Written by Flashpacking At Forty Travel Bloggers
Is it travel to a gay destination or merely the vacation exploits of two people in love, who happen to be of the same gender? In fact what is a gay destination anyway?
John and I agonised for months before setting off on our flashpacking trip around the world. While not at the forefront of our minds, our acceptance as a travelling gay couple was one of the many things we worried about before finally deciding to take the plunge. It was of little concern to us while we sorted out finances, negotiated career-breaks and sold nearly everything we owned, before we set off on our journey. Has this cavalier attitude, toward our sexuality, come back to haunt us as we travel around the world? In a word, no.
Gay Travel or Travelling Gays?
Gay travel has become something of a misnomer for us. At the moment we consider ourselves “a gay couple who are travelling around the world” period. We are travellers first and then a gay couple.
You only need to slice through the travel sections of Attitude, Gay Times or Village Voice to see the alluring offers of ‘gay' vacations in some of the well known ‘gay friendly’ hotspots around the world. From Mykonos in Greece, Sitges a stones throw from Barcelona, or the promise of a gay ghetto in Guadeloupe, there are many destinations to choose from. Here you can spend your time around other people who think and feel the same way as you do. While that has its attractions, a reliance on these locations will lead to some gay men and lesbians missing out on some fantastic destinations around the world. With a little discretion, and absolutely no denial of who you actually are, thinking a little further afield will lead to some remarkable vacation experiences.
I know many will get offended that we show discretion in some countries, but for us not always communicating our sexuality is the same respect we pay to other parts of a culture that may be alien to us. We don't choose to wear footwear when in a Japanese home because that's what Japanese people do; we don't insist on eating pork when in a Muslim restaurant, nor do we refuse to wear appropriate attire to enter Buddhist or Hindu religious places.
I guess this is a plea, don’t only book your vacations with a gay holiday specialist, but spread your little pink wings a little further, flutter them a little harder and the results will truly be amazing.
Can we be right about this? As a middle aged gay couple, who have travelled around the world together for over 20 years, we probably have a reasonable amount of credence to make this judgement.
Outside the Gay Ghetto
Your common sense will let you know who you can talk to on your travels. If you come across a Seventh Day Adventist tour party on your plane, you probably know they are not going to be good company on the flight (true story this happened to us in the Philippines). Seek out fellow travellers and locals who could not give a monkeys ass if you prefer to sleep and love people of the same sex. Engage with them, and educate them that gays don’t have horns (well only sometimes) and are regular people. People who don’t want to shut themselves off in a gay ghetto, in some city or beach resort, in a world away from those with different cultures or beliefs in our lifestyle (mostly borne of ignorance and lack of exposure to gay people, rather than outright hostility)
We are trying to encourage more gay and lesbian travellers to look beyond the ‘pink family’ holidays in the familiar 'safe' places around the world We have yet to experience anything other than a warm welcome at all the destinations we’ve travelled to. We’d like many other gay and lesbian travellers to be inspired by our journey, and explore the world for themselves.
Journey Around the World
Let's face it, most gay couples do not have children so their disposable income is begging to be spent on travel. For us, it is has been a truly eye opening and stimulating experience. We’ve marvelled at the art deco splendour of Napier in New Zealand, gone gooey at the (hermaphrodite) clown fish as I learnt to dive in the warm oceans of the Philippines and Indonesia, held hands watching some spectacular sunrises and sunsets on our journey around the world, the list is endless. It all awaits you, go forth and educate.
Finally, if you’re worried that you won’t meet other lesbian and gay people by travelling to a new destination, don’t. Believe it or not, there are gay men and lesbians in every country around the world.
John & Craig are a same sex couple, who have lived and travelled together for over 20 years. In 2010, they legally recognised they’re relationship by completing a civil-partnership ceremony in Manchester, England. The couple write a successful travel blog about their around the world trip, sharing their travel experiences from an LGBT perspective. The ‘flashpackers’ have taken a career-break, and sold everything, to travel around the world on a long-term basis.