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Erin's Guide to Kissing Girls is the movie I wish I would have seen in middle school

Erin's Guide to Kissing Girls is a hilarious sapphic journey filled with yearning, rainbow shirts and, yep, Doc Martens.

The film follows Erin, a queer middle schooler, as she falls hard for new girl Sydni. And tbh, it's the *exact* movie I wish I would have seen when I was younger.

First things first, the characters are so relatable to my middle-school self. For example, Erin and her BFF Liz's love for comic books and fanfiction is beyond real. Watching them fangirl took me back to my own seventh-grade memories of writing Dear Evan Hansen fics on Wattpad. And just like Erin and Liz, I started shipping fictional characters in LGBTQ+ relationships. 

Erin's crush on Sydni was another v. relatable part of this film. When Erin saw Sydni for the first time, it felt so familiar. I saw a yearning that represented me. The best part? Erin's romantic feelings were shown in the same light as a heterosexual crush. It showed that we all experience the same butterflies, no matter who we like. Seeing this positive queer representation would've saved me a lot of time and confusion if I had known that earlier.

The specific details in Erin's Guide to Kissing Girls are so special, too—from the queer music selections to Sydni's books. There were also several references to other LGBTQ+ media (like Love, Simon!). I can tell that these were deliberate sapphic choices, and they were all meaningful and precise.

When I think about my favorite childhood books and films, I remember my obsessions with High School Musical and Teen Beach Movie. Although they're entertaining stories, they consist solely of straight couples. Maybe they weren't directly detrimental to my queer identity, but only seeing straight relationships growing up made me believe I had to fit into a specific box. When I started coming to terms with my sexuality in middle school, I worried that I wouldn't have my fairytale ending like Gabriella and Troy. But when I was watching Erin's Guide to Kissing Girls, I felt comforted knowing that my identity is valid—and that young girls watching this movie will understand *their* identity is valid, too.

Let's face it: Growing up is hard. Middle school was the most challenging time of my life. Not only was I worried about schoolwork and body changes (ugh, periods), but I dealt with some mean people, too (we all desperately want to "fit in," but when you're not exactly like everyone else, it can make you feel left out). I was also exploring my sexuality, and at the end of the day, that meant exploring who I am. Erin experienced those same challenges, and the film didn't shy away from showing the complex process of growing up. 

If someone showed me in middle school that it was completely OK to be who I am—whoever that is—it would've been easier for me to accept myself. All of these complicated feelings are authentically portrayed in Erin's Guide to Kissing Girls, and while this film is fearless in its portrayal of queerness, it's also heartfelt and emotional.

You can learn something from this story no matter your labeled identity or age, and hopefully, it'll open your heart to not only accepting yourself—but others, too.

Check out Erin's Guide to Kissing Girls, available on digital platforms now—then peep our EXCLUSIVE interview with writer/director Julianna Notten HERE.


by Kelly Schwint | 2/3/2023