It's the day after Valentine's Day, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying yourself cheap chocolate (maybe even a pink stuffed animal), and watching a cheesy feel-good movie. Lighthearted LGBTQ movies are hard to come by, since many are filled with societal prejudice and self-detestation. Nevertheless, there a few that will surely bring you out of the post-Valentine's day slump.
1. "Breakfast With Scot" (2007)
This movie has always been one of my favorites because it’s so gosh darn sweet. When Scot loses his mother, he temporarily moves in with his uncle Sam, and Sam’s partner, Eric McNally, former hockey player. Scot loves scarves, puts on his mother’s makeup, and sings Christmas songs during all months of the year. Eric, who remains in the closet at his job as a television sports reporter, doesn’t know how to handle Scot’s flamboyance, and he says he’s afraid Scot’s going to turn him gay. Both Eric and Sam learn about of fatherhood and what it means to be supportive. If Scot can teach you anything, he will teach you to live unapologetically no matter what anyone else might think.
2. "Big Eden" (2000)
One of the few movies with a PG13 rating, this movie is sweet and family friendly. It truly focuses on the characters and their relationships, and it's a nice break from the superficiality and pandering of some of these movies. Henry Hart is a successful gay artist living in New York, but when his father is hospitalized, he goes back to Big Eden, a small town in Montana. Taking a break from the city, he reconnects with his straight high school crush, and he meets a shy Native American man who brings his father meals and always seems to awkwardly leave the room when Henry walks in. Big Eden equally explores all types of relationships, including romantic, parental, and friendship. It validates the intimacy and importance of strong friendships, which are usually undervalued in movies, especially between two men. It’s one of those “find yourself” movies, and it’s about learning to truly let yourself connect with those who love you.
3. "Shelter" (2011)
People call this movie the “gay surfer movie.” Zach loves surfing and art, but he after he was rejected from art school, he stayed home to work at the nearby diner. He is also essentially the sole caregiver to Cody, his sister’s son. He is probably a bit too responsible, especially for someone his age, and he puts his own dreams on hold to protect others. When his best friend’s older brother, Shaun, comes to town from Los Angeles, they surf together, watch Cody together, and talk about their aspirations. It’s a meticulously structured film that is divided up into almost exactly thirty minute arcs. Dramatic and unbelievably sweet, Shaun tries to teach Zach how to put himself first and validate his own hopes for the future.
4. "Adam and Steve" (2006)
The title alone makes you want to watch it, and it does not disappoint. Back in the 80s, Adam, a goth, and Steve, a dancer, have a hilariously uncomfortable one night stand, and they meet again thirty years later after Adam accidentally stabs his dog with a kitchen knife. They begin dating, having no idea they met years before. It screams romcom, from Adam and Steve’s best friends becoming closer with each other to a random choreographed square dancing number.
5. "Imagine Me and You" (2006)
Lesbian movies have a history of terrible endings (either they don’t end up together or one of them dies), but there are a few happy ones. "Imagine Me and You" is probably one of the most lighthearted, even though Rachel notices Luce, a florist, on her wedding day. It has the romcom feeling, and although I will admit my favorite character was Rachel’s husband, it was just as feel-good as any movie named after a song by The Turtles could be.
6. "Dorian Blues" (2004)
Dorian is sarcastic, witty, and pretty bitter about living in the shadow of his athletic younger brother, at least in the eyes of his father. In high school, he’s bullied for being gay even before he knows he’s gay, but when he eventually realizes the truth, he is less than thrilled. He puts himself in therapy, and he tries to sort it out with his younger brother, who is surprisingly supportive (besides the time he thinks he’s helping by buying Dorian a prostitute). Things change when he moves to New York City, but he still can’t seem to get the chip his father left on his shoulder off.
7. "I Can't Think Straight" (2008)
If you’re looking for a solid feel-good lesbian romcom, this is your movie. It possesses all of the romcom “must haves,” from the eccentric best friend to a dramatic lay-everything-on-the-line ending. While Palestinian Tala prepares for her wedding to the wealthy Omar, she meets Leyla in London. You can probably guess the rest. It’s sweet and delicate, and everyone raves about the chemistry between the two leads, Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth. If you haven’t had enough of them after "I Can't Think Straight" they also stared in "The World Unseen" together in 2007.
8. "Chef's Special" (2008)
It’s a Spanish movie, so prepare for subtitles (unless you know Spanish). Chef Maxi is a first class chef who hasn’t missed a day of work in over a decade. He’s loud, sassy, and completely unapologetic to his crew, who make crude jokes about him behind his back. When his previous girlfriend dies, he takes the children he previously left. He has to learn how to be a father, and how to want to be a father. Cue very attractive ex-soccer player Horacio and a hilarious love triangle between Maxi, Horacio, and Alex, Maxi’s hostess who has sworn off men for good. "Chef's Special" is laugh-out-loud hilarious throughout the entire film, but it is also extremely endearing. It’s about embracing the idea of family and trying to atone for past mistakes and disappointments.
9. "Gray Matters" (2006)
This movie also features Tom Cavanagh, but instead of a closeted former hockey player, he plays Gray’s heterosexual older brother Sam; the two are inseparable, and the movie opens with the two dancing the tango together. Sam meets Charlie at the dog park, and not too long later later, they decide to get married. Gray is shocked enough, but the real trouble starts when she realizes she might have feelings for her brother’s new fiancé, which also means she is probably a lesbian. It’s lighthearted, cute, and funny, despite some imperfect dialogue. Plus, Alan Cumming plays a bashful and shy taxi driver.
10. "GBF" (2013)
It’s definitely a high school coming of age movie, but it tackles the growingly popular phenomenon of the GBF (Gay Best Friend). When Tanner comes out of the closet (or is dragged out by the most popular girls in school who track him down using an app), everyone wants him to be her GBF. They pass him around, teaching him how to be a proper “gay best friend,” which obviously involves buying him a new wardrobe. You’re probably cringing right now, and I was too when I first read the description. However, GBF shows the ridiculousness, and maybe even the ignorance, that comes with the idea of having a “gay best friend” to gossip and go shopping with.