Cousin Love & LGBTQ Romance in Film

[This is an old post originally posted on Tumblr, in July 2014]

I highly, highly, highly recommend you watch Milk if you haven’t already. It is especially great film to show to someone who is new to the gay rights cause, because it examines the struggle from many angles and is just overall one of the most powerful films I’ve ever watched about human rights. (I really don’t see how someone can be a bigot, watch it, and continue being a thoughtless bigot). I also suggest you watch Fire, which gives a unique perspective of homosexuality as experienced within an ethnic group, having to navigate culture-specific stigmas to find their true identity.

All the cousin couples portrayed are First cousins. And of that part of the list, I recommend you watch Creation and Jude because they both delve into the private struggles of people in that kind of relationship, whereas the other cousin-couple films (on this list) don’t really deal with these specific issues (since stigma -internal or external – doesn’t really come up in those others, due mostly to isolation or the different attitude of the time period they’re set in).

I picked these films because this is what I mean when I say ‘Better representation’ in media/art. These are all honest in the way they present their subject matter. There’s more to each than just the romance.

[Transamerica is the only one that doesn’t fit into the ‘romance’ category, since it’s more about the main character’s development as a person]

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Here’s the List:

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5 Films That Portray Romance Between Cousins:

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Blue Lagoon (1980) “In the Victorian period, two children are shipwrecked on a tropical island in the South Pacific. With no adults to guide them, the two make a simple life together, unaware that sexual maturity will eventually intervene.”

(The Blue Lagoon is a romance novel by Henry De Vere Stacpoole, first published in 1908. The novel is the first of the Blue Lagoon trilogy, the second being The Garden of God (1923) and the third being The Gates of Morning (1925). It has inspired several film adaptations, most notably The Blue Lagoon (1980) starring Brooke Shields as Emmaline and Christopher Atkins as Richard (his name is Dick in the book.)

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Jude (1996) “A stonemason steadfastly pursues a cousin he loves. However their love is troubled as he is married to a woman who tricked him into marriage and she is married to a man she does not love. Living out of wedlock, the two are rejected by the townspeople leaving them to struggle in abject poverty.”

(based on Jude the Obscure, a novel by Thomas Hardy)

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How I Live Now (2013) “An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.”

(based on How I Live Now, a novel by Meg Rosoff)

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The Young Victoria (2009) “A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria’s rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert.”

(This one is based on the real life of Queen Victoria)

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Creation (2009) “English naturalist Charles Darwin struggles to find a balance between his revolutionary theories on evolution and the relationship with religious wife, whose faith contradicts his work.”

(Based on the real life of Charles Darwin)

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5 Films That Portray Romance Between LGBTQ-identified people (gay, lesbian, Trans):

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Milk (2008) “The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected official.”

(based on the real life of Harvey Milk)

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The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (1995) “An adventurous love story between two young women of different social and economic backgrounds who find themselves going through all the typical struggles of a new romance.”

(loosely based on the director’s first love) (for those who don’t know, the same actress who plays Tina on The L Word plays the tomboyish girl in this film. XD)

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I Love You Phillip Morris (2009) “A cop turns con man once he comes out of the closet. Once imprisoned, he meets the second love of his life, whom he’ll stop at nothing to be with.”

(based on the 1980s and ’90s real-life story of con artist, impostor, and multiple prison escapee Steven Jay Russell, as played by Jim Carrey. Adapted from I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks by Steve McVicker)

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Fire (1996) [couldn’t find a synopsis so I wrote this myself] Sita and Radha, two Indian women (one older, one younger) living in unhappy marriages, find companionship and freedom with each other, including a kind of sexual freedom denied them by the repressively traditional culture they exist in. Fire is also mentioned to be “one of the first mainstream films in India to explicitly show homosexual relations.”

(loosely based on Ismat Chugtai’s 1941 short story, Lihaf (The Quilt))

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Transamerica (2005) “A pre-operative male-to-female transsexual takes an unexpected journey when she learns that she fathered a son, now a teenage runaway hustling on the streets of New York.”

(in part inspired by the experiences of writer/actress Katherine Connella)

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