What Makes a Sexy Lesbian Screenshot

The TV/Film editors at Autostraddle have gathered to answer one of life’s most important questions: What makes a sexy lesbian screenshot?

One of the least difficult parts of our jobs as editors of film and TV coverage is how often we have to labor over images of hot queers embracing. A recent revamp of our iconic lesbian sex scenes list required Drew and Riese to spend hours scrubbing through these moments taking sexy lesbian screenshot after sexy lesbian screenshot. You’re welcome.

But finding the perfect sexy lesbian screenshot isn’t all fun and horny games. It’s an art! There’s a strategy! And we don’t always agree on what strategy appeals most to our preferences and the preferences of our readers.

That’s why Carmen, Riese, Kayla, and Drew are here to discuss what we think makes the perfect sexy lesbian screenshot. And, don’t worry, we’ve included pictures.

Drew: Okay so this started because Carmen asked us which image she should use for her Neon review and there were some… disagreements.

Option 1:

Sexy Lesbian Screenshot: In Neon on Netflix, Gina and Ness almost kiss in the bathroom

Option 2:

In Neon on Netflix, Gina and Ness kiss in the bathroom

Basically we were split on whether we preferred a sexy lesbian screenshot of a kiss or a sexy lesbian screenshot of the lead up to the kiss.

Personally, I love the lead up. The “almost kiss” so to speak.

Kayla: And I love the kiss!!!!!!! Gimme full contact.

Carmen: Yes, I think Kayla and I are team full kiss, and Riese and Drew are team “it’s hotter in the millisecond before the kiss.”

Drew: I feel like this HAS to say something about who we are as people. I think maybe I also sometimes prefer right before the kiss in life?? Obviously depends who I’m kissing and how good the kissing/sex is, but right before is SO ELECTRIC. Right before is still fun even if the kiss disappoints.

Riese: I also prefer right before the kiss in life! That is when we are most alive.

Kayla: I love kissing!!!!!! lol

Riese: I mean, I also love kissing

Drew: For the record, I also love kissing.

Kayla: But yeah I do think a lot of times in life, the lead up is great. The tension is great.

Riese: Yes it’s a moment of intense focus and like concentrated desire.

Carmen: But I don’t think that tension is always captured in a screenshot.

Kayla: I actually do enjoy watching the exposition part of porn.

Carmen: Kayla… you what!?!?

Drew: I also watch the exposition in porn!!

Riese: That’s funny because I skip the exposition part of porn. I’m like, let’s get this show on the road.

Drew: I literally will watch 15 minutes of porn exposition and then like three minutes of sex. That is usual for me.

Riese: I fast forward. 🙂

I just watch like 30 seconds of exposition to get the basic scenario established.

Kayla: Lol see, it’s interesting that we’re all kind of self-contradictory in some of these preferences.

Drew: I do think this is why I’ve always struggled to be as slutty as I want in life because part of the experience for me is good build up, not just the sex itself. And good build up is harder to find.

Riese: I think this is addressed in my pinned tweet:

Kayla: I do think — not to be boring about it — but I do think there’s genuine appeal to me from an archival perspective. I HATE when I am trying to find a screenshot of a particular kiss from something and it’s like nowhere online. I’m like okay if I want there to be a kissing photo, I’m going to have to be the one to grab it and put it online for the freaks like me who are looking for it.

Riese: Hahahaha. Sometimes the kissing scenes are so poorly lit!

Drew: I guess I think of an almost kiss as a sufficient archive of that kiss.

Kiss scenes are so poorly lit! I struggled with that for The Buccaneers.

Riese: Once they smash their heads together, it’s game over. Everybody is literally in the dark.

The blackout sex montage in The L Word season five. Absolute cruelty how hard that is to screenshot.

Carmen: Ok but poor lighting can be fixed by us as editors.

Drew: That is true

Riese: Not entirely though! It’s hard.

Drew: I bumped up the exposure majorly on The Buccaneers

Riese: Yeah I am always bumping up the exposure.

Drew: I think when it comes to a sexy lesbian screenshot, I like the almost kiss because I can still see both of their lips fully and so it’s easier to imagine myself in the kiss.

Riese: I just like seeing both of their lips and faces fully.

Drew: I mean, I think what would do it for me most is if they were touching tongues but their lips weren’t smashed together.

Kayla: I think I want proof of kiss because what if like in the January 6 episode of The Morning Show season 3, the two characters never actually do kiss and ONLY near-kiss.

Drew: That’s a good point.

Carmen: As a reader, I’d rather know that some gay shit happened. Give me the kiss.

Riese: I did, I suppose, once create this sexy lesbian screenshot collection.

Carmen: That’s also reflected in the click habits of our readers. We often lead with a kiss because it gets 100% more click throughs, every single time.

Which yes, some readers get upset if it’s too close to the episode airing and could be seen as a spoiler (we try to be judicious about that), but they should take it up with their peers. We are simply a publication that factually speaking needs traffic to survive, and people like seeing the kiss.

Kayla: I think I probably have that habit, too. I think I’m more likely to click on a review if I see a gay kiss in the photo. Because it’s pretty rare to see that lead a review!

Riese: I guess looking at this gallery, a lot of them you can see faces even during the kiss. But also sometimes they have their eyes closed and then we can’t see their eyes

Drew: I do like eyes.

Kayla: I don’t need to see their eyes just like I don’t need to see anyone’s eyes when I’m kissing them in real life.

Carmen: Correct, Kayla.

Kayla: Kristen is an open eye kisser (not all the time but sometimes) and I’m always like why are you looking at me! lol

I wrote it into Helen House that the main character always opened her eyes while making out because I was like this is funny and off-putting.

Drew: The one season of The Bachelor I watched in full he was an open eye kisser and it was very funny.

Riese: But then there are kisses like this where I feel like the moment before was probably better:

Two women kiss in Cruel Intentions 2 with their lips together.

Drew: This is why more kissing needs to be like Disobedience. Spit is getting transferred but we get full faces.

Rachel McAdams opens her mouth wide and sticks her tongue out as Rachel Weisz spits in her mouth.

Carmen: I can live my entire life and never see the Disobedience spit again and still I would have seen it too much.

Riese: This is iconic:

Sexy lesbian screenshot: Sarah Michelle Geller and Selma Blair share an iconic kiss in Cruel Intentions

Drew: The Cruel Intentions kiss is perfect.

Kayla: Oh yeah wow the Cruel Intentions kiss really is so iconic.

Drew: I want to amend my answer and say I prefer the kiss itself if it’s open mouth and the almost kiss if it’s just going to be two chaste actors smashing faces.

Riese: Yes, if they’re doing open mouth then usually you can see more and it’s not just two faces with their lips closed pressing into each other.

Carmen: I think Riese is onto something. What are our favorite kiss screenshots? (Or the minute right before kiss, for those of you who are boring?)

Drew: Immediately thought of this:

Lesbian sex scenes: Cheryl Dunye and Guinevere Turner lie on top of each other naked and touch tongues

Kayla: When I was compiling the gayest moments in Riverdale list, I realized how infrequently Cheryl and Toni actually kissed on the show, and it annoyed me! They were in a serious relationship for SO long and there’s SO much kissing on that show!

Carmen: I’m scrolling back through my phone. (Don’t judge me, I keep an archive.)

Riese: Also if it’s zoomed out that’s good, like if you can see full torso than you get enough body language then it’s ok to lose partial face.

Like this is good:

Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen dance in Saving Face.

Kayla: Omggggg that Saving Face kiss is framed so well. I suppose it does indeed depend on the direction of the kiss.

Drew: Yeah some of this comes down to like… cinema. Good framing does a lot.

Kayla: That’s cinema baby!

Carmen: Yes, I think about framing often.

Riese: Also sometimes you can see people smiling a little bit and that’s cute too.

Carmen: Like this is a “before the kiss” but the framing is gorgeous? There’s so much story told here:

Sexy lesbian screenshots: Abbi Jacobson and D'arcy Carden kiss against the outside of a house.

Drew: Let’s also talk about kissing when it’s not lip to lip:

Lesbian Sex Scenes: Jennifer Tilly tilts her head back as Gina Gershon kisses her neck.

Riese: Faces are hidden but you can still tell that Graham is smiling.

Sexy lesbian screenshot: Clea DuVall and Natasha Lyonne kiss on the back of the truck at the end of But I'm a Cheerleader

Carmen: P-Valley! The color work? THE COLOR WORK!?!

Lil Murda in purple and Uncle Clifford in red kiss

Riese: Oh yeah that’s great.

Drew: Yes I love all of these because the actors are still ACTING during the kisses.

Riese: Right!

Drew: They communicate so much with just fractions of their faces.

Riese: It’s wild how many of these kiss screenshots are people pressing their lips together with their mouths closed, but with the body language of a full open mouth kiss.

Drew: Fascinating

Riese: Two women hold each other while kissing on a red bed.

Drew: Sometimes Elise and I like to do joke Old Hollywood kisses which is basically a very passionate kiss but with mouths closed. That’s how we greet each other sometimes.

Carmen: This kiss is giving The Notebook. It’s giving swoon-worthy Nicholas Sparks. It’s a classic Shondaland romance, but make it gay. And again a lot of that comes from the framing. The use of negative space here, to make Kai and Amelia look epic? And not that they are just smashing faces in a hospital parking lot on a soap opera? That’s talent.

Kai and Amelia kiss in a medium wide on Grey's Anatomy

Kayla: I do sometimes like an almost-kiss when there’s a height difference because I feel like the almost moment emphasizes that more than the kiss does and I love a height difference.


Carmen: Hahaha, and that was after I edited it.

Drew: Carmen, that’s a great point about negative space. It does make it feel epic.

Kayla: That’s a really good kiss.

Drew: Nudity goes a long way in making up for hidden faces I will say:

Two nude women kiss in a field with their bodies covering one another and their hair covering their faces.

Riese: True, true.

Kayla: Wow yes.

Drew: This lip bite !

Charlize Theron kisses a woman against a wall in dark pink neon lighting

Riese: Wow. That is incredibly hot.

Drew: I do wish it was brighter but I understand why it’s not in the context of the scene.

Riese: Yeah, I love everything about that.

I think like… the other thing is we have trauma of all the times that lesbian kisses were literally CROPPED OUT of television shows.

Drew: Yeah I did not live through that. Well, I was alive. But at the time I was watching weird European movies with graphic gay sex.

Riese: This was the first lesbian kiss on American TV:

An obscured close up of a woman seeming to kiss another woman but we only see her eyes.

Carmen: Does this count as a kiss? Because a neck bite mid-sex really helps take care of the lighting issue.

A close up of one woman biting on the neck of a smiling woman.

Drew: I absolutely think a neck bite counts as a kiss. Or a finger suck.

An older woman sucks on the hand of a younger woman on a beach.

Finger suck might be my favorite.

Riese: Oh that reminds me of the deeply beloved Gen Q threesome.

Drew: I need to pull up a picture from the Gen Q threesome.


Riese: Which also could’ve used better lighting!

Drew: Yes.

Riese: Sometimes when I am screenshotting for a recap? I am like, none of these can really capture the whole thing you know?

Drew: I do think sometimes lighting that works for a moving image doesn’t translate to a still. And that’s okay since film and TV are famously about moving images.

Kayla: Totally

Drew: But it does make our jobs tricky.

Carmen: This is why I always advocate for our editors to relight. It’s key.

Riese: When thinking about a feature image, to get really technical here, lighting is just so key.

Riese: I feel like I probably made a collage for that one while thinking to myself “this is why I never go to bed on time.”

Carmen: I think a great example of that is the collage of Pippa and Bette having sex.

Riese: Yes, I made a collage for that, too!

Kayla: Yeah the collage was crucial.

Carmen: This is really a great example of when a whole is bigger than the sum of its parts:

Collage of Bette and Pippa having sex on an art exhibit

Riese: I also sometimes would make collages for Glee musical numbers. Similar spirit of “whole > sum of its parts.”

Drew: What is a sex scene if not a musical number of lust.

Riese: Here’s the Gen Q threesome scene:

collage of Nat / Gigi / Alice having sex

The lighting is better than I remembered now that I’m looking at it, although I imagine I edited it.

Drew: Glad we can include the elusive boob kiss.

Kayla: I famously hate lightening photos but also at the same time I do hate when shows are too dark (YELLOWJACKETS).

Riese: Yellowjackets is so dark.

Carmen: I also think, there are moments where in sex scenes, capturing something in motion via a set still can really stick the landing.

Riese: Yes.

Carmen: Like I still can’t believe the CW aired this:

One woman pins another woman against a wall with her arms above her head as they kiss.

Drew: The CW has had some erotique moments. Or at least old CW did. Not sure about their new rebrand.

Carmen: It goes back to what I mean about motion being captured in a still though, because for sure one of the reasons they got away with it is because it was a split second. But now it’s captured forever in gay fandoms.

Riese: I am looking at my best L Word sex scenes list and wow a lot of these are moment-before-the-kiss shots. I think the absolute ideal is something well lit and someone is about to bite or suck on someone’s lower lip. You get full faces, you get physical contact, the whole enchilada.

Drew: Yes. I’m very mouthy IRL though so…


Black Lightning really did put in that work to be such an underrated show, now that I’m looking back. Both of these are from one of the first episodes. Excellent pre-kiss work being done here.

Sexy lesbian screenshot: Two women lie in bed. One is looking a the other's lips.

Sexy lesbian screenshot: Two women embrace. One is naked and looking down and the other rests her head on the other's shoulder.

Drew: I like when you can really see the actors looking at each other!!! Like if we’re going to see eyes I should get a sense of why. But also in that second one we can’t even see eyes but we can still see their eyes doing something in relation to each other.

Carmen: Drew, such a romantic.

Kayla: lol

Drew: Can I bring Roland Barthes into the chat and say that with sexy stills I’m always thinking about the punctum? It doesn’t matter what it is but I need the stills to have SOMETHING for my eye to latch onto that captures the moment.

Kayla: Omg hahaha

Riese: I just had to google “punctum.”

Kayla: Yes lfg A Lover’s Discourse.

Drew: I didn’t take years of art history classes not to put them to good use in analyzing L Word sex scene stills!

In that one Black Lightning still for me the punctum is the woman’s eyes clearly looking right at the other woman’s lips. And in the other one it’s the bare clavicle/shoulder? Especially with the other woman’s head resting on it.

Carmen: Ok and now I’m going to be a cliché, but it’s impossible to talk about lesbian sex on screen and not talk more about Vida. Tanya Saracho’s impact. Her legacy.

Sexy Lesbian Screenshots: Mishel Prada leans back as a queer with short hair kisses her foot

Mishel Prada leans back as she rides someone off camera. The title Vida appears in dark red next to her.

Kayla: Truly. Just pure art.

Carmen: What I love here is that both of these images are off center.

Drew: If you’re doing more than just smashing faces you can have so much more variety in actor visibility and framing! Feet kissing gives us Mishel Prada’s entire outstretched body and I for one am grateful.

Riese: Perfect.

Kayla: I do love when other things besides mouths are kissed.

Riese: Yes

Drew: I need to pull the still from the All Over Me sex scene of pink hair Leisha Hailey licking up the other girl’s back. It was my phone background all of 2019.

Carmen: That Vida shot is also a great use of a voyeur camera, which I’m not always into. But the sneak of looking at Emma from behind the blurry foreground object (the plant?) is so good.

Drew: YES

Kayla: Yeah that really makes that moment even hornier, which is impressive.

Drew: It especially works for Emma because she’s so closed off and sex for her is about pleasure not intimacy

Carmen: Extremely yes!!! And it again shows how the best stills are also telling the story of what’s happening beyond that one image.

Riese: Yes.

Drew: I know it’s like a few years late, but can we rank Vida’s sex scenes at some point?

Riese: Yes!

Drew: We don’t have enough sexy Vida stills on the site.

This reminds me that Kayla and I need to start our sex scene deep dives series. That got derailed because we both got sick. Frankly getting sick derailed my IRL sex life as well.

Riese: Hahaha

Drew: The first time Elise and I got Covid we still were having sex and it nearly killed us so we learned our lesson.

The gross internet sites that feature nude actors have really let me down when it comes to the All Over Me sex scene. Good thing I have an mp4 of that movie on my laptop.

Riese: RIP the encyclopedia of lesbian movie scenes. Some man made this whole website that I think is gone now.

Kayla: See this is why WE have to be the sexy lesbian screenshot archive.

Riese: Oh wow someone has taken up his torch and made a Twitter account for it.

Carmen: This one is why I will never fully break up with Queen Sugar:

Sexy lesbian screenshot: Rutina Wesley straddles another woman as they kiss in a wide shot.

Drew: That show could be SEXY. Makes me even sadder they prioritized the heteros so much.

This is an example of low lighting in a sexy lesbian screenshot that actually works. God I need to rewatch All Over Me:

Sexy lesbian screenshot: Leisha Hailey with pink hair in very low lighting licks another woman's back.

Carmen: I love those Queen Sugar and All Over Me stills in conversation with each other. Completely opposite approaches to how to best use your light and completely effective results for both.

Drew: Yes!

I am sad that with Twitter dying, and Tumblr PG, and TikTok being so restrictive, we’re losing a social media platform that’s horny. I mean, TikTok can still be horny, I have lots of crushes. (Shoutout makeup artist Brynne.) But it’s not the same as like… collecting lesbian sex scenes for the community.

Riese: Right.

Kayla: Tumblr was sooooo important for that.

Riese: It was!

Kayla: A gif for every kiss.

Carmen: I’m also realizing that I have a type of kiss shot that I always go weak for, and it’s when you can feel the grandness of the romance? In this scene from Twenties, they were playing around with The Graduate as a parallel — and it shows:

Sexy lesbian screenshot: Ida dressed in red and Hattie dressed in black kiss with Ida's hands on Hattie's face.

Riese: When we started this website there were like 10 pics of lesbian kisses widely available online. One of them was The Kiss poster

Carmen: Every lesbian at my college had The Kiss poster. It was our version of flagging.

Drew: I love that The Kiss poster is still up at Ginger’s in Brooklyn.

Riese: In my day, the kiss poster was mostly just flagging: “I’ll make out with a girl in front of a boy at a party.”

Drew: The Kiss poster is so effective because the one girl is kissing the other girl’s bottom lip exclusively. So it frames their faces together nicely. I think the punctum in The Kiss is the way short hair’s lips are pursed around highlights’ lower lip. Or it’s short hair’s raised shoulder. It’s not so much nose smashing.

Riese: So iconic.

Drew: I will at least be reading and linking this history of The Kiss.

Kayla: I was about to be like we should do an oral history of The Kiss, but it appears it has been done.

Riese: Yes I was so mad someone besides us wrote that piece.

Carmen: As was I, as of 2 minutes ago.

Drew: If I’m ever a properly rich celesbian I’m going to hunt down an original print and hang it in my living room. How many decades before a dorm room staple becomes a unique, important work of art?

Carmen: I do think The Kiss poster actually became its own archetype. I’ve seen that set up in a lot of places now.

Not to return to Twenties, but I literally just saw this one while scrolling my phone:

Sexy lesbian screenshot: A shot from above of two women kissing. Next to them is a pillow with an illustration of someone with their mouth open.

Drew: Ooo the pillow is a nice touch!

Kayla: Whomst among us have kissing screenshots readily available on our phones? I get the sense Carmen and Drew do lol but I do not! I did used to save them in folders on my laptop during my closeted/on Tumblr days.

Riese: I do not!

Drew: I have some on my phone because I don’t clean out my phone pictures. But I have a lot more on my computer.

On my old computer I was collecting screenshots any time I watched a lesbian movie where two women were in bed looking at each other pre or post kiss taken from above. That’s in so many lesbian movies. I wonder how much The Kiss played into that, because you’re right, Carmen, it’s the same archetype.

Riese: I once tried to make the entire movies to stream on Hulu list with that exact screenshot for every movie.

Carmen: I have a lot of random kisses saved to my phone, but I wish they were better organized! I just have them mixed into my photos because of work and (again, beating the drum here) — I am ALWAYS relighting every photo on our website.

But it does make it awkward if I ever pass my phone to a friend. It’s like the “don’t swipe left!!” panic, but instead of nude selfies, I don’t want to come across as an obsessive for sex scenes.

(Not that I’m… not that.)

Help us out readers. What kind of sexy lesbian screenshot is your favorite?

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  1. Every time I thought I decided my preference, there was another picture to change my mind… I guess my answer really is: it depends… but the Cruel Intentions one is the most iconic ;0)

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