what happens when a romance ends — but it still deserves a place on this list. Written and directed by Desiree Akhavan in her feature debut, the film follows a bisexual Persian-American woman named Shirin (played by Akhavan herself) in the aftermath of her breakup with her girlfriend Maxine. Using the breakup and the lasting echoes of that romance as a jumping-off point, "Appropriate Behavior" becomes a story about finding a place to belong when you don't comfortably fit in anywhere.

Shirin struggles to build relationships, romantic and platonic, to find a place to live, a career that feels like a calling, and juggles the expectations of her loving but extremely particular family. The result is a self-aware, frank (yet undeniably funny), and heartfelt look at love, loss, and life in Brooklyn that feels personal without crossing into overly self-indulgent territory. It's the kind of grounded, lived-in storytelling often missing from the canon of LGBTQ+ films. 

8. Dating Amber (2020)

One of the best romantic comedy tropes in the world is "fake dating." Two characters pretending to be in a relationship for some external reason only to find that a real bond has begun to develop between them? Can't get enough of it. The trope is played straight (pun intended) in films like Netflix's adorable "To All the Boys I've Loved Before," but 2020 brought us a unique spin on the storyline with David Freyne's "Dating Amber." Set in 1990s Ireland, the story follows two gay teens named Eddie and Amber who agree to fake a relationship with each other to stay safe until they can escape to a more accepting environment. 

As the film progresses, Eddie and Amber don't fall in love with each other, but with themselves and their identities. Amber meets a girl and falls for her, while Eddie explores the gay scene in Dublin. Be warned, due to the time period and setting, the movie does deal explicitly with homophobia and anti-gay abuse, but if you stick with it trust that "Dating Amber" will take good care of you and usher you through to a sweetly satisfying conclusion. 

7. The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (1995)

High school is a time when feelings are larger than life. The mix of hormones, identity crisis, and stressors coming from inside and out make for an incredibly disorienting and confusing cocktail. Maria Maggenti's 1995 film embodies that time and all of the awkwardness, joy, and butterflies in the stomach that comes with adolescent first love. 

A groundbreaking piece of onscreen LGBTQ+ representation at the time of its release, the film follows two girls from different worlds that manage to fall for each other anyway. The social outcast Randy (Laurel Holloman) and the popular Evie (Nicole Ari Parker) build a friendship around exchanging music (punk rock from Randy, classical from Evie) and poetry (namely Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass") that quickly develops into something deeper. The film is brimming with youthful exuberance and hope in the face of opposing forces, with an open heart, a sense of humor, and a final shot that feels like something right out of a classic studio rom-com. 

6. Cloudburst (2011)

Not all romantic comedies are about teens or twenty-somethings getting together. Sometimes they're about a couple who's already been through decades of ups and downs together trying to deepen their relationship, rather than embarking on one for the first time. Thom Fitzgerald's 2011 film "Cloudburst" follows an older lesbian couple (played by Brenda Fricker and Olympia Dukakis) who head off on a "Thelma and Louise" style road trip from Maine to Nova Scotia to get married after one of them is placed in a nursing home by her granddaughter. 

Along the way, the two women pick up a hitchhiker named Prentice (Ryan Doucette) on his way to visit his ailing mother. As you might expect from a road trip movie, this unlikely group grows closer every step of the way through bawdy laughs and surprisingly bittersweet turns. Naturally, Fricker and Dukakis are the stars of the show, and their love takes center stage with a connection and devotion that truly feels as if these women have cared for one another for a long, long time. 

5. Boy Meets Girl (2014)

Don't be fooled by the title, as Eric Schaeffer's "Boy Meets Girl" is a "small town transgender love story" where the action really kicks off when girl meets girl. The boy in question is Robby (Michael Welch), the best friend of our protagonist Ricky (Michelle Hendley), a 21-year-old trans woman who dreams of leaving her barista job behind for fashion school in New York City. 

While working one day, Ricky meets Francesca (Alexandra Turshen), a Southern belle engaged to a Marine stationed overseas. When the two girls meet, in spite of leading very different lives, there is an undeniable spark and the two begin an affair. Ricky navigates her relationship with Francesca, her best friend Robby's feelings for her, and the threat of discovery by Francesca's fiancé as she tries to figure out what she truly wants from life. The high point of the film is Michelle Hendley's performance as Ricky, which is natural, vulnerable, and incredibly impressive considering it's her first acting role after starting out as a YouTuber. 

4. The Way He Looks (2014)

"The Way he Looks" ("Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho" in Portuguese) is not a laugh-out-loud comedy by any means, focusing more on quiet moments of softness and the emotional journeys of its two leads. It is its triumphant, uplifting ending sets it apart from the more melancholy gay romantic dramas out there. If there are any tears in your eyes when the credits roll, they're happy tears rather than the "oh my god why did I do this to myself" variety. 

This Brazilian romantic coming-of-age story was directed and written by Daniel Ribeiro, based on his 2010 short film "I Don't Want to Go Back Alone." The film centers around a blind teenage boy named Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) who is desperate for independence and plans to study abroad. The arrival of a new student at his school, Gabriel (Fabio Audi) shakes up Leo's life and drives a wedge between him and his best friend Giovana (Tess Amorim). As the two boys get to know each other, Leo is increasingly unable to deny his feelings for Gabriel. The three lead performances are stellar, injecting the story with warmth, tenderness, and care that elevate it beyond its own relative simplicity. 

3. Saving Face (2004)

Alice Wu earns a second spot on this list with her 2004 feature film debut "Saving Face," a charming and delightful film that might be the closest thing to a traditional rom-com on this list. On its initial release, it drew comparisons to the work of romance titans like Nora Ephron and Gary Marshall with its combination of familiar genre trappings (including an emotional run through the airport) and underrepresented topics like lesbian romance and Chinese-American culture. 

"Saving Face" follows an American-born Chinese lesbian named Wil (Michelle Krusiec) who struggles with the idea of coming out to her mother or her grandparents. Wil's life gets complicated when her unmarried pregnant mother moves in with her, putting a strain on her relationship with Vivian (Lynn Chen), an openly gay dancer. Buoyed by fantastic lead performances from Krusiec, Lynn Chen, and Joan Chen as Wil's mother Hwei-lang, "Saving Face" is a clever, fresh romantic comedy about familial bonds, tenderness, and following your heart even when that means defying the expectations placed on you.  

2. Big Eden (2000)

Not enough people know about 2000's "Big Eden," and it is our sworn duty to correct that grave injustice. It starts with a well-worn, time-honored premise: A successful artist (Arye Gross) from the big city (New York, in this case) returns to his hometown in rural Montana to care for a sick family member. Once there, he is faced with unresolved feelings for his high school friend, while the handsome but shy owner of the town's general store (Eric Schweig) takes a shine to him. Will our protagonist reconnect with his roots and realize what's been in front of him all along? Of course he will, and you just know it'll be as lovely as that great big blue Montana sky we get plenty of shots of throughout the film. 

"Big Eden" is true romantic escapism, painting a picture of a cowboy town where no one is homophobic, there is no fraught coming-out scene, nothing but some likable guys working through their respective issues and falling in gay love with each other. It's a rosy small-town fairytale about coming home and finding a reason to stay, and about how Eric Schweig should really play a romantic lead more often. 

1. But I'm a Cheerleader (1999)

In the two decades since it came out, there have been few lesbian films as campy, fun, or candy-coated sweet as Jamie Babbit's "But I'm a Cheerleader." Since its premiere the film has established itself as a cult classic, earning recognition from Criterion as well as inspiring a musical set to premiere in London. The story follows a cheerleader (natch) named Megan (Natasha Lyonne), whose love of vegetarianism, Melissa Etheridge, and lack of sexual interest in her boyfriend inspires her parents to send her away to a "reparative therapy" camp that will give them the All-American, heterosexual daughter of their dreams. 

There, Megan discovers her sexuality, falls in love with the rebellious Graham (played by Clea Duvall in a performance that awakened many a closeted woman), and learns to question the messages she has been fed about what it means to be a lesbian. The film unfolds in a cotton candy dream that takes on prescriptive gender roles, homophobia, and the farce of conversion therapy with a mix of satire, sarcasm, and unabashed tenderness. A lot has changed for women who love women since "But I'm a Cheerleader" came out, from the legalization of same-sex marriage to the increase in LGBTQ representation in film and television, but the story still rings true. Despite steps forward, the fight to ban conversion therapy still rages on. "But I'm a Cheerleader" remains a meaningful yet goofy story vital in many young queer people's self-discovery, including my own.