How to Queer Travel Like a Pro

Rainbow Bench - Brown Boy Travels

LGBT or gay travel is different from normal travel. I wish it weren’t but sadly that’s the reality we live with. Your sexuality, appearance and mannerism can have a significant impact on your experience. Travelling becomes especially tricky if you are from a minority group. It gets even harder if you are ‘visibly’ LGBTQ+ and harder still if you’re part of the ethnic minorities or BAME group.

I wanted to share my take on the idea of gay travel or LGBT travel and things I do to stay safe with a fulfilling experience while travelling.

What is Queer Travel?

Gay travel or LGBT travel is the experience gay or LGBT people have while travelling. It is not about heading to gay exclusive resorts or gay-only cruises nor is it about heading to the gay bars, clubs and saunas in any location only. It is about culture, thrill, excitement, learning but also about exposure to other countries, places and people. The challenge comes from other people mostly not from the LGBT community.

Personally, I’m not a club or bar person and prefer sitting quietly next to the rivers with a drink than the loudness of bars. I prefer meeting local guys over apps like Grindr and Scruff. I love my sunrise and sunset experiences than hungover mornings in bed. 

I have divided this article into four sections; research, safety, local LGBT support and exposure.

Should I Travel to Countries Where It’s Illegal to Be Gay?

Yes, yes and yes! I have heard it countless times that we must save our rainbow dollars and not head to any country where homosexuality is illegal. I understand there is a lot of anger and trauma behind this reason but the reason I am so passionately in favour of this idea is that it helps the local LGBT communities. Most of the times, governments in strictest of countries do not touch tourists on such issues to avoid losing tourism income. We must use this opportunity to support local LGBT population, bring them to exposure and help their fight against repression BUT safely. Your safety is the most important thing and you should avoid unnecessary risks for this cause. I have added some resources at the end which you can provide to locals for help and support.

What Research Should I Do?

Every country you are headed to has two things that need to be researched; legality of homosexuality which is easy and the social attitudes to it, which is wayyyy harder. Countries like Georgia and Armenia have legalised homosexuality but it is still a taboo topic with hostile attitude from locals. Reception to gay travel/LGBT travel also varies within bigger countries like the USA. Luckily the internet is my friend and I have some great resources when it comes to doing this research.

Disclaimer: I do acknowledge that I am a masculine-ish tall, athletic white-passing guy with privilege so my experience is not going to be the same as others but I still find these resources to be a good starting point. The rest you can only find when you arrive.

Legality of Homosexuality

I found some very useful sources which provide free information on LGBT rights, criminalisation and discrimination. My favourite most is Equaldex. Just click on any country on the map and it will show you the details of various aspects including the age of consent and prison sentence if applicable. It is a handy guide and regularly updated.

Societal Attitudes

Like I mentioned before, it is difficult to gauge the attitude of locals unless you get there. A good starting point is Global Divide on Homosexuality from the Pew Research Centre. It has data from 39 countries that provide a general guide.

Blogs like mine are also a great source of information and you can get a firsthand account of gay travellers. There’s quite a variety of gay travel bloggers so you are bound to get some good information. I mostly post about the safety and attitudes as part of my city and country guides including my experience. An example is here for Ukraine.

Another great source is the Venture feature on Scruff App. It is useful to connect with locals and you can see who else is heading to the destination in the same dates. The Explore option lets you choose to interact with local guys on Scruff but limited to a few profiles, Grindr has this feature only for Premium customers and it also excludes countries where homosexuality is illegal from Explore feature (like Iran, Pakistan, Uganda etc.).

I usually talk to locals and it has helped me immensely not only to get a sense of what to expect but also to make great friends and travel companions. These apps do have a useful part of play in gay travel/LGBT travel indeed.

Another useful place to check with people who have already been to your destination is the LGBTQ Travel Group on Facebook. It gives a fairly good idea of others’ experiences.

If you are looking for more details, you can find the Harvard Guide for gay travel/LGBT travel here, it is primarily for their staff and students but it is very helpful if you are looking for more resources.

Safety and LGBTQ+ Travel

Safety is the most important aspect while travelling. It is sometimes irrelevant how exotic or amazing a place is if you aren’t feeling safe. Gay travel/LGBT travel is an amazing and rewarding experience when you know your rights. It helps you choose if you’d like to come out or be diplomatic about your sexuality or just straight away deny it.

I wrote an article that details all precautions including apps, you can use to stay safe. I follow some of these precautions religiously to ensure I have a safe trip, you can find the details here along with a youtube video. While it is for solo travellers, it is equally relevant to LGBT travel.

I also found an amazing in-depth guide from ManAboutTheWorld, it is very detailed and covers many topics including Trans Travel which is a very interesting read. It made me appreciate the courage of our trans friends who still face enormous challenges for simple things in life like travelling.

Support Local Queer Community & Businesss

Gay Travel/LGBT travel is a huge industry and we must use it to support our own community around the world. Most of these communities live underground and you can only be part of the scene if you know someone local. While planning a trip, I try my best to spend money at LGBT venues, book tours with LGBT friendly or LGBT owned businesses. BUT…

Say No to Rainbow Capitalism

Not every company with a pride flag sticker at the door is an ally. Most big chains use it as part of corporate diversity agendas with no actual support for LGBT employees. Another type is the set of companies which exploit the LGBT community to bring in business.

A good example is Misterbnb. As much as I loved the idea, it has been executed pretty badly. The rental prices for literally the same listings on Airbnb are cheaper. They also have horrible customer service (personal experience first hand during a trip) and the worst part was when they decided to keep the service charges for all cancelled bookings due to COVID 19 crisis. All these things point out to rainbow capitalism and a company exploiting LGBT community by throwing a rainbow flag in our faces. My recommendation is to stay away.

Supporting LGBTQ Businesses

LGBT communities around the world are small parts of a bigger network and we must support them. This is especially essential for underground communities where LGBT activist or members are shunned by their families and/or the society in general. I love exploring local spaces, especially in marginalised communities because this interaction is really beneficial both ways. I get to count my blessings for the freedom and the realisation that the fight is not over yet and they get a ray of hope and some support needed. Gay travel/LGBT travel is the perfect way to support multiple industries.

If you are an LGBT business and want to add your link below please contact me.

LGBTQ Accommodations

If you are not comfortable where you’re staying, it can be a big strain on your trip and the annoying part is, it doesn’t go away until you leave. Luckily help is at hand in terms of platforms that provide listings that are with gay or LGBT friendly or establishments that are run by LGBT owners. Is there a better way to feel better than getting the security AND supporting LGBT hotel industry as well!

I really like PurpleRoofs, it is a great platform where you can check places and most of them come with a discount as well. It is especially great for the Americas.

LGBTQ Tours

Out Adventures is an LGBT company for tours. You can find more details on their website here.

Another great source is Go Overseas the LGBT section, more details here.

LGBTQ Cruises

I am not a cruise person but a google search reveals plenty of LGBT cruises. The one that stood out is Atlantis Cruises, they seem to be the pioneers of LGBT cruises.

LGBT Hospitality, Bars & Clubs

Travel Gay publishes a list of all LGBT venues in a city including restaurants, bars and clubs and it is regularly updated. You can check it here.

Blogs are also very helpful in providing details of LGBT venues and events especially their experience.

Exposure and Ambassadorship

Gay travel/LGBT travel is an opportunity to increase exposure to LGBT lives but we must do this safely. There is something very liberating about changing people’s minds about their ideas of LGBT people. This is particularly important for countries where homosexuality is a taboo subject.

If I feel comfortable, I mention it to people I meet but only in a safe way after winning their trust, if I don’t feel comfortable I have a conversation after my return. It has worked really well a lot of the time and I have won some great friends who were happy to know a gay person. The Middle East responds very well to this methodology especially.

The second part of this is to help the local community by providing them exposure to mental and sexual health resources. My favourite website that provides good information is Hard Cell. it explores and provides information on most sexual behaviours including fetishes. It also provides information on sexual health and use of drugs. It is a great one-stop-shop for gay sex information.

I also found that people are very shy about these things so I’d always recommend using condoms with you. Please remember a lot of these people have no access to sexual health screening and you could be giving them a lot of trouble for a hookup. Prep DOES NOT prevent other STI’s and a lot of countries in the Middle East do full health screens including checks for STI’s before employment. If caught punishments are severe. Very important for Syphilis especially.

For mental health, I have struggled to find anything that is free but this is a good starting guide from Mind.

Being able to travel freely, without prejudice and all this work is a dream of mine one day, I hope it comes true soon but until then the fight must continue. A safe gay travel trip is an amazing thing that will win you many friends, just be yourself, relax and enjoy.

This article was written by Usman at Brown Boy Travels. All views expressed in this article are the author’s.

I am a hippie in a suit essentially. I have made it my mission to see every country in the world balancing it with a full time banking job. I practice Ashtanga yoga with passion and don’t believe in borders. I mostly travel solo and encourage it as well because it helped me immensely with my mental health. Obsessed with history, architecture, food, yoga, sunsets, beaches, local traditions & festivals, I love exploring every place like a local while making friends in every corner of the world. Join me on the journey one beautiful place at a time…

Visit the Brown Boy Travels Website Here

Villa Decary – Gay Owned Inn in Nuevo Arenal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Villa Decary - Gay Owned Inn in Nuevo Arenal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

DELICIOUS FULL BREAKFAST IN LAKE ARENAL

Hotel Villa Decary Bed & Breakfast overlooks the beautiful, pristine Lake Arenal and Costa Rica’s Tilaran mountains. Costa Rica’s Lake Arenal region is a remote, uncrowded area of Costa Rica – at 1,800 feet in elevation, the area boasts a unique temperate climate, with cool nights and warm days.

The property is surrounded by a middle-elevation tropical rainforest, including lush plant life, a rainbow of butterflies, over two hundred and fifty bird species. You’ll also find troupes of shy howler monkies.

Hotel Villa Decary is American owned and operated, and is a relaxing and affordable escape on a lush Costa Rica hillside, surrounded by a botanical garden of exotic tropical plants and palm trees. We’re close to the small Tico town of Nuevo Arenal, and just fourteen miles from the active Arenal Volcano and Hot Springs.

See the Villa Decary Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Costa Rica Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Arab Street – The Most Colorful Street in Singapore? – Keep Calm and Wander

Arab Street Singapore - Keep Calm and Wander

Is Arab street the most colorful neighborhood in Singapore? For me, I think it is. I went there once during my trip – and boy – the street is as colorful as the rainbow!

It brought me back to the times I was in the souqs (markets) in Marrakech, Fez, Jeddah, Cairo, Beirut, and Istanbul.

Well, this street is not exactly what it’s like in the Middle East, but there are familiar scenes and things that reminded of getting lost in the souqs.

Arab Street in Singapore is just a tiny neighborhood. In fact, if you go in there just for your Instagram photos, thirty minutes will be enough. That, of course, if you are that kind of traveler who came for the colorful shots and not for the destination.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Manchester Gay Bars – The Globetrotter Guys

Manchester Gay Bars - The Globetrotter Guys

Before leaving the UK we lived in Manchester, the gay capital of the North, for 10 years and absolutely loved this city we came to call home.

Manchester has been named amongst the Top 10 most exciting cities in the world, according to a recent poll by Time Out and is an incredibly gay friendly city.

Manchester has been one of the top gay destinations in the UK for a long time. It has one of the UK’s largest gay prides and one of the best gay scenes (Canal Street).

Here is our mini guide to the best gay bars in Manchester (and gay clubs).

The Gay Village Manchester

One of the things we love the most about Manchester and why it is one of the best gay cities in the UK is Manchester’s Gay Village.

Manchesters Gay Village is made up of Canal Street and a few surrounding streets. This is in the very centre of the city, minutes away from the main train station (Manchester Piccadilly).

Canal Street is full of gay bars from the start to the very end of the street.

We love the fact that everything is so close together and that you can easily do a bar crawl and not have to travel or get taxis between bars like you need to in some other cities.

Read on for the best gay bars in Manchester:

G-A-Y Manchester

Every time we have been to G-A-Y we have had the best night. The music varies on each floor but you can always guarantee the best of pop, 90’s and current chart toppers will be played somewhere (which we love).

Drinks are reasonably priced here too and the crowd is typically quite young and trendy.

Full Story at The Globetrotter Guys

Lancashire Gay Travel Resources

Gay Puerto Vallarta is waiting for you

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico’s number 1 gay travel destination, has gradually begun re-opening since June 1, 2020. Most of Puerto Vallarta gay businesses and bars closed March 17, 2020 before the Mexican government declared a national health emergency closing the beaches and the Malecon April 1, 2020. During the pandemic, many PV expats and international LGBT performers organized many fundraising events raising thousands of dollars to give back to the local community. As you can imagine, the local economy survives almost exclusively on gay tourism where locals only make a few pesos per day and rely heavily on tips. 

What is open now? Some of Puerto Vallarta gay bars reopened June 25, 2020 as restaurant/bars requiring the purchase of food to consume alcohol. Live entertainment and dance floors are still closed until further notice. Many of Puerto Vallarta’s popular restaurants reopened late May 2020 with limited capacity and social distancing for inside dining. Puerto Vallarta beaches and hotel common areas and pools can reopen with 30% capacity starting June 15, 2020. 

So, If you are considering a future vacation to Puerto Vallarta, here are some things to know. Gay Puerto Vallarta is waiting for you! The government has developed safety and re-opening protocols and certification processes for each and every business. See that program in Spanish here. So beyond that, many Puerto Vallarta businesses are going above and beyond what is required to make you as safe as possible while you are in town. So discover for yourself just how beyond gay friendly Puerto Vallarta can be.

Bellatrix- Lesbian Owned Bed & Breakfast in Castletownbere, County Cork, Ireland

Bellatrix - Lesbian Owned Bed & Breakfast in Castletownbere, County Cork, Ireland

WOMEN-ONLY B&B ON THE BEARA PENINSULA

Bellatrix is a bed and breakfast exclusively for women on The Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland. It’s the place where women from all over the world can meet and relax in Ireland’s stunning Wild Atlantic scenery. Bellatrix is a nature lovers paradise on The Beara Way.

We specialise in walking and hiking holidays. A short walk through the forest will take you to a beautiful little cove which is safe for swimming. Bellatrix is set in mature gardens with a super view of Gour Mountain.

Rita who is a Mountaineer offers great advice on local hikes and also offers guided hikes to suit all levels of ability.

We are an Eco friendly b and b and your shower is powered by the sun.

We have a variety of room options to choose from, all suitable for women travelers of every description.

See the Bellatrix Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Castletownbere Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Adventure Bound Expeditions – Gay Owned Tour Operator in Boulder, Colorado

Adventure Bound Expeditions

CUSTOM DESIGNED ADVENTURE TRAVEL

Adventure Bound Expeditions was created more than thirty years ago to offer custom adventure tours for gay men. We put together and personally conduct 1-2 tours every year to exciting destinations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Our gay tours include rafting, hiking, kayaking, and nature observation. We’ve climbed active volcanoes in South America, kayaked Ethiopia’s Omo River in Ethiopia, canoed on Lake Biakal in Siberia, trekked to remote Indian villages up in the Andes of Bolivia, hiked through the Pyrenees in Europe, and taken safaris in many regions of Africa.

On our tours, we also help you learn about the local environment, meet the locals, and find out more about the cultures of many societies, all along with other gay men and with the support of knowledgeable local guides and an American tour director with thirty years of adventure travel experience.

See the Adventure Bound Expeditions Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Sunrise at Bali’s Mount Batur

Mount Batur at Sunrise - Keep Calm and Wander

My adventurous trek to Mt Batur volcano to watch the sunrise was all worth it! 

“Sunrise trek to Mount Batur? Why not? Ok, sign me in!” Those were the words I uttered when a tour agent asked if I’d be interested. Of course, I paid the tour right away without qualms. You see – I love a mountain climb. I always do. At my age right now (I’m not really that old hag yet), I know, I’d be slower than I used to be.

For me, it’s all about proper breathing when trekking/climbing/hiking a mountain. And of course – keeping a distance from the person you are following with. I find that if I hike closer behind someone, I’m pressured/forced to keep up – and I won’t enjoy the journey anymore. So, I want to be the last one in a group.

Mount Batur Volcano Trek Tour

Based in Ubud, I was picked up at my accommodation at 2:15 AM. Then, they served us a pre-breakfast food: banana pancakes and coffee/tea. Right after that, we’re off to the base of Mt. Batur. When we arrived there, two guides met us (a group of 9) and briefed us about safety. They then each gave us a small flashlight for the trek.

At 3:40, we started our trek in the darkness. Under the star-filled skies, the adventurous climb was off to a good start.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Bali Gay Travel Resources

Gay Panama – The Nomadic Boys

Gay Panama - The Nomadic Boys

…and God said, “Let there be sexy people”, so he created Panamanians!

Wise words from the Bible itself according to our gay friends Luis and Mario from Panama City…

Panama City is often nicknamed The Dubai of Latin America because of its immense economic growth in recent years and impressive dense skyline. But unlike Dubai, this mighty Latin American metropolis has a far more welcoming gay life, in a country where although culturally conservative, is constantly striving for LGBTQ equality.

Most will associate Panama City with the famous canal, which is a reason alone to visit. The city is also the gateway to some gorgeous tropical beaches within gay Panama, like San Blas and gay friendly Bocas del Toro. We stayed in Panama City for a week and loved it. It’s full of things to do, plenty of trendy bars, but most importantly, we left with a thirst to return for more. It’s also a useful destination because it’s one of the major transport hubs in Central America.

This is our complete gay guide to Panama City following with a focus on the gay scene, our pick of the most gay friendly hotels, our favourite things to do, and more.

Is Gay Panama safe for travellers?

Overall, yes, Panama is safe for LGBTQ travellers, but assuming you stick to the touristic areas of Panama City, Bocas del Toro and San Blas. If venturing beyond, into more local areas, we recommend taking extra care and avoid all PDAs.

Panama is a very conservative country. It a strong influence from the Catholic Church. Any attempt by the government to pass any progressive LGBTQ laws in Panama almost always gets blocked! As a result, Panama does not recognise same-sex unions and has no anti-discrimination laws to protect the LGBTQ community!

For example, a 2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling required Panama to recognise same-sex unions and allow gay couples to adopt. Sadly, the response was a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage by the Panamanian National Assembly in October 2019. The LGBTQ community of Panama has quite a long road ahead of it…

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Gay Panama Travel Resources

The Yellow House – Gay Owned Bed & Breakfast in Waynesville, North Carolina

The Yellow House - Gay Owned Bed & Breakfast in Waynesville, North Carolina

BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS FOOTHILLS B&B

On a hilltop looking out over the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, our Waynesville bed and breakfast has been an important part of Western North Carolina life for more than a hundred years.

Originally built as a summer home in 1885, The Yellow House is a charming Southern inn which welcomes you to experience the beauty and luxury of this wonderful home. Stay in one of our comfortable rooms or suites and enjoy the perfect, quiet mountain getaway.

Our elegant rooms and suites, gourmet breakfasts, and a restful and secluded atmosphere will make you long to return here again and again.

We are inclusive and welcome everyone to our lush Waynesville country retreat.

See the Yellow House Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Waynesville Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals