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9 Best queer on-screen love scenes

BY Anna Walker

16th Jul 2020 Film & TV

9 Best queer on-screen love scenes

Nine of the steamiest sex scenes in the history of LGBT+ relationships on screen. 

NSFW: The following content contains explicit references to sexual acts and includes clips from movies rated 15+, and is best enjoyed in a private moment. 

1. Orange Is the New Black, season two, episode six

Poussey Washington, played by Samira Wiley, was probably the best-loved character in all of Netflix's hit prison drama, Orange Is the New BlackWhich *spoiler* made her death in season seven all the more tragic. 

This heartwarming sex scene from far earlier in her storyline showed a young army brat Poussey making love to her German girlfriend. The scene is adorable, as the couple try (and fail at) scissoring, giggling and professing their love for each other. The cuteness of this tender love scene is matched only by the horror of its ending, as the girls are interrupted by Poussey's girlfriend's father, a discovery which marks the end of their sweet relationship.

Orange Is the New Black had an impressive 50 sex scenes during its seven seasons, but this is perhaps the most heartfelt. 


2. Moonlight, 2017

This short scene from the 2017 Best Picture Oscar-winning Moonlight does so much with so little, capturing the shame, delight and awkwardness that so often accompany early sexual experiences for LGBT+ people, especially those of colour. 

As viewers hold their breath while the young Chiron (Ashton Sanders) discovers the catharsis of acting upon his so-far-so-secret desires, a poignant sense of relief is delivered when, after he apologises following his ejaculation, his classmate Kevin (Jharrel Jerome) replies, "What do you gotta be sorry for?"


3. Black Swan, 2010

Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis kissing in Black Swan

Everybody was talking about the love scene between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman upon Black Swan's release. Dark, trippy and extremely sexy, it's difficult to determine how much of the lovemaking is real, and how much is Nina (Portman)'s fantasy. 

Nina's character is repressed by her overbearing mother, who still sees her as a "little girl" despite the fact that she's now a young woman. Sexual liberation is one way that Nina begins to discover her own freedom and identity, something also explored in the film's two masturbation scenes. 

Although some have criticised Black Swan's sex scene as the product of male director Darren Aronofsky's objectifying straight gaze, many bisexual and lesbian women have praised the movie for featuring a queer love scene in a film that didn't centre on a gay narrative.

4. Weekend, 2011

The sex scenes of the British romantic drama Weekend are unabashedly realisticWhere other films about gay men have historically panned artistically away at the moment of intimacy (we're looking at you, Call Me By Your Name), Weekend is not afraid to cut close on open-mouthed gasps, fingers running through hair and moans of both pain and pleasure.

The brilliance of the film is in placing these real, un-airbrushed love scenes in the context of a truly and deeply loving—if brief—relationship. Writing in the Village Voice, reviewer Eric Hynes described the film as, “Naturalistic without being ineloquent, heartfelt yet unsentimental, Weekend is the rarest of birds: a movie romance that rings true.”


5. Queer as Folk US, 2000

Queer as Folk Justin and Brian peck on the lips

Echoing the brazen attitude to sex scenes—of which there were many—throughout the groundbreaking series Queer As Folk, the first sex scene in the show (between Justin and Brian, played by Randy Harrison and Gale Harold), was recorded on the very first day of filming. 

Said Harrison of the scene, "I swear to God the sex scenes didn’t [freak me out]… I just thought It’s exciting that it’s going to exist… I just remember I was desperate for those images when I was a gay kid growing up.”

Speaking to Out magazine, Harold added, "I can’t speak for Randy, but there were parts of [filming the scene] that were just an incredible adrenaline-high. It was so revealing and so intense… I’ve said this a million times: I was really lucky that I was doing that entire show with Randy because he’s very intelligent, really soulful."


6. Carol, 2015

So captivated was director Todd Haynes by the first on-screen kiss between Carol's stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara that he forgot to shout "Cut!" 

That the pair make love for the first time in a rather dingy motel was a deliberate choice by the film's lesbian screenwriter Phyllis Nagy. The aim was to rid the film of the typically glamourous, airbrushed backdrop often given to Hollywood depictions of lesbian lovemaking, reminding viewers that women could be lovers in just the same ways as any heterosexual couple. Their sex may be romantic and soft, but it can also be raw and instinctual and spontaneous. 


7. Tangerine, 2013

This groundbreaking 2013 film, remarkably shot entirely on iPhones, portrays a surprisingly relaxed sex scene between a transgender sex worker and one of her regular clients. In doing so, it upends the film industry's typical representation of sex work and transgender people's experience of sex.

In the scene, Alexandra (Mya Taylor), a transgender sex worker (importantly played by a transgender actress) receives oral sex whilst going through a car wash. Despite its explicit content, the scene never feels voyeuristic, instead tastefully offering a window a moment of pleasure for Alexandra's shared with a client she feels safe with.


8. Desert Hearts, 1985

En route to divorce her husband, Vivian (Helen Shaver) meets Cay (Patricia Charbonneau) and instantly falls for her charismatic charms. 

One of the first films to feature a lesbian love scene that was actually directed by a lesbian woman (Donna Deitch), the sex scene in Desert Hearts is sensual, intimate and bold. Deitch chose not to lay a schmaltzy score over the scene between Shaver and Charbonneau, letting their crackling chemistry do the talking instead. 


9. Brokeback Mountain, 2005

No, we're not talking about that infamous tent sex scene, where Jack and Ennis rely on nothing more than their chemistry and a little strategically-placed spit to make love for the first time, but the electric kiss when the pair were reunited. 

Sure, it's not a sex scene in the strictest sense. But the chemistry fizzles so fiercely that it's as erotic as any more explicit scene could be. It's the kind of kiss that everyone hopes to experience at least once in their lifetime. 


Have we missed off one of your favourite scenes? Let us know in the comments below


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