2. Jess — Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (1989)
If the all-boys boarding school of Notes on a Scandal is the
least likely place to find a lesbian coming-out story, the oppressive
and fundamental Elim Pentecostal church is probably next in line.
In 1990, the BBC created quite a stir when they released a TV adaptation of Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.
The movie tells the story of Jess, played beautifully by the late
Charlotte Coleman, who — despite growing up in a household where her
parents are both regularly spoken to by God — does not even question it
when she begins to fall for her best friend Melanie (Cathryn Bradshaw).
Jess’ reveal is personal and poignant to anyone who’s ever faced
oppression at the hands of religion: She declares that there is no
reason why she can’t love both God and Melanie.
When Jess refuses to repent of her "sin" ("Never learn to hide
what’s good"), she is tied down by the "chords of love," prayed over
for 14 hours and then locked up, by her mother, without food for 36
hours. She is later abandoned by her lover and forced from her home and
from her church. Through it all, Jess refuses to deny her family, her
God or herself, making her reveal timelessly relevant.
1. Luce — Imagine Me & You (2005)
Rachel (Piper Perabo) is halfway down the aisle to marry longtime
boyfriend Heck (Matthew Goode) when she is startled to see her florist,
Luce (Lena Headey), walking the other direction in the shadows. At the
reception, the two women share a lovely moment concealing that Rachel’s
wedding ring has fallen to the bottom of a punch bowl.
Rachel’s attraction to Luce is immediate and intense; so, naturally, she arranges to set Luce up with Heck’s best friend.
Days later, over dinner at Rachel and Heck’s, Luce reveals why the matchmaking scheme is doomed to fail.
Heck: So, what about you? Are you married? Ever been married? Ever going to get married?
Luce: No. Well, maybe now the law’s changed.
Heck: How do you mean?
Luce: Well, I’m gay.
Heck: [Laughs and then realizes it's not a joke.] Oh, um, well done.
None of the characters treat Luce’s pronouncement as anything out of
the ordinary. Heck is a little surprised, but gracious. His best
friend, Coop, is also surprised, but skeptical. (Aren’t all lesbians
secretly looking for a man to convert them?) Rachel is shocked, but
that’s her own attraction speaking more than anything else.
Oh, that all rea-life lesbian reveals could be handled with this kind of aplomb. (And this kind of reciprocal affection.)