11 Best LGBT+ romance films for Valentine's Day

Anna Walker

Eleven of the best gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender love stories ever committed to film. Perfect for a Valentine's Day movie night. 

1. Moonlight (2017)

Andre Holland and Trevante Rhodes star in Moonlight

Best Picture Academy Award winner Moonlight is a devastating coming-of-age film, that follows its protagonist through three stages in his life—childhood, adolescence and adulthood—as he comes to terms with his sexuality in the harsh landscape of Miami's social housing projects. Perhaps what makes Moonlight so special, is the flickering glimmers of hope and beauty that continue to shine throughout the film, despite the dismal circumstances in which the characters frequently find themselves. 

 

2. Cloudburst (2011)

If films about LGBT+ romance are rare, then films about senior LGBT+ romances are perhaps the rarest romance films of them all. 

Dot (Brenda Fricker) and Stella (Olympia Dukakis) have been together for 31 years, but despite their enduring commitment, it's taken some time for their families to wise up to their sexualities.

When Dot's grandaughter decides it's time to send her now-blind grandmother to a retirement home for full-time care, Dot hatches a plan to steal her lover away to Canada, where they can finally get married. 

 

3. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2020)

sitting for a painting in "portrait of a lady on fire"

This French film is a spiky, sensual drama about a romance between two women on a remote island in Brittany, which revels in its ultra-femininity, alluring subtext and doesn't give a trace of a damn about including a single man with any real agency or purpose in its story.

French director, Celine Sciamma’s work is a clever, fiery celebration of female friendship in all its complexity, as well as a masterclass in tastefully handled symbolism, with analogies to the haunting ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice delicately tracing the entire film. 

The premise couldn’t be simpler: a painter arrives on a hostile island to undertake a wedding portrait of a young woman who just left the convent. There’s just one catch: she needs to do it without her subject’s knowledge. As the two grow closer, the task becomes an increasingly challenging one.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire review by Eva Mackevic

 

4. In the Grayscale (2015)

This Chilean drama tells the story of Bruno (Francisco Celhay), who has separated from his wife and is forced to confront his life-long confusion over his sexuality when he meets Fer (Emilio Edwards), an openly gay travel guide with whom he feels an instant connection.

Facing up to the complications of a sexuality not so easily defined as "straight" or "gay", In the Gray is tender and nuanced, with all the romance and heartbreak required for a truly immersive Valentine's watch.

 

5. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Oliver and Elio at the beach

"Call me by your name and I'll call you by mine". So goes perhaps the most famous line of director Luca Guadagnino's adaptation of the James Ivory novel of the same name. 

Call Me By Your Name follows a summer of sexual and emotional awakening for Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a young Jewish-American who feels an instant attraction to Oliver (Armie Hammer) the intern of his archaeologist father while spending the summer in his parent's home in Northern Italy. 

With beautiful cinematography, a haunting score and tender dialogue, Call Me By Your Name is as much a film of self-discovery as it is a love story. 

 

6. Boy Meets Girl (2014)

A romcom through and through, Boy Meets Girl tells the small-town love story of Ricky, a 21-year-old transgender woman who decides to explore her attraction to women when a beautiful woman walks into her workplace. 

Labelled the Pretty in Pink of transgender cinema by critics, Boy Meets Girl is warm and funny, perfect for a feel-good evening in. 

 

7. Love, Simon (2018)

Love Simon gay teen rom com

Love nothing better than a high school romance flick? Love, Simon is the film for you. 

When another boy at secretly-gay Simon's school pens an anonymous open confession about his sexuality signed only "Blue", Simon feels compelled to write back, sharing his secret for the first time. 

What follows is in turns both a funny and poignant journey to discover the identity of "Blue", which sees Simon opening himself up along the way.   

 

8. Romeos (2011)

This German tragi-comedy follows 20-year-old transgender man Lukas, who struggles to cope not only with his gender identity but also with his burgeoning attraction to gay men. 

When Lukas meets bad boy Fabio, he falls head over heels, and is faced with a dilemma—keep Fabio at a distance and keep his secret, or open up and risk losing everything?

 

9. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

brokeback mountain hug scene

It's impossible to compile a list of LGBT+ romance films without a spot for Brokeback Mountain. This cinematic classic set in the Wyoming mountains is about as heartbreaking as they come. 

Sheepherders Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Heath Ledger) spend a summer working together in the remote reaches of the mountains. Though slow-starting, their chemistry is undeniable and the two ostensibly straight men soon find themselves locked in a friendship-cum-romance that will change the course of both their lives. 

 

10. Imagine Me and You (2005)

When Rachel (Piper Perabo) and Luce (Lena Headley) meet, their attraction is undeniable. The only problem? They meet at Rachel's wedding. 

A charming British romcom contemplating the possibility of love at first sight, Image Me and You is all about the first flush of falling in love. 

 

11. Carol (2015)

the piano scene from Carol

forbidden book about a forbidden love becomes—in the caressing hands of writer Phyllis Nagy, director Todd Haynes and leads Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara—a thing of rare beauty.

Every scene in Carol moves us a little further beyond surfaces as desirable and beguiling as any other shop-bought bauble to land, in the unforgettable closing moments, upon the beating hearts beneath.

Carol review by Mark Reynolds

 

Read more: How to age well

Read more: An A to Z of your nervous system


Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter