Gay Travel Stories: Chatting About Life In The Closet With A Gay Nazarene

Gay Travel Stories: Chatting About Life In The Closet With A Gay Nazarene- Read More- My Normal Gay Life Blog
marcellomigliosi1956 / Pixabay
Gay Travel

Traveling around the world puts me in some interesting situations and I like to offer up the things I learn to make your travels a bit smoother. Basically, my goal is to encourage all of you to travel more and help you understand the best ways you can do this. Another part of what I do is, through my own participation in the travel world, try to increase LGBT representation within the travel industry. I believe our community is vastly underrepresented and it needs to change. Oftentimes people ask me what is gay travel because they want to understand what that entails. I always explain gay travel is no different from any other type of travel, really. We want adventure, new experiences, cultural immersion, and great food just like anyone else. But there’s an element to traveling while LGBT that doesn’t really factor in for heterosexual travelers. We have to really consider how we are perceived and understand whether or not our safety is at risk in a given situation. One could argue that everyone needs to do this, however, everyone does not need to worry about their safety and comfort due to the person they love. That’s a HUGE difference. Luckily, there are open, accepting, and wonderful people all over the world that help make gay travel a thing and .

So gay travel is the same as any other type of travel…but different.

Gay Travel Stories: Chatting About Life In The Closet With A Gay Nazarene- Read More- My Normal Gay Life Blog
Locally made artisan products.
Gay Travel: The Power of Stories

Traveling offers us many things including the opportunity to have fulfilling experiences and getting to know new people and cultures. When I head to a new country, I like to hang out in local restaurants, shop at street markets, and go to local bars so I can gain a better understanding of the place itself. While shopping for some souvenirs is always a fun part of travel, it’s the stories I’m really after. That’s why I try to go where the people hang out. Stories are the greatest souvenir because, unlike a wooden trinket or what have you, they can really have an impact on you as a person and even change your life.

Gay Travel Stories: Chatting About Life In The Closet With A Gay Nazarene- Read More- My Normal Gay Life Blog
Old City Street in Jerusalem

When someone tells me a story or when I learn something via experience, I cling to it tightly. I try my best to remember it or even write it down so I won’t forget. I believe every person we meet comes into our life for a reason and we have a lot to learn from all the people we interact with on daily basis. When it comes to gay travel, stories are even more important. For the longest time, LGBT people have lived in the shadows. In some ways, we were an invisible portion of society because we were forced to be discreet and keep quiet. Our heteronormative society succeeded for the longest time in keeping our fabulousness suppressed with fear of retribution. Fortunately, times have changed. The LGBT community in many parts of the world is empowered and we’ve let our flags fly proudly. I feel lucky because I am from a country where I can be myself. But this isn’t always the case. Homosexuality is a punishable crime in 72 countries today. Even in countries where it is not illegal, LGBT people can still face discrimination, hate, and retribution simply for being LGBT. The United States happens to be one of these countries and even at home I find myself being cautious at time.

And this is why stories matter…especially LGBT stories. When I learn someone’s story, I see it as an opportunity to share it with the world (with their permission of course) and help create a more open and understanding global society. Stories can give voice to those who feel virtually voiceless and help us learn more about a culture and a place we are visiting. Sure, this might sound like a dream of grandeur but in a small way these stories have an impact. So I plan to share as many of those stories as possible.

Gay Travel Stories: Chatting About Life In The Closet With A Gay Nazarene- Read More- My Normal Gay Life Blog
Tel Aviv
Gay Travel: Ahmed’s Story

During my trip to Israel, I spent a great deal of time in Jerusalem and decided to stay in a hostel because it was affordable and because I knew I would easily meet people in the more social atmosphere of a hostel versus a hotel. Abraham Hostels are, by far, the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in and everyone seems to have a good time and enjoy themselves. One night, I was sitting in the common lounge area working and was a little bored so I opened up Grindr to see who was around me. I often use Grindr to meet people when I travel and a guy started chatting me up. Usually guys on there get straight to the point but this guy really just wanted to hang out and be friends …and he was staying at the hostel too.  So he came down to the common area and we chatted for a while. He wanted to know what life is like in the US so our conversation focused mostly on that but he told me he was a student at a University in the area and that he was originally from Nazareth. Then we both went to our separate rooms to go to sleep.

The next day, I met him at the Church of the Holy Selpuchre early in the morning before too many tourists showed up and we sat on the steps in front of the church talking. He said he studied tourism and told me all about his research. I was curious to understand what it was like being gay in Nazareth and he told me that, even though it is not illegal to be gay in Israel, in Nazareth there are no gay people. He didn’t literally mean there are no gay people but instead implied that as far as the locals are concerned, gay people just don’t exist in their town. In other words, he is very much in the closet when he is back home. In fact, he told me he wouldn’t dream of coming out the closet to anyone in Nazareth and he closely guards his secret.

Ahmed lives in constant fear of being found out. I asked him what would happen if someone back home found out he is gay and he said he isn’t sure but he knows people have lost their lives because of it in the past. Israel, of course, does not penalize or punish people for their sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, Israel is one of the most progressive countries when it comes to LGBT rights in the Middle East and is home to one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, Tel Aviv. He explained to me, the laws of Israel don’t criminalize homosexuality but within communities it can be much different. In other words, there is a difference between the law and how local communities handle it.

Gay Travel Stories: Chatting About Life In The Closet With A Gay Nazarene- Read More- My Normal Gay Life Blog
El-Jazzar Mosque

Ultimately, he told me he hopes to move out of Israel and to another country when he finishes his studies. He wants to be able to live an open life and feel free to be his genuine self. As a gay, Muslim man of Arabic descent, it isn’t quite as simple for him as it is for others in his country. I can’t say that I blame for wanting to leave and make a better life.

Gay Travel Stories: Why They Matter

In this case, I met someone who definitely feels disempowered in his situation and faces a reality that many of us can’t begin to fathom. It is important that his story, however brief, be known. While travel is often focused on the fun aspects, it can also serve as an excellent opportunity to learn about and understand the lives of others. I always say when we visit a place, we are visiting someone’s home. There are real people living in our vacation destinations and they face real issues, both good and bad. If you really want to get to know a place then you need to meet some of its people.

When it comes to gay travel, I believe these stories are absolutely vital in both increasing LGBT representation and contributing to a more open and accepting society. There are people out there who don’t feel they have a voice. I intend to give them a voice in my own small way. Travel is about expanding horizons and there’s no better way to do this than to understand other people’s stories as we travel around the world.

Want to learn more about Jerusalem’s only gay bar? Check it out here! 

Click here to read about 5 things I learned in Jerusalem. 

And learn to make a humus with this recipe! 


Will you try to chat with the locals more when you travel?
Why or why not in the comments below!

J Harvey

Pin Me, Please! 

Gay Travel Stories: Chatting About Life In The Closet With A Gay Nazarene- Read More- My Normal Gay Life Blog

J. Harvey

J Harvey is a travel writer based in North Carolina. With two masters degrees, he decided to forget working a normal 9-5 job and instead create a travel blog focusing on travel for a more inclusive community. He hopes to increase LGBT representation within the travel industry while inspiring others to travel in whatever capacity.

mynormalgaylifegmail-com has 103 posts and counting.See all posts by mynormalgaylifegmail-com

20 thoughts on “Gay Travel Stories: Chatting About Life In The Closet With A Gay Nazarene

  • November 22, 2017 at 3:13 pm
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    So sad that anyone should have to fear for their life, especially among the people you call family and home…

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    • November 22, 2017 at 3:44 pm
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      Unfortunately, that is the reality many of us in the LGBT community faces today. And it’s my goal to encourage everyone to live their normal regardless…and educate those this does not necessarily affect.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 10:20 pm
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    Traveling is about being you and doing the things you want to do and experience in you own way, so all the power to you for wanting to increase the LGBT representation. But I have to say, as a long-term traveler over the years I’ve met a lot of LGBT travelers, ok yeah maybe over the last couple of years more. This was a great read though and wish you all the best 😀

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    • November 22, 2017 at 3:49 pm
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      Of course there are loads of LGBT travelers. But there also loads and loads of LGBT people who do not live their genuine lives because of the fear of retribution. When homosexuality is illegal in sooo many countries and taboo in so many others, people will not and sometimes cannot live their normal openly and freely. It’s easy to say travel is all about being you if you’ve never faced the wrath of a local for holding your husband’s hand. I think travel opens eyes and hearts but we still live in a world where being LGBT can equal death or physical harm. Therein is the difference between heterosexual and LGBT travel and it’s something we have to deal with.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 3:37 pm
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    Travel is all about new places, new people and new experiennces. I agree it is the same for everyone. However you do make a valid point about being aware about the perceptions in different countries and being prepared for it. Travel is indeed an opportunity to be in touch with umpteen stories that reside in the hearts of people.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 3:52 pm
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      I think the purpose of travel is the same for everyone, so to speak. But how we travel is much different. LGBT people must face and deal with some potentially life-threatening issues. But as for stories, it’s my favorite thing to collect!

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  • November 21, 2017 at 2:56 pm
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    Beautiful post and thoughts. I thinks its purely one’s own choice to be homosexual or not .yes! there are countries as well people who accept it openly others don’t. So; I will just say and wish that everyone should have right to open up; choose their partner and travel the way they want.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 3:56 pm
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      I really appreciate your sentiment. However, I wouldn’t say being LGBT is a choice. I know for certain that I never chose to be homosexual. However, it is a choice to live openly…and unfortunately that is a choice some people don’t have the ability to make. Thanks so much for your support! 🙂

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  • November 21, 2017 at 7:26 am
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    Thank you for sharing you stories and thank you to Ahmed for sharing his as well. I’m amazed that homosexuality is still illegal in 72 counties. That number is astounding. Thanks for bringing this to my attention and I hope that you’re able to inspire others in all communities to take stands and to inspire LGBTQ travelers through these stories.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm
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      We are slowly moving towards a more inclusive and compassionate world. That means a bit of a struggle for now but we’ll get there. I think travel plays a major role in the world we want to live in!

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  • November 21, 2017 at 1:49 am
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    I feel so sorry for Ahmed! It must be awful living in fear, but it is a shame that he might have to be alone as long as he lives there. I can’t believe homosexuality is a punishable crime in 72 countries still today! Shocking!

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    • November 22, 2017 at 3:58 pm
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      Israel is actually pretty accepting of homosexuality. The issue is within the smaller communities found in the country. I hope this young man will be able to live his life openly and fully one day. It’s crazy people would harm other people for something as basic as loving another human being.

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  • November 19, 2017 at 10:13 pm
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    I think the best way to understand a country is to get to know some of the local people. I am a bit shy and find it quite hard. But, it’s definitely enlightening as your meeting with Ahmed in Jerusalem shows

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    • November 22, 2017 at 4:11 pm
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      Oh yeah, I feel like I am often shy too but then meeting people just sort of happens! It’s the best part of travel.

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  • November 19, 2017 at 2:17 pm
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    Ahmed’s story really touched me, thanks for sharing it. It’s sad to know that there are still people who fear for their safety because of who they love. It’s ricidiculous. Why can’t people be more tolerant? I think it’s a great thing that you openly address these situations and tell others what it’s like to feel under so much pressure. I hope that people like Ahmed will one day feel safe enough to say who they really are and live their lifes in freedom.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 4:15 pm
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      I’m very happy you opened yourself up to this experience! And I agree, it is sad and unfortunate. But we are slowly creating the more compassionate world we want to live in!

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  • November 18, 2017 at 10:52 pm
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    Sometimes the things you remember most about a trip are the people you meet along the way, and it sounds like that was the case here with your experience in Jerusalem.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 4:16 pm
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      Absolutely! Chatting with this guy was probably one of the best experiences and it really opened my eyes to how privileged I am.

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  • November 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm
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    You should head over to Brighton some point, it’s got an amazing bar scene mate. Jerusalem looks really cool

    Reply

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