As a society, we have made some significant strides in accepting and celebrating LGBTQ+ individuals. We have come a long way since the Stonewall riots, but there is still a long way to go. Today, LGBTQ+ individuals still face discrimination, bullying, and violence. And that’s why gay travel matters.
Traveling as an LGBTQ+ person can be a unique experience, as society still holds many biases and prejudices. However, by traveling and exploring the world, we can break down barriers, create understanding, and promote acceptance. In this article, we will dive into the insights of LGBTQ+ travelers from around the world, to explore the reasons why gay travel matters.
Discovering Safe Spaces
Walking down the street or traveling to unfamiliar places can be a scary experience for many LGBTQ+ individuals. Finding safe spaces where they can be themselves is essential. Through travel, LGBTQ+ individuals can explore and discover new places that actively promote inclusivity, where they can feel safe and comfortable.
In an interview with Travel + Leisure, the owner of a gay guesthouse in Cape Town, South Africa, explained: “It’s easy to forget that there are still places in the world where people like me are not accepted. Even in countries where homosexuality is not illegal, it’s often not easy to be out and proud. That’s why having spaces like ours is so important.”
Traveling can also help to create visibility for the LGBTQ+ community. Through exploring the world, LGBTQ+ travelers can meet and engage with locals, helping others understand that our community is made up of many different people. By sharing openly and authentically, they can help break down prejudices and promote understanding.
As Stephanie Silberman, a transgender activist, stated, “When people see us traveling, when they see us living our lives openly and honestly, it helps to break down the barriers that have been put in place by society.”
Pushing for Change
LGBTQ+ travelers often find themselves in countries that do not have laws protecting them, where discrimination and harassment are rampant. This situation can be disturbing, but they also have the power to create change. By engaging with local LGBTQ+ organizations, they can push for changes to laws and promote acceptance.
The founder of Out in Colombia, an LGBTQ+ travel company, explained that “Travelers can have a real impact on the countries they visit. Through our tours, we connect with local organizations, donate to their causes, and actively advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.”
Finally, LGBTQ+ travel matters because it helps to foster connections across borders. The world can be a beautiful and diverse place, but our differences can lead to misunderstandings and inequalities. Traveling creates an opportunity to overcome these barriers and connect with others from different backgrounds.
As former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius, put it: “Traveling is one of the best ways to promote cross-cultural understanding. It helps us see that while we may have different cultures, religions, and traditions, we are all humans with stories to tell.”
The perspectives and experiences of LGBTQ+ travelers highlight the many reasons why gay travel matters. By exploring the world and connecting with others, we can break down prejudices, promote understanding, and create a more inclusive and accepting world. As we continue our journey towards equality, travel can be an important vehicle for change.