So, here I was in Amsterdam for the first time. I was going out with some friends that I’d just met that day and prepping for a grand ole’ time and dance the night away in one of the best party cities in the world. We got to the club and I started dancing with a guy that I had been seeing. As soon as we started dancing together, one of his friends leaned over and said that we should be careful and not “act so gay” in front of everyone. Of course, I didn’t listen (pretty normal for me) and kept dancing since there were dozens of other straight couples around us doing the same thing. But that comment stuck in my head for the rest of the night and has been stuck there since.
It really got me thinking. I was in ✨AMSTERDAM✨ – one of the most liberal and “you can do whatever the f**k you want” cities out there. If I can’t “act gay” in Amsterdam, where can I really be myself as a gay traveler? The fact is, if you’re thinking about traveling and you identify as LGBT or Q, there are things you should know before you head out into the big wide heteronormative world.
People are gonna assume.
Yes, it’s true. It’s 2016 and people still assume that everyone in the world is straight until they say otherwise *sigh*. I really don’t know what it’s going to take to change this, but it’s something you need to prepare for as an LGBTQ traveler. It never fails that I get asked upfront if I have a girlfriend or that someone (usually a hetero guy) just assumes I’m into girls just because I’m a guy. It’s really getting old, straight people. 😑
As a LGBTQ traveler, you have to decide each time this happens, what you’re going to do. Do you feel like your in a safe enough space to correct them? If so, and if you feel the need to, go for it! If you don’t feel safe or just don’t care enough to correct them, that’s OK too. The constant struggle of an LGBTQ traveler is deciding how to identify yourself in every new country you find yourself in.
Some places still aren’t safe for you.
We shouldn’t be fooled in thinking that just because so many countries around the world have embraced the LGBTQ community through the legalisation of same-sex marriage and erasing anti-gay laws from the books, the whole world is safe for LGBTQ travelers. In wide swaths of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, you can still be killed or imprisoned just for the expression of your sexuality. It’s even more dangerous for travelers.
If you’re wanting travel, please check out this site that details the most dangerous countries in the world to be gay. Take it seriously and be extra safe, y’all!
Sometimes you’ll feel especially lonely.
Ok, so traveling can be a pretty lonely thing sometimes. But when you’re traveling while gay (or TWG to make a nice acronym out of it), it can be an even more lonely experience. Unless you’re magically good at attracting other LGBTQ peeps, you can find yourself wishing you had some gay guys or gals around to hang out with. Luckily, the next point is a solution to that problem. 😎
Dating apps are life savers.
If you haven’t used a dating app, two things are true.
#1. You’re lying, I know your life.
#2. You’re missing out because they’re not just for “dating”. 😉
I can’t tell you how many times that apps like Grindr and Tinder have saved my lonely butt when I’m traveling by myself. Even though yes, guilty as charged, I use the apps for dating too, there are times when I’m just looking to find some cool gay guys to show me around. With an app out there for every letter in the LGBTQ alphabet, get to the Apple store (or Google Play for you boring Android users 😒) and go meet some cool people.
You’re still a traveler, just like everyone else.
Even though there are things that LGBTQ travelers have to worry about that straight travelers don’t, there’s one thing everyone should remember. No matter your sexuality or colour or religion or hot sauce preference; if you’re traveling, you’re an explorer, just like everyone else. Everyone should have the opportunity to see every corner of this big blue marble we call home – gay or straight.
This post was also published on The Huffington Post. Check it out ✌🏼