Long suppressed and silenced, the stories of life-altering and all-consuming queer love have for so long not been given the spotlight they deserve, both in real life and in the works of fiction that form the fabric of our culture. But as attitudes have rightfully changed and our laws and society become more accepting (no matter how overdue), the world of books, TV and cinema have opened up to the beauty that is unapologetic, intimate queer love. From the mesmerising summer love of Oliver and Elio in Call Me By Your Name, to the passion of Auste and Sangailė in the beautiful Summer of Sangailė, here are the creme de la creme of unquenchably sexy, poignant and erotic queer love tv shows and movies.
Call Me By Your Name
Forget Jack and Rose, sometimes the most devastating love stories are those that take you by surprise with their intensity, and so goes the tale of Elio and Oliver in the 2017 cinematic adaptation of the 2007 book of the same title. Beautiful, unsuspecting, innocent yet intense, the romance between 17-year-old Elio and his father’s summer research assistant, 24-year-old Oliver, is a coming-of-age story like no other. Set in Crema- a charming Northern Italian town- everything from the cinematography to scriptwriting is beautifully captivating, as the story explores what it means to fall in love for the first time, and how our previous ideas around sexuality can unravel before our eyes.
Set in the summer of 1983, Call Me By Your Name is an enthralling look at lust, love and everything in between, and a beautiful representation of such during an era in which bisexuality and LGBTQ+ romance was not shown in the mainstream.
Cast your mind back to the 1840s and a southern coastal town in England, and there you’ll find palaeontologist Marry Anning, selling shells and fossils to tourists. Here her love story begins, after meeting Charlotte Murchison who is staying in the town during a period of convalescence before the pair begin an intense and life-altering relationship that changes the course of their futures forever. Intimate and nuanced, Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan make for one iconic duo in this utterly absorbing watch.
Perhaps the newest of releases that has the Internet in a chokehold is Netflix’s Heart Stopper. Released in April 2022, the series follows teens Charlie and Nick as they explore an unlikely friendship that might just be something more, navigating school, young love, loyalty, friendship and everything in between. The series is based on graphic novels by bestselling author, screenwriter and illustrator, Alice Oseman, and since its original publication has amassed 52.1 views to date. Starring Kit Connor, previously known for his roles in Rocketman and His Dark Materials, and newcomer Joe Locke as the beloved Nick and Charlie, the 8 part Netflix series is heartwarming to its core.
In need of a hug? Watch Heartstopper.
This 2018 rom-com classic is another one you’ll find under the dictionary definition of wholesome, thanks to its warmth, honesty and relatability, offering a brand new take on the ‘classic’ straight rom-com- we love to see it! The story follows Simon Spier, a closeted gay high schooler who is struggling to balance his friends, family, and the blackmailer threatening to out him to the entire school, while simultaneously attempting to discover the identity of the anonymous classmate with whom he has fallen in love online. He’s got a lot going on…
Love, Simon feels authentic, like you’re stepping into a queer love story that could be unfolding in any number of places right now, with its iced coffee addicted teens and the prevalence of the Internet changing and shaping the lives of its characters, it’s liberating and captivatingly cute from start to finish.
Look up the dictionary definition of striking and you might just find Moonlight alongside it. It might not have the feel-good quips of Love, Simon or the warmth of Heartstopper, but what Moonlight does provide is a necessary look at life in poverty, the presumptions about what makes a man a man, and the confusing process of discovering who you truly are.
Poetic and majestic, Moonlight follows Chiron in three stages of his life: childhood, adolescence, and early adult life, exploring the difficulties he faces with his sexuality and identity, including the physical and emotional abuse he endures growing up. Important more than ever during a season such as Pride, this film acknowledges, understands and dives deeply into the gritty subject matter.
“It’s a love story,” says actor Andre Holland, who plays the adult version of Chiron’s longtime friend Kevin. “I think it’s easy to put it in a box of, oh, it’s a black film or a black, gay film about these poor kids, but really, at the centre of it, it’s a love story and I love that people can see past all that stuff on the exterior.”
Jongens / Boys
Jongens aka Boys is a Dutch coming-of-age romance that follows Sieger, a fifteen-year-old athlete who finds himself on a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and sexual awakening after being chosen to represent his team at the national championships along with fellow runner, Marc, for which they must train intensely. Summer is peak hot and heavy romance season, and in the words of Lana Del Rey“hot summer nights, mid-July, when you and I were forever wild”, there is no better backdrop for that first all-consuming love.
Ending on a hopeful note, this story of friends to lovers is a beautiful look at living life in true authenticity.
The Summer of Sangailė
Similarly to Call Me By Your Name, the 2015 release of The Summer of Sangailė is the definition of a summer romance, cementing the warmer months as surely the most dreamy and mesmerising of them all. The Lithuanian tale follows seventeen-year-old Austė as she falls in love with fellow teen Sangaile who’s spending the summer at her family’s lake house. Sensual, evocative and emotional, the film is one of beauty and optimism that not every coming of age film can capture.
“I wrote the story for The Summer of Sangailė with the guiding idea that sometimes it only takes a chance encounter with someone who helps you to see yourself in a different light to overcome certain difficulties,” says director Alanté Kavaïté.
“From the writing stage I had envisioned a film that would be bright and light, even if the movie addresses adolescent unrest and self-destructive behaviour, for with hindsight, obstacles that seemed insurmountable at the time are now put in their proper perspective. Yet, the joys of adolescence remain intense. Moments of fear and suffering appear to us today as necessary steps to find balance in our lives, emancipate our- selves and grow up.”
The Summer of Sangailė is a celebration of passion, guaranteed to leave you thinking about it long after watching it.
One of Netflix’s most hilarious, refreshing and necessary watches, Sex Education, is perhaps the best of modern day television when it comes to representation that doesn’t feel forced, authentically conveying the experiences of so many teens growing up in challenging environments today. The British series follows the lives of the students of Moordale High, and explores a number of queer relationships, one of the most charming being the bond between Ola and Lily.
Season 2 of the series shows Ola explore the idea that she may be pansexual, with this realisation helping her to understand her feelings for Lily and realise the attraction that has been underneath their friendship until this point.
Patricia Allison who plays Ola told Teen Vogue, “Ola is just the kind of character to me that I think from the beginning, you could never really put in a box. She really is the definition of pansexual, she will go based on the personality and who makes a laugh, and who catches her eye in that sparkly way.”