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Rom Coms Will (Finally!) Get Gayer in 2022

“You had me at hello.”

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

“I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

For movie buffs (and romantic comedy aficionados), these are some of the most notable lines in Hollywood history. But besides being quoted a million times over, they all have one thing in common: they’re all about straight couples.

It’s no secret that classic romance films often center around heterosexuals. When we think of cinema’s greatest pairings, our minds turn to Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater or Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. And when it comes to rom coms, we think of when Harry first met Sally or when Cher realized she was in love with Josh.

As a desperate romantic, I’ve always turned to these types of movies as a source of comfort. But as a queer person, there’s also always been a need for something more. Why couldn't a gay couple be presented with the same happiness and playfulness to their relationship? Why couldn't a man be just as *destined* to run into another man and fall in love at first sight? Throughout the years, the lack of representation in rom coms has taught me that these sort of dreamy accidents will never happen to me.

It wasn’t until *very* recently that we saw an influx of mainstream films centered around LGBTQ+ characters at all, which is great….except that most of them still focus on the drama or the heartache that can come with being queer.

For instance, think about the number of gay films characterized by tragedy. In recent years, critics have called this the “bury your gays” trope, where queer movies and shows (like Brokeback Mountain) saw one of the main characters die—a tradition that dates back to late 19th century literature. Even in recent years, as LGBTQ+ films steered away from death, movies like Call Me by Your Name and Portrait of a Lady on Fire still closed with either crushing breakups or Irish goodbyes.

Teen dramas like Love, Simon and The Half of It have offered lighter representation. Yet, these too fall prey to common tropes of coming out or closeted relationships. (That said, don’t write them off your list, or ignore other recent winners like Plan B or Alex Strangelove.)

The good news? Change is afoot. We’ve seen recent hits like Marry Me, The Lost City and I Want You Back cause publications, such as Collider and The Wall Street Journal, to claim that rom coms are “making a comeback.” But this year, rom coms aren’t just making a comeback—they’re getting a whole lot gayer, without tragedy or coming out serving as their defining characteristic.

On April 29, Hulu will drop the teen comedy Crush, which centers around an aspiring artist named Paige (Rowan Blanchard) who tries to make a move on her crush, Gabriella (Isabella Ferreira) by joining the school’s track team. However, things get complicated when Paige starts getting trained by Gabriella’s older sister, AJ (Auli’i Cravalho), and she realizes that she’s developed feelings for both siblings. With an all-female love triangle, POC actresses and queer writers behind the scenes, Crush is a landmark release for Hollywood, and it’s not the only one that’s set to make history.

Billy Eichner (who you might know for his binge-worthy Billy on the Street sketches) has become the first openly gay man to write and star in his own major studio film, Bros, which is set for release on August 12. Meanwhile, the comedy—which follows two gay men “maybe, possibly, probably, stumbling toward love”—is the first to hire an entirely LGBTQ+ principal cast, even for the heterosexual roles (with Eichner, Luke Macfarlane, Jim Rash and more rounding out the cast).

And we're not stopping there. The summer will see another major release (once again courtesy of Hulu) with Fire Island, which follows two best friends (Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang) who travel to the titular destination for a week of drunken escapades with their group of pals (including other comedians like Margaret Cho and James Scully) in what has been described as a reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. (And did we mention this was also written and directed by LGBTQ+ creators?)

Clearly, in 2022, romantic comedies aren’t just making a comeback. They’re getting a reimagining, a disruption, a glow-up. While lovers of the genre (like myself) will never tire of seeing two characters comedically fall in love, it’s refreshing to see a year where big-budget movies will focus on queer characters who are out, proud and, importantly, not solely Caucasian (while also featuring queer creators behind the scenes). These films feel real, joyous and authentically inclusive.

In other words, they had me at hello.