Here is a good article written by another professional writer.
Traveling as a member of the LGBTQ community can be complicated. For starters, there is a lot that needs to be taken into account, which is part of the reason that writing this article is a complicated task, even as a queer woman. It doesn’t help that this is an intricate issue since individual beliefs and standing within the queer community need to be considered and respected. For example, it makes a big difference if you are traveling as a same sex couple versus traveling as a conspicuous member of the LGBTQ community. It also makes a big difference if you are closeted versus making rainbow stocking part of your daily attire.
My personal opinion is to at least be aware of the laws where you are and what the potential ramifications, if any, are for engaging in homosexual activity. It is a sad, sad fact that homosexuality is still deemed illegal in many countries. Now whether these laws influence your behavior or not is going to be entirely up to you and your personal beliefs, however, I do think that it’s good to be conscious of the legal consequences that can be thrown in your face.
Take for example my trip to Kenya. I met a beautiful woman there. I fell head over heels for this woman, and spent the last couple weeks of my trip in her company. We were publically affectionate to a certain extent. The confines of our affection were not so much due to the laws, as it was the circumstances of our relationship. However, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t very conscious of the fact that our relationship was illegal. This was mostly because as a white woman I stood out like a neon billboard on a drab winter day in the middle of an abandoned city.
Could I have been thrown in jail? Probably. I don’t know the specifics of protocol and I wasn’t exactly trying to find out. Does it happen? I’m sure it does. But I can tell you a couple of things from having many friends who were the victims of homophobic hate crimes: There are far worse things than prison or death.
There are also countries, like many catholic countries in Central and South America, where homosexuality isn’t illegal per say, but it’s exactly welcomed either. I lived with a lesbian couple for a month or so in Peru. They were very publically affectionate. And good for them! Way to let their freak flags fly. I don’t believe they had any serious issues with harassment, no more than the average white woman living in South America. However, you have to take one integral factor into account. They are women.
I’m sorry to say that those friends of mine, those victims of horrid homophobic rages, are not women. This isn’t to say that that doesn’t happen to women. We all see the daily terror on the news where both women and men have had their faces beaten and battered. However, you have to admit that in general men tend to get the short end of the stick.
While lesbians and bisexual women are eroticized in the media through porn and advertising, men are seen as grotesque and traitors to their sex. I think that safety while traveling is a more serious factor for same sex male couples. For example, in Lima, Peru, there have been cases of homosexual men having their faces marred in vicious hate crimes. And in various parts of Africa, it has cost many a gay man both his and his lover’s life. And even if you are a westerner from a country where loving who you love is legal and condoned, you need to remember that your embassy can’t protect you everywhere that you go. I am all for activism. I am all for telling the system to shove it. I just don’t know that while vacationing is the best time to push the envelope, but like I said, I would never frown upon anyone for pushing just a little…
If specialty traveling is your thing, then there are options such as cruises and resorts that are specifically targeted at the LGBTQ community. They aren’t cheap, but I have had friends that have forked out the extra money for specialty cruises and resorts on special occasions such as honeymoons and romantic getaways. They were thrilled with the experience. They felt very safe and reassured by their environment. They got excellent service while being overtly public about their relationship and never felt that their sexuality influenced how they were treated.
If you can’t afford to take the expensive cruise or stay at a fancy resort, and you do want to go somewhere gay friendly, consider certain areas of Europe. When I went to Madrid, I stayed in the gay district. I was not a big fan of Madrid as a whole, but I have never had so much freakin’ fun going out. I stayed with a lesbian couple and we went out to the lesbian bars every night. We danced until the wee hours of the morning. Everyone was super friendly, despite my Spanish being crap, and my affections for women were more than welcome.
The hardest thing for me isn’t the restricting laws or feeling that my affections are confined by a box set of prejudices, for me the hardest thing as a queer woman living overseas has always been adjusting to not having a LGBTQ support network. I have existed in the queer community since I moved out of my parents’ house when I was a teenager. Moving somewhere like Peru, where there is a major shortage of publically gay people, has been hard on me. I seek them out, but the “gay” bars are rundown by drugs and in sketchy areas of town. And let’s face it, as a taken woman meeting people in bars isn’t the best idea. The last time I tried that I ended up pinned to the wall by a painfully attractive lesbian as I was walking out of the bathroom stall, but that’s a story for another day…
(This article was created with the assistance of Tina Stelling, Her Website is www.tinastelling.com I welcome you all to check it out.)