Gay travel is not fading away and becoming diluted or less important by the onset of normalization and acceptance of LGBT people by the straight community. It’s really that simple and before I delve into the details of this post, I want to make clear that this is what I am discussing. I recently read a number of articles pushing the notion that gay travel is becoming more and more irrelevant as the world becomes more and more accepting. This notion may be explained in a way that makes sense but it is utter nonsense. It’s easy to explain away anything if you try hard enough and, while the idea is a wonderful ideal, it just isn’t the reality we live in.
As you can already tell, I don’t think gay travel is becoming irrelevant.
In fact, I think the world is turning in such a way that gay travel is more and more relevant everyday. Just like Pride, gay travel is important for LGBT visibility. Pride events take place all around the world as celebrations of love, life, and liberty…and, yes, these events involve plenty of partying. But, wild shenanigans aside, Pride events are a way for the LGBT community to claim their visibility while sending a message to the entire world that we are here- proud and queer. Gay travel is important in much the same way. It’s not always blatantly obvious that the LGBT world is built around straight privilege but ask any gay person and they will tell you the fear they may have felt at one time or another when they kissed their partner in public.
Until these types of fears are no longer an issue anywhere in the world, gay travel will absolutely remain relevant.
Conservatism is on the rise throughout the world
If you live in the United States or keep up with US politics, you know we’ve gone through quite the social upheaval as of late. LGBT people are accepted and embraced by more and more citizens and we’ve gained equal rights under the law (for the most part). But, on the other side of the coin, LGBT discrimination laws exist in many states under the guise of religious freedom protection. One of our presidential candidates is a bigot of the worst kind and would have our Rights dissolved. This isn’t just the norm in the US. In many parts of the world, these types of attitudes are also the norm and some countries go further by criminalizing being LGBT. Some even punish LGBT people with death. Conservatism is on the rise throughout the world and is a major reason gay travel is still relevant.
Normalization is the process a society goes through when accepting something different or new which was traditionally condemned. For a lot of people, it means that the line between LGBT and non-LGBT is blurred. To some extent this is true. But our LGBT culture is rich and vibrant. This is made obvious by the appropriation of our culture by non-queer people. I’ve written about the process of normalization through the lens of heteronormativity here. However, normalization does not mean that we do not have a distinct culture from our heterosexual counterparts. The two cultures can coexist in a normalized situation, for sure. Nevertheless, there will always be some resistance from both sides which means things do not change entirely.
Another pretty amazing situation arising with the passage of time is my generation, Millennials, are coming into our own. There are already more Millennials then any other generation in our society. The only issue is most these individuals are not of voting age and are in no position to influence policy and norms. However, before we know it, Millennials will have a huge impact on our societal norms.
Nevertheless, there will always be a more conservative branch of the tree. These are individuals who will never be comfortable with LGBT people and will never accept us due to upbringing and religious beliefs. Not only that, in many theocratic leaning countries, religious beliefs will also prevent younger people from having accepting attitudes towards gay people meaning travel agencies, companies, bloggers, and organizations focusing on the LGBT community will always have a relevant space in the travel industry.
Besides all of the reasons above, I receive multiple direct contacts each day via email, Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram asking for tips and pointers for gay travel. A lot of the time these people want specific advise about gay travel in specific places. It’s a major reason I believe gay travel is not becoming irrelevant. Gay people still want to explore the world and they still want to make sure they frequent places that are gay-friendly. It’s really that simple.
When it comes to the travel industry, there are niches for everyone and everything.
Adventure, sex, history, child and youth, off the beaten path, eco-friendly, conservation…these are just a few examples of niches within the travel industry. Gay travel is a huge niche that isn’t going anywhere. It’s different than any other niche because it is travel with the idea that love is love and no one should feel afraid or persecuted while they explore the world. Granted…there are places where these negative feelings are unavoidable and one must be careful but gay travel experts try to provide information and opportunities to our community that will help people avoid these situations. In the end, gay travel really isn’t too different from normal travel. You could, instead, think of gay travel as inclusive travel. It’s for everyone, really. Anyone who respects and values all human life regardless of sexual orientation can participate in gay travel but always, always remember to respect gay safe spaces like bars and clubs.
Gay travel is here to stay for the long run.