As a child who grew up in the 2000s, I didn’t see any LGBTQ+ people in the media until around 2008, when I was 13. Ellen DeGeneres had just gotten married, and shortly after that, I started to notice LGBTQ+ characters on TV shows like “Desperate Housewives” and “Glee.”
But before I was lucky enough to see my queer self represented, there were some heterosexual romantic comedies that should have tipped me off about my own queerness, thanks to their female leads and the feelings they inspired in me. While these seven heterosexual rom coms from the 2000s didn’t actually make me queer, they each pointed me in the direction of my authentic queer self.
Miss Congeniality (2000)
“Miss Congeniality” has and will always be on my top 10 list of greatest movies that should have been gay. Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) might as well have been a lesbian in this film: she plays a super butch FBI agent who loathes anything feminine, and arguably falls in love with Miss Rhode Island after she enters the Miss United States pageant as an undercover agent.
And who could forget how Miss New York professes her love for Tina Texas by shouting, “I just want to let all the lesbians out there know: if I can make it to the Top 10, so can you … Tina, I love you!” Okay, so while this scene didn’t actually make me queer, it did make me realize that I wasn’t alone. Plus, how can you not fall in love with women after Gracie Hart’s epic makeover scene? Just watching her go from a frumpy FBI uniform to a short periwinkle dress made my heart leap.
As my ex can probably tell you, I love a good movie centered around fate and free will. In this 2000s rom com, Jonathan Trager (John Cusack) meets Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) in New York City. After a night together, Sara decides to test fate and asks Jonathan to write his contact information on the back of a $5 bill, while she writes her name and phone number inside of a copy of “Love in the Time of Cholera.” They each send the items out into the world; if, by some chance in the future one happens to find the item that contains the other’s information, that person is allowed to make contact.
Throughout the film, Jonathan chases Sara, and I always found myself connecting with his desire for a woman to reciprocate his feelings. As a kid, I’d gotten so used to watching romantic comedies from the heterosexual female perspective, where the female chases a male, that when I watched one from the heterosexual male perspective, I immediately latched on. Moreover, every time I watch this film, I can clearly see that I was attracted not to Cusack but to Beckinsale, her infectious romanticism, and her English accent.
Princess Diaries 2 (2004)
“Princess Diaries 2” helped me realize I was queer because of its hot women and its unlikeable men. Andrew Jacoby and Nicholas Devereaux are boring, rich white guys, and I just loved the charismatic and charming Anne Hathaway as Princess Mia. I also loved Mia’s close relationships with Princess Asana and Lilly Moscovitz, who are played by real life gay ladies Raven-Symoné and Heather Matarazzo.
But I think what truly resonated with me was that this film ended with Mia not marrying anyone and ruling Genovia on her own. For me, this reinforced the idea that women don’t need men to complete them. And eventually, that led me to discover that there are other romantic relationships besides ones that are heteronormative.
National Treasure (2004)
People might fight me on whether or not “National Treasure” is a romantic comedy. For them, all I have to say is this: Diane Kruger. I left that film wanting to date her character, Dr. Abigail Chase, because of her historical knowledge and her sexy accent. Aside from casually running chemical tests on the back of the Declaration of Independence with Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage), Dr. Chase is a freaking catch. She works at the National Archives, she has an amazing collection of George Washington’s inaugural buttons, and she looks killer in a plunging ball gown. Did I want to date her or just be her? The answer is almost always both.
Fever Pitch (2005)
Even though I will always be a devoted New York Yankees fan, this Boston Red Sox-themed rom com with Drew Barrymore will always have a special place in my heart. Before I even knew that Barrymore was bisexual, I had the hots for her. One scene from this 2005 film in particular resonates with me. It’s where Barrymore’s character, Lindsay Meeks, calls up boyfriend Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon) to tell him that she got her period and is not pregnant. Every time I watch that scene, I remember feeling a deep sense of a sadness; I’d wished that I could do something for Lindsay. Now that I know that I’m queer, I can recognize it for what it is: wanting to get into bed with Lindsay, wrap her in a warm embrace, and be her loving girlfriend.
Definitely, Maybe (2008)
I can’t get enough of romantic comedies that are told from the male perspective. As much as I hate to identify with straight cisgender men, there is something so relatable about watching a male protagonist (Ryan Reynolds, here playing Will Hayes) fall for a beautiful woman . . . or in this case, three beautiful women.
Starring none other than Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz, this film appealed to the hopeless romantic in me. The first time I saw the movie, I totally glossed over the fact that Weisz plays a bisexual woman who has a romantic history with one of the women that Will dates. And now, it’s my favorite part of the film, especially given the the cult-like reaction to Weisz’s performance as a queer Orthodox Jew in “Disobedience.”
The Proposal (2009)
If you think that I have a major crush on Sandra Bullock, you’re right, and that crush only intensified when she played opposite Cate Blanchett in “Ocean’s 8” in a very gay role. But her performance as Margaret Tate in “The Proposal” is one of my all-time favorites. Aside from her boss lady energy and her comedic timing, what I think really gave it away for me was when she and her co-star Ryan Reynolds ran into each other nude. I was so not interested in him.
What heterosexual rom coms helped you realize your authentic, gay self? Lez us know in the comments.