In the triumphant wake of today's historic Supreme Court decisions, we present to you the best queer TV and movie couples that shattered prejudices, countered sexuality assumptions, and changed the way we view queer relationships. (And, in some cases, also made our hearts swell with belief in romance.) Their stories are as influential as they are honest. Their trials are as real and as normal as any other couple's, and their depth of passion is just as relatable, touching, honest, and nuanced as, say, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler (or any other "traditional" couples). Some of these couples introduced a new "normal," without flinching at controversy. These films and television shows helped prove that love knows no gender (#LoveIsLove)...and that's definitely something worth celebrating.
Written by Hayden Manders
Phillip & Steven, I Love You Phillip Morris
Sure, this flick played up the over-the-top opulent gay stereotype, but that doesn't deter from the genuine love these two shared on screen. Ewan McGregor was absolutely charming, and Jim Carrey's willingness to resort to con artistry to make their lives work despite all odds was...endearing. Just try to keep these two apart, world.
Photo: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.
Shug & Celie, The Color Purple
Though the relationship between mistress and wife is more explicit in the book, the interaction between Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) and Shug (Margaret Avery) is the one thing that keeps Celie going throughout her abusive relationship with her husband. In fact, Shug helps Celie become self-actualized, through tenderness and encouragement. Though they end up with men in the end, the power of their friendship helps save Celie — and Shug, too.
Photo: Courtesy of Warners Bros.
Armand & Albert Goldman, The Birdcage
Sure, two men owning a drag bar in South Beach in the nineties might, today, feel cliché-ridden if not for the earnest (and pleasantly over-the-top) performances from both Nathan Lane and Robin Williams. But the moment that Williams' Armand proclaims his stalwart love to Lane's Albert, despite his son's fianceé's bigotry, is a moment that, today, we can all appreciate.
Photo: Courtesy of United Artists See.
Hedwig & Tommy, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Alright, so they're technically exes, and Tommy did ride off the success of Hedwig, but there's a deep love here that can't be denied. Hedwig spent the whole film following Tommy's every move! Stalker-ish? Maybe, but hate is the closest form of love, right?
Photo: Courtesy of New Line Cinema.
Ennis & Jack, Brokeback Mountain
The sensitive intimacy between Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger is one of the most powerful on-screen romances of the 21st century. The slow burn of passion, the undeniable attraction, and closeness between both Jack and Ennis is painfully toe-curling, and the only thing that dampens their chemistry is the fact that, indeed, theirs is a doomed (but absolutely beautiful) love.
Photo: Courtesy of River Road Entertainment
Willow & Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Willow's a lucky girl. Tara's confidence in herself would make anyone fall in love with her. There wasn't anything gimmicky about their relationship, no dramatic build to their kiss — they genuinely cared for one another. If there's one couple we'd aspire to be, it's this one.
Photo: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.
Brittany & Santana, Glee
The struggle Santana and Brittany went through on screen was one of the most honest portrayals of coming to terms with sexuality on TV. When the girls finally accepted themselves, and Santana's feisty attitude shut down the boys rallying for girl-on-girl action, we cheered. While not completely groundbreaking, their relationship showed there's no difference between a straight relationship and a homosexual one.
Photo: Courtesy of Fox.
Violet & Corky, Bound
The Wachowskis' first film is a rare, realistic portrayal of lesbian love that manages to do some very sexy scenes without fetishizing and buying into pornographic tropes. The directors also said in a 1998 interview
that the studios initially wanted to change Corky's character to a man — thank goodness they stuck to their original!
Photo: Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures.
Cameron & Mitchell, Modern Family
It's pretty impossible to talk about queer representation in media without mentioning Modern Family. The show has its faults, but Mitchell and Cameron have paved the way for a more inclusive future of primetime TV.
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Angel & Collins, RENT
Their weird, star-crossed relationship was the healthiest one in the whole show. You could feel the love they had for one another, and the confidence they had in their relationship when they walked arm in arm, hugging and kissing down the sidewalk singing one of the most heartwarming songs in musical history.
Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures.
Alice & Dana, The L Word
These two were like an old married couple, and we mean that in the BEST way possible. They could banter, poke fun, and fight all they wanted to, but at the end of the day, they went to bed together and all was well with the world until, well...we won't spoil it.
Photo: Courtesy of Showtime.
Ben & McKinley, Wet Hot American Summer
McKinley and Ben — this is for you! Though the movie is a completely ridiculous, awesome, over-the-top comedy, something about the love scene between Michael Ian Black and Bradley Cooper (tube socks and all) really struck a chord with us. Plus, Cooper once told
Regis & Kelly that it was his favorite on-screen kiss...though to be fair, at that point, he hadn't yet met Jennifer Lawrence.
Photo: Courtesy of Eureka Pictures.
Jules & Nic, The Kids Are All Right
What we love about this flick, starring the amazing Annette Bening and an equally wonderful Julianne Moore, is that it tells the story of a lesbian couple with the same perspective that we're used to seeing in stories about straight husbands and wives. The mundanity of married life, the joy of children, the struggles of getting older — these are things that affect us all.
Photo: Courtesy of Focus Features.
Argon & Nasir, Spartacus
The story of Spartacus is filled with death and heartache and (no spoilers intended, but, hey, it was written in history) most of the couples are separated by death — except for Nasir and Agron, two of Spartacus' warriors who fall in love after Agron teaches the gentle Nasir to fight for himself. In a world of intense masculinity and brutality, Nagron's (known to their fans) depiction of romance is no different from any of the other couples — except, perhaps, it feels more honest.
Photo: Courtesy of Starz Productions.
Fergus & Dil, The Crying Game
This movie was groundbreaking in so many ways. Not only was there an interracial couple, but we also got a sensitive portrayal of a trans woman. It shattered assumptions of sexual identity. Their relationship was far from gimmicky: It was honest, and as real as any straight couple's. Love knows no gender, and Fergus and Dil proved that.
Photo: Courtesy of Channel Four Films.
Linda & Amy, If These Walls Could Talk 2
This is a rare instance of a made-for-TV movie with real substance. Following the first If These Walls Could Talk, which dealt with abortion and was one of the best-rated films in HBO history, the sequel looks at the joys and difficulties of same-sex love across several different decades. And though Vanessa Redgrave is a force to be reckoned with, our favorite couple to watch is probably Linda and Amy.
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Scott & Mike, My Own Private Idaho
Gus Van Sant's emotional retelling of Shakespeare's Henry stories is one of unrequited love — Mike (River Phoenix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves) aren't actually a couple, but Mike's earnest and committed adoration of Scott is perhaps one of the only redeeming things about the backstabbing character.
Photo: Courtesy of Fine Line Features.
Megan & Graham, But I'm A Cheerleader
While the subtext of this comedy is pretty serious ("curing" children of homosexuality is a dangerous, and family-ruining thing), the film proves one thing: You can't get in the way of true love. Especially when your true love will cheer for you to make sure you stick by her side.
Photo: Courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment.