Has the World Changed for Queer Travelers?

aul J. Heney and partner in Rio de Janeiro

Over the last few years, the acceptance of LGBTQ people has improved a great deal in most of the Western world—including the legalization of same sex marriage across the United States. But there are always pockets of greater and lesser acceptance in different regions, countries and cities.

We asked some frequent travelers what their experiences have been.

Keenan McGarvey, a 25-year old teacher from Seattle, believes the world has changed in regard to the LGBTQ community, and his experiences have been positive.
“In my experience that [positivity] is reflected more in the other travelers I meet than in the places I go to visit,” he said. “As a gay man, I already have the tendency to choose travel destinations where I am not going to be scrutinized too closely for busting out a pair of short-shorts. But I also feel that in general as a tourist, most places do not investigate your sexuality during your visit. What I have noticed is that I feel much more comfortable being myself and dropping pronouns about my exes in conversation with other travelers I meet than I maybe would have five years ago.”

Valerie and Jessi are married travelers who describe themselves as nomads. They have visited a new city or state every 2-4 weeks for the past 9 months. They see “immense” changes, at least in the U.S. “As a lesbian couple traveling from our safe harbor of San Francisco, not once did we face the discrimination we once faced when coming out 10 years ago,” they explained. “With that said, we are also white, cis-gendered, and have feminine energies that often present ‘straight.’ Our perspective is limited to our experience, but we came out to a lot of people all over the USA and never once had a mean remark, snarky look, nor a negative response. Did we get lucky? Probably. But we were surprised how warm and accepting people were.”

By Paul Heney – Full Story at Travel Pulse

LOCATION Gay Travel Resources

Courting Transgender Tourists

Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has been courting gay and lesbian travelers for nearly two decades, an effort that most recently included a marriage-equality wedding promotion. This year the city became one of the country’s first destinations to market to transgender travelers, with a new tourism campaign, and for the first time will host the Southern Comfort Conference, one of the largest transgender conferences in the country, with about 1,000 attendees. (The 25th gathering begins Sept. 29.) Much of the credit goes to Richard Gray, who arrived in Fort Lauderdale in 1991 as a hotelier and now serves as managing director of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender market. Mr. Gray, 57, also serves on the board of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. Following are edited excerpts from an interview with Mr. Gray. Q. How has marketing to gay travelers changed since Fort Lauderdale started its outreach efforts in 1996? A. At first, it was too risky to use the word “gay,” so we used “rainbow.” We started with a budget of $35,000, which has grown to over $1 million. We now welcome 1.3 million L.G.B.T. travelers who spend approximately $1.5 billion in the area.

By Diane Daniel – Full Story at The New York Times

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Transgender Travel: People are Mostly Okay

Airplane Airport people watching is one of my favorite activities. In general, airports make me anxious. The crowds; the frenetic sense of urgency as people rush around; the smell of other people’s (way too much) perfume or cologne; the bottled water that costs $800; business bros talking loudly into ear pieces so that we will know they are Very Important; constant reminders to guard your stuff, people, terrorists are everywhere!; the thousand ways my day and trip could be derailed by a sneeze or a thunderstorm; and did I mention the crowds? I have no fear of flying, but the hours-long labyrinth journey to the plane…I sometimes need to carry a little orange pill in my pocket for that. But barring the availability of narcotics, I endure through mindfulness. Deep breaths, and meditative people watching. Yesterday, I saw: a woman taking two small dogs to Phoenix for a month-long visit (“They will be so hot!” she said); a grandmother-type who brought a large bag of cookies to share with her fellow passengers; the aforementioned Business Bros (Lord, they are everywhere); tired parents and very excited children hauling adorable tiny suitcases; and a transgender college student, boarding the same flight as me.

By Erin Wathen – Full Story at Patheos

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