At the time, I assumed my having met not one, but two gay travelers at my hostel in Cartagena, Colombia was mere luck. As the year passed and I traveled more, however, I realized that gays had indeed become more conspicuous on the backpacking scene.
If you’re gay and want to travel, but the thought of all-gay cruises and circuit parties in Barcelona or Miami sickens you as much as it sickens me, you have arrived in the right place. (This is also the right place if you like the aforementioned activities, but also want to try backpacking!)
Where Are The Best Gay Destinations?
The answer to this question depends on your intent in asking it. If you’re looking for places where there’s a lot of gay culture, nightlife and, most importantly, men, then I can provide you with a short list: Barcelona, Berlin, Miami, New York, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco and Sydney.
I can also provide you with a guarantee: If you travel exclusively to places like these, good sex and parties will be your only incredible memories.
The fact is that everywhere in the world (well, almost everywhere, but more on that in a second) is a potential gay travel destination. And although traveling to countries and regions without large (or any!) gay communities can be lonely, the alternative – only traveling to cliché gay destinations – is much, more worse.
(Ditto on taking cruises and staying in fancy hotels, as gays tend to do.)
The benefit of traveling to places and in ways most gays avoid isn’t only yours, either. By exposing yourself (however you want to interpret that!) to people who might not ordinarily spend a lot of time with gays, be they macho dude backpackers or people in a conservative country, you are spreading tolerance. Yay!
Is Being Gay Legal Everywhere?
Well, in most countries you’re spreading tolerance. In some countries, you want to keep your mouth shut (again, you can interpret that how you want) because being gay is not only frowned upon, but illegal.
It’s important to note that even in places where homosexuality is technically illegal, you (usually) can’t be arrested for simply “being” gay – you have to get caught in the act. Many countries where being gay is illegal have high numbers of curious men who are eager to bed foreigners, so this is more plausible than you think.
In general, using common sense is the best idea. If you are in a private place in the company of others you know are gay, it’s OK to be yourself. In public situations, or around people you don’t know very well, however, it’s best to use the ole’ “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Safety and Gay Travel
Staying out of jail is only the first element of staying safe as a gay backpacker. You need to protect yourself not only from the law, but from harm at the hands of others – foes and “friends” alike.
Although I will stop short of saying you should ever “hide” who you are, I will say that just as you might not want to fly your rainbow flag in a country where homosexuality is illegal for fear of imprisonment, you might want to tone it down a little bit when you’re around people (particularly men) you think could kick your ass.
Speaking of men doing things to your ass, you should always, always use protection when hooking up during your travels. And I don’t just mean condoms: You should also use caution when going to guy’s houses, or inviting them to your place (if you can that is – most hostels don’t allow guests!).
Gay Travel Resources
Remember how I mentioned that a lot more gay backpackers have come onto my radar lately? Well, it’s not just people I meet when on the road – I know a lot of other gay bloggers, too! Here is a short list of travel blogs written by gays to check out.
Adam was one of the first travel bloggers I met, both virtually and in-person, and while his blog doesn’t focus exclusively on gay travel, it’s definitely a resource every gay traveler should have bookmarked.
David and Auston are a(n extremely cute) American couple who are traveling the world together. Their blog chronicles their adventures around the globe, in many destinations you wouldn’t think gays would go. A great read indeed!
Tom is an English-teacher-in-Korea turned world wanderer, and his eponymous travel blog chronicles both these parts of his life with wit, charm and a great deal of Britishness.
You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about lesbian travel yet. It’s not because I don’t like lesbians – I love lesbians! – but rather, because I’m not a lesbian and have never traveled as one. Thankfully, these gals have got you more than covered.