take a dip

Strangers By The Lake: 10 queer lakeside stories perfect for a summer watch

What is it about lakes that makes them such an ideal setting for queer stories?

Is it that they’re typically depicted as escapist retreats far from the rest of the world, where we can throw our cares out the door to welcome in a little romance, or even danger? Or maybe it’s that lakes often bring disconnected people together, fostering a makeshift community around them—whether you want to be a part of it or not.

Either way, an awful lot of gay stuff tends to go down lakeside, and there’s a whole sub-genre of queer media to prove it.

Inspired by Amazon’s new series, aptly titled The Lake, we’ve assembled a list of notable, LGBTQ-centric stories either set on—or featuring prominent scenes at—a lake. Whether scintillating romances, white-knuckle thrillers, or heartfelt family dramedies, these films (and one TV show) are perfect watches as you wind down after those long, hot days of summer.

Come on in, the water’s fine!

The Lake (2022)

This Canadian series finds recently divorced gay man Justin (Orphan Black breakout Jordan Gavaris) returning to the lakeside town where he used to spend his summers, bringing along the teen daughter he gave up for adoption (Madison Shamoun) as a means of rebuilding their relationship. But, once there, Justin quickly finds himself distracted by dashing potential love interests, boxed wine, and the “wicked step-sister” (an always-welcome Julia Stiles) who now owns his late father’s cottage.

Streams on Amazon Prime Video.

Clementine (2019)

One of Euphoria‘s ever-alluring “it girls” Sydney Sweeney co-stars in this sexy, slow-burn indie from first-time feature director Laura Gallagher. Otmara Marrero plays Karen, a queer woman freshly wounded by a breakup (trend alert!), who breaks into her ex’s lake house and strikes up a relationship with the mysterious young woman (Sweeney) she encounters there. But this is no simple summer fling—things are never simple at the lake—and it’s not long before Karen realizes she’s in over her head.

Streams on Kanopy, Tubi. Available for rental on Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes.

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Though it will be forever tainted by its co-lead’s less-than-savory behaviors, Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is an undeniable triumph, following one young man’s (Timothée Chalamet) sun-soaked exploration of sexuality and desire “somewhere in Northern Italy.” While not strictly a lake movie, water is an important current in Elio and Oliver’s stirring connection, like the tender early moment they share at Lake Garda, or their “secret spot” frolic that leads to their sensual first kiss.

Available for rental on Vudu and iTunes.

Porcupine Lake (2017)

A hot and hazy summer among the lakes of Northern Ontario is the home of this sweet and sensitive coming-of-age tale from filmmaker Ingrid Veninger. The aimless Dog Days are getting the best of Bea (Charlotte Salisbury) until she meets the outspoken Kate (Lucinda Armstrong Hall, whose subtly expressive work here was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award), striking up an easy friendship that develops into something more before either of them realizes quite what they’re experiencing.

Streams on Peacock, Roku, and Tubi. Available for rental on Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes.

Last Weekend (2014)

The reliably fantastic Patricia Clarkson anchors this dysfunctional family drama as Celia Green, an affluent matriarch who gathers her brood at their swanky, Northern California lake house—including her son, Theo (Zachary Booth), who decides to use the opportunity to introduce them all to his boyfriend (Devon Graye). While Celia’s life spirals out of control, the excellent ensemble keeps things afloat, including Running With Scissors‘ Joseph Cross, and veritable icons Judith Light and Mary Kay Place.

Streams on Plex. Available to rent on Amazon and iTunes.

Stranger By The Lake (2013)

This can’t-miss French erotic thriller from filmmaker Alain Guiraudie takes summertime cruising to sexy and frightening extremes when Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) feels sparks of chemistry with a tall, dark stranger (Christophe Paou) he meets at the nude beach, a man who he later watches commit murder, leading to a heady mix of lust and terror. Stranger By The Lake premiered at the Cannes film fest in ’13, where it won the Queer Palm and earned Guiraudie a Best Director award “Un Certain Regard.”

Streams on Kanopy. Available to rent on Amazon.

Lake Placid (1999)

Admittedly, this one’s a cheat, but how can you not consider a movie where Betty White barks “If I had a d*ck, this is where I’d tell you to suck it?” a queer classic? This schlocky, turn-of-the-millennium creature feature pits Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Mariska Hargitay and more against a bloodthirsty, 30-foot-long crocodile. And, you know what? It doesn’t really hold up, but seeing the late, great White in swearing, cantankerous old lady mode is always a campy good time.

Streams on Tubi. Available for rental on Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Do you want to be him, or be with him? Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley explores that phrase to wicked ends in his adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel, producing an exquisite thriller and one of the best films of the century, period. In a career best performance, Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley is a scammer for the ages, an obsessed man who worms his way into Dickie Greenleaf’s (Jude Law) glamorous life. The story largely takes place along coastal Italy, but the country’s gorgeous lagos make many appearances, imbuing the film an impeccable lakeside vibe.

Streams on Peacock. Available for rental on Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes.

Love! Valour! Compassion! (1997)

Adapted from Terence McNally’s play, Love! Valour! Compassion! depicts the intermingling lives of eight gay men who gather at a secluded New York lake house across three holiday weekends. Over the course of the summer, friendships and romances change against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic, as the group ponders life, love, and survival—and even perform Swan Lake in drag. Jason Alexander stars, along with much of the original Broadway cast, including John Benjamin Hickey and Justin Kirk.

Streams on Xfinity.

Lake Consequence (1992)

A lurid, sexual thriller that’s an unmistakable product of its era, Lake Consequence finds disaffected housewife Irene (Joan Severance) indulging her fantasies with Billy (a young, ripped Billy Zane) and his bisexual girlfriend, Grace (May Karasun). With her family away for the weekend, Irene follows her pleasure to the titular lake where she confronts her sexuality and gets all hot and steamy with the couple—all before learning an important lesson about a wife’ responsibilities. Oh, the ’90s, you were a wild time!

Unfortunately, Lake Consequence is not currently streaming, but just watch the trailer above and you’ll get what you need.