The Worst Part of Traveling While Gay
For me, the best part of travel is the connections I've made with others. That's harder when you can't be completely honest.
Take a look at this picture. Do Michael and I look alike to you?
It’s true, we’re both white, middle-aged men, fairly fit, and we wear glasses.
But honestly? I don’t think we look anything alike. Michael has a full head of silver hair — and I’m bald. Michael is at least three inches taller than I am.
And yet, as we travel, I’ve literally lost track of the number of times people have mistaken us for brothers. People often — often — even assume we’re twins!
Here’s the explanation I’ve come up with for why this happens: it’s unusual for two middle-aged men to be traveling together, especially if we’re sharing a room. If we’re in a country or culture where out same-sex couples are unusual or non-existent, people search for a label to apply to us. “Brothers” is the best explanation they can come up with that makes sense to them.
Plus, we act very comfortable and familiar together, like, well, brothers.
Truthfully, if this is the worst thing that ever happens to us on our travels, we’ll be very lucky. And so far, it is the worst thing, at least when it comes to our being gay.
In fact, we’ve found the world to be far more gay-tolerant than we expected, even in countries known for LGBTQ bigotry.
We’re also men, who don’t have to deal with sexism, and we’re conventionally masculine, which means we can easily maneuver in cultures with more traditional gender roles.
We also try to do our due diligence before going anywhere, and we always approach travel with the idea that we’re guests in the places that we visit. That means we try to learn about and respect local customs and values — within reason, of course.
But this doesn’t mean there aren’t still challenges to travel while being LGBTQ.
For one thing, something serious probably will go wrong at some point in our travels, and we’ll have to deal with the local authorities and/or police.
If it’s obvious we’re a gay couple, and there’s some kind of dispute, will the authorities take our side? If the problem involves homophobia, might the authorities even take the side of the bigot?
It’s a scary thought.
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