Netflix’s Heartstopper, and its representation of queer romance gave an optimism and lightness that hadn’t been seen much on tv before. The slow-burn moments that follow a queer teenage love story in something as simple as watching someone try to hold someone else’s hand, and the disbelief in finding out that someone likes you back, offers a poignant narrative on the awkwardness and innocence that is so quintessentially teenage. So sweet and wholesome.

If you’re still gushing over the British coming-of-age series and the way the show gently showed young queer teenagers the potential to be happy while basking in the collective warmth of childhood innocence, look no further. We’ve found shows and films to check out that have LGBTQI characters and feature young, queer romances to fill the void that Heartstopper has surely left in its wake.

Dating Amber 

In Dating Amber, we see two closeted teenagers in 90s Ireland decide to fake-date in order to stop speculation about their sexualities. Eddie and Amber respond to persistent homophobia by attempting to convince those around them that they are in a relationship. The film is a mix mash of romance, comedy, and drama which makes for a refreshing take on the tribulations of coming out and figuring out your sexuality. Sweet-natured, the film captures a blossoming friendship between two individuals and gives viewers a glimpse at a platonic queer love story. With sexual awakenings and varying journeys of self-acceptance, Dating Amber is very moving and portrays the pressures of fitting in as a queer teenager to a tee.

Sex Education

More than what the title suggests, Sex Education is a show that is heartfelt and blends sensitivity and humour well, offering bundles of advice when it comes to the messy and complicated area of sexuality in the modern age. The series follows the lives of the students, staff, and parents of the fictional Moordale Secondary School while they tackle issues about identity and intimacy, often hinging on questions of a sexual basis. One of the main characters in the show, Otis, has a mother, Jean (Gillian Anderson) who works as a sex therapist and has no problem speaking openly about sex. Conversational quips like, “Sweetheart – I’ve noticed you’re pretending to masturbate” pepper the show with a brusque and punchy comedy. An easy show to indulge in, this show tells us that there are so many ways to be queer. You won’t regret it.

Love, Victor

Love, Victor is a romantic comedy series based on the 2018 movie adaption of Love, Simon and is set in the same universe.  The spinoff series features charming characters and follows a teenager on a journey of self-discovery while he adjusts to a new city and struggles with his sexual orientation. Victor Salazar (Michael Cimino) reaches out to Simon for advice, while trying to come to terms with his sexuality. The show portrays the series of challenges that comes with beginning a relationship with a classmate of the same-sex, Benji. The show covers many relationship dynamics, and the journey of self-acceptance goes through ebbs and flows of being heartbreaking and heart-warming.

Love, Victor is currently in its third season.

The Half of It

A modern-day queer take of Cyrano de Bergerac, The Half of It is a film that charmingly enters the realm of young queer romance and takes place in the small fictional town of Squahamish. Saving Face Director Alice Wu focuses her story on queer Chinese American protagonist Ellie Chu who agrees to help a jock woo Aster Flores through a series of love letters and text messages, before getting stuck in a love triangle. The Half of It was a project that took a dashing 5 weeks and was borne of a desire to be kinder to Wu’s younger self. Her own friendship with a straight male who helped her during her journey of self-acceptance with her gay identity is a marked point of inspiration for this film.

Young Royals

Swedish teen drama Young Royals revolves around Prince Wilhelm of Sweden who adjusts to life at fictional boarding school, Hillerska while struck with the awkwardness that comes alongside being a teen thrust under the spotlight. The coming-of-age drama features a budding gay romance with a scholarship student and has been praised for its realistic portrayals of awkwardness in sex as well as casting actors who look like teenagers.

Fire Island

American romantic comedy film Fire Island follows a group of friends who take a weeklong vacation to a famous gay village off the South Shore of Long Island. Inspired by Pride and Prejudice, the queer film boasts friendship and the downing of copious amounts of cheap wine. Speaking about the film, writer and lead actor Joel Kim Booster has said, “I’m so grateful that this movie is going to be seen by so many people and, in that way, hopefully, will help queer kids who see themselves in these characters to feel good and affirmed.”

Queer As Folk

2022 Drama series Queer As Folk, is a re-imagining of the 1999 series created by Russell T Davies, and previously adapted in the US from 2000-05 by Showtime. Set in New Orleans, the series follows a group of friends who come together and form relationships in the aftermath of a tragedy.

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