Gay Travel…What Does It Mean To You?
GAY TRAVEL…..what does it mean?
Everyday I scan countless news headlines, blogs and story leads, looking to see who is saying what, and looking for things that are interesting. Today I discovered LANDLOPERS . It is a general travel site written by Matt Long, who happens to be gay. It’s not a “gay travel” site, like this one. He says, “My site brings a unique perspective that is hard to find online. I am not a backpacker, nor am I super wealthy. I am just an average person who has managed to travel the world efficiently and without spending a fortune.”
His post today No Respect for the Gay Traveler , really got me thinking about how my partner and I travel, compared to how other gay people travel.
When I travel, I look for “gay friendly” signs and symbols. Rainbow flags. That way I know, they are accepting and are not give me strange looks if I kiss my husband in public. I can safely assume the staff is going to be accepting of us and they welcome my gay dollars.
Matt says, “why do we need separate things? Expedia recently launched a GLBT Travel Lounge offering gay friendly travel options. That sounds fine on the face of it, but why does there need to be a GLBT search listing? Would you have a separate search criteria for African-Americans or Christians? That’s absurd. Furthermore, the gay city guides on Expedia seem to highlight a lot of clubs, bars and design stores. Not feeding into any stereotypes there, are we? If they advertised stereotypical listings to other minorities, there would be a national boycott.
I do not need to be segregated with other gay people. I am an independent traveler and am quite capable of handling myself in most situations around the world and can interact with people of all backgrounds. I’m not looking for everyone to get who I am and do not need to travel in a homogenized bubble.” – I disagree with Matt. I WANT separate listings. And to compare us with African-Americans or Christians does not make any sense. Of course, you would not have separate listings for those groups. But what about separate listings for families? or seniors? It comes down to a group having certain needs and wants.
And as gay travelers, I think many of us want different things. Some people want the gay, gay, gay experience. While others just want to blend in. Matt says, “Drop the rainbow flags and instead educate your staffs that 1) gay people do exist and 2) that you treat them like any other guest. This revolutionary concept would go well beyond any promise of techno parties or the excessive use of glitter. The same goes with gay-friendly itineraries. I don’t even know what this means: clubs and brunch only restaurants? We don’t need that, our travel interests are usually the same as anyone else when visiting a new place. When I go to Paris I want to visit Montmartre or the Louvre, not a drag club. What we need is respect and not segregation.”
The rainbow flag is like a big welcome sign. You can’t drop that. It demonstrates that a place is gay or at least gay-friendly. Matt says our travel interests are usually the same as anyone else when visiting a new place. I disagree. When I was in Paris last year I went to the Louvre sure, but I also hung out every night in the le Marais, the gay district and went to a drag bar, a sauna and gay restaurant! I think we all want different things when we travel. And while Matt isn’t necessarily looking for the “gay experience” when he travels, many of us are.
I was out with a gay friend last night who commented he loves to go on cruises, but has never taken a gay cruise. I asked what he liked about it, and he said he enjoys picking up the bi-married men! That’s not my thing. It’s too much work for one thing. I would rather be on a boat with all gay men!
This whole issue brings into question just how gay friendly are certain countries that tend to be popular with gay tourists? No doubt if we boycotted every country that didn’t have a Clone Zone or gay club we’d be limited to a very dull itinerary. But many gay people may not be aware that their well-earned holiday dosh is going into the coffers of governments who oppress homosexuals and refuse them to live their lives openly, and in some cases in fear of imprisonment.
It’s got plenty to recommend it on the romantic front; cruises down the Nile, sun basked shores and experiencing the Pyramids at sunset etc. But Egypt also happens to be one of the most unsympathetic countries relating to human rights especially over homosexuality. Recently gay websites were closed down by the authorities and used as evidence to secure jail sentences for Egyptian gays.
Like many Islamic / Muslim societies that view homosexual acts strictly as precursors to marriage, being openly gay and in love with someone of the same sex is a big no, no. Algiers may appear wild and louche but it’s unlikely you and your lover will be able to sign a ‘civil partnership’ there for many years to come.
Jamaica, Dubai….do I really want to go there that bad? Not so much.
So I am curious, how do you travel. What do you want? What do you look for?
Leave us your comments!