Traveling gay: Tips & tricks on traveling fabulously
By Tony Baker
It’s safe to say that traveling as a gay person has never been safer or easier. Within the last several years, more and more countries have updated laws protecting and welcoming us.
With that said, there are still at least 71 countries where being or acting on homosexuality is illegal and punishments range from as little as a fine all the way to the death penalty. As a gay man as well as a travel blogger, I will give you a few tips and advice on traveling that should help ease apprehensions and fears you or your loved ones may have.
My friends and family are all the time begging me not to go certain places, saying, “It’s not safe,” or “you'll get arrested.” To that, I respond, “As long as I don’t do anything to get arrested for, I won’t get arrested.” My dear friend Larry is always saying he’ll have to contact Ross Perot (RIP, Ross) to come and get me (for those of us that are old enough to know what that means).
I’ve been to over 30 countries and have never been gay bashed in any of them or pestered because of my sexuality. However, I have been gay bashed here in the USA; beaten to a pulp in Austin, Texas. Yes, just for being gay, pointing out the fact that it can happen anywhere.
Here are a few tips for traveling.
A stranger in a strange land - do your homework: Research the local laws, history and attitudes toward gays. You can do a simple Google search, or there are also many great resources available to you; equaldex.com, 76crimes.com, travelsofadam.com and the State Department, travel.state.gov/LGBTI.
“When in Rome”: Be aware of local gender expectations and cultural norms. Rather it is right or wrong; you don’t want to make a stand about it while traveling. We, as Americans have our beliefs, but we need to be careful about being ethnocentric. For example, if you're in a primarily Muslim country, it’s probably a good idea to be modest (i.e., women don’t wear daisy dukes; or men either for that matter). Most countries do not require tourist to dress like them, but a little respect and common sense goes a long way!
Check with “Uncle Sam”: Just to be safe, I usually always register with the U.S. Department of State when I leave the country. Safety is smart in case of a natural disaster or something similar. That way, our government knows you're there. I do this, in addition to researching the data on their site about the country.
“Talk the talk”; get your tech on: Be technologically savvy. Download and use the trip-it app. It combines all your plans, with reservation numbers, dates, address, etc. This way, you can easily share with whomever. I also turn on the “find my friends” app and let a few people follow me. I also recommend the “Google translate” app, as miscommunication can cause more problems than almost anything.
These were just a few tips on how to navigate the world safely. I try not to hide and bunker down because of fears of what can or cannot happen. Actually, the middle east is my favorite area to explore, and although I am probably less flamboyant while there, I have never felt unsafe, on the contrary, I always feel very welcome.
Please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have and please, travel more!
For more about Touring Tony, follow him on IG @thetouringtony Twitter @TouringTony and FB page /TouringTony or visit www.touringtony.com.
Copyright The Gayly. 8/9/2019 @ 4:31 p.m. CST.