9 Great LGBTQ Road Trip Movies
9 Great LGBTQ Road Trip Movies
By, Jesse LaVancher
Are you on the road, planning a road trip or just love movies about road trips? Q Virginia has put together a list of some of our favorite road trip movies that have LGBTQ characters or themes. These films illuminate many ways that travelling can help us see the worlds—and ourselves—in a different light.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Australia, 1994)
Surely, you’ve heard of this iconic film. If you haven’t… SHAME! Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving play two drag queens who join forces with Terence Stamp, who plays a trans woman, and travel across the Australian desert in a tricked-out tour bus. This film is packed with both show-stopping numbers and campy scenes as well as character-driven drama and conflict. This one is not to be missed.
Sidebar: Also check out the hysterical, hot-mess Hollywood knockoff of this classic film, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995), which features superstars Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo as drag queens who journey across the American Heartland.
Boys on the Side (USA, 1995)
In this tear-jerker, Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore and Mary-Louise Parker play three friends who drive from New York City to Tucson. This comic, romantic, violent and, ultimately tragic, film also features a memorable appearance from a young, hunky Matthew McConaughey. The film’s all-female rock-pop soundtrack—which includes songs by Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt—is as powerful as the lead performances.
Thelma & Louise (USA, 1991)
No road trip list would be complete without this classic female buddy movie (even if this is not an explicitly gay film). Thelma and Louise, played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, are two women from Arkansas who venture out in Louise’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible for a weekend trip in the mountains. Things get ugly when a man Thelma dances with at a roadhouse tries to rape her. In an effort to protect her friend, Louise shoots and kills the man. Thinking that no one will believe their story, the duo run from the law and drive across the open roads of the great Southwest. They end up at the Grand Canyon where viewers hearts leap from their chest in one of the most unforgettable finales in Hollywood history. Oh, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for Brad Pitt’s star-making appearance as the shirtless cowboy!
My Own Private Idaho (USA, 1991)
This queer cult classic is actually a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V. Mike (River Phoenix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves) are street hustlers in Portland who develop an intimate relationship. The pair take a road trip to Idaho to visit Mike’s brother and, ultimately, travel to Italy in search of his mother. Phoenix’s hypnotic performance is a testament to the late actor’s talent.
Carol (UK/USA, 2015)
This stunning 1950s period film from acclaimed director Todd Haynes is about the coming-of-age romance between a young shop girl/aspiring photographer, Therese (Rooney Mara), and a glamorous yet tormented older woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett). Therese joins Carol on an impulsive road trip from New York City to wherever the road takes them. Blanchett and Mara deliver stellar performances in this cinematic masterpiece.
Transamerica (USA, 2005)
Bree (Felicity Huffman) is a trans woman who—one week before her vaginoplasty—discovers that she fathered a now 17-year-old son, Toby (Kevin Zegers). Bree’s therapist says she needs to come to terms with this news before she can undergo surgery. Bree bails Toby out of jail in New York and agrees to drive him to Los Angeles… without revealing that she is his father. On their trip, they stop at a gender Pride gathering in Dallas and have a complicated family reunion in Phoenix. This one is not to be missed.
Y tu mama tambien (Mexico, 2001)
In this groundbreaking film from visionary writer-director Alfonso Cuaron, two teenage boys from Mexico City, Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna), meet a beautiful Spanish woman, Luisa (Maribel Verdu). They convince her to go with them on a road trip through the mountains, desert and jungles of central Mexico to a Pacific beach that supposedly no one else knows about. This international sensation not only honestly depicts adolescent sexual relationships, but it explores deep themes of loss, death, intimacy and the cultural and political realities of a burgeoning new era in Mexico’s complicated history.
Get on the Bus (USA, 1996)
In this underseen Spike Lee film, a group of African-American men from all different walks of life embark on a cross-country journey from Los Angeles to Washington, DC to participate in the Million Man March. Two men on the bus are Kyle (Isaiah Washington) and Randall (Harry Lennix), a gay couple in the process of breaking up. Can you say drama? This flick takes many compelling and complicated turns as all of the men on the bus confront their similarities, differences and, ultimately, learn to respect and value their mutual sense of unity. The soundtrack to this movie is excellent, like most of Lee’s work, and features Curtis Mayfield, D’Angelo and A Tribe Called Quest.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (USA, 2001)
Although this genderqueer, glam rock extravaganza from writer-director John Cameron Mitchell began as an off-Broadway sensation, it quickly grew into a cult favorite when the film was released in 2001. East German native, Hedwig (Mitchell), fell in love with an American soldier and in order to move to America, he opted to undergo a sex change so the couple could legally marry. Unfortunately, Hedwig’s vaginoplasty doesn’t go as planned and leaves her with a one-inch stump between her legs (hence, the “angry inch”). After being abandoned in Junction City, Kansas, Hedwig gets together with some other Eastern Europeans and forms a rock band. The movie follows the group as they tour at a seafood chain restaurant, coffee bars and strip-mall dives across the country.