Travel while gay can be no different from any other person who is traveling or it can be a completely different experience. LGBT people may experience an open and accepting attitude in some parts of the world. Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, the LGBT traveler might experience discrimination, oppression, and even legal prosecution. In some instances, the LGBT traveler might even feel concern for his or her safety.
It’s not always a walk through the park but I’ve traveled quite a bit and have always been able to deal with what was thrown my way. Of course, I tend to prepare ahead of time by doing my research and knowing the situation I’m walking into.
You, too, can ensure a safe and fun adventure by considering the following tips when you’re planning a trip. Spontaneity can be a lot of fun in planning your trip but, as an LGBT person, it is in your best interest to plan ahead so there are no surprises. Safety is key to having a great travel experience.
1) Research the place/s you are visiting.
It’s important to know what you are walking into before you arrive. Do a few quick google searches about your destination to understand local acceptance of LGBT people. Know the laws regarding homosexuality in your destination. There are countries, such as many Middle Eastern nations and some African nations, where you can be jailed and even severely punished for homosexual behavior. Once you learn these valuable pieces of information then you can decide how to proceed. Unfortunately, not all countries are as progressive as the West.
2) Choose a gay-friendly hotels.
For this, google is vital. Use the search engine to research gay-friendly accommodations or even hotels catering to gay people. Not all hotels are open to gay people staying in their facilities and this is something that can definitely be a downer during your trip. If you are going to use Airbnb, make sure your host is accepting of the LGBT community. You could just ask directly or, like me, you can have a photo of yourself with your partner and mention it in your profile. A host who is uncomfortable with the LGBT community will most likely just reject your request. Another option is to use Misterb&b, which is like the afore-mentioned service, but caters to the LGBT community.
3) Be careful with public displays of affection.
Even if you are in a gay-friendly country or city, it is important to be careful with the extent of your public displays of affection. In some countries, any display is frowned upon …so you can imagine that two guy’s kissing would cause a stir. You want to avoid these situations…especially in countries against the LGBT community. Save the love-making for your bedroom in these situations.
4) Adjust your behavior based on the country you’re visiting.
As previously mentioned, some countries are more gay-friendly than others. Remember, even though it shouldn’t matter, it does and you are not in your own home city. With that in mind, keep the Pride, flamboyant behavior, and PDA to a minimum for your own safety.
5) Patronize gay-friendly businesses if possible.
You can usually find gay-friendly businesses in most parts of the world. If you can’t, head to a gay bar or gift shop to learn about the community. If you do your research ahead of time then you won’t need to do this. But if not, gay bars usually have maps denoting gay-friendly businesses in the area, These places are usually wonderful because you can just be yourself and not worry. Otherwise, curb your behavior if necessary.
When traveling, safety is key. I am a very proud, out, and open gay man. But even in some parts of Europe, I find the need to not show public affection to my husband for our safety. It’s important to know when it is and is not safe to “be gay.” It is the world we live in…so just learn to adjust accordingly.
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