When I think of movies that feature a gay relationship, I think of cool, aesthetic tones and wide shots paired with extreme close-ups. I think of long, drawn-out scenes of two boys staring at each other from across a locker room with no dialogue and very little background music. I think of a sense of forbiddenness. While some of these movies are absolutely gorgeous, they make the subject of gay teen relationships seem so unspeakable that they barely even speak about it in the actual movie.
So you go to the opposite end of the spectrum—the campy, colorful comedies that let you in on all the gay jargon. These play up stereotypes to the extreme, the script is comprised almost entirely of sex jokes and, usually, all the main character wants is to get laid. And when that inevitably happens, they don’t leave out any details.
Your last choice is a movie like Mean Girls or Easy A, which revolve around a straight girl navigating the trials of straight relationships with a gay best friend. They’re almost always the most exaggerated stereotype of all; outfits are played up while storylines are played down. Sometimes their sexuality isn’t even addressed outside of that—they assume that putting a boy in tight jeans and a sequin scarf says enough.
The thing is, not all gay men are effeminate. And, for that matter, not all straight men are masculine. Not all lesbians are butch. No group of people are exactly the same across the board. It’s officially 2016, and it’s time for these cookie-cutter, two-dimensional characters to bite the dust.
All of the gay films I could find as a teenager—especially the lesbian ones—were the kinds of movies that I had to watch in the dead of night, praying that no one would walk in during the inevitable sex scenes. I started to think that all of my future relationships with girls were going to revolve around sex as much as those movies did and that idea literally terrified me. Even now, years later, I can’t think of a single gay character that has really resonated with me. Everything is always aestheticized to death or really glamorized. The L Word is a good example of the glamor. It was nice to see a group of strong, successful gay women, but none of their lives looked anything like my friends or mine.
I was talking to a friend not too long ago about how I—and most of my gay friends—will watch basically any movie that features a gay storyline. Even if it’s just implied. Even if it’s awful. Somehow, we’re satisfied by it, despite all of those things. But honestly? I’m sick of being okay with subpar stories.
I want to see movies like 50 First Dates with two female leads. I want gay superheroes. I want bisexual characters that aren’t sex-crazed. I want to see a transgendered main character starting college. I want to see strong, devoted lesbian couples. We deserve representation. The first step to getting it is to stop settling.