Whether you're planning a road trip, currently on the road, or simply love the genre, here are some of our favorite road trip movies, all of which feature LGBT characters, themes, or flavors. Taking us from the deserts of the American Southwest to the flowery meadows of the South of France, and across the vast Australian Outback and to the secluded beaches of Mexico, these movies show us some of the many ways in which traveling the open road can change us - and help us to see the world and ourselves in a different light.
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Felix (Sam Bouajila) has recently lost his mother and is laid off from his dockworker job at the start of the film, so with his partner's blessing, he decides to hitchhike his way from his home in Dieppe, on the northern coast of France, to seek his estranged father in the southern coastal city of Marseille. He takes plenty of detours, making both poignant and fleeting connections, creating his own family of sorts along the way. This well-crafted story, written and directed by real-life partners Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, touches on various important details about Felix's life - he is openly gay, in an open relationship, HIV-positive, and of Arab descent - without sensationalizing them. A sexy, heartwarming, and insightful journey with the added bonus of the French countryside.
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Two drag queens (Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce) and a trans woman (Terence Stamp) travel across the Australian desert in a fully decked-out tour bus, regularly breaking out showstopping numbers. This iconic movie is not all fun and camp, with plenty of character-driven drama and conflict. The film helped make Weaving and Pearce international stars and further cemented Terence Stamp's reputation, adding to his already long list of award-winning performances. And if you want another take on this theme, you can always try watching the hot-mess Hollywood knockoff that is To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, starring, to varying degrees of success, Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo.
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Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore, and Mary-Louise Parker play three friends brought closer together during their often comedic, occasionally violent, and ultimately tragic and romantic drive from New York City to Tucson. In addition to the standout lead performances, the film also features a memorable appearance from a young, and very hunky, Matthew McConaughey. The film's soundtrack contains an all-female rock-pop lineup including such luminaries as Melissa Etheridge, Joan Armatrading, Sheryl Crow, and Bonnie Raitt. You'll need a box of tissues for this one.
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A beautifully observed 1950s-period coming of age romance between a young shop girl and aspiring photographer, Therese (Rooney Mara), and an impossibly glamorous but tormented older woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett), from acclaimed director Todd Haynes. Therese joins Carol on an impulsive getaway, as they road-trip west from New York City with no destination planned (although they don't stop there in the movie itself, the many gorgeous shots of both Manhattan and Chicago were in real life filmed in Cincinnati). Both Blanchett and Mara deliver knockout performances and form a cinematic couple for the ages.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker play Stella and Dotty, a couple from Maine who hit the road to tie the knot in Nova Scotia after Dotty's granddaughter places her in a nursing home. In this quirky, often funny, and decidedly poignant yarn, they pick up a young hitchhiker (Ryan Doucette) along the way and develop a strong friendship with him.
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The second film in queer director Gregg Araki's "Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy," The Doom Generation divided critics upon release but quickly became a cult favorite for its dark, satirical portrayal of a Southern California wasteland littered with kitsch interiors, quickie marts, and abandoned warehouses. Rose McGowan, James Duval, and Johnathon Schaech star as the young anti-heroes, driving endlessly through the apocalyptic sprawl of Los Angeles, engaging in various sexual acts, and running away from an assortment of colorful psychos.
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A group of African American men from different walks of life - including Kyle (Isaiah Washington) and Randall (Harry Lennix), a gay couple in the process of breaking up - embark on a cross-country odyssey from Los Angeles to Washington, DC to participate in the Million Man March. This underseen Spike Lee film takes plenty of compelling, complicated turns as all the men confront their similarities and differences, and ultimately grow to respect and value their mutual sense of unity. As with most of Lee's work, the movie also features an excellent soundtrack that includes the likes of Curtis Mayfield, D'Angelo, and A Tribe Called Quest.
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Writer-director John Cameron Mitchell's genderqueer glam rock extravaganza first became a sensation as an off-Broadway show, then grew into a cult favorite upon the film's release. Hedwig (Mitchell) grew up in East Germany, fell in love with an American soldier, and opted for a sex change in order to legally marry and move to the U.S. Only the vaginoplasty doesn't go as planned, leaving her with a one-inch stump between her legs; thus, the "angry inch" of the title. Hedwig is later abandoned in Junction City, Kansas and forms a rock band with other eastern Europeans. The film follows them "on tour" as they perform at a seafood chain restaurant Bilgewater's, coffee bars, and strip-mall dives around the country.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Portland street hustlers, Mike (River Phoenix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves), develop an intimate relationship in director Gus Van Sant's loose adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry IV and V plays. Scott joins Mike on the road to Idaho to visit his brother (and ultimately, to search for his mother in Italy). A truly original cult classic of queer cinema that features a hypnotic performance from Phoenix, in what is now a testament to the late actor's talent.
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The ultimate female buddy movie. While not an explicitly gay film, it is easy to see why the LGBT community champions this rollicking feminist story. Thelma and Louise (played to perfection by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) are two Arkansas women who set out for a weekend trip in the mountains in Louise's '66 Ford Thunderbird convertible. Things quickly take a turn for the worse when a man Thelma dances with at a roadhouse attempts to rape her. Louise, in an effort to protect her friend, loses her temper and shoots and kills the man. In fear that no one will believe their claim of attempted rape, the two run from the law, driving along the open roads of the Southwest, ultimately winding up at the Grand Canyon, in one of the most unforgettable finales in Hollywood history. And who can forget Brad Pitt's star-making turn as the shirtless cowboy?
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Felicity Huffman gives a remarkable performance as Bree, a trans woman who discovers, one week before her scheduled vaginoplasty, that she fathered a now 17-year-old son, Toby (the talented and sexy Kevin Zegers). Her therapist insists she needs to come to terms with this news before she will sign off on her surgery, so Bree bails Toby out of jail in New York and agrees to drive him to Los Angeles, without revealing herself as his father. They make some memorable stops along the way, including a gender Pride gathering in Dallas, and a complicated family reunion in Phoenix.
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Two teenage boys from Mexico City, Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna), meet a beautiful Spanish woman, Luisa (Maribel Verdu), and manage to convince her to join them on a road trip through the mountains, desert, and jungles of central Mexico to a secluded Pacific beach they claim no one else knows about. The film garnered international acclaim not only for its honest depiction of adolescent sexual relationships, but also for the story's deep thematic explorations of loss, death, intimacy, and the cultural and political realities of a burgeoning new era in Mexico's complicated history. Y tu mama tambien, along with a handful of other works by its creator's contemporaries, would go on to usher in a new wave of Mexican cinema and establish writer-director Alfonso Cuaron as one of the great international talents of his generation.