For those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ), travel is not only a way to experience new cultures and destinations, but also provides an opportunity to connect with our community. Some might take this for granted, but for LGBTQ people living in more remote or conservative areas, it’s not always possible to be out and share experiences with like-minded people. There are more than 70 countries in the world where same-sex relationships are still criminalized, creating additional safety concerns for LGBTQ people when traveling abroad. These three tips make it easy to immerse yourself in the local community while on the road.
1.) Travel with pride
Pride events have sprung up in destinations of all sizes. Some of the largest in the world are held in Sao Paulo, Madrid, New York, San Francisco and Sydney. However, if you’re interested in visiting an off-the-beaten-path place like Jasper, Canada, or Sofia, Bulgaria, Pride can provide a rainbow ticket into the local community. These smaller events often deliver a more personal, authentic experience. June is officially recognized as Pride Month, and while these events are scattered throughout the year, the majority are held in June and July.
2.) Attend an LGBTQ festival
Planning a trip around an LGBTQ event or festival expands your options beyond Pride season and allows you to combine your personal interests with a local experience. Whether your passion is art, music, film, sports or gastronomy, there is an LGBTQ festival or event to match. It’s also a good opportunity to unite with people who share common interests within the LGBTQ community, whether at a transgender party in the United States, a lesbian festival in Spain or a leather event in Germany.
3.) Join an LGBTQ tour
Booking a trip with an LGBTQ tour operator is a great way to meet new people and travel safely around the world — even if the country you’re visiting has anti-gay laws. Experienced operators have vetted itineraries that ensure a welcoming experience and incorporate local LGBTQ guides and businesses that would be hard for an independent traveler to find on their own.
John Tanzella, President and CEO, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, [email protected]