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20 gay movies to watch to inspire your gay wanderlust

20 gay movies to watch to inspire your gay wanderlust

In these 20 best gay movies to watch, we've included a mix of stunning locations where LGBTQ stories took place, to inspire your next adventure!

Some people get their inspiration for travel online. Others turn to holiday brochures. A few even ask their friends for recommendations. And then there’s those of us who love getting wanderlust from the big screen.

There’s nothing like a well-crafted LGBTQ story to ignite our obsession for a new location!

Whether it’s a lesbian love story set in bustling New Delhi, a romance between two farmers in the hills of Yorkshire, a group of outcasts amid the Barcelonian underground scene, or falling in love for the first time in the center of a quiet Italian village; gay movies prove how queer people exist in all walks of life in every corner of the world.

In our list below we've included a wide mix of locations where LGBTQ stories took place, making sure that the setting is as compelling as the narrative itself. Almost like a secondary character!

Here are our top 20 gay movies to inspire a nice slice of wanderlust: 

1. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

The characters in this movie are how we picture ourselves whilst traveling. Fabulous, camp, and above all, brave! Oh boy, do these Priscilla queens have balls…

When a Sydney based drag queen, named Mitzi Del Bra (played by Hugo Weaving), accepts a gig to perform in central Australia, she decides to bring along her best friends, fellow performer Felicia Jollygoodfellow (Guy Pearce), and mother figure Bernadette Bassenger (Terence Stamp), for the journey. The trio hop aboard a renovated bus, which they refer to as ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert‘, and set off into the outback.

This film is packed to the brim with outrageous fashion, campy gay pop music, and stunning sights of the Land Down Under. Most of the film is set in rural New South Wales, in the desert town of Broken Hill. Other scenes were filmed in Coober Pedy, a mining town, for an authentic Australian Outback ambiance. 

Who’d have thought putting gaudily colorful drag artists in the center of a rustic, arid backdrop of the desert could work so well and become so iconic?!

2. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

A gay love story that even the nastiest of homophobes love. Who could pass over the masterful acting chops of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal? 

Seby sticks this film on whenever he’s mustering up the courage to tell me he’s booked another camping trip. He knows I’m not the biggest fan of sleeping outdoors and that only the scene of Heath and Jake in the tent (you know that scene), will convince me to go.

If you haven’t seen this film, number 1: How dare you. Number 2: It’s about two cowboys (Ledger and Gyllenhaal) who work in the Wyoming mountains. They fall in love whilst relishing the quiet countryside wilderness – away from the oppressive societal views of the 1960s (when the film is set).

After the first half of the film, things get hella depressing, so no judgements for turning it off. But until then, you’ll be enthralled by footage of the Canadian Rockies (the filming location), with their blue mountains, gurgling waterfalls, and rolling green fields.

3. Call Me by Your Name (2017)

If you were on Twitter or Instagram during 2017 then you already know about this movie. It was super popular.

Straight girls loved it because of its lead, Hollywood golden boy Timothée Chalamet. Straight guys loved it for its arthouse filmmaking style. Gay people loved it for a scene that was so darn, um, peachy… And then there were us, who were in awe over the Italian backdrop in each scene. 

In case you didn’t know, ‘Call Me by Your Name’ is about a 17-year-old boy named Ellio, who falls for a 24-year-old American student, who comes to help Ellio’s dad with academic paperwork. It was a story that brought to life so many people’s fantasies. For most, the idea of falling in love. For us, falling in love but ALSO in a stunning Italian city.

The film was primarily made around northern Italy, in several of its provinces. Key scenes feature the arch of Torrazzo of the Crema Cathedral and the waterfalls of Cascate del Serio.

4. Happy Together (1997)

Arguably one of the most ground-breaking films in queer cinema, ‘Happy Together’, is universally claimed, evocative, and utterly compelling.

Gay couple Ho Po-Wing and Lai Yiu-Fai (respectively played by Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-wai) decide to visit Buenos Aires to mend their turbulent relationship. However, things get messy when they don’t have enough money to return home and are forced to take up jobs as a club promoter and rent boy. 

Throughout the film we see intense lovemaking sessions, heated arguments, and passionate professions of love between the pair. The film’s portrayal of a gay relationship was revolutionary, with the focus being on the dynamic of Po-Wing and Fai as individuals, rather than them as a gay couple. 

In the movie, we move from the nightclubs of Buenos Aires to the thoroughfares of Hong Kong, to the naturalistic marvels of Iguazu Falls, with the film perfectly capturing the magic of each location. It’s a gay nomad’s wet dream!

5. Loev (2015)

Loev is difficult to watch at times (trigger warning: there is an upsetting scene involving rαρe). Nevertheless, it is an exceptional film.

The film begins when successful businessman Jai (Shiv Panditt) returns home to Mumbai for a work trip. He reconnects with his former best friend, Sahil (Dhruv Ganesh) who is an aspiring musician. Together, they head off on a road trip to the small town of Mahabaleshwar, where things get a little bit… intimate. 

The movie covers a lot of themes, from consent, to body image, and finding yourself. The overdone ‘star-crossed lovers’ cliché is spun on its heads and looked at through an unapologetically queer lens. 

Filmed on location, lovers of travel will be spellbound by scenes of the epic Indian countryside, with glimpses of the bustling markets and the hiking trails through gorgeous mountainous scenery. 

Exploring India is every traveler’s dream! And we can’t think of a better film to get people pumped up for visiting this remarkable country. Our friend, Raj from Delhi, gave us his own first-person account about gay life in India in our interview with him, which we advise you check out.

6. The Danish Girl (2015)

This stunning film portrays the life of Lili Elbe, a painter who became one of the first people in history to undergo gender reassignment surgery. 

Set against the backdrop of 1920s Copenhagen, we follow Lili as she discovers and grapples with her true gender identity. 

The film was produced across Copenhagen, Brussels, and in the UK. Notable scenes showcase Copenhagen City Hall and the Horta Museum in Brussels beautifully, tempting us to embark on another tour of Europe. 

If anything, ‘The Danish Girl’ highlights how Denmark is often at the forefront of social progress and that all travelers regardless of their gender or seאʊal identity will be welcomed. This is why we rate Denmark as one of the most gay friendly countries in the world.

We should point out that the film has received criticism for casting a cisgender actor, Eddie Redmayne, in the role of a transwoman. With so few openly trans actors in mainstream cinema, ‘The Danish Girl’ could have taken bigger strides in breaking down those barriers. Nonetheless, Redmayne delivered a touching performance, helping to highlight the issues trans people deal with.

7. The Birdcage (1996)

We’ll make any excuse to watch Robin Williams and Nathan Lane act as gay a couple for 90 minutes. ‘The Birdcage’ (a remake of the 70s film, ‘La Cage Aux Folles’) sees them play the bickering couple, Albert and Armand, who manage a queer nightclub in South Beach, Miami.

Albert (Lane’s character) performs a popular drag act in the club, whilst Armand (Williams) looks after all the, um, business-y stuff.

Their world is turned upside down when Armand’s biological son (Dan Futterman) visits to announce he is getting married to Barbara… the daughter of a very right-wing politician. You know… the conservative type who HATE GAYS!!! Yikes… 

This is one of the few pre-millennium films that portray LGBTQ people in a positive light. Yes, the characters deal with bigoted people, but their antagonists are characterized as pantomime villains rather than being morally superior. 

The fact it takes place in gay Miami is the icing on the cake – as we get a good look into the fabulous Floridian nightlife, and all its outrageous campness. Book us a flight to Miami, stat!

8. Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink) (1997) 

The Fabre family have it all.

They’ve moved into their dream house. The dad enjoys a highly successful career. They are popular within their local community. 

However, all of that chips away when the youngest child, Ludo, starts exploring her gender identity. Despite being assigned male at birth, she sees herself as a girl and expresses this by growing out her hair and wearing dresses.

The story of a child defying gender norms is radical, even by today’s standards. Yet, this film is so masterfully made, that you can’t help but feel compelled by each scene. It explores themes of self-acceptance, gender identity, and the importance of loving your child unconditionally. 

We should note that there are tough scenes to get through, with Ludo facing ostracism from classmates and family members, as well as violence.

Having been filmed around Paris, it gave Seby tons of nostalgia with its snapshots of French suburbia. 

9. Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)

We all remember our first love…and this film captures the turbulence of those relationships perfectly.

From the moment shy teenager, Adéle (played by Adèle Exarchopoulos), sees the elusive, blue-haired Emma (Léa Seydoux), she is enthralled. After a chance meeting at a bar, an epic gay romance begins. 

This movie expertly depicts the queer experience of growing up, figuring out who you are, and navigating the trials of a young relationship.

The film was made around the cities of Lille, Roubaix, and Liévin, in the north of France. There are many gorgeous scenes across each city, proving that the country is more than just Paris. The soundtrack features several French-speaking songs (showing off how sensual the language is). Plus, there are some dining out scenes that’ll give even the pickiest of eaters a hankering for delectable French cuisine.

This is the ideal flick for Francophiles everywhere. 

10. Fire (1996)

Fire by name, fire by nature.

This movie received an explosive reaction from Indian filmgoers over its lesbian scenes when it was released. Protestors stormed cinemas where it was being shown, brandishing homophobic slogans. It’s fair to say that this movie sparked a public discussion on gay rights in India. Today, it’s heralded as a queer classic. 

It’s about two women who form an intimate relationship after realizing how dissatisfied each of them are with their own lives. When family members learn of their “close bond”, it sparks a rupture within their community.

Whether you’re in the mood for a love story or you want to venture into the world of Bollywood cinema, a key takeaway will be how stunning the city’s backdrop is. From family outings in the parks to tête-à-têtes on high rise rooftops, with the hustle and bustle echoing in the background, ‘Fire’ sprinkles a piece of New Delhi magic into each scene.  

Before you know it, you’ll be looking up trips to see the gay side of India as well!

11. Fresa y Chocolata (1994)

According to this film, eating strawberry ice cream is an indicator the person is gay… but surely, they’d prefer chocolate, no?

Set in late 70s Cuba, David (played by Vladimir Cruz) strikes up a friendship with LGBTQ artist, Diego (Jorge Perugorría). However, David’s university classmate, Miguel (Francisco Gattorno) believes homosexuality to be a threat to the Communist party and persuades David to spy and report back on Diego’s actions. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a gay movie if things just stopped there. Things between Diego and David begin to get a little… spicy. And just like the communist colors, their chemistry is red hot! 

The city of Havana comes to life in this exceptional film about the intersection of love and politics. We see David and Diego come into their full selves, with the wondrous texture of the Cuban city as a backdrop. 

As the pair navigate their relationship, the viewer is treated to sights around Havana, taking in the incredible architecture, arthouses, and clubrooms that make the country so fantastic. Find out more about the Caribbean in our article about the most gay friendly Caribbean islands.

12. Transamerica (2005)

Whilst waiting for her vaginoplasty surgery, transwoman Bree (played by Felicity Huffman) receives a call from Toby (Kevin Zegers), who reveals Stanley (her deadname) is his father and whether Stan can come to bail him out of jail. 

At first, Bree refuses to face up to her past, but her hand is forced to rescue him when her therapist refuses to sign off on her surgery until she reconnects with her child. Flying to New York City, she pretends to be a Christian missionary that Stanley sent, and offers to drive him back to the West. A road trip ensues! 

We get to see sights around Kentucky, Dallas, Texas; and Phoenix, Arizona, in what we feel is the ultimate American road trip. It’ll make you want to hop aboard a camper van with a total stranger and visit all 50 States. Though be sure to read about which are the most gay friendly places in the USA first.

The film offers a surprisingly positive portrayal of trans identity, especially given how ignorant people were about trans issues in the mid-00s. 

13. All About My Mother (Todo Sobre Mi Madre) (1999)

This movie really said “straight men? I don’t know her….” with a grand total of just two hetero-males featured throughout the entire run time! 

When Manuela (played by Cecile Roth) loses her 17-year-old son to a car accideɳt, she decides to travel to Barcelona to reconnect with her son’s father (who never knew of their son’s existence) and now lives life as a transwoman. When she arrives in the city, she meets up with an old friend and discovers a world full of Seא workers, performers, and dɾυg addicts. 

Throughout the movie, we’re treated to exquisite overhead scenes of gay Barcelona including Gaudí’s stunning Sagrada Familia. 

Full of references to theater and old movie stars, gay audiences will definitely resonate with this film. If you’re unfamiliar with how electrifying the Barcelona arts and cultural scene is we think this film will serve as a wide awakening for you.

14. Carol (2015)

You know how the Internet tends to fall in love with the aesthetics of bygone eras? Despite the blatant homophobia, Seאism, and racist attitudes that existed at the time? ‘Carol’ embodies that contrast perfectly. 

Whilst the fashion, the textures, the music, and the sophistication of 1950s Manhattan serve as eye-p*rn for the viewer, Carol and Therese (played by Cate Blanchett and Therese Belivet) are forced to keep their relationship a secret, due to how intolerant society is.  

Nevertheless, lovers of New York will be tantalized by this movie as it convincingly transforms Cincinnati, Ohio (where the movie was set) to look like the Big Apple. The opening scene of the luxurious Manhattan streets were taken on Elm Street Whilst the exterior scenes at the Ritz Hotel were taken of the Cincinnati Bell offices on West 7th Street. And the iconic department store sequences were filmed in The Lofts at Shillito Palace.

Up for a trip to the Big Apple? We’ve got you covered in our gay New York guide.

15. God’s Own Country (2017)

For LGBTQ folk who grew up in the countryside, watching a movie set entirely in the marshlands of Yorkshire sounds less than ideal. That is until they see this exquisite film. 

It stars Josh O’Connor (yep, Prince Charles from ‘The Crown’), as the young, but jaded Johnny, who is fed up with working out on his family’s farm. When his family hires Romanian immigrant, Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu), to work alongside him, things out on the fields start to get a little more… moist. And we aren’t talking about the land… 

We never thought it was possible, but this film manages to romanticize the life that many queer people long to escape from. You know, the type of upbringing that led to gay people adopting the song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ as their mantra?  

We watched for the love story but ended up becoming enamored by the Wuthering Heights-esque sweeping fields, lush landscapes, and rural hospitality that reminded us why we love visiting small country towns so much. 

16. Pride (2014)

This is the ultimate comfort movie. Not only is it charming and funny, but it will warm the cockles of even the coldest of hearts. 

When a group of London-based queer activists hear about the miner strikes in South Wales, they are compelled to lend a helping hand. Despite having nothing in common with each other, the two sides join forces to rebel against the powers that be. 

You might have read that synopsis and thought, “Ack, how far-fetched is that?” But, honey, it’s all based on true events! 

As dwellers of gay London, we were proud to see so much of the city be showcased throughout the film. But we were even more excited to see scenes taken in the Welsh countryside, being the nature enthusiasts that we are. There is nothing like this film to inspire you to take a city break and escape to the magic of rural Wales.

17. Tangerine (2015)

There’s no other place like it – Hollywood is the pinnacle of glamor, fame, beauty, and success. Or is it?

At the beginning of the film, we meet Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), a trans woman who has recently been released from jail. She then learns her boyfriend has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman. 

Over the film, we get to see the dark underbelly of the land of dreams, as we move through a community of dɾυg abusers, Seא workers, and those with limited opportunities. Don’t worry though, there are some funny moments! 

The sun-kissed filter of each frame captured the Hollywood feeling perfectly. And we loved seeing the iconic West Boulevard. Several moments take place in famous West Hollywood clubs, which also made us feel super nostalgic for the Californian gay nightlife.  

Fun fact: This film was recorded entirely on three iPhones! If they can make a movie using just their smartphones, where’s our excuse for not having made a Nomadic Boys feature film? Ummm…

18. C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005)

Zac (Marc-André Grondin) is one of five brothers (gosh, we already feel sorry for him). His relationship with his father begins to become strained when he starts to display feminine behavior. As he grows older, he forces himself through heterosexual relationships, despite only experiencing attraction to men. Things come to a head when at a family wedding, he is spotted sneaking outside with another man, who his father mistakes as a lover. 

This film moves from the family suburban life of gorgeous Montreal to the wilderness of the Jerusalem deserts (though these scenes were filmed in Morocco), which Zac journeys to in the movie.  

One moment we loved was when a Bedouin (a member of an Arab tribe who lives in the desert) comes to rescue Zac after he faints. This scene reminded us of all the magical moments we’ve experienced whilst traveling, and how the kindness of strangers can help a lot whilst you’re exploring a different part of the world. 

Having gotten lost several times on our travels before, getting stranded is one of our biggest fears. So, this moment spoke volumes to us.

19. Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild (2008)

This is one of those “so bad, it’s good” type-films!

Most people love it for its melodramatic camp and outrageous scenes. We like it because it takes place in gay Fort Lauderdale – one of the most gay-friendly places on earth and home to several gay resorts. At this point, the Floridian city is like a second home to us. So, seeing it come to life on the big screen was a real treat for us. 

This is a follow up to the smash hit film, ‘Another Gay Movie’, where a group of gay friends vowed to lose their aɳal virgiɳity before Labor Day. In this sequel, the friends compete in a contest to see who will have the most partners over a weekend. 

With a cameo from celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton; homages to the ‘Wizard of Oz’; and Seא dreams with a merman (honestly, who thought of all this???), this film is the definition of campness gone rogue. And we loved every moment!

20. Maurice (1987)

We love Hugh Grant. We love London. So, adding the two together and making it gay was a dream come true! 

This film, based on the book of the same name, explores gay life in early 20th century England. It follows Maurice (played by James Wilby), a Cambridge student who becomes romantically entangled with his friend, Clive (Grant). Their relationship, whilst never consummated, is kept secret due to the social stigma at the time. 

Filming took place around King’s College in Cambridge, giving us serious nostalgia for our university days. Anyone interested in exploring the university or who are easily swayed by medieval-style buildings will be swept away by the scenes taken around the campus. 

Other scenes were filmed inside the British Museum and the Blackfriar pub on Queen Victoria Street in London. If you’re planning a trip to London/Cambridge soon and need to fill out an itinerary, why not start by watching this film? 

For more inspiration:

Check out the best and most iconic gay movies from around the world
Stefan Arestis

Hey everyone, I'm Stefan, the curly-haired Greek flavor behind the gay travel blog Nomadic Boys. Together with my other half, I have explored more than 90 countries across 5 continents. What I love most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, learning new cultures. I've written about LGBTQ travel in numerous online publications such as Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times and Pink News as well as for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Check my full bio here.