The History of Lesbian Movies

From being played as a foreign film in an obscure theater for a week, to being listed on Netflix for streaming to a personal device, lesbian movies have sure come a long way. For decades, these movies have brought the stories of the complex world of lesbianism to the masses. They were the advocates that played a significant role in society taking its baby steps towards accepting people as they are. Here is a brief history of lesbian movies that discussed the multi-faceted world of lesbianism, leading to a better understanding of it.

Mädchen in Uniform
Mädchen in Uniform

Travelling back in time, the first movie that showcased lesbianism in any form has to be Mädchen in Uniform (1931). This movie made it to the silver screen before the implementation of the Hays Production Code that came into force in the mid-30s. This code banned homosexuality to be depicted in movies, along with other “lewd” acts. This movie was about a student teacher romance that blossoms in a boarding school. The movie also had an all-women cast, which was a first too. It received the expected negative reception and was either banned or edited aggressively across the United States.

Still from 'The Children's Hour'
Still from ‘The Children’s Hour’

It was a long time after Mädchen in Uniform that anyone made a movie based on lesbianism. But it did happen eventually, albeit roughly three decades later. The 60s saw the release of Children’s Hour, another student-teacher love story and it was not a happy one. It showcased how the rumors of an alternative sexual orientation destroyed the reputation of two women. Then, there was the 1968 release, The Killing of Sister George that ended up being ‘X’-rated in the United States because of its love scenes. The movie was not only about lesbian romance, but also brought forth the life struggles of a lesbian woman. The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, the German movie from the 70s, can also be included in this list.

Personal best was a love story between Patrice Donnelly and Mariel Hemingway
Personal best was a love story between Patrice Donnelly and Mariel Hemingway on the track to the 80’s olympic games

Then came the 1982 movie, Personal Best. This was a groundbreaking movie because it did not showcase lesbian women to be drunk or troubled in any way, a stereotype that had been synonymous with Hollywood lesbians of the era. The lead characters were regular athletes, who fell in love with each other. It was also made on a sizeable budget, another first for the lesbian movies. Mariel Hemingway, the protagonist, delivered a memorable performance. The 1985, the lesbian flick, Desert Hearts, another lovable movie was released. It had a happy ending, unlike its predecessors and had beautiful love scenes and characters, which make it a must watch. The 90s saw the adorable school romance, Show Me Love (1998) and the realistic and genuine depiction of two people in love with High Art (1998).

Patricia Charbonneau and Helen Shaver were a student and a teacher that had an affair in 'Desert Hearts'
Patricia Charbonneau and Helen Shaver were a student and a teacher that had an affair in ‘Desert Hearts’

With the turn of the millennium, Hollywood has become more open to lesbianism, with movies depicting it in different ways. The notable movies of this period in the genre are The Kids Are All Right (2010) and Pariah (2011). Both movies beautifully depicted the complexity of relationships and were appreciated for their ability to bring out the depth of emotions. You can watch all kinds of great entertainment online with a subscription to the right Internet service provider.