it takes (more than) two

Love, uncoupled: 5 great films—and one TV series—about unconventional queer romances

Valentine’s Day is a holiday built around the couple, the soul mates, the monogamous pair. Actually, so is the entire Westernized concept of romance, for that matter!

So it’s no surprise that most mainstream movies’ idea of a “happy ending” means two people saying, “to hell with it,” and deciding to dedicate theirselves to each other—and only each other.

Why, then, do so many LGBTQ+ films feel the need to follow suit? We certainly can’t complain about seeing queer love of any kind represented on our screens, but wouldn’t it be great if, in addition to reflecting the diversity of identities and sexualities in our community, the movies also showed us the different ways we can (and do) love?

With that in mind, this Valentine’s Day, we decided to look beyond the couple to bring you a list of quote-unquote “nontraditional” queer love stories—romances that forego the notion of the one-on-one relationship to show us a world much bigger than two.

While this list is far from exhaustive, read on below for movie (and one TV show!) recommendations to get you in the mood for all kinds of love this holiday.

Bedrooms And Hallways (1998)

This U.K. dramedy takes up the mantle of the “sex farce”—a genre that hinges on different combos of characters jumping into bed with one another—and make its even more (delightfully) chaotic with a whole ensemble that’s either queer or questioning. Leo (Rome‘s Kevin McKidd) begins seeing “straight” hunk Brendan (James Purefoy, also from Rome), who still lives with his ex-girlfriend Sally (Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jennifer Ehle), and, well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for this raunchy romp where the romantic possibilities are endless.

Streaming on Tubi, Freevee, Pluto TV, and YouTube (with ads).

The Dreamers (2003)

One of the last films from provocative director Bernardo Bertolucci, The Dreamers has a lot on its mind about youth, art, and revolution, set against the backdrop of the Parisian student riots in ’68. But certain viewers will remember it best for its explicit sex scenes and full frontal nudity. Bertolucci notoriously downplayed the gay elements from the source novel, though it still feels distinctly queer watching an American exchange student (Michael Pitt) shack up and hook up with a pair of clothing-averse siblings (Louis Garrel, Eva Green).

Streaming via HBO Max.

Jeffrey (1995)

During the height of the AIDS epidemic in NYC, Jeffrey (Steven Weber) has sworn off sex and romance, afraid of losing another loved one to the disease. Despite the heavy subject matter, the film—penned by the legendary Paul Rudnick—keeps things light with warm humor, a charming cast (including an excellent Patrick Stewart), and some fun cameos. Though Jeffrey eventually pursues a monogamous relationship, it’s a fascinatingly rare time capsule that delves into love, chosen family, and celibacy during a crucial point in queer history.

Streaming on Peacock, The Roku Channel, Kanopy, Tubi, Freevee, and Fandor.

Professor Marston And The Wonder Women (2017)

Did you know the origins of Wonder Woman are super queer? The gorgeous Luke Evans stars in this unique biopic of psychologist William Moulton Marston, who was inspired to create the Amazonian superheroine by the two women in his life: His wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall), and their polyamorous life partner, Olive (Bella Heathcote). From queer filmmaker Angela Robinson, Professor Marston is a refreshingly frank and sexy history lesson, one that provides an authentic and honest look at three-way romance outside of society’s norms.

Streaming on Hulu, The Roku Channel, Kanopy, Tubi, and Freevee.

Angels Of Sex / El Sexo de los Ángeles (2012)

Despite being in a loving relationship with Carla (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), aimless student Bruno (Llorenç González) can’t help but feel like something’s missing in his life. That changes when he meets a handsome dancer named Rai (Álvaro Cervantes), who inspires him to embrace his bisexuality. As the men grow closer, you might think we’re headed toward a deceitful love triangle and heartbreak, but Spanish filmmaker Xavier Villaverde swerves in a different direction, delving into a romantic examination of queerness and sexual fluidity.

Streaming on Kanopy, and with the AMC+ plug-in on Amazon Prime Video and The Roku Channel.

Sense8 (2015-18)

From the minds of The Matrix creators Lana and Lily Wachowski comes this complex yet powerful queer sci-fi saga—one of Netflix‘s first original series. Featuring a global cast, Sense8 is the story of eight strangers who realize they are connected on a mental and emotional level (known as “sensates”). It’s a bit of a metaphysical mindf*ck, but the thrilling series was a radical examination of identity. It also happens to be incredibly sexy, and left its mark thanks to multiple massive group orgy scenes between the sensates. Love is love!

Streaming exclusively on Netflix.

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