You might have heard that 2018 was the best year yet for LGBTQ+ representation on TV and, if you’re anything like me, you’re hoping for more queer characters on TV (and in all media) this year.
But I’ve been thinking recently about all of the women who love women that I’ve seen on my screens over the years and how the shaped me into the gay lady I am today. Some of them made my heart skip a beat, some of them made it break ever so slightly, and some of them I replayed in my head while lying in bed with my fave vibrator. Was that an overshare? I’m not sorry. All of them did something different for me and all of them are worth revisiting today, thus I give you the best lesbian scenes in pop culture.
Warning, there are major spoilers ahead
20) Melanie and Lindsay’s anniversary argument in Queer as Folk
At a surprise anniversary party thrown by their friends, Melanie and Lindsay are forced to admit that they separated shortly after the birth of their daughter shocking everyone in the room. This moment is made all the more heartbreaking by the fact that their friends had just made a speech about their relationship being so secure.
19) Leila and Sadie’s Reunion in The Bisexual
After breaking up in the first episode, Leila and Sadie were pulled rapidly apart as Leila began to explore her bisexuality and Sadie looked into becoming a single mother, but fans were desperate for the couple to reunite. In the penultimate episode, the two came together for one night of passion on the kitchen tiles, as they struggled to deal with their fears of ending the relationship for good.
18) Luce and Rachel on the roof in Imagine Me and You
If you can watch this without screaming “kiss her, you idiot” at the screen, then you are a better lady than me. This British rom-com uses all of the tropes we know so well and in this scene, they’re played to perfection. Getting caught in the rain, offering a cute girl your jacket, staring into her eyes with your faces so close, and then getting interrupted at the last minute. It’s cute, heartwarming, and oh so frustrating.
17) Lorraine and Delphine’s spy games sex scene in Atomic Blonde
This sexy lesbian scene, starring Charlize Theron, appeared in a mainstream movie, yet it still felt so real and sincere. The scenes may be short, but they still progress naturally and don’t feel too much like they pander to the male gaze.
16) Linda and Amy’s morning after in If These Walls Could Talk 2
While I recommend watching the full movie, which spans three love stories across 40 years, this heart wrenching lesbian scene touches me particularly hard. Unfortunately due to copyright issues the scene has been scrubbed from youtube but you can still find it on DVD. Linda and Amy wake up happy after spending the night together. There are light kisses, sleepy smiles, and gentle teasing, until Linda comes back out from the bathroom to find Amy in a more “traditionally masculine” outfit, prompting Linda to trot out that old chestnut of “are you the man in this relationship?” Of course, Amy shoots that down, but it’s hard to see the smile fade from her face as she tries to figure out why Linda has a problem with the way she dresses.
15) Stef and Lena breaking into the neighbor’s pool to swim naked in the Fosters
After Stef is diagnosed with breast cancer, Lena decides to help her escape their house full of teens and they break into the neighbor’s backyard to skinny dip in the pool before making love to her in their bed. Sometimes doing something bad feels damn good. It’s tender, sexy, and touching.
14) Santana admits that she loves Brittany in Glee
Coming out is equally the best and the worst thing ever. On the one hand, it’s so freeing to openly be yourself, but on the other, it’s scary as hell. And this is what we see here with Santana’s speech. The highs, the lows, and the utter vulnerability. She’s terrified of people talking about her behind her back, but she loves Brittany and Brittany loves her, so she’ll risk everything for them to be together. But Brittany isn’t willing to dump Artie and that cracking sound you just heard is my heart on the floor.
13) Carol and Therese’s tender sex scene in Carol
This is pretty much the only lesbian Christmas movie that I know of –I’ve been looking, believe me – and it’s got everything you’d want. Rooney Mara in a Santa hat, Cate Blanchett rocking a statement lip and Victory Rolls, and a tender lesbian sex scene set to classical music. Unfortunately due to copyright issues, there’s no youtube cut of this scene but this film is definitely worth watching in full.
12) Carol and Susan’s wedding in Friends
It’s a crime that these two weren’t upgraded to the main cast at any point because they were #couplegoals before the term was invented. Plus, Susan was the best foil to Ross Gellar in every scene.
Now, there are definitely problems with how the other characters handle Carol and Susan’s relationship, but this wedding episode – aired four years before marriage equality became a reality anywhere in the world – went a long way towards showing the pair as the most stable couple on the show. And it’s sweet how Ross put his own feelings for Carol aside to assure her that marrying Susan because they’re in love is the right thing to do, even if her homophobic parents don’t think so.
11) Arizona’s reaction to Callie waking up from a coma in Grey’s Anatomy
Everyone thought that Callie and Arizona had gotten through the worst that life could throw at them when Arizona proposed, but after a devastating car accident, Callie is left on the brink of death and Arizona refuses to leave her bedside. After what seems like forever, Callie wakes up and accepts the proposal, giving us all the feels and Arizona a grin that she can’t get rid of.
10) Emma and Adèle’s record long sex scene in Blue is the Warmest Colour
Now, I know all of the (completely warranted) criticism that surrounds this film and the scene in particular, but I had to include the longest lesbian sex scene in modern cinema, didn’t I? This ten-minute scene features everything from 69’ing to scissoring to strap-on fucking. Note: This scene was not available in full on YouTube, so I had to settle for a compilation video.
9) Molly and Luna’s prom in Burden of Truth
Molly and her friend Amanda are suspended from school because some idiots think that neurological disorders are contagious and are told that they risk expulsion if they try to attend prom. However, Molly doesn’t want to miss going to prom with Luna, so they walk in hands linked and heads held high.
When some bitch called Riley shoves Molly to the ground, Luna defends her girlfriend by punching Riley in the face and, when picked up by the police, cites all the people that have been arrested fighting for what they believe in. Luckily, Luna is released just in time to get to an alternative prom that Molly set up for her.
All of this is the sort of lesbian scene that we need to see more of in YA media because standing up for your girl and making sure she doesn’t miss out on major (for teens) life events is true love.
8) Waverly and Nicole’s first kiss in Wynonna Earp
Fans wanted these two together from their first meeting in the bar, but Waverly was “in a relationship… with a boy…man”. Thankfully, this didn’t stop Waverly from realizing that what she wants most in the world is to be with Nicole, even if it “scares her to death” to put her feelings out there and kiss Nicole for the first time.
It’s cute and leaves you wanting to binge-watch the show to see the relationship progress all over again. Give in to that urge, it’s worth it.
7) Piper and Alex have angry sex in the library in Orange is the New Black
While the hair pulling and biting may be a little much for some, Piper and Alex’s fight actually makes for some pretty hot sex as they end up in range of positions across the library. If you want to try this out for real, make sure you get permission (and agree on a safeword) before engaging in any sort of rough play.
6) Vivian and Wil’s public kiss at the end of Saving Face
For context, this incredible lesbian scene takes place three months after Wil was scared to kiss Vivian in public before her flight to Paris and the pair broke up. Now, it’s Wil’s chance to make up for that by turning up at a party and asking Vivian to dance with her in front of everyone, even though “there’s no music”.
At first, Vivian seems reluctant and you fear that they won’t get their happy ending, but the music starts up again and the pair kiss in front of the club, saying “fuck ‘em” about the people leaving in disgust. Bonus points for the look on Vivian’s mother’s face as she cheers them on.
5) Nic confronting Jules about cheating in The Kids are Alright
There’s probably nothing easy about your kids meeting their bio-dad, especially if they actually think he’s really cool and laid back compared with you. But Nic is doubly betrayed by the fact that her wife Jules takes Paul on as a client. In fact, it feels like she’s losing her whole family to this guy who basically jerked off in a cup in the 90s.
Nic comes around to Paul though, until she finds Jules’ hair in his bedroom and bathroom, prompting her to realize that Jules has been cheating and get rightly angry. (It does not help that Jules tries to lie her way out of it.) I’m not going to lie, I had a lot of feelings about this movie when I first saw it because it felt like another example of pop culture discrediting queer women as truly queer. But it’s also one of the few examples of bisexual visibility in the media so – we’re kind of at an empasse there. The feelings in this moving lesbian scene are so raw, with both women sounding on the edge of crying, and Nic questioning their entire relationship, asking “are you straight now?” While I’m the first to point out bi-erasure, I will give Nic a pass because she has every right to lash out.
4) Ellen and Laurie’s first date in Ellen
The original scene was taken down by Disney due to copyright issues but this scene definitely sums up a lot of feelings queer women have when they first start dating women. First dates can definitely be anxiety-inducing and if you’re a woman in her 30s going on her first date with a woman, it’ll probably make you more nervous. Luckily, a kiss from a cute girl will ease your nerves.
3) Shane and Cherie’s poolside sex scene in The L Word
Now, I know that no one wanted to see Shane cheat on Carmen (and all of my friends have already disowned me for putting this on here), but you’ve got to admit this is one of the hottest lesbian scenes on TV and it’s not like we didn’t know it was going to happen. Plus, at least we got to see them skinny dip in the pool.
2) Willow cradling a dying Tara in Buffy
Nothing says that you were a gay woman in the early 00s like taking Tara’s death personally and physically crying every time you re-watch the episode. Just listen to Willow’s voice crack and dissolve into unintelligible sobs and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
1) Megan and Graham’s tender lovemaking in But I’m a Cheerleader
If you’re looking for raunchiness, you won’t find it here, but this lesbian scene is important for a whole other reason than making you hot and bothered. Megan and Graham have been forced into a conversion camp by the families (and I’m sure I don’t have to explain why that’s 400 kinds of terrible) where they are told that their attraction to girls is wrong and made to imitate cis-het sex with the male inmates *cough* I mean… campers. In this scene, the two girls share tender kisses and soft touches after dark so they won’t get caught and your heart will swell as Megan describes how being with Graham makes her feel. This is the best lesbian scene in pop culture. Don’t fight me, you know I’m right.
Honorable Mention goes to the Ice Bath scene in Stick It
Okay okay okay – the technically never say she’s queer… but come on… she’s definitely not straight.
Well, dear reader, we’ve made it to the end of my favorite lesbian scenes in pop culture, so now I want to hear from you. How do you feel about my ranking? What’s your fave lesbian scene on this list? And what’s the best lesbian scene that I missed off? Let me know all that and more in the comments below.