Beyond Desert Hearts: 10 Films to Rent When You Come Out


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My Summer of Love: A working-class girl (Nathalie Press) and a privileged teen (Emily Blunt, pre-Devil Wears Prada) cross paths on a hot summer day in the English countryside. Their season together is a steamy one.

Fried Green Tomatoes: Your straight friends and your mother will say, “What? That’s not a lesbian movie!” That’s because they don’t know how to watch it. Just remember Ruth’s note to Idgie: “Whither thou goest, I will go. Whither thou lodgest, I will lodge.” And the scene in the river? Hello! And if you haven’t watched this one in a while, it’s a great one to revisit with a fresh eye, in search of all the “signs.”

Tipping the Velvet: If your straight friends swoon over Merchant-Ivory costume dramas and you wish you could, too, here’s one to try. This BBC miniseries based on the acclaimed novel by Sarah Waters is striking, sexy and sad.

But I’m a Cheerleader: A teenager—and a cheerleader, no less—is sent to gay rehabilitation camp after her family notices she’s a fan of women’s soccer, loves Melissa Etheridge and is a vegetarian. It’s a totally campy flick featuring Cathy Moriarty and RuPaul as the camp’s staff, Clea Duvall as a fellow camper and Natasha Lyonne as the cheerleader.

Bound: Gritty, tough, stylish and thrilling, this crime drama from the Wachowski brothers (those Matrix guys) brings together a tough ex-con (the sultry Gina Gershon) and a mobster’s girly girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly) who scheme to change their lives in more ways than one. (And, bonus, check Gershon out in Prey for Rock & Roll, where she fronts an all-girl rock band called Clam Dandy.)

Go Fish: So, you’ve come out, you’re still not ready to step inside a lesbian bar but you want to hear “real lesbians” talk. Then rent this movie from Rose Troche and Guinevere Turner (who any L Word fan will tell you are two women to pay attention to). This looking-for-love story plays like a conversation you accidentally stumbled into and no one asked you to leave—and that’s a good thing.

If These Walls Could Talk 2: This trio of tales features very different stories of lesbian couples spanning several decades. From the sadness of a widowed partner’s loss (Vanessa Redgrave is heartbreaking), to the exploration of feminism and gender roles in the 1970s (Michelle Williams is spunky), to a giddy couple trying to get pregnant (Sharon Stone and Ellen DeGeneres), this is a moving film. In fact, if your mom is having a tough time wrapping her head around your coming out, it might help to have her watch the Vanessa Redgrave segment. But only that segment. Don’t overwhelm her.

Imagine Me & You: Calling all lesbians divorced from men: A bride (Piper Perabo) is walking down the aisle to her groom. On the way there, she locks eyes with the florist (Lena Headey of Fox’s Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Suddenly, her marriage doesn’t seem like it will work anymore.

D.E.B.S.: Yes, lesbian movies can kick butt. If you like Charlie’s Angels-style action and have a sense of humor on the snarky side, this is a fun one about a group of prep-school girls who are secret agents – and possibly more.

Saving Face: Here’s a fun coming-out story: A young Asian American doctor (Michelle Krusiec) is struggling with how to tell her traditional family she’s a lesbian. Then her widowed, middle-aged mom (Joan Chen) gets pregnant and won’t tell anyone who the father is. Talk about pulling focus.

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