Due to recent circumstances I’m sure you’re all overly conscious of by this point, every man, woman, and lesbian in America has ended up with an abundance of time on her hands, myself included. When not spending my time staring into the Zoom abyss as my professor attempts to wrangle participation from thirty-five dejected communications majors, I have been undertaking a noble cause for the betterment of all. I have been doing a deep dive into director Baz Luhrmann’s filmography to determine, once and for all, the lesbianness of his straight male leads.
You see, sometimes, straight men can be lesbians. I propose to you: butch lesbian Young Leonardo Dicaprio, baby face Ewan McGregor, and the single-minded pining Ezekiel Figuero. These images are such that I can only look at them and say softly to my computer screen, “She.”
But does trolling Google Images and yelling “GENDER!” at my screen every time a picture of Young Leo in loose-fitting clothing pops up pass the days? Sadly, it does not. The hours grew long, and I grew ravenous for more of Baz’s particular brand of lesbianism. So I watched Baz Luhrmann’s catalog of five movies and one TV show to determine, once and for all, which Baz lesbian is the Peak Lesbian.
7. Hugh Jackman in Australia (2008)
I didn’t spend my second anniversary with my girlfriend talking exclusively about Young Leo while we made General Tso’s Tofu over Skype to witness something this straight.
6. The Twinks in The Secret Life of Flowers for ERDEM x H&M (2017)
I know this is neither a movie nor a TV show, but it has to be mentioned. Baz is a genius whom is absolutely, indulgently extra in this. He pressed every button on the Baz Luhrmann Directing Control Panel and this gorgeous mess emerged. If you ever wanted to see Brideshead Revisited, but with floral garments and the guy who played Harry Styles in After, this is the H&M advertisement for you. Queerness of some kind abounds, but I’m really not sure what I just witnessed. I love this and I hate it.
5. Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby (2013)
This movie is entirely about fake people and Nick and Jordan were like, “Let’s fit in” so they decided to con everyone into thinking they were in hetero love. They’re twink and dyke solidarity to a T. It’s a visible sham, though; Tobey Maguire and his dopey face trail around after Gatsby more than he ever pays attention to Jordan. Still, though. Gayer than H&M.
4. Scott Hastings in Strictly Ballroom (1992)
Look, I know you didn’t come to this list for this one. First movies are tough ones: the director’s always figuring out just how much lesbianism he can wring from a male lead. But this movie was actually cute. I was thoroughly entertained by how the lead ballroom dancer looks like Holden Mindhunter. Ranked fourth because ballroom dance apparently leaves a LOT of room for gazing into each other’s eyes and yearning…and what’s more lesbian than yearning?
3. Christian in Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Ewan McGregor plays a “penniless poet”—Baz’s words, not mine—who yearns to fall in the love for the first time. To achieve this goal, he wears vests constantly and looks at Nicole Kidman like she lights up the world. Bonus: there is honest-to-god a scene where Nicole Kidman is actively trying to have sex with Ewan McGregor and he’s actively trying to recite poetry. Truly. You know all those posts online where lesbians are like, “My girl friend kissed me. Do you think she likes me?” That’s Ewan here, sweating and stuttering out verses.
2. Zeke in The Get Down (2016-2017)
I feel like the criteria to rank highly on this list is turning out to be “writes poetry for female love interest” but I really can’t help that. When Zeke said, “Mylene you’re superflicious,” she was like “What’s ‘superflicious’?” and then he was like, “Superflicious is ‘super,’ plus ‘official,’ plus ‘delicious,’” I was like oh, no. This is a lesbian.
One time I wrote a poem to a girl I had texted with twice over Tinder. I put her name in it, sent it to her (my third text to her, ever) and she texted back, “Oh, that’s just a fake name I use for Tinder.” My heart broke. Zeke had more success, so I rank him highly here.
1. Young Leo in Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Yes, you’re reading that date right. Baz, the absolute GOAT, did an Australian ballroom dancing movie and then said, “Fuck it, I’m gonna do Romeo and Juliet.” Then Twentieth Century Fox said, “Well, I guess we’ll distribute it and make a bazillion dollars.” And boy, did Baz deliver.
This movie is a modern update of a classic tragedy on steroids. Baz Luhrmann kicks in hard with his magical realism here, bringing you a LA-esque Verona chock-full of guns, anachronistic dialogue, and neon lights everywhere.
Romeo recites sadboy poetry for as much of his screen time as possible, while his friends beg him to shut up and come party. Baz saw Romeo’s mooning over Rosaline and quick jump to being head-over-heels for Juliet and said, yep, that’s lesbian behavior. And it is: Romeo and Juliet U-Haul their way to disaster while Young Leo mugs for the camera like a stud on TikTok.
Nothing Young Leo does in the 120-minute run time evokes a heterosexual love of Claire Danes’ Juliet in any way, shape, or form. I think at the forty-five minute mark I actually stopped seeing a biological male and rewired my brain to register Young Leo as a butch lesbian.
What more can I say? Young Leo is the Peak Lesbian. I’ll never get the time back I spent watching all these movies, and I don’t want it.
In conclusion: Elvis (2021). This biopic is gonna be balls-to-the-wall bonkers. I can’t wait to sit in a theater with 80-somethings and watch Baz Luhrmann write Elvis into replacing James Dean for lesbians. I’ll tell you right now, gays, I’m drawing the line at zoot suits.