Autostraddle Roundtable: The Lesbian Sex Scene That Changed My Life

Despite the aggressive sexualization of girl-on-girl action in mainstream society, queer women have long hungered for authentic representations of lesbian sex on television and in film. Heterosexuals are always getting naked and getting it on and kissing with tongue and in most cases lesbians and bisexual women are forced to settle for chaste pecks and fades-to-black where our sex scenes should be. But every now and then something that feels real or, at least, starts a light pre-party in our pants, breaks through the noise and changes our whole damn lives. Today we celebrate the scenes that made us the glorious humans we are… in bed. And maybe out of bed too. Or, yannow, represented really touching and impactful character development.


Kayla, Staff Writer

Lost Girl, Season One, Episode 8, Bo & Lauren

This is not the first lesbian sex scene I saw on television, but it was the first one I ever instinctively masturbated to, so it feels pretty damn significant. It was the summer after my freshman year of college, and I was living alone, working as a campaign manager in a small town in Michigan where I knew no one. I was lonely and also about to hit the peak of my lesbian denial. For some totally bizarre and indecipherable reason, I was extremely into this Canadian show about a hot bisexual succubus played by Anna Silk. So into it, in fact, that it turned me on more than any actual porn could. There are many better lesbian sex scenes out there, but this one will always have a special place in my heart/pants. Also, I feel like my life changes every time I see a lesbian sex scene on television. Is that relatable?


Erin, Staff Writer

Shameless, Season Six, Episode 11, Vee & Svetlana

My dream couple is Vee and Svetlana from Shameless. I consider any scene either one of them is in to be a sex scene, and so when they got together in the sixth season of the show, my brain melted a little bit. There’s Svetlana with this attitude and this Russian accent (I know it’s not real and it’s probably a bad one but I don’t give a shiiiiit because without getting into a whole thing about me and Eastern European accents I’ll just say it works for me) and then there’s Vee who looks like Vee and, I just, it meant a lot. Riese can attest to this. In this scene it’s their first time together – well, alone (they’d had a threesome the night before with Vee’s husband) – and they’re in the bar where they work. Svetlana is putting down chairs and locking doors with a purpose and they’re sassing each other and there’s a pool table involved and I want to kiss on the mouth whoever gave this the green light.

The lesbian sex scene that changed my life for the worse is any time Tina had sex on The L Word.


Faith, Staff Writer

Xena Warrior Princess, Various, Xena and Gabrielle

Every time Xena and Gabby sat in a hot tub together (“Okay now it’s YOUR turn to sit betwixt my naked thighs and have your back lovingly sponged”) it may as well have been a sex scene because that’s what I dreamt of later that night and the next two nights after that.


Laura M, Staff Writer

The L Word, Season Two, Episode 3, Carmen & Shane

My favorite part of movie/TV sex scenes is usually foreplay — everything that happens right up until they go full HBO. Like, I want to see girls fucking on screen, I like to see girls fucking on screen, but if I’m being really honest, the part of the scene that stirs me most deeply usually comes right before that, where they’re teasing and flirting with each other, effectively getting as close as possible to doing it without actually doing it. (And subsequently going on to do it. BAM.)

Anyway, this Carmen/Shane scene is exactly that! Lots of sexy anticipation building. In it, Carmen invents a game where they have to kiss and keep kissing but can’t touch each other beyond that. Whoever touches the other person first “loses” and then the “winner” gets to do “whatever they want.” Three guesses what that is.

The whole thing is very hot, but special thanks goes out to Carmen in those boy shorts. Goddamn. Get it, girl.


Laneia, Executive Editor

The L Word, Season Three, Episode 5, Shane & Cherie

This feels, to me, like the first thing everyone knows about me, but that’s only because it’s one of the first things I ever said on the internet and I’ve just kept on saying it for like a decade: the lesbian sex scene that harpooned any semblance of straightness I had left in my body was Shane and Cherie by the pool. I knew nothing about these characters or their storylines, and I’d come across the show by complete accident. Other girl/girl encounters I’d seen before had been choreographed for men — either so they could consume it or insert themselves into the center of it. In fact, even without knowing about the male gaze, I still internalized its message to the extent that I actually felt guilty and out of line for enjoying seeing women together in media, because those moments had obviously not been created for me. This strap-on sex at the edge of the water complete with believable thrusting was so clearly not for men in any way that it took me a few seconds to wrap my skull around what was happening. My brain finally scrambled up to the fact that she’d been wearing the strap-on the whole time and that’s when I shuffled off this mortal coil. I’m serious when I say that this sex scene literally changed the trajectory of my entire fucking life, and that’s insane. Thanks, Kate!


Molly, Staff Writer

Lost and Delirious, Paulie and Victoria (and Mary sort of)

It was summertime and I was 16, leaving my job at the walk-up Dairy Queen, terrified at what I was about to do. My parents were out of town, all my siblings were gone, and I was facing the rarest of evenings: A night alone in the house. My plan as a burgeoning baby queer was to try to blush all the way to the movie rental shop so I could get it out of my system and NOT blush when I rented Lost and Delirious. I knew it had lesbians in it, but I was not ready for the scene in which Mary (played by beautiful sad angel Mischa Barton) also understands there are lesbians at her boarding school. Piper Perabo played Paulie and Jessica fucking Paré plays Victoria and they are straight up getting it ON in the shared dorm room. Mary is like, “Oh whoa, what is happening with these girls and their love?” and I was like, “…..” nothing because I was dead. Coincidentally, Pauline was also dead at the end of the movie so I assumed lesbian sex was so good you’d trade dying young to experience it.


KaeLyn, Staff Writer

The L Word, Season Three, Episode 5, Alice and Uta

It’s not that I’m into lesbian vampires, but it’s not that I’m not into lesbian vampires, either. Uta caught both Alice and me by surprise with her light bondage boudoir and uncomfortably-hot high vamp femme dom gaze. Also, teaching a college course on “the queer vampire in literature and film” is like the weirdest/sexiest thing anyone could ever say in a speed dating situation, probably. What attracts me to the lesbian vampire, Uta? I guess, like Alice, I just “like the dark side”? I don’t know. I mean, I have a thing for goth-ish girls. My first celebrity girl crush was Christina Ricci and I’m inexplicably drawn to Scorpios, so you could say I have a type.

For all the sex on The L Word, there wasn’t a ton of sex with kink (that I remember anyway) and media portrayals of kinky sex are usually laden with shame or negativity. This scene stands out to me because it was a relatively positive and definitely consensual kink scene and also on a fundamental human level, I was just, like, not ready for how it made me feel in my pants when Uta hung Alice from the ceiling and bit her neck. I also love how this scene turns the actual lesbian vampire trope on its head, reclaiming women’s sexual agency by reflecting the lesbian vampire’s desire as consensual and freeing for Alice. Lastly, I think I always kind of identified with Alice not only because she was bisexual, but because she was pretty open to trying new things in the bedroom and her sex scenes were sometimes… funny? Like somehow the Alice and Uta scene was simultaneously hot and kinky and very silly, which is exactly how I like my light bondage queer lady vampire sex.


Rachel, Managing Editor

After Sex, Mila Kunis and Zoe Saldana

I have never watched the full movie After Sex and never will. I don’t even know how I found out about this scene — did someone tell me? Was it on tumblr??? What are their character’s names even?? — but I watched the clip of it on YouTube over and over and over in my college dorm room. It definitely wasn’t the first lesbian sex scene I had seen, and honestly calling it a sex scene is a little bit generous: there’s a few seconds of oral sex that happen entirely under a blanket and which is almost immediately undercut by the receiver of the oral sex, Mila Kunis, telling Zoe that she definitely isn’t into her or even attracted to women. The only other physical contact they have is about three seconds of fingering, again under the pretext of Mila Kunis’s straightness.

Something about it felt so real, though — maybe that the characters were the same age as me, maybe that both of them were struggling with squaring identity with attraction when my own identity still felt very newborn and fragile, maybe that Zoe Saldana’s voice is really hot. Maybe I don’t need to do that much psychoanalyzing about why I wanted to see Zoe Saldana finger a girl in a miniskirt in the middle of a library and then lick her fingers and say “You taste so fucking good.” Sometimes good things just come to us and we don’t have to question why! But at the same time, it was the first sex scene I had seen that felt like it could happen in my life, in that it was fraught and weird and kind of aborted due to being in a university library and everyone involved in it was obviously in way over their heads. Was I Zoe? Was I Mila? I didn’t know! I do know that when I was with the other senior editors earlier this summer we rewatched this scene together and I don’t think any of us spoke or even breathed until it was over. God bless.


Priya, Staff Writer

The L Word, Season Two, Episode 1, Shane and Carmen

Shane and Carmen were one of my favorite couples in the whole series and having just embarked upon the wonder that is The L Word as a closeted baby dyke, the scene where they meet and then subsequently have sex in the DJ booth is so hot. Though Shane and Carmen have several hot sex scenes in the series, somehow this first one just stayed with me. I think it helped that I somehow identified with Shane (in what I now call the the lesbian “Do I want to be her or be IN her” theory) or that I found Carmen so strikingly beautiful. Either way, the thought of THAT happening the first time you meet someone was such a turn on, and I loved rewatching this (and their other hot scenes) in college when I embarked upon the journey of coming out to myself.


Heather, Senior Editor

Fingersmith, Sue and Maud

Because I grew up and spent my early 20s around the kind of super Christians who don’t swear or drink alcohol or have sex or watch R-rated movies, I spent most of my whole life listening to my friends get grossed out whenever two women got close enough to even hint at their mouths touching. I remember this one time two women kissed in a shady corner in a party scene in the first five minutes of The Fast and the Furious and every single one of my church friends dove toward the TV to turn it off and get Satan’s propaganda off the screen. So I wasn’t going looking for any lesbian sex scenes, I’ll tell you that. Luckily, YouTube was hyped on its new “recommended videos” algorithm and since I kept watching Pride and Prejudice clips it thought I might be interested in BBC’s adaptation of Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith. Reader, I sure was. It was like, “La la la Victorian family drama” and then Sue’s helping Maud take off her gloves and then Sue’s unbuttoning Maud’s gown and then Sue is kissing Maud and then Sue is ON TOP OF MAUD and there’s panting and gasping and writhing and whimpering. The violins kept getting more and more excited and so did I and by the end of that three-minute scene I was gay.


Raquel, Staff Writer

Black Swan, Nina and Lily

Up until Black Swan, the only girl-on-girl sex scenes I had seen were from The L Word (and shoutout, like many, to the iconic Carmen-Shane scene). I’d had a huge crush on Natalie Portman born when she shaved her head and gave me shades of queer feelings in V for Vendetta. Black Swan came out of nowhere and surprised me with a super-hot scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, complete with a jump-scare at the end. This scene was scary, graphic, raw. There’s an amazing moment when Kunis wipes her mouth. I watched it between my fingers, unsure if I was allowed to be watching this, overwhelmed by its muchness, realizing in that moment really just how very very gay I am.


Yvonne, Senior Editor

Lost and Delirious, Paulie and Tori

My elementary school best friend had moved to a different high school but we were still friends on Myspace. From what I could gather from her Myspace page, she was gay and her favorite movie was Lost and Delirious. I was intrigued by the movie. I was 17 and I was falling for my high school best friend hard. We had already kissed and fooled around but I was still trying to make sense of it all and figure out what the fuck I was doing. I wanted so desperately to watch Lost and Delirious because it was the first lesbian film I had ever encountered. I knew renting it would be too risky. I had dial-up internet at home so loading an entire pirated film would’ve taken several uninterrupted hours. Luckily, my older sister lived alone in her own apartment with high-speed internet and I would always ask her if I could go over to use her internet to do my homework. She wasn’t home one day when I went over to her place to finally watch Lost and Delirious. It was the first time I watched lesbian sex and it was like WOAH. It was forbidden and it was hot. Paulie and Tori were teenagers like me and had full on sex in their dorm room while their roommate Mouse was sleeping, which like, wow, they really did not give a fuck, huh? I was doing the same thing they were doing but definitely not with a third person in the room, in fact, we actively tried not to get caught like normal teenagers. Watching that scene was like finally connecting all the dots. No, I wasn’t just into my best friend; I was also very into hot women making out and fucking each other.


Riese, Editor-in-Chief

The L Word, Season One, Episode 10: Shane and Cherie

It wasn’t my idea to rewind the scene — Shane in her glasses, leaning over Cherie’s salon chair, asking “What do you want?” — but I didn’t mind that Krista wanted to rewind it again and again, and bring it up later and then again. Krista was my roommate, a best friend from boarding school, with whom I fell in love with Shane. Krista’s like a Kinsey 1, maybe, but Shane transcends that, much to everybody’s alternate delight or chagrin. We could share a crush like we’d shared Jordan Catalano. A mere 20 minutes later, Cherie invites Shane to her home for a blow-out and makes her sexual desires known and BANG, Shane does her little “oh okay” smile and they’re tearing each other’s clothes off, and of course Cherie is in like a full lingerie set and Shane’s wearing a white button-up without a goddamn bra. After that episode I couldn’t stop thinking about Shane. I wasn’t sure yet what it meant, only that I needed a Shane-themed screensaver and I kept starting fights with my boyfriend. Prior to this situation I’d never seen two women just fuck like that, raw and hungry — they weren’t in love (yet), they weren’t best friends with/without sexual tension, they were just two hot women who wanted it. I wanted that too.


Alaina, Staff Writer

Mango Kiss

I waited a long time after coming out to have sex. A lot of that was because I came out really young and was not interested in sex yet, but I also think that I didn’t know how to ask for the kind of sex I wanted to have. For as long as I’ve had sexual fantasies, I’ve had kinky sex fantasies. There were no sex scenes between women that were even remotely kinky though. And then I saw Mango Kiss. And y’all Mango Kiss as a whole is a mess, but it’s a story about two queer women discovering kink and role play and enjoying kinky sex. When one of the characters, Sassafras calls her partner Daddy, I remember feeling so seen. I also remember that I was wearing headphones and I still looked around to make sure no one heard it and thought I was weird for being into it. It was scary to watch because I felt like a part of myself was being laid bare in front of my very eyes, and if I admitted out loud that this was what I was into, then I couldn’t go back. The scene is so honest, and the whole movie is all about queer women and queer women’s communities. And it stuck with me. It took me a while after beginning to have sex to bring kink into my sex life, but it was that scene that made me brave enough to to say it out loud. If someone had made a movie about it, I knew I couldn’t be the only one.

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74 Comments

  1. I’m too young to have seen a lot of these, at least when they aired, but a big one for me was when Melanie and Lindsay had sex with their friend Leda on QaF. Before that scene, I identified as “an ally” and a “f– hag” to explain why I watched the show. After that scene… let’s just say I had some answers about myself!

  2. L Word seasons 1 forget the episode, but Alice and Lisa are about to play with toys used on Lisa. It was the first time I saw something on TV that wasn’t marked as a fetish, gbq male, or offensive. Later in the season, like most story line in the L Word, Alice undoes the good by asking if the cis man(she likes) is into anything weird, and if sex will be standard(I don’t think she used those exact words). Ugh.

  3. Its a tie between The L Word Season 2, episode 13 when Shane and Carmen have sex for the first time as a couple and of course the Shane/Cherie Jaffe scene from season 3, episode 5. In fact, I think I’m going to go watch that episode right now, brb

  4. YO THAT SCREENSHOT OF LOST AND DELIRIOUS “I WILL NEVER LOVE ANYBODY THE WAY I LOVE YOU. OK?

    HAS ME WANTING TO THROW MYSELF OUT THE WINDOW

    Also important note: boarding school in american movies is very much catholic school in south america

    and that was my life

    okay bye i wanna die now

  5. Helena and Dylan at the beach house during sunset, I don’t even remember what it was about that scene, and of course, the one Carmen quoted above.
    With Lost Girl, episode three struck me.
    Bo just runs her hand up the dean’s calf to seduce her, and it was so hot and so sensual and so unapologetic and there had never been anything like that on TV before.

  6. Nan and Kitty in the BBC’s adaptation of Tipping the Velvet. I’ve had an insane crush on Keeley Hawes ever since.

    Nan: “May I really…touch you?”

    Kitty: “I think I shall die if you don’t” *STRATEGICALLY MOVES NAN’S HAND*

    18-year-old me: *internal screaming*

  7. It wasn’t even in the actual film, but I remember finding the sex scene from DEBS on Youtube and thinking yes, this is what I want. Although I did have a huge crush on Jordana Brewster then so that might have had something to do with how many times I’ve watched that clip…

  8. if these walls could talk 2, the scenes between chloë sevigny/ michelle williams and the incredibly true adventure of two girls in love.

    so i’ve just spent the last fifteen minutes trying to find the movie that made me fall in love with nicole ari parker and i found it, exiled: a law and order made for tv movie following det. logan after he beat up the mayor. anyway, nicole was in it and when i saw her in two girls in love my brain melted. see childish me thought that this movie def meant she was gay.

  9. I forgot how much the “After Sex” Zoe Saldana/ Mila Kunis scene meant to me once upon a time, but I also watched it- divorced from ANY context of the movie, which I still haven’t seen over a decade later- at least 3 dozen times on YouTube when I was a baby gay. And perhaps more.

    Technically, it’s more sensual than it is graphic, but it rang my every alarm bell. It helped me understand my sexuality and what turned me on that much clearer at a time when everything was influx for me. And for that I will always be grateful.

    Thanks Rachel for the memories!

  10. But I’m A Cheerleader!!! Pretty sure I watched the movie for the first time the summer after my freshman year of college when I was telling myself I was straight but just “curious” while watching every single movie with lesbians in it that I could find. I watched Graham and Megan’s scene over and over and overrrrr again on Youtube.

  11. The lesbian sex scenes that changed my life were any of the scenes involving Jaime Murray and Lucy Lawless (of which there are a few) from that exceptionally explicit Spartacus prequel that was on Starz back around 2011ish.

  12. Let’s just say that Lost Girl was a gigantic Ode to Masturbation.

    But, even after being around the block for a few years in Lesbianland, that sex scene between Amanita and Nomi was A M A Z I N G!!!!!!!

  13. Bound. Came home after school one day and was having a bowl of cereal and noticed that my mother–who liked to pick up random crappy VHS tapes at the store–was watching this strange movie with two hot women in the living room, piquing my interest…and then the sex scene (the first one) started playing out. Lol. I’m pretty sure I stood there horrified, then stole the tape and watched it like ten more times alone.

  14. It’s not a sex scene, but that first kiss scene with Rachel and Luce in Imagine Me & You in the back of the flower shop.

    I watched it as super-in-denial gay in college, and that one kiss did more for me than any straight sex (or kissing) scene ever. Even to this day, nine years later, it still makes me ache – in a good way – when I think about it.

  15. Adventure Time made me realize I am a lesbian. I was watching the episode where Ice King broke his crown. PB and Marceline went to the ice kingdom to have dinner and it automatically clicked in my head that Marceline and PB used to date. All of a sudden I thought “that is why it never works, because I am a lesbian. I want this type of relationship.” Marceline and I are also half black, although I am not half demon, nor do I have blue skin. I feel a weird connection to this cartoon character.

    • Also, “Henry and June” was in the NC17 section of the video rental store, right near the porn. I was mortified to wander over there in my small town, but did it anyway, because…I mean…Uma.

  16. Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in “The Hunger.” I just watched it again to make sure, and I’m pretty sure everyone in this library can see the steam rising off my body.

  17. Personal Best. It was the first lesbian sex scene that I saw and it made me feel veeery uncomfortable. At the same time I felt at some level that I need to get over this feeling because this is/will be my life: I need to not feel uncomfortable even if this is so weird and almost unthinkable. Two women together!? I don’t remember much about the sex scene but it was enough that it was there. Plus Mariel Hemingway. This was early 1990s.

    • That was a great one. Sometimes I think “changed my life” as the hottest thing ever, but the first time you see it and it makes you really uncomfortable? That’s another kind of life-altering.

  18. I’m not actually sure but I think that the first time I’ve seen something that could be considered sex between two women was in Basic Instinct with Sharon Stone… that particular scene in which she is sitted in a toilet with a woman sitting in her lap woke up something in me. After that, I remember seen Heavenly Creatures with Kate Winslet and, although I’ve hated that ending, that scene stuck with me for a very long time!

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