The Black Lesbian Movie Project

Welcome to Autostraddle’s 2019 Black History Month Series, a deliberate celebration of black queerness.

Hey, hello, what’s up!

As we know, I’m a huge fan of black culture. I also think that almost anything can be made better if it were gayer, so Autostraddle (bless their hearts) is giving me the chance to be the change that I want to see in the world. Allow me to butch up our favorite black movies, thereby even making them even MORE fantastic than they already are!

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Coming to America

(L to R: Gina Yashere as Semmi, the best friend; Tessa Thompson as Imani, the love interest; and Lena Waithe as Akeem, the Crowned Prince of Zamunda)

Original Stars: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall
Original Plot: Eddie Murphy stars as the Prince of Zamunda, who convinces his father, James Earl Jones, to allow him to leave home for the first time to look for his true love.

Now, Let’s Make it Gay: Lena Waithe, Tessa Thompson, Gina Yashere

THIS IS PRIME LESBIAN MATERIAL. I mean, everything is if you try hard enough, but imagine it: Lena Waithe – faced with the possibility of an unwanted arranged royal marriage in Zamunda – leaves her black ass country to come to black ass QUEENS, NEW YORK with her black ass best friend, Gina Yashere, to look for and fall in love with her black ass QUEEN, Tessa Thompson!

Bonus: John Amos, returning in his 1980s role as the love interest’s father, still suddenly turns nice and tries to kiss up once he finds out Lena is royalty, but James Earl Jones pulls a Mufasa on his ass and scares the shit out of him once he finds out John Amos DARED to treat his daughter as if she wasn’t good enough for Tessa Thompson. Because you see in Zamunda, where they are lightyears ahead of us, gay is not just good – that shit is fucking stellar!

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Eve’s Bayou

(L to R: Lynn Whitfield as Roz Batiste and Viola Davis as the woman who will sweep her off her feet)

Original Stars: June Smollett-Bell, Lynn Whitfield, Samuel L. Jackson
Original Plot: Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is a young girl living in 1960s Louisiana when she finds out terrible secrets that can tear her family apart. Samuel L. Jackson plays the cheating husband, Louis. Lynn Whitfield is Roz, his wife, a black woman who has put up with a man’s bullshit for way too long. As Eve takes matters into her own hands, she learns that messing with spiritual magic affects more than just the one you cast your spell at.

Now, Let’s Make It Gay: Viola Davis

I AM HERE TO REPAIR ROZ BATISTE’S HEART AND I AM WILLING TO IMPOSE EVERY KIND OF MAGIC TO DO IT. Samuel L. Jackson is cheating on my girl and the whole Louisiana bayou knows it! I will not stand for it! So, when Roz and her sister-in-law Mozelle (Debbie Morgan) go out to the market and agree to get their fortunes told by a very-in-touch-with-her-easily-scares-children-side Voudou Priestess Diahann Caroll, imagine Roz’s surprise when Lady Diahann tells her that she’ll run into an answer that will solve all her problems later that very same day.

Who does my homie run into? NONE OTHER THAN VIOLA DAVIS, who smiles at Roz as they reach for the same vegetable. Roz is instantly smitten.

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Friday

(L to R: Me as Craig and Nia Long as Debbie, my long time neighborhood crush and soon-to-be girlfriend)

Original Stars: Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Nia Long
Original Plot: Ice Cube and Chris Tucker are best friends who are hanging out and getting high on a Friday. After losing his job, Craig (Ice Cube) spends the day sitting on his porch with Smokey (Tucker). They’re trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their day, when trouble comes along and decides for them.

Now, Let’s Make It Gay: Starring ME!

I’m not going to tell you that I pitched this post solely so all my favorite movies could have black lesbian leads and sidekicks.That is not why this came about at all. But, in this very movie, I will be the star because in my heart of hearts I believe that in some form of SOME UNIVERSE I’m destined to be with Nia Long.

You’ll see me in this movie shooting the shit with Smokey while we’re sitting on my porch, trying to figure out how not to get my shit wrecked by Big Worm and Deebo, and finally standing up to the neighborhood bullies instead of running away because HOW DARE DEEBO PUT HIS HANDS ON DEBBIE. Oh, and in the end? I get the girl.

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Soul Food

(L to R: Wanda Sykes as Wanda Sykes, Irma P. Hall as Big Mama Joe, and CCH Pounder as Deborah, Big Mama’s oldest kept secret)

Original Stars: Irma P. Hall, Vivica A. Fox, Vanessa Williams, Nia Long
Original Plot: Every Sunday, a black family gets together for family dinner. The three sisters: Teri (Vanessa Williams), Maxine (Vivica A. Fox) and Bird (Nia Long) struggle with loving each other through the pain as they cope with the possible loss of the foundation of their family, Mama Joe otherwise known as Big Mama.

Now, Let’s Make It Gay: CCH Pounder and Wanda Sykes for a special guest appearance

Maxine’s son, Ahmad, who looks up to Big Mama and is one of her closest confidants, is given an important truth one day. When he sneaks into Big Mama’s hospital room, he asks her why she always keeps an open chair at the table every Sunday. He’s expecting the same old story of how the chair is supposed to be a reminder that those they love are always welcome to join them even if they can’t always find their way back home. (Yo, sorry, not to hype myself up but that was a LINE! I got skills!) It’s the story that Mama’s girls have always recited with fondness as they think about their father.

This time, though, Mama Joe explains that it was for the woman she met at the grocery store fourteen years ago. Deborah (played by CCH Pounder). With a light in her eyes that Ahmad hasn’t seen before, Big Mama talks about the one who checked in on her nearly every day after she found her once tearing up in the vegetable department. The woman who came over when the rest of the family was busy at work or fighting or maybe even a mixture of both. The woman tried to get Mama Joe to worry a little less and laugh a little more. She saved the seat for the woman who pulled her from the kitchen to dance in the living room, all smiles, reminding Big Mama in that sing-song voice, “You weren’t born to stay in that kitchen all your life.” She saved the seat for the woman who knew after their dance was over, Big Ma would still go back and finish cooking. Because she knew cooking sprinkled itself into everything and everyone she loved.

At the end of the movie, Ahmad doesn’t just invite Faith – the cousin who only appears when she needs something and is misdirected as fuck, especially when she directs herself into her cousin-in-law’s pants – to the table. He invites Deborah, too. When everyone asks who she is, Deborah smiles and Ahmad says, “This is the woman that loved Big Mama in the way she deserved.”

(PS: Teri could have a girlfriend at a drop of a hat if she just chilled a bit. I’m imagining Bette Porter. Of course, because I still haven’t finished The L Word and I don’t know whatever possible true love Bette is supposed to have. But Jennifer Beals and Vanessa Williams ending up together as a badass hot lawyer dream team? It’s what we deserve.)

Also, Wanda Sykes NEVER comes to these family dinners and has no real role in the movie, but she happens to stop by for a quick second at the exact perfect time and everything is worth it ’cause she makes this face:

right when Vanessa Williams says the iconic line: “Faith fucked my husband!”

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The Wood

(L to R: Danielle Brooks, Samira Wiley, and Janelle Monáe as three childhood best friends competing to lose their virginity in the gayest coming of age story yet to be told)

Original Stars: Taye Diggs, Richard T. Jones, Omar Epps
Original Plot: Two stories wrapped in one, a man gets pre-wedding nerves and his best friends have to get him back on track before the big ceremony. As they do so, they reminisce over their friendship and how they fell in lust and in love back when they were just three black boys in the late 80s making a bet to see who could lose their virginity first.

Now, Let’s Make It Gay: Janelle Monáe, Samira Wiley, Danielle Brooks

This is going to be the same tale of three black women that are trying to get to one of their gay weddings on time, but keep fucking shit up as the bride-to-be questions whether or not she can stay with one person forever. As they go through their day – running to exes for help, fucking up their outfits and generally just being self-imposing hurricanes of chaos – they reminisce about the bet they made as teenagers as to who could lose their virginity first.

Now, you may think, mmm okay, that’s cool whatever – but think about it: We’re talking about three black girls deciding to lose their virginity to other girls. In the 80s. In black ass Inglewood, California. This is the best movie you will ever see because who even has the range, the nuance, the depth, THE COURAGE to tell a funny ass story where three black girls are ON A MISSION TO LOSE THEIR VIRGINITY ON THEIR OWN TERMS AND THEY END UP HAPPY AS SHIT??? Get Ava DuVernay and Dee Rees in here, this needs to happen immediately.

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Love & Basketball

(L to R: Sanaa Lathan as Monica and Gabrielle Union as Shawnee, high school enemies turned girlfriends)

Original Stars: Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Gabrielle Union
Original Plot: Quincy (Omar Epps) and Monica (Sanaa Lathan) are two neighbors that love two things: basketball and each other. The movie follows them through childhood and early adulthood as they work through family troubles, relationships, and staying true to their greatest love: basketball.

Now, Let’s Make It Gay: Let’s keep Sanaa Lathan and Gabrielle Union and get rid of Omar Epps!

You and I both knew this was coming.

Let us remember the small, but important mean girl part played by Gabrielle Union. In the second quarter of the movie, Quincy and Monica have not gotten together yet and Quincy decides to date Shawnee (Gabrielle Union) since Monica can’t give him a straight answer about whether she likes him or not. Shawnee’s  real pretty and loves to remind Monica that she’s not the kind of girl Quincy should be with. Because Monica is the type of girl that should be with Shawnee.

Instead of Quincy and Monica falling in love, Monica mistakes her feelings for Quincy as wanting to be with Quincy when she really wants to be like Quincy and date girls. This isn’t too much of a reach, Monica needs a treasure map and several compasses to acknowledge her feelings even though she’s always in them. Think about this, I really believe Monica usually forgets that emotions exist?? Like she can ball so hard motherfuckers wanna fine her, but does she know she’s also allowed to check in with her heart and be like “we doing okay in there, buddy?” Of course she doesn’t! And who better to remind Monica that she’s allowed to feel shit than the girl who gets a rise out of her the most?

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Girl’s Trip

(L to R: Queen Latifah as Sasha and Regina Hall as Ryan Pierce, old college girlfriends reunited)

Original Stars: Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish
Original Plot: Regina Hall stars as Ryan Pierce, a highly successful businesswoman, wife, and “next coming of Oprah” who decides to reunite with her college best friends at the Essence Music Festival. As she comes to terms with her failing marriage, she’ll need her friends now more than ever.

Now, Let’s Make It Gay: Still Regina Hall and Queen Latifah!

I have a 2,000+ word document on Girls’ Trip because THEY ALREADY COULD’VE MADE THIS GAY AND THEY ROBBED US. Ryan and Sasha (Queen Latifah) were most definitely together in college when Ryan got cold feet about coming out and instead started dating the football players because it was safer. She left Sasha and all her dreams in the dust. That’s already in the story, so all I’m asking for is the explicit declarations!!!

Show me where Ryan tries to talk to Sasha, but messes up all her words because she’s still supposed to be in love with her husband, except that’s not going well and Sasha is right here and she never thought she’d get to see her again. Has she gotten even prettier? Is that even possible? Is her smile even brighter? Ryan wonders to herself, “why have I been with that dude when I’ve only been reunited with Sasha for one day and already feel more at home than I have in years?”

I DEMAND to see Sasha pulling away from Ryan after Ryan refuses to open up to her out of fear of vulnerability. I want to hear Sasha tell her, “You hurt me. We were supposed to be IN LOVE together.” I want the heartache of watching Ryan recoil when she thinks one of those famous people at the festival can hear them. I need Ryan to tell Sasha how she really feels. In the closing scene of the movie, when Ryan gives that big motivational speech to all the black women in attendance that they deserve good love, the best love – I want for her to say she’s found that love in her best friend and for that cheating fuckface of her husband to walk on stage right when Ryan goes, “Like I’ve found in Sasha. Like I still do everyday.” CAUSE IM A CHEESEBALL AND I WANT IT.

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Do The Right Thing

(L to R: Regina King as Mookie and Rosie Perez as Tina, girlfriends fighting on the hottest day of summer)

Original Stars: Spike Lee, Rosie Perez
Original Plot: It’s a hot summer day in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn as Mookie (Spike Lee) goes to work at Sal’s Pizzeria. As he makes deliveries, racism shows its face at just about every corner and the mostly black and brown neighborhood deals with subtle and overt violence.

Now, Let’s Make It Gay: Regina King

T H I S IS M Y S H I T. Regina King is taking over Spike Lee’s role as Mookie, the pizza delivery person who works at Sal’s and is the audience’s guide to the neighborhood. Sure, I want Regina King to be in this because I love her and I just think she and Rosie Perez would be good together, but there’s an even deeper reason I need this to happen. Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks is one of my favorite comics and one of my favorite TV shows AND IN THE TELEVISION SHOW REGINA KING VOICES BOTH BROTHERS AND HAS NEVER BEEN PROPERLY RECOGNIZED FOR THAT. How will this movie change that? I don’t know, but what I’m saying is Regina King contains multitudes, her multitudes contain multitudes, and she’d be perfect in this. Then one of my favorite movies would be EVEN MORE PERFECT and we could add another classic to her already beyond amazing thirty year (and counting!) career.

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The Best Man

(L to R: Regina Hall as Candace, the dancer; Sanaa Lathan as Robin, the fiancée; Nia Long and Gabrielle Union as Jordan and Murch, two college best friends)

Original Stars: Harold Perrineau, Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, Nia Long
Original Plot: Harper (Taye Diggs) is a new writer that, thanks to being picked by the Oprah Book Club, is about to blow up. But as he joins his college friends for his best friend’s wedding weekend, his book digs up years old drama in the crew. Important for our needs is Murch (Harold Perrineau), the nerdy friend in the bunch who’s in a loveless long-term relationship with the gold digging Shelby.

Now, Let’s Make It Gay: Gabrielle Union, and still… Nia Long!

Literally everything in this movie stays exactly the same except for two things:

1. Murch is now played by Gabrielle Union. She gets Candice (Regina Hall) to fall for her after reciting an Audre Lorde quote to her at the bachelor party where Candi is dancing. Yes, that really is a plot point from the movie.

2. Jordan (Nia Long) has most definitely been trying to figure out her sexuality. As soon as she sees Robin (Sanaa Lathan) at the church, she’s like “Oh shit.” Is it my life’s goal to make Sanaa Lathan and Nia Long play more lesbian parts? Of fucking course! That would be magical, like imagine if we had a bunch of our favorite actresses decide to do more woman-loving parts? We deserve this.

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House Party

(L to R: Teyana Taylor as Play, Nafessa Williams as Sharane, Karrueche Tran as Sydney, and Zazie Beetz as Kid)

Original Stars: Kid ‘N Play, AJ Johnson, Tisha Campbell
Original Plot: As Kid dodges bullies, cops, and gunshots to get to his friend’s house party, he tries to get the girl of his dreams and make a name for himself as one of the best rappers in his school – all before his dad figures out he snuck out. There’s lots of 90s dancing.

Now, Let’s Make It Gay: Zazie Beetz, Teyana Taylor, Nafessa Williams, Karrueche Tran

Zazie Beetz is Kid, a young, mostly dorky girl in that “everyone wants to date her sort of way.” She gets suspended from school and needs to keep her dad from finding out before her best friend’s party starts. After trying to stay ahead of a bunch of Mean Girl style bullies and outsmarting cops all night, the party officially begins when Kid walks in. Teyana Taylor is Play, who’s hosting the party and trying to keep the shenanigans to a minimum ’cause “ain’t nobody fucking up my mama’s house.” Kid ‘N Play both have their eyes set on Karreuche Tran and Nafessa Williams, Sydney and Sharane respectively, the prettiest and most popular girls in school.

Guys, I only know for sure for sure that Teyana Taylor can dance her ass off, but I’ve been laughing at this set up all night. Please watch Claws and tell me Karrueche wouldn’t be funny as SHIT in this movie. As soon as some shit pop off, imagine her calm distant demeanor VANISHING as she moves people out of her friends’ way with a deep ass “MOVE, BITCH!” (of course Ludacris’ instrumental version of the song plays in the background). Try to tell me that Zazie wouldn’t play it really cool for like .25 seconds before finding out Nafessa has a crush on her. You tell me that Teyana Taylor wouldn’t look amazing slow dancing with Karreuche. (I’ve GOT EVIDENCE YOU’RE WRONG)

And here’s further evidence Teyana would play a great lesbian.

Look me in my eyes and try to LIE TO MY FACE.

Alexis Smithers (Lex Lee) is a black nonbinary person creating on the East Coast. They've volunteered for Winter Tangerine and currently are a Web Development Student at Bloc. A 2015 Pink Door Fellow & 2016 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer, you can find more of their work on their website and listen to them scream about poetry & other interests on Twitter.

Alexis has written 26 articles for us.

18 Comments

  1. Alexis I love this concept! When I watched these movies as a kid I had already put a gay twist to it in my head. Like didn’t we all watch Love & Basketball and imagine Sanaa as our WNBA star wife???

    I totally wish there was a black lesbian House Party remake, the cast you picked is phenomenal! I feel like they would have really good chemistry. Maybe it could even have a ball culture theme to it (bcuz Teyanna)? Wow someone please make this movie.

  2. Aaaah I started reading this with the instant image of a lesbian version of House Party and thought “I’m showing my age it won’t be on here” BUT LO AND BEHOLD and I’m not even the only one who specifically wanted this!!! Yessss thank you!!

  3. This a great list. Can we have Tisha Campbell playing the mother in House Party? And can we also have a sequel, as I did enjoy House Party 2.(not a fan of House Party 3 though). In a related note, let’s also make a lesbian remake of Class Act, which also started Kid N’ Play, which is sort of like a prequel to House Party. Speaking of sequels what about after lesbian remake of Friday they make Friday After Next remake(you know the one that takes place during Christmas) but better cause it be a Christmas Lesbian comedy with romance(so better than the last one). Plus, this version could replace the trope of the vaguely west asian convenient store owner(Maz Jobrani who I like) with a woc, say Wanda Sykes.

  4. If I had a billion dollars I would back every single one of these plus a Brown Sugar update starring Sanaa Lathan and I wanna say Gabrielle Union because I love her and want them to develop a rep for starring opposite each other in every black lesbian romcom and remake possible, but will accept Meagan Good too, as childhood besties who’ve bonded over a love of hip-hop and fall in love.

  5. Coming to America reminded me that Vampire in Brooklyn existed so my brain helpfully provided me with lesbian edition have Angela Basset as the vampire and maaaaybe Tessa Thompson as the detective.

    Angela being like a grand queen of a vamp searching for someone to be her devoted knight, and they live happily ever after.

  6. All. Of. This.

    When we’re not busy acting out certain episodes of Martin as the queer version of that primary couple in real life, my girl and I plotted out several of these, namely the Love and Basketball one, but you really iced the cake for so many of these. Also, I wonder what made them not actually your Girls Trip plot, save Queen Latifah being Queen Latifah and wink-nodding us forever and ever.

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