As we celebrate Pride Month this June, there are plenty of movies you could watch to learn about the centuries-long struggle for gay rights, including Philadelphia, Milk, Pride and Stonewall. But that’s only one side of this celebratory occasion. Pride festivals are just as much about unbridled exuberance and joy as they are about protest and perseverance. In that spirit, we’ve put together a watch list of that most joyful of cinematic genres, the romantic comedy, featuring LGBTQ couples. These 12 films prove, as Lin-Manuel Miranda once said, that love is love is love is love ...
The Wedding Banquet (1993)
The premise: More than a decade before his acclaimed drama Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee, 68, wrote and directed this decidedly more lighthearted comedy, which earned an Oscar nomination for best foreign film. Young Taiwanese landlord Wai-Tung Gao (Winston Chao, now 63) lives with his American boyfriend in Manhattan, unbeknownst to his conservative parents back home. When they hire a dating service to find him a wife, Wai-Tung decides to enter into a marriage of convenience with his tenant, a poor artist named Wei-Wei (May Chin, 57) who needs a green card — and who also happens to have a crush on Wai-Tung. The plan seems like it might go off without a hitch until his parents announce they’re planning to visit from Taiwan to host a grand wedding celebration for the new couple.
The part you’ll love: The intergenerational relationships end up being surprisingly warm and sweet, with late Ang Lee regular Sihung Lung proving a particular standout as Mr. Gao.
Watch it: The Wedding Banquet on Prime Video
The premise: Set in New York City during the AIDS crisis, this groundbreaking ’90s rom-com based on an off-Broadway play follows the titular actor-waiter (Wings star Steven Weber, 62), who takes a vow of celibacy because of his paranoia surrounding the plague; he’s not only afraid of catching the disease but of falling for someone who might end up dying and leaving him heartbroken. But fate has other ideas, and Jeffrey soon finds himself falling for the handsome — and HIV-positive — Steve (Michael T. Weiss, 61). For advice, he turns to his friends, interior decorator Sterling (Patrick Stewart, 82) and his partner Darius (Mad Men’s Bryan Batt, 60).
The part you’ll love: Despite being a relatively modest indie hit, the film has an absurdly stacked cast, including Christine Baranski (71), Sigourney Weaver (73), Robert Klein (81), Nathan Lane (67) and more.
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
The premise: In this camp satire, Poker Face’s Natasha Lyonne stars as Megan Bloomfield, a high school cheerleader whose parents begin to suspect she’s a lesbian thanks to her vegetarianism and love of Melissa Etheridge. With the help of an “ex-gay” counselor named Mike (played by RuPaul, 62, out of drag), they send her away to a conversion therapy camp designed to turn teens straight. But their plan backfires when she strikes up a relationship with a fellow camper named Graham Eaton (Clea DuVall from Veep). Lovers of queer culture might recognize John Waters regular Mink Stole, 75, as Megan’s mom.
The part you’ll love: Raging Bull Oscar nominee Cathy Moriarty, 62, makes for an appropriately menacing camp founder.
Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
The premise: Actresses Jennifer Westfeldt (53) and Heather Juergensen (53) wrote and produced this indie romantic comedy, which netted them an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best first screenplay. Following a series of failed blind dates, uptight New York City copy editor Jessica Stein (Westfeldt) stumbles upon a personal ad that features her favorite Rilke quote — and it just so happens to be in the paper’s “women seeking women” section. She throws caution to the wind and meets up with free-spirited gallerist Helen Cooper (Juergensen), and the two soon begin to get closer and closer as Jessica wrestles with whether this is a budding friendship or something more.
The part you’ll love: Broadway star Tovah Feldshuh, 74 — who’s currently starring as Mrs. Brice in Funny Girl — earned critical acclaim as Jessica’s mother, Judy.