Not too long ago, before shows like Heartstopper were being released, it was really difficult to find content that centred around – or at least had mention of – LGBTQIA+ characters. I’m sure I’m not the only one who spent hours watching movies and shows just to see that one little hint of queer romance – a longing look, the brushing of hands, and if you were lucky, maybe even a kiss.
I’d spend ages trying to find the best LGBTQIA+ shows. Once I found ones that sounded good, it was near impossible for me to watch them amidst cancellations and region locks.
So in light of pride month, here are some of the films, shows and books that got me through high school.
Faking It first aired in 2014, following the lives of two best friends, Amy and Karma. In an attempt to gain popularity in school, they pretend to be lesbians – which, yes, is toxic as hell. BUT it turns out that Amy is really developing feelings for her best friend, and actually is a lesbian. Personally I found this one pretty cringey, but I was also living for it so it clearly wasn’t that bad!
In the Flesh
This one’s set after a zombie apocalypse, where a cure has been developed for zombies. The “zombies” – now referred to as partially deceased syndrome (PDS) sufferers – take medication to remain as human as possible. But more importantly, the main character, Kieran, falls in love with Simon. Both have PDS, and embark on a zombie romance arc. Their relationship grows as they fight for the equality of those with PDS in a town where severe tensions between the living and partially deceased constantly hits a boiling point.
This one is also set in a post-apocalyptic world, though this time 100 young people are sent to Earth – which was previously uninhabitable – from space, to test whether the conditions are liveable again. The planet had become unliveable after a nuclear apocalypse: so as a result, a number of people were sent to live in space on an Ark. It turns out that some managed to survive on earth, however, and it’s here we see the romance (and warfare) blossom. Clarke, who came down from space, and Lexa, who lived on earth, sported a glorious enemy to lovers storyline that I absolutely lived for.
For those of you who’ve watched the show, I will never forgive the writers for what they did…
Girls Like Girls
How could I mention LGBTQIA+ content without giving praise to Hayley Kiyoko’s Girls Like Girls music video! I don’t even want to know how many times I’ve watched this…
Go ahead and see the magic for yourself. There may even be a movie in the works, with Kiyoko asking fans to let her know if that may be something we want. And of course we do, so head over to her socials to make it happen!
Yes, I did start watching this purely because I thought “Castiel” was a thing. I got a few seasons in and asked my friend “when do Dean and Castiel finally get together?” She laughed at me, because (at that point at least), nothing had actually happened. So I was devastated. I stopped watching the show around season seven anyway, but apparently there are some words exchanged in the last episode between the pair…
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
This is by far my favourite LGBTQIA+ themed book – it’s also my second favourite book of all time. It’s set in the 90s and follows Cameron Post’s journey as she discovers her sexual identity. It shows her triumphs and downfalls as she learns more about herself, and is subsequently sent to a gay conversion camp. It’s an emotional read, but a very good one.
It’s also now a film starring Chloë Grace Moretz, though I’d recommend reading the book first. And not to brag, but the author responded to my DM a few years ago after I’d just finished reading the book for the first time…
Please, go torture yourself if you wish, because Netflix cancelled the show after season one. But it’s another classic enemies to lovers that ends on a major cliff hanger. Thanks, Netflix.
Rose and Rosie
Rose and Rosie are a married couple from the UK who share much of their life on YouTube. They’re a lesbian couple, and I found great comfort and joy in watching their journey from adorable couple, to their wedding, to the recent birth of their gorgeous boy Ziggy! They still post regularly now, so I highly recommend checking them out if you’re after a good laugh – particularly their Lez Confess series, where they react to stories submitted by fans!
Those are the things that I grew up with, but since then some incredible things have come out. I’d like to make a special shout out to The Haunting of Bly Manor, which I absolutely love even though it made me hysterical. I was far more invested in the slow-burn romance between Dani and Jamie than the main plot of the show!
Some other honourable mentions are Boy Erased, Love, Simon, Heartstopper(!), Euphoria, Atypical, One day at a time, and heaps more that I can’t possibly fit into the article!
But before I wrap up I have a bone to pick with writers: can we please stop killing lesbians off (or cancelling the shows) just as they find happiness?!
Drop the LGBTQIA+ content that got you through your teenage years in the comments.