Earlier this season, I added an LGBT column for the web site to help make the site more inclusive and discuss conditions that affect some members of our community. We hear from LGBT voices about their experiences on the highway, safety tips, events, and overall advice for other LGBT travelers! Returning this month is our column leader, Adam from Travels of Adam to talk about a few of his favorite LGBT travel films!
Of the numerous things that motivate me to visit and explore the world, movies are among the strongest influences. Cinematography helps us experience different worlds, stories take us to new places.
And as the knowledge of coming out feels as though a journey for so many LGBT people, it seems sensible that there’d be many LGBT movies that cover the emotional journey of discovery alongside the physical adventure of travel.
From Oscar-winning classics like Brokeback Mountain to cult favorites prefer to Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar to arthouse cinema by Almodóvar and John Waters, many films inspire us to visit.
That is my set of all-time favorite LGBT-themed movies that include traveling, plus they can be found in all genres, from silly comedies to thoughtful dramas, from Hollywood masterpieces to indie productions.
1. Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain is (rightfully) near the top of any LGBT movie list. This 2005 film tells the story of two cowboys and their annual trip from Wyoming to Texas. The stunning scenery of the mountains and the men’s camping trip may be the perfect background because of this painful drama.
The film depicts just how many gay relationships, however they’re defined, frequently start as friendships. However, there’s also ordinarily a have a problem with society and one’s personal boundaries. Regardless of the tragic outcome, the story reminds us that love triumphs over hate – and over physical distance.
2. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
From the mountains, we happen to be the desert. Two of the best movies are inspired by sand and hot winds. The first one is a classic and has turned into a gay cult movie. Occur Australia’s Simpson Desert, 1994’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is in fact the name of a bus utilized by two drag queens and a trans woman to cross Australia on the way to a casino in Alice Springs.
Along the journey, the characters connect to rural populations, aboriginal Australians, and homophobic gangs. A Guy Pearce and award-winning costume design make the film especially memorable. The film’s mix of humor and drama is vital to any road trip movie because traveling offers you exactly that: laughs and tears.
The next desert movie upon this list is a far more recent (2005) Canadian production, and the desert depicted is that of the stunning city of Essaouira, Morocco (although setting of the movie is in fact Jerusalem).
C.R.A.Z.Y. is a tale about acceptance and family life, nonetheless it includes a genuine portrayal of traveling as a means of silencing the voices inside our heads, and then return home completely empowered and strong. It follows Zac during his journey of developing, which includes a getaway to the center East before he reunites along with his friends and family back. Moreover, the soundtrack includes many iconic gay anthems, including Patsy Cline (“Crazy”), Giorgio Moroder (“Here to Eternity”), and David Bowie (“Space Oddity”).
4. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
This 1995 film appears to be inspired by Priscilla, however the producers insist that production started prior to the Australian film premiered. To Wong Foo follows the lives of three NY drag queens (Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo) on a road trip from NYC to LA for a drag competition.
Naturally, their car reduces plus they end up stranded in small-town America, where they have several comedic and dramatic encounters with the neighborhood police and other stereotypical Southern characters. The movie shows both welcoming and homophobic attitudes of the American South, but also for me, the very best part is the mix of black, Latino and “white” narratives through the road trip.
By overcoming stereotypes and hate – mostly depicted in the figure of a officer – the drag queens change the lives of several people and rediscover the worthiness of friendship.
Another great story, Transamerica features a superb performance by Felicity Huffman as a trans woman, Bree, on a road trip. Her therapist insists that she must make amends with her estranged son, who doesn’t know of her transition, before signing off on her behalf final surgery. Bree drives her son from NYC to LA under the pretense to be a Christian missionary helping him out of jail and breaking his negative traits.
Because they travel together and find out about each other, the movie explores this is of words like “father” and “mother,” “boy” and “girl,” even while revealing the characters’ complicated and emotional journey. It’s a tale about family life, tolerance, and self-respect.
This 2011 British drama was director Andrew Haigh’s breakout film (before he continued to direct Looking and 45 Years). Two men who meet in a gay club searching for a casual hookup before one of these is to go away. They have a separate weekend together, sharing intimate details and experiences: their developing, past relationships, and applying for grants sexuality. It’s the story of this emotional, in-between moment before leaving something behind and starting anew: passionate, intense, and fleeting but unforgettable.
7. Y Tu Mamá También
Although some folks are hesitant to contemplate it an LGBT movie, I really believe Y Tu Mamá También is actually about the stigma against bisexuality (or around the freedom to overcome any labels). While on a road trip around Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman check out the beach, and then uncover the secrets of their own passions against the setting of Mexico’s political and social realities. The movie deftly combines comedy and drama, and it shows how traveling opens us up to new experiences by fighting societal and internal worries or doubts.
8. Seashore (Beira-Mar)
This lovely film from Brazil tells the story of two teenagers on a road trip trying to recuperate legal documents from relatives, with a detour to the beach. The journey gives them the chance to reconnect while solving their own internal struggles. Among the boys is gay, and the story follows his internal issue of sharing that fact along with his friend.
The main magic of the movie is that it’s a sweet and positive depiction of gay youth. The pain of developing is mainly absent, and the complete experience is presented as natural and easy, with hardly any tension. There’s a sweetness to the story, a youthfulness-and, importantly, also a realness. Not everyone includes a bad experience developing. And those stories are simply as worth sharing as others.
9. Todo Sobre Mi Madre
It’s impossible to share with you LGBT movies and travel without making a mention of the task of Pedro Almodóvar. A lot of his movies reflect gender, politics, and pain. Todo Sobre Mi Madre tells the story of a tragicomic drag queen and prostitute, Amparo, surrounded by a number of lesbian theater actresses, a pregnant nun, and a mother (portrayed by Argentinian actress Cecilia Roth), all while looking for a trans woman who’s the biological father of her son.
The tragic story is defined in two beautiful Spanish cities, Madrid and Barcelona, and through the protagonist, we learn that each trip includes a different meaning at different points inside our lives.
10. Happy Together
For Asian cinema, the must-see film is this 1997 classic by Wong Kar-Wai. A gay couple from Hong Kong happen to be Argentina, with the aim of visiting the Iguazú waterfalls and resetting their relationship.
Their physical trip abroad is a metaphor for his or her spiritual trip and includes episodes of depression, emotional pain, and abuse. The story is tumultuous but reveals the energy of resilience and shows us how traveling make a difference both past and present relationships.
August is another gay-themed movie about separation and reunification. After living for several years in Spain, Troy travels back again to LA and begins a journey that explores the boundaries of relationships and the ugly difference between reality and expectations.
For me personally, travel this is a symbolic way to break old habits and find out about ourselves and others. Returning from an extended trip always has its complications, particularly when old relationships arrive again. But it’s our journeys abroad that increase our very own personal stories, and things always change before, during, and after a big trip.
We often happen to be different places in other to assume how life will be for us there, to find new cultures and social contexts also to explore unknown elements of our very own being. Many LGBT-inspired films do a similar. Today, it’s easy to explore both real or fictional worlds of gay lives in lots of films from different cultures, cities, and social contexts as increasingly more LGBT films make it to mainstream screens.
But although you may don’t identify as LGBT, I encourage you to search out these films that follow unique and personal stories, themes we are able to all relate to regardless of our sexuality or gender.
Maybe the more LGBT movies you watch, the simpler it is to connect to others who will vary or have a background that’s hard to assess.
The same applies to travel.
The more international friends and acquaintances you have and the more diversity in your daily life, the easier to comprehend and empathize with other cultures.
Note: A few of these films aren’t 100% accurate within their depictions of LGBT people and could seem dated, but most of them experienced a positive effect on LGBT culture and continue being important.
Adam Groffman is a former graphic designer who left a publishing job travel the world. He’s a gay travel expert, writer, and blogger and publishes a number of LGBT-friendly Hipster City Guides from all over the world on his gay travel blog, Travels of Adam. When he’s not out exploring the coolest bars and clubs, he’s usually enjoying the neighborhood arts and culture scene. Find more of his travel tips (and embarrassing stories) on Twitter.
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