When Hayley Kiyoko dubbed this year #20GayTeen, we had no idea just how prescient her proclamation was. Pop culture was certainly queered this year—from Sapphic music videos, to historic reality TV moments, to lesbian movies sure to be nominated at next year’s Academy Awards, 2018 was spilling over with queerness. Here are the most memorable lesbian and queer female moments on-screen this year.
Best Lesbian Spit Scene
Let’s not dance around it: The Disobedience spit scene was one for the books. Sebastián Lelio’s adaptation of the Sapphic novel polarized critics and LGBTQ moviegoers, but there was one thing all of us could agree on: Watching Rachel Weisz spit in Rachel McAdams’ mouth was fucking insane. I don’t want heteros to think that the cornerstone of lesbian sex is dripping regurgitated saliva into your partner’s mouth like a goddamn Blue Jay, but I also like to keep ‘em guessing. Have I spat in a woman’s mouth? No. Would I let Rachel Weisz fucking hock something sinister into the back of my throat? With ease.
Best Murderous Sexual Tension
Killing Eve was one of the most rapturous shows to stream in 2018, and the sexual tension between Eve (Oh), an MI6 agent with an all-consuming obsession, and Villanelle (Comer), the apple of her eye, was nothing short of magical. The mania culminated in a suspenseful stand-off scene when Villanelle pinned Eve against her refrigerator, pointing a steak knife at her throat. It was both torturous and satisfying; queer women spend a significant amount of time theorizing about which female TV characters secretly want to bone, so when they actually do want to, it’s so validating.
Best Vaginal Birth Metaphor
Janelle Monae had quite the #20GayTeen after coming out as pansexual and releasing her visual album Dirty Computer, in which she spent numerous glorious moments flirting with Tessa Thompson (her rumored girlfriend). For me, the best part of Dirty Computer came during the “PYNK” music video, when Tessa Thompson poked her head through Monae’s flappy, vaginal harem pants like a little gay baby, and blinked at us through salty lesbian eyes.
Best Overt Declaration of Lesbian Desire
The Favourite has been collecting nominations and trophies left and right, and will surely be nominated at next year’s 91st Academy Awards. But for me, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Sapphic period film has already won for Best Overt Declaration of Lesbian Desire. When pressed on why she keeps her maid Abigail (Emma Stone) around, Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) quips, “I like it when she puts her tongue inside me.” I swear, half the theater gasped. The other half slid out of their seats and were washed away by the lesbian current (I was in this half). The scene was the single most outrageous, funny, and true-to-form admission of lesbian desire I’ve ever seen at the movies.
Best Sapphic Music Video
This year brought numerous electrifying queer female music videos—from Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer series, to Betty Who’s “Taste” and Rita Ora’s “Girls.” But the video that made my gay organs clench was Hayley Kiyoko’s “What I Need,” a poignant yet heartwarming story featuring Kehlani as Lesbian Jesus’ love interest. When the two queer pop stars collided on the dusty street and kissed after nearly losing each other, my heart exploded and oozed out through my pores.
Best Haunted Dirty Talk
Theodora Crain (Kate Siegel) from The Haunting of Hill House was one of my favorite new queer female characters of the year. The pseudo-psychic was raised in a storied haunted house and developed the ability to “feel” a person or object’s history just by touching them. As a result, Theo’s seen more trauma and heartbreak than any human should, so she wears gloves to close herself off. Unsurprisingly, she’s also closed off emotionally, not wanting to take on anyone else’s trauma. Her best and most defining character moment comes when she’s rolling around in bed with her new gal pal, and decides to take the risk and open up, and she demands, “Touch me.”
Best Discussion of Lesbian Sex
Season two of Freeform’s The Bold Type offered something special: Kat Edison, the in-house baby queer, discussed her sex life with her straight friends, and nobody blanched, asked offensive questions, or felt othered. Obviously, this should be the norm, but it’s not—on TV nor in real life. In regards to cunnilingus, Kat asked, “What if I don’t know how to do it? Or what if I do it and I don’t like it, or I do it and it’s weird, you know? Then what? Am I really queer, or has this whole relationship been a lie?” Her friend Jane responded, “You don’t have to get it perfectly right every time,” and her friend Sutton added, “Been there.” I often still find myself omitting details about my sex life while talking to my straight friends, whereas I leave no leaf unturned with my queer friends. This moment gave me hope that one day, I’ll feel confident enough to tell my straight friends what it’s like to accidentally swallow someone else’s period blood—sorry, too much?
Best Stand-Up Special
Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby swept the U.S. this year with her groundbreaking Netflix comedy special Nanette, which challenged the art form of stand-up comedy, and tackled topics like sexuality, sexual assault, and homophobia with tact and the appropriate gravity. I refuse to pick one moment from the special, as the entirety of Nanette should be required viewing.
Best Reality TV Moment
The Bachelor: Vietnam made headlines this year when a same-sex couple ditched the man and left the show to be together. The tear-jerking moment was unforgettable, and a historic televised first for The Bachelor franchise. While two other women had previously found love after competing on The Bachelor: Australia, their story wasn’t broadcasted. But in Vietnam, when Minh Thu told Truc Nhu “Come home with me” during a rose ceremony, the moment spread like wildfire on social media. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Best Same-Sex Kiss in the Extended Cinematic Mamma Mia Universe
Mamma Mia is unironically one of my favorite movies of all time, so when Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again had young Donna (Lily James) kiss her teacher, played by Celia Imrie, I basically took to the streets, banging pots and pans, yelling “DONNA IS BI NOW!” Fans theorized that this was the Mamma Mia Extended Cinematic Universe, or the MMECU’s way of revealing that Donna was bisexual, as the original ABBA lyrics to “When I Kissed The Teacher” use male pronouns, but are sung by women. For reasons that remain unknown, Lily James’ version uses female pronouns. Really looking forward to Mamma Mia 3: The Bis3xual.
Best Flirting on a Talk Show
I’m not sure what the best part of this 6-minute off-the-rails Today Show interview with Cate Blanchett and Sarah Paulson was: When Savannah Guthrie joked that the duo was “in love,” when Sarah roasted Cate for losing the Oscar for Carol (the first movie they starred in together), or when Cate hopped onto Sarah’s lap and shoved her arms under her armpits. Regardless, the interview was boiling with sexual energy between two of lesbian Twitter’s favorite actresses. Launch the Ocean’s 8 press tour again, you cowards.
Technically, the conversation between Elastigirl and Voyd in Incredibles 2 isn’t a queer moment, but I’m henceforth dubbing it one. In the highly anticipated sequel to the Pixar superhero movie, a new female hero was introduced: Voyd. Voiced by Sophia Bush, the spirited character gushed over Elastigirl like every lesbian fangirl who’s ever met their hero at a Las Vegas convention center—looking at you, Clexacon nerds. Voyd thanks her for paving the way for other female supers, and stumbles all over herself admitting how seeing Elastigirl out there fighting crime helped her embrace who she was, and encouraged her to accept herself as such. She was basically me any time a photo of Cate Blanchett in a suit emerges on the internet. Visibility for lesbian supers NOW.
Best Pop Star Smooch
Rita Ora basically split gay Twitter in two when she released her Sapphic super-collab “Girls,” featuring Cardi B, Bebe Rexha, and Charli XCX. While most will look back and remember this cultural epoch as the Great Gay Divide of 2018, I’ll remember the “Girls” music video, in which Rita and Cardi had a big ole smooch. It was the best bisexual pop star kiss of the year—followed closely by Kehlani kissing Demi Lovato on-stage at her concert. Big year for bisexual pop stars exchanging shiny lip glosses.
Best Lesbian Dream Come True
In the Kate McKinnon comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, Kate fawns over Gillian Anderson’s power-bitch MI6 character, calling her “the Beyoncé of the government.” The scene itself isn’t gay—but the context absolutely is. In the past, McKinnon has divulged that she’s had a long-standing crush on Anderson, having dressed up as Dana Scully as a kid on Halloween, and fangirling over her in a web series called Brunch With Bridget. So, getting to gush over Gillian Anderson IRL was a classic example of art imitating life. Plus, Anderson later tweeted that the crush is absolutely reciprocated—which is so awesome. But don’t think you’re the only one with a Big Lesbian Crush on Gillian Anderson, Kate—we all want Gillian to jab her stilettos into our gay flesh.
Best Cunnilingus Scene
Part of being a lesbian is scouring streaming platforms for obscure lesbian movies that no critic has time for and no person in their right mind would ever watch, then enduring the plotless film with the hopes of viewing one brief lesbian sex scene. Well, I did that many times this year, and the best thing I found was a scene in The Con Is On, a British Ocean’s 8-wannabe in which Maggie Q goes down on Uma Thurman. Bet you didn’t know that happened, huh? Well it was hot, fleeting, and unexceptional, so HA! But did I mention Maggie Q goes down on Uma Thurman?
Best Happy Ending
Blockers has to be the most underrated comedy of the century. It was the first major studio teen comedy to feature a lesbian protagonist—and she doesn’t even die at the end! Sam, played by Gideon Adlon, comes out to her dad, her friends, and gets the girl in the end. It’s the kind of movie I wish I had as a teen, not only because it normalizes female queerness, but also because it celebrates it, and proves that queer women can have happy endings too. Plus, the movie is extremely relatable—Sam is obsessed with Xena, and her love interest wears capes and goes to something called “LordCon.” At the end, when the girls make out to a Hailee Steinfeld song, I basically slammed the Giphy GIF button. Looping that shit ‘til my eyes bleed.
Netflix’s new comedy series Insatiable drew criticism for the way it tackled body image, and a heart-wrenching lesbian storyline went way overlooked as a result. Nonnie (Kimmy Shields), a Drew Barrymore-obsessed baby gay, falls in love with her best friend Patty (Debby Ryan). In a climactic moment, she confronts Patty in their school hallway and plants one on her, spilling her feelings through tearful eyes and flushed cheeks. Patty rejects her as delicately as she possibly can, but nonetheless, Nonnie gets savagely crushed. The scene was one of the most heartbreaking, realistic, and best acted queer scenes I’ve ever seen on TV. The Nonnie and Patty storyline hit me where it hurt, then twisted the knife, and reminded me that being gay is a curse.
…But being gay is also really special! Netflix’s Atypical infused Casey Gardner, its female protagonist, with subtle queerness this year. In season two of the dramedy, Casey transfers to a pretentious new school, where a girl on the track team, Izzie (Fivel Stewart), gives her hell in an effort to bury their sexual tension. The girls’ bitter resentment slowly and organically morphs into a friendship, and then almost more—they nearly kiss in Casey’s bedroom, but are sadly interrupted. After one of those classic “shit, am I gay?” spirals, Casey finally hangs out with Izzie again, and while they’re sitting in a parked car, they slowly and adorably interlock fingers, but stare straight ahead—then the season ends, portending a very gay season three. It was just so pure and cute and sweet, the way new queer love should be. I’m blushing!
Best Pent-Up Repression Fuck
The Miseducation of Cameron Post ripped my heart out and threw it in a river, where it was left to wither and drown. The Chloe Grace Moretz starrer follows the titular character (Moretz) on a slog through gay conversion therapy hell. I liked it so much more than Boy Erased, another gay conversion therapy film released this year, because it offered slivers of joy, whereas Boy Erased did not. I felt like I was holding my breath throughout the duration of The Miseducation of Cameron Post until the scene where Cameron fucks her roommate, another painfully repressed queer peer, and I finally breathed a sigh of relief. The scene was hot, twisted, and probably the most accurate representation of lesbian sex I’ve seen in a movie this year. Dude, fuck being gay. This shit is hard.
Best Movie Makeout
Will A Simple Favor get nominated for an Oscar? No. Should it be recognized for the makeout scene between Blake Lively as a psychotic bisexual demon and Anna Kendrick as a horny single mom? Yes. And an honorable mention to Linda Cardellini as an aggrieved art dyke, plus every moment Blake Lively is on-screen, walking in slow motion through the rain in a jaw-dropping three-piece suit. OK nevermind, being gay fuckin’ slaps. Especially in 2018.