Pictures and anecdotes don’t do justice to the understated charm of Barbados, it must be experienced in person. Like a flower in bloom, you have to give Barbados more than just a day before its real beauty is revealed.
However, when you Google Barbados and gay, the first thing that pops up, other than Mount Gay Rum (the world’s oldest commercial rum distillery), is “illegal,” “life imprisonment,” and that LGBT people in Barbados do not enjoy the same rights as non-LGBT people. Barbados has traditionally been known for being anti-gay and not very gay welcoming, especially since they still have anti-sodomy laws that punish “buggery” with a life sentence. Even though these laws are rarely enforced, they are still bad for tourism, especially LGBTQ tourism. That said, LGBTQ visitors generally do not face any physical danger in Barbados, but they may face prejudicial treatment from people that aren’t quite ready to embrace the gay community.
Barbados, in spite of all this, is slowly progressing on the LGBTQ front. They recently elected their first female prime minister, Mia Mottley, who is pro-LGBT. Barbados also hosted its first Pride march in the capital of Bridgetown in 2018. You can find out more about Pride and other gay events in Barbados on the LGBT Barbados Facebook group.
What can you really expect when traveling to Barbados as a gay person? Alex St John, a Barbadian currently living in Toronto, commented that Barbados is fine with the gays, just like lots of places in the world, but it’s important to respect their religious culture, and to be respectful of the people around you when you are expressing yourself to your partner. There is also a relatively rich gay nightlife, but you need to know where to go and when. Tony Chanthavong, a Canadian who lived there for nine months on a work assignment, commented that there were no gay bars and that he only knew where the popup “bush parties” were after he made some gay islander friends.