It goes without saying that lesbian audiences have been denied representation ever since cinema began. Often met with near-misses and subtext, queer audiences are left disappointed time and again. In light of lesbian visibility week, here is are our pick of 10 films that were just a little too Sapphic for us to ignore.
10 Movies we Wish were Actually About Lesbians:
1. A League of Their Own
After watching the Netflix documentary, A Secret Love, many of us were drawn back to A League of Their Own. It seems unfortunate that this film does not feature a lesbian love story, when clearly there was queer love behind the scenes of the female baseball community. In a film that holds female empowerment and feminine sexuality so close, it’s devastating that queer women are invisible in this film, but at least we can still hope for a remake!
2. Thelma and Louise
Another Geena Davis classic full of almost lesbian content. The final scene with Thelma and Louise sharing a chaste kiss before driving off, hand-in-hand, into the Grand Canyon might be gay enough for some, but left most of us starving for an extra slice of lesbian rebellion that so easily could have made this one of the best lesbian films of all time.
3. Captain Marvel
The Marvel franchise has faced a lot of scrutiny from queer audiences regarding its lack of LGBT+ representation, so it was no surprise when Captain Marvel was yet another disappointment for the community. Even Brie Larson, the actress playing Carol Danvers, has said herself that she believes the character is queer. At this point, it seems Marvel are actively trying to avoid having a lesbian in their ranks, which is a shame because it’s undeniable that Carol Danvers would be a legendary dyke.
4. Bend it Like Beckham
Bend it Like Beckham is one of those films that truly feels like a kick in the teeth for lesbians. It only adds insult to injury when the film makes a joke about Jess, Jules and their perceived lesbianism. Though, Kiera Knightley herself has expressed her approval of a lesbian Bend it Like Beckham, so perhaps a sequel might be on the cards.
5. Frozen Franchise
Of course, we might never have a lesbian Disney princess, but Frozen’s Elsa is the closest thing we have to one so far. Elsa’s queerness is constantly dangled in front of us, particulary in her scenes with Honey Maron in Frozen 2. Hopefully Disney will confirm our suspicions one day, perhaps with a third addition to the franchise.
6. Ocean’s 8
This star-studded cast of powerful women absolutely blew us away, but are we really expected to believe that not one of these characters is a lesbian?! It goes without saying that Cate Blanchett sneaks some Big Dyke Energy into every one of her roles, but there is nothing heterosexual about her portrayal of Lou Miller. Not to be dramatic, but her characters alleged heterosexuality feels like an injustice.
7. Pitch Perfect
Pitch Perfect is the only film on this list that actually features a lesbian character, so it gets some points. However, her appearance in the film series is overwhelmingly fleeting. A great opportunity to represent Black lesbians was wasted here. Further, the film includes some good old-fashioned queer-baiting. The sexual tension is radiating off Becca and Chloe, and instead of taking this second chance for Sapphic representation, the creators chose to use them for comic relief. Such a shame to see one film fumble two great opportunities.
8. The Craft
Lesbians and witchcraft have always gone hand-in-hand, so the absence of queer women in cult classic The Craft feels like such a disappointment. Especially Nancy Downs, whose gothic, bad-ass appearance has been catching the attention of lesbians since the film’s release in 1996. Though the film’s sequel The Craft: Legacy does have male bisexual representation, any potential lesbianism remains just out of reach.
Prison settings have long laid the foundations for a blossoming lesbian romance, and while we do have Orange is the New Black and Wentworth Prison, another one wouldn’t exactly go amiss. Throughout their performances in Chicago, Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones give their characters such a tense atmosphere that a romance between them wouldn’t exactly be a surprise. One good thing about Chicago is that Queen Latifah has admitted to playing her character as a lesbian, even though no-one asked her to.
10. She’s the Man
Yet another female soccer film without any lesbians! Not only this, we have to watch Olivia slowly fall for Viola, who she believes is a boy. This film has a lot going on, and none of is quite as gay as we’d have hoped. We’d recommend you stick to watching the USWNT instead, you’ll find plenty of lesbians there.
This review was written by:
London-based Film Baby studying a film MA specialising in lesbian film.