Gay Hairplay: Top 11 Times a Girl Touched Another Girl’s Hair on TV and Film

Lesbian and bisexual gal pals caressing each other’s hair on TV and in movies has gotten a bad rap, probably because that’s what most fictional queer women have historically done instead of kissing on the mouth. But times are changing and women are actually having sex onscreen and when I was watching Marvel’s Runaways I was reminded that hairplay, when done right, can make a little gay heart hammer right out of its chest. It’s tender and flirty and intimate and it almost always betrays deep longing or leads to full-on smooching. And it turns out other people love this thing too! Staff Writers Valerie Anne, Kayla, and Carmen Phillips helped me assemble this list of the top 11 times a girl touched another girl’s hair on TV and in movies.

Gail and Holly, Rookie Blue

This is just Gail getting herself a soft butch haircut from the girl she’s in love with before that girl sliiides right down into the bathtub to make out with her face.

Yorkie and Kelly, Black Mirror “San Junipero”

“Please make this easy for me” is one of the sexiest things I have ever heard anyone say on television, and Kelly thinks so too. She caresses Yorkie’s hair and then immediately asks her to get into her car and go home with her.

Poussey, Orange Is the New Black

Carmen Phillips: “Does it count if the fictional lesbian in question is using her hair to flirt with me? Because what other reason would there be for Poussey doing this? Poussey knew what she was doing.”

Karma and Amy, Faking It

This moment in Faking It‘s second season, after Amy and Karma got thrown from their mechanical bull and Karma pulled Amy to her feet and sweetly, gently, fondly fixed her hair — it’s the one time I thought for absolute sure that Karma wasn’t kidding around, that she felt it too. (Amy thought it even more than I did.)

Carol and Therese, Carol

Up until Waterloo, Carol hadn’t deliberately touched Therese. They shared a close and coy moment with President McKinley but on New Year’s Eve she just walked right out of the bathroom, took a swig of beer, caressed Therese’s hair, gazed at her in the mirror, and then went right ahead and untied that robe.

Billie Jean and Marilyn, Battle of the Sexes

I’ve never felt weird watching a sex scene in a crowded movie theater, but watching Marilyn cut Billie Jean’s hair made me feel like crawling out of my own skin. It was so deeply intimate and sexy and sweet and also like watching someone get born. I still get shivers when I think about it, which may also be because this scene was filmed like an ASMR video on purpose.

Karolina and Nico, Marvel’s Runaways

After getting ready with Nico — in the same mirror! —Karolina reached up to help fix her hair and was buzzing with so much gayness by then I’m surprised she didn’t explode into a shower of rainbow glitter, even with her magic bracelet.

Naomi and Emily, Skins

This is one of my all-time favorite TV moments. After pushing and pushing and pushing Emily away, Naomi woke up beside her and before she even realized what she was doing she reached out to caress Emily’s hair. And then she woke up for real and bolted out of her bedroom like her pants were on fire. (But not Skins Fire; that doesn’t even exist.)

Shane and Cherie Jaffe, The L Word

When Shane touched Cherie Jaffe’s hair and asked her how she wanted it styled, Cherie simply said, “something different.” And by different she meant: GAY. Shane never did cut her hair but they did plenty of scissoring.

Root and Shaw, Person of Interest

Look, just because someone is caressing your hair so they can reach around with their other hand and remove a brain implant from behind your ear with a razor blade doesn’t mean they’re not also caressing your hair because they love you.

Stef and Lena, The Fosters

Lena was surprised when Stef chopped off her hair, and Stef was nervous to show it to her, but she did it because she was tired of the words “dyke” and “butch” having power over her and Lena got that and thought Stef looked sexier than ever. Lena tugged her new hair, played with it sweetly, and then dragged her wife right off to bed.

What’d I miss? Let me see those GIFs!

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. I love y‘all.
    I was reading this list, literally waiting for Spashley to pop up.

    P.S.: Definite Bonus points for Shoot. I didn’t even notice that until now, but it’s so them and so perfect. The byline for POI ought to read: Implants and sexy times—> Not what you‘re expecting.

  2. I respect all of these choices but when Alex Danvers touched Maggie Sawyer’s hair for the first time my heart stopped for like a full minute.

  3. The Naomi and Emily hair touch pure perfection…I have just re-watched series 3 and 4 of Skins (Skins fire NEVER happened). All these years later I cannot shout from the roof tops enough about how important this couple is in the whole grand scheme of things.

  4. – When Maggie and Alex have their first kiss, and after it Alex plays with Maggie’s hair, and then kisses her again.
    – When Maggie and Alex are breaking up, so Maggie puts on some music, they dance, and Alex reaches up to play with Maggie’s hair.

  5. When I’m sad I just look at that Yorkie and Kelly scene and the world feels like a better place.

    • Yesss! My girlfriend is in medical school so barely watches tv and this week I got to watch her watch san junipero for the first time and it was so beautiful and so amazing all over again and in such a different way than when I had watched it alone

  6. Btw., there‘s this movie called „Caramel“ and I just spent the last ten minutes looking for the trailer.
    It’s a movie about these women who work/own a beautysalon/haidresser’s.
    One of them is gay. Nothing too forward happens. Nothing at all, actually, but there’s this woman who comes into the salon once in a while, to get her hair cut and washed and it’s the most sensual thing ever, it’s meant to be, and it’s great because I don’t even remember them speaking, but it’s absolutely clear what their hair date means to both of them. Blink and you‘ll miss it at the 1:18/1:19 mark,
    The whole movie is on yt, though. Do yourself the favor and watch it, because it’s about life and female friendship AND it plays in Beirut, formerly known as the Paris of the Middle East.

  7. Oh you really need to watch Flozmin clips from Las Estrellas. So much hair touching, hair washing, hair brushing, HOT SHOWER SEX… ahem.

  8. May I respectfully submit Willow and Tara?

    I couldn’t find a picture of my favourite one but in the Yoko Factor when they’re at Giles’ place and Willow is on the computer and Tara is absentmindedly playing with her hair.

    But also:




    (not sure if these will work)

  9. I’m sensing this is another important entry in the future meta-post: “We’re hair, we’re queer: 11 times Autostraddle obsessed about women touching women’s hair in moving pictures”

  10. HOW DARE YOU forget the moment when Carol placed her hands on Therese’s shoulders while Therese played piano. That was absolutely a deliberate touch. If I were Therese, I’d have fallen right off that bench.

  11. Spashley, definitely!

    But also Mariah & Tessa! God, the way Tessa holds Mariah’s hair breaks my heart…

    And thisssssss:

    (Sorry for the double post… Still not sure if this will work… :P)

  12. Oh wow i was just reading a long, enjoying this post when suddenly Root’s face!! And Shaw. And now im crying in public and i dont know why.

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