The Best Queer Movie Scenes of 2023

Sex scenes, fight scenes, a fanfic-worthy cameo. The best queer movie scenes of 2023 are as varied as the films that contain them. Listed below are cinematic moments that announce their greatness with the volume all the way up and smaller moments that land simply because of the way two actors look at each other.

For a long time, queer films were thought to follow certain tropes. But these films show the potential when queerness is the basis of — or sneaks into — horror movies, broad comedies, comic book adaptations, and indescribable arthouse fantasias. These moments are proof that it was a great year to be queer at the movies.

Death of a Party, All of Us Strangers

Best Queer Movie Scenes of 2023: Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal kiss in darkness, a single flight shining between them.

I’m always going to love a gay club scene and this is one of the best. At this point in the film, only four actors have appeared on-screen, always in quiet solitude. But now Adam and Harry are going out in public and what follows is a drug-fueled mix of pleasure and terror. Set to Blur’s “Death of a Party,” this sequence is transcendent, finding a way to continue the film’s liminal solitude even in a space pulsing with other people. It emphasizes the power of the queer club, as well as its limits in keeping out grief. — Drew

Fran Sees Ghosts, Bad Things

Annabelle Dexter Jones in a white top looks panicked.

I already wrote about this scene in the annual update of Autostraddle’s Scariest Movie Moments list, but it’s just so good so I have to shout it out here. I was tempting to choose something from the very end of the movie, which is a veritable bloodbath, but as much as I do enjoy the descent into mayhem at film’s end, this slightly quieter moment when Fran sees ghosts eating breakfast at the hotel has stayed with me much longer. — Kayla

The Big Game, Bottoms

Best Queer Movie Scenes of 2023: Rachel Sennott looks concerned as football players approach from the side.

Look, I could try to intellectualize this, but here’s what it comes down to: Sometimes I just like to see people knock the sit out of each other? Not in real life, obviously! Of course! But a beautifully crafted fight choreography on screen? The adrenaline rush of watching from your seat, the fluidity of the bodies, the perfectly executed sound engineering behind a knuckle crack? I’m a simple girl. Call me basic. But sometimes it just doesn’t get better than that, and Bottoms had one of the best fights I’ve seen in a long time.

That’s probably already a given, since the entire premise of Bottoms is Fight Club, set in the tone of Jennifer’s Body meets a Natasha Lyonne comedy, starring horny teen lesbians — but the fighting in Bottoms is so good. It’s equal parts absurdist and grotesque, exhilarating and hilarious, it nearly hits all its beats exactly as you’d hope it would land (I swear the “hitting” pun is not intended, this just writes itself). But the extended final sequence, set during a football game against a rival school, is an extended, pummeling, dive of one special effect after another. Squish sounds and blood everywhere and bodies thrown into the air with something that approaches gleeful abandon.

I am so far from violent in my actual life, and maybe that’s why the release of violence on screen often calls to me, but I have seen a lot of fights in movies over the course of my life. Bottoms a teen comedy made for a primarily queer audience, is not the kind of place where you expect to see some of the greats in the genre. But I would put it up against any other action film this year (and hell, probably last year too). It kicks ass.— Carmen

Everything about Bottoms was absolutely absurd but the way they really went for it in that final fight scene on the football scene was absolutely transcendent. I have never in my life laughed like that for something like that before. — Riese

Honestly, yes, this scene, SO MUCH. INSPIRED. — Nic

It took all of my self control to not actually stand up in the movie theater during this scene and CLAP. — Kayla

The Boat, The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future

A close up on a trans teenage girl with short hair and a feathered rainbow collar.

For trans people distant from their biological family, there can be a different sort of connection to ancestors. If queer people have always been around then somebody in our family’s history would have understood us — or even were us. Transfeminine Tomás is feeling disconnected from her family when she stumbles upon the ghost of her grandmother. They end up on a docked boat together and talking leads to tears, tears to laughter. It’s a beautiful moment of intergenerational connection and proof of the power of magical realism on-screen. — Drew

Theo and Alisha Embrace Before Parting Ways, How To Blow Up a Pipeline

Sasha Lane and Jayme Lawson lean their heads together in an emotional moment.

I love that this is an unflinching political movie with a tremendous amount of heart. It really does harness the energy, care, and complexity of so many of the activists I know in my actual life. They feel real, and their politics feel rooted in both the personal and the communal. In this film in particular, I love how we get to see them all be just normal young adults: getting drunk, hooking up, teasing, laughing. One of those moments demonstrates just how queer love/care can sit inside of activism. Theo and Alisha share a genuinely romantic moment mid-scheme, and even though it’s fraught — one of them seriously injured, the other dying but also probably about to take the brunt of the fall for what they’ve just done as a group — it’s such a triumphant and human moment. Alisha didn’t even want to get involved initially, but her love for Theo and understanding of why this work is important to the person she loves convinces her to throw her all into it. I love that we get a quiet but burning queer love story nestled in this film. — Kayla

The Turn, Jagged Mind

Two women shrouded in darkness smile at each other while sitting on a bed.

There’s a moment about 30 minutes into The Jagged Mind when suddenly, juuust before the official reveal, you realize exactly what’s going on. I really don’t want to spoil this movie for you so I can’t explain it more than that, but just know that Maisie Richardson-Sellers and Shannon Woodward act the hell out of this whole movie, but there’s a shift in this scene in particular that changes the whole movie and the way we see their whole dynamic and it’s very fun to watch. — Valerie Anne

Captain Valkyrie, The Marvels

Tessa Thompson kisses Brie Larson on the cheek in front of a black background.

When Marvel Studios released the final trailer for The Marvels, and I spotted .3 seconds of Tessa Thompson, oh the gasp that I gasped! What would her role be? Would we finally get canon on-screen confirmation of a Carol and Valkyrie relationship? Would she swagger in wearing the hell out of that suit and decide to join the titular Marvels in vanquishing the BBEG? Well, I guess technically neither of those technically happened, but there is absolutely no way to convince me that their interaction was purely platonic. Tessa and Brie have publicly hinted at a Valkyrie and Carol relationship, even going so far as to enter Ace Comic Con and immediately say they’re there to “ship”! Plus, we recently learned that Marvel allegedly cut a scene that would have confirmed their relationship.

When Carol mentions to Monica and Kamala that she called a friend for help, even the tone of her voice changes; it’s softer, sweeter, and reminiscent. And then Valkyrie shows up, the two embrace in a way that reeks of “we dated, the timing was off, we broke up, but we still have incredible chemistry”, and I swear I may have bruised poor Valerie Anne’s arm in the theater with how hard I smacked her. Their eye contact, the kiss on the cheek, the way they touched each other’s arms! Whew! Is it hot in here? It is? Okay great. I’m really gonna need Marvel to stop playing in our faces one of these days, but for now, you can catch me playing that scene on repeat in my head and on the inside of my eyelids. — Nic

Gosh I know it was just a few seconds but it was the gayest few seconds we’ve gotten in a Marvel movie. The slow kiss on the cheek, the lingering hand hold. You cannot tell me these two weren’t friends with benefits who tried to date and decided actually they’re better as friends because one has a kingdom to rule and the other has a universe to save. I also hadn’t watched any of the trailers before I saw the movie so I forgot Valkyrie was even going to in this movie so I SQUEALED. Nic says she bruised my arm but I bruised her right back. We were… NOT chill. Like the way that scene was filmed I wouldn’t be surprised if they filmed a take with a full mouth kiss in case they were allowed to get away with it and whichever Marvel exec hates lesbians and has a stick up his ass was like “absoLUTEly not, I gave you a rainbow pin in the Wandaverse movie SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR GAY STUFF” and didn’t let them keep it. But Brie and Tessa know exactly what they’re doing and for that, I will always thank them. Well that and the “‘How do I top lesbians?’ ‘I’m sure the lesbians could show you.'” panel moment that lives rent free in my head. — Valerie Anne

Baby’s First Heartbreak, Nimona

Two cartoon girls cross a river on a rock together.

All through the movie Nimona, you see little cracks in her shell, you see fear beneath the bravado, you know Something Happened to her, but it isn’t until a flashback toward the end of the movie that we get to see it. Where we see a montage of Nimona not fitting in anywhere until finally she finds someone who accepts her for who she is, and everything is so cute and sweet and perfect…until it isn’t. Until we see why Nimona is the way she is, why she’s guarded, why she keeps mostly to herself. It’s a beautiful scene and I just rewatched it to get this screenshot and I’m CRYING AGAIN DAMN IT. — Valerie Anne

The Last Leg, NYAD

An underwater shot of Diana Nyad swimming as Bonnie floats behind her.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lesbian friendship portrayed onscreen like we had the pleasure of seeing in Nyad, and Jodie Foster is just so good in her bandana and her cargo shorts and her Diet Coke, and she gets into the water to be with Diana because this time she’s gotta be the one to push her even though it’s usually Diana doing the pushing. I cried for real when Diana limped onshore and Jodie Foster is like “GIMME UR ANKLES” and then Diana collapses into Jodie Foster’s arms for this big lesbian hug???!!!! And all the Olivia lesbians are waiting for her onshore??? CINEMA —- Riese

Stéphane Slams Head on Wall as Distraction, Origin of Evil

Laura Calamy walks up a grand flight of stairs.

It’s giving Gone Girl tbh! This fun and twisty thriller is understated for much of its run, but when our protagonist improvises in order to keep her own scam going by literally SLAMMING HER HEAD AGAINST A WALL, I knew we were cooking. — Kayla

The Bathtub Drain, Saltburn

Best queer movie scenes of 2023: In a dark bathroom Barry Keoghan sits on his knees in a bathtub and stairs at the emptying drain.

I could write an essay about the meme-ification of film criticism — in fact, I probably will! — and often I feel frustrated with the way movies get reduced to a buzzy moment, image, or, even, release date. But this is not one of those times! Sometimes the internet latches onto something for a reason and it’s very fun! For me, Barry Keoghan licking Jacob Elordi’s cum water is the perfect moment for internet film criticism. Finally, we’re done debating whether there should be sex scenes and instead celebrating a moment of bodily fluids that puts the Call Me By Your Name peach to shame. It’s a sign of the character’s desperate obsession and an encapsulation of the movie’s pathetic sexuality. Whether you loved the movie or hated it, you have to admit this scene WORKED.

My only complaint is the water could’ve been thicker.

What are your picks for the best queer movie scenes of 2023?

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The TV Team

The Autostraddle TV Team is made up of Riese Bernard, Carmen Phillips, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Valerie Anne, Natalie, Drew Burnett Gregory, and Nic. Follow them on Twitter!

The TV has written 232 articles for us.


  1. Yep. Marvel’s desperation to appeal to international markets has led to some pretty nasty decisions. The Valkyrie cuts; the queer baiting; the way they handled Loki’s sexuality (also why does he never use magic?!)

    It’s amazing that Marvel in 2023 continues to be less liberal than ancient Viking myths.

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