14 Feel-Good Summery Lesbian Movies for Summer Lesbianing

Summer is for warm, feel-good movies! Unfortunately, the majority of lesbian movies end with women throwing themselves from the roofs of buildings or having their hearts obliterated. But there are a handful of lesbian films guaranteed to make you smile or swoon or just feel a general sense of contentment about the our beautiful queer world. Below are 15 such movies, hand-selected for you by Riese and Heather.


Bumblef**ck U.S.A. (2014)

Okay it does start out with a buried gay — but that leads a Dutch teenager to small-town America to make a documentary about queerness, and also of course she falls for an American girl. Their chemistry is sizzly, and Riese found this movie genuinely compelling.

The Intervention (2016)

Kayla found Clea DuVall’s directorial debut charming (but extremely white). It’s ostensibly about a group of old friends coming together to have an intervention, but it turns out all the friends’ lives are falling apart in one way or another. DuVall also reunites with But I’m a Cheerleader‘s Natasha Lyonne and their on-screen chemistry is as sparkling as it always was.

The Summer of Sangailė (2015)

The Summer of Sangailė is a bittersweet lesbian coming-of-age story — emphasis on sweet. First loves aren’t usually forever loves, but the best first love stories capture the ache of discovery and departure in a good way, and this film absolutely hits that mark.

Summertime / La Belle Saison (2016) (France)

This French-Belgian romantic drama won the Variety Piazza Grande Award when it appeared at the  Locarno International Film Festival. It’s fraught! But also empowering! It also covers a lot of things: small town French feelings about gayness in the ’70s, the women’s liberation movement in Paris, women’s healthcare. It’s another bittersweet story, but every major gay lady character gets a happy ending.

My Summer of Love (2004)

This film has the distinction of being one of the few movies in 2009 — when queer women were even less likely to exist on film, if you can believe it — of receiving a This Lesbian Movie Doesn’t Actually Suck award from Autostraddle dot com. “My Summer of Love’s poor little rich girl Tamsin [Emily Blunt] spends her boarding school suspension becoming really good friends with bored, working class Mona [Natalie Press],” Laura wrote at the time. “Their version of friendship includes kissing in rivers, lots of drinking and smoking and acting fancy, a nice little love and death pact, and motor scooters.” It’s another not-exactly-happy ending, but it’s worth the ride.

Princess Cyd (2017)

Heather called this the most hopeful queer film of 2017, and it made plenty of mainstream magazines’ best-of lists too. It’s a coming-of-age classic, including first queer love, but what’s refreshing about this one is there’s no hand-wringing from anyone about their sexuality and every woman with a major part comes away from their summer together more content and connected.

Water Lilies (2008) (France)

Hey, what if I told you this was… a coming-of-age story? You’d be shocked, I know. Well, it is! This one, however, involves a love triangle, synchronized swimming, and sex-spit (kind of) ten years before Disobedience. It also happens to be Heather’s partner’s favorite film trailer.

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

Sandra Oh expert Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is pleased to preemptively inform you that Under the Tuscan Sun “is definitely a lesbian movie.” Sandra Oh plays Diane Lane’s lesbian best friend who follows her to Tuscany after her girlfriend, Kate Walsh, leaves her. This one’s all about middle-age rediscovery and delicious pasta and everyone gets a family and a very happy ending.

D.E.B.S. (2004)

Summer is for superhero movies and lucky for you D.E.B.S. is both one of the greatest lesbian movies and greatest superhero movies of all time. It’s campy as all heck and super low-budget (Angela Robinson made it for $300,000) but it’s a masterpiece. It also stars Holland Taylor name-checking Jodie Foster. Please pair your enjoyment of this classic with Rachel’s thoughts on the film after watching it for the first time at our senior staff retreat in 2016.

Hearts Beat Loud (2018)

This is the best lesbian summer movie ever made. Ever. EVER. Just go watch it already, if you haven’t, and then enjoy Carmen Phillips’ brilliant review.

Rough Night (2017)

Rough Night seems like it’s going to be one thing but it’s actually kind of the opposite of that, and if the studio had just let the editor keep the bachelor party dudes out of it altogether it’d actually be a really great comedy. There are not one, nor two, but three queer women in this movie, and one of them isn’t even Kate McKinnon (and her truly wacko Australian accent!). Give it a try. There’s actually a lot to enjoy.

Mosquita y Mari (2012)

Ara promises Mosquito y Mari will make you relive all your teen gay feelings and Gaby Rivera says it “finds the bits that makes us who we are and blasts them onto a screen.” I think you’ll find them both to be very correct. Yes, it’s bittersweet but it’s also beautiful and tender and smart and warm and full of soul.

Desert Hearts (1985)

Desert Hearts‘, um, climactic sex scene still holds up as one of the best lesbian sex scenes in the history of lesbian movies (with absolutely no male gaze whatsoever) — and so does the story. It’s sort of like… if Carol and Therese switched personalties and worked all that out in the middle of the desert in the middle of summer in 1959.

Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Summer is also for sports movies and this biopic about Billie Jean King’s infamous tennis match with Bobbie Riggs is a great sports movie; the fact that there’s a breath-taking lesbian awakening in the middle is just icing on the cake.


What are your go-to feel-good movies for summer?

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 824 articles for us.

28 Comments

  1. I’d add “It’s in the water”, “Jessica Stein” “I can’t think straight” and “Imagine Me&You”.
    On a side note: I picked up “Under the Tuscan Sun” at Walmart for like five bucks, went into it entirely unspoilt and was a big “Grey’s” fan at the time.
    Well, you should’ve seen my face.

    • Omg seriously. I remember watching Under The Tuscan Sun back in the day around when it first came out and somehow I completely blocked from my memory the whole Sandra Oh playing the lesbian best friend part?!? I guess my brain just refused to process anything even remotely gay. Definitely gonna have to rewatch this movie now that I’ve discovered both Grey’s Anatomy and my lesbianism.

  2. Big upvotes to Princess Cyd!! ?? It was such a treat to watch and it made me miss Chicago summers– something I haven’t pined for in so longgg. The director, Stephen Cone, has made some other really excellent films that grapple with the intersection of faith and sexuality. Check out Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party (also very summery and gay) and The Wise Kids.

  3. I think I’ve said this before, but I’ve seen My Summer of love twice and still iffy about the ending. Plus, that whole weird *spoiler alert* religious scenes.

    I haven’t seen it in a while but Boy Meets Girl is fairly good, though a bit unrealistic; a small town in Tenessee being accepting of a bi/queer trans woman? Seem possible, but I am not fully buying into it.

  4. I am HERE for this list. So excited to watch these.

    My favorite feel good lesbian movies are Saving Face, I Can’t Think Straight, and Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement (which, last time I checked, isn’t possible to find anywhere now that Edie has passed ): ).

  5. i originally just came here to say i detested Princess Cyd but now i’m really apalled and disappointed that Autostraddle has included Rough Night in this list.

    what the fuck? the main “punchline” was originally “tee hee we killed a sex worker! and now we have to Hide It!” hilarious.

    yeah yeah ilana broad city blabla. i stopped watching that show after gabi blackmails a sex worker to get a job she wants by threatening to out him, something that terrified him.

    sex workers deserve better than having their livelihoods, and entire lives, taken lightly and used as a cutesy plot device.

  6. Desert Hearts, which I saw in an actual theatre in 1985, did things to me that I was (at the time) completely unable to understand. It still does things to me, but I understand a little better what’s going on.

  7. Under the Tuscan Sun has a character who is one of my roots, the reason why I own 3 black broad brim fancy hats, and for the longest time all my dressy clothes were B&W.

    Sandra Oh is great in it too as a no fucks left pregnant lesbian who ponders what an ass facial would be called and if plants know stuff.

    But Lindsay Duncan gayed me up.

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