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20 Best Movies With Lesbian Characters That You Need to Watch ASAP

Turn on one of these LGBTQ+ flicks to see yourself onscreen.

lesbian movies
netflix

Even though the LGBTQ+ population is on the rise in the United States, lesbian and gay relationships are still underrepresented in much of popular media. But the good news is, a more diverse array of human experiences is appearing on screen just about every year. According to the 2020 GLAAD media report, of the 118 films released from the major studios in 2019, 22 included LGBTQ+ characters. That's the highest percentage of inclusive films in the report's history. And that representation really makes a difference. Media that shows LGBTQ+ people normalizes love and relationships between two people of the same gender, educates viewers on the long and difficult journey we're still taking toward equal rights and reinforces the fact that that gay, lesbian and LGBTQ+ people are just that, people who deserve to live loud and proud.

For newly out or young viewers, that validation is especially important as it can make them feel seen and heard in their experiences. That's a powerful thing, especially for those who don't otherwise have a safe place to be who they are. No matter your favorite genre, one of these movies focused on lesbian characters will be the perfect choice for your viewing pleasure. Be warned, though: some of them are a little hot and heavy. We've made a note of that where applicable, so you can save them for date night. Whether you want to help your LGBTQ+ teenager feel accepted or need a good film to watch with your partner, you'll find something to love on this list.

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1 Carol

A wealthy woman and a department store clerk begin an illicit affair in this must-watch LGBTQ+ film set in the 1950s. Adapted from the cult classic The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, it depicts how unexpected romance can change your life.

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2 Tig

Fans of comedian Tig Notaro will love this tear-jerking documentary about life after a devastating cancer diagnosis. If you also cried your way through her stand-up set where she announced it, show this to a friend.

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3 But I'm a Cheerleader

Many of us first watched this sleeper hit when we were teens ourselves, and it's well worth revisiting. It's poignant, hilarious and endlessly quotable.

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4 The Perfection

Charlotte is a troubled musical prodigy and Elizabeth is a new star student. Before long, they find themselves starting down a dangerous path with sinister results. This LGBTQ+ thriller will send shivers down your spine.

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5 Blue Is the Warmest Color

High schooler Adele has barely begun exploring her own identity when she meets blue-haired, free-spirited Emma. Adele's friends don't accept her as she really is, so she grows even closer to Emma. As you may be able to tell from the poster, this one's best for adult audiences.

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6 D.E.B.S.

A comedic spoof on the Charlie Angels franchise, D.E.B.S. centers around the unlikely love story between the leader of an elite group of teen spies and a supervillain. You don't have to be too familiar with the original story to love this fun, flirty romp.

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7 Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List

Like so many besties, Naomi and Ely have a firmly established "no kiss list" to protect them from getting romantically entangled. But in a surprising twist, they both come down with the hots for the same dude, even though Ely's a lesbian. Turn rom-com stereotypes upside down with this quirky, fun film.

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8 Duck Butter

Starring Ali Shawkat of Arrested Development, this intimate drama redefines what love between two women can look like. After getting fed up with the lies and deception their previous relationships have involved, two women spend 24 hours with each other to see if they can do any better.

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9 I Can't Think Straight

Tear your eyes away from the poster image for a second, because the story is just as enticing. It follows the love story of Tala, a London-based Palestinian woman who's planning her wedding when she meets and falls for Leyla, a British Indian woman.

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10 To Each, Her Own

Simone's trying to work up the bravery to come out as a lesbian to her conservative Jewish family when she develops a crush on a dashing male chef. This snort-worthy comedy covers the spectrum of romantic attraction, with lots of heartfelt and funny moments along the way.

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11 Chasing Amy

Comic book artists Holden and Banky have been buds for more than 20 years, but when they meet Alyssa, it could throw a wrench in their friendship. Holden falls hard, but there's just one problem: Alyssa doesn't date men. This fun comedy also has an excellent throwback soundtrack.

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12 Lez Bomb

From the minds that brought you There's Something About Mary comes this cringeworthy holiday comedy. A woman brings her girlfriend home for Thanksgiving, intending to come out to the whole clan. But then her male roommate shows up and, well, let's just say it doesn't go as planned.

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13 Elisa y Marcela

In 1901, Elisa Sanchez Loriga assumed a male identity to marry her lover, Marcela Gracia Ibeas. This classic movie is based on that riveting story, with beautiful scenery to boot. If you're a fan of foreign films and love stories, this one's perfect for date night

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14 Nina's Heavenly Delights

After Nina Shah's father dies, she has to move back to Glasgow to help keep her family's restaurant afloat. That's where she meets Lisa, who owns half. Romance (and lots of tasty-looking food) follows. Grab a snack before pressing play.

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15 Life Partners

Most buddy comedies focus on two straight dudes, so check out this female-fronted flick for a change of pace. Sasha (who's a lesbian) and Paige (who's straight) are best friends, and always put their relationship first. But then Paige meets a new guy that threatens their unbreakable bond.

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16 Bound

Buckle in for a dark crime thriller by The Wachowskis that follows Corky, a lesbian ex-con-turned plumber who concocts a plot with Violet to steal millions and pin it on Violet's boyfriend. If you're not in the mood for romance but still want an LGBTQ+ film, try this one.

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17 Happiest Season

If you're the type to watch holiday movies year-round (guilty as charged), this star-studded Christmas film works anytime. Our protagonist plans to propose to her girlfriend at Christmas when they spend the holidays with her family, but on their way there, she finds out she isn't out to them. It's heartwarming, funny and the outfits are on point.

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18 Disobedience

After a long estrangement due to her sexual transgressions, Ronit returns home to her super-conservative, Orthodox Jewish community in London and rediscovers a passion for her childhood friend, Esti. It's a stirring exploration of faith, community and love.

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19 Saving Face

Wil is busy with her career as a surgeon and balancing the expectations of her traditionalist Chinese mother, which don't include her dancer girlfriend Vivian. But then her mom shows up with a surprise that calls her bluff. The ending will get your toes tapping, guaranteed.

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20 Gray Matters

Gray and Sam are siblings who are so close, people sometimes assume they're actually a couple. They agree to branch out and find each other a mate, but when Sam does, it doesn't exactly go as planned.

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