Traveling As A Gay, Married Couple: My Philosophy

Traveling As A Gay, Married Couple: My Philosophy

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I’ve been in the process of publishing a trip report about our trip to Oman. In the introduction post, some readers asked me about my comfort level with traveling to some places as a gay couple.

Now that we’re at the point in the trip report where we’re visiting a Middle Eastern country, I wanted to address that topic more broadly. How do I approach deciding where to travel, how do I change my behavior when traveling based on the destination, etc.? I’m also curious to hear how others approach this.

Let me say this upfront — we don’t travel places as a couple where we feel like we constantly have to hide who we are.

A few disclaimers to start

Before I get too deep into sharing my approach when it comes to traveling and being gay, let me acknowledge a few things:

  • I recognize I’m incredibly fortunate to live in a country where I can (for the most part) live my life freely, and I’m also blessed to have a supportive family, and to be financially independent; even in the United States, plenty of people don’t have accepting families, and might not be able to support themselves financially, leading to some bad situations
  • There’s a big difference between being a visitor somewhere and trying to live one’s life somewhere, so I’m not suggesting “well I didn’t have any problems in X country, and therefore no one will”
  • I’m just sharing my experiences and beliefs, which I’ve come to after endless travel over the years; of course others may have different experiences, and I’m not saying these opinions will apply everywhere in the world
  • In the comments section I’d love to hear how others approach these complex issues, though I ask everyone be respectful; we can all share our beliefs without putting other people down

With that out of the way, let me share my general philosophy.

We’ve just had an amazing time in Oman

It’s important to be out and unapologetic

Any gay person knows that coming out can be complicated — that starts with coming out to yourself and accepting who you are. The older I’ve gotten, the less sheepish and unapologetic I’ve become about being gay. What people think about me being gay isn’t something I’m going to lose any sleep over — that’s their problem, not mine. That includes when traveling to countries that might on the surface be less accepting of gay travelers.

I’ll take it a step further in saying that I think it’s my duty to come out whenever I can. The goal isn’t to make people uncomfortable or shame them into acceptance, but rather to build a bridge, and normalize people of different backgrounds as much as possible. We all have preconceived notions about certain groups of people, and the way to get over those is to show people that our similarities outnumber our differences.

Coming out is a never-ending, complicated process

When you travel as a gay couple in many parts of the world, it’s normal for people to just assume that you’re friends, brothers, colleagues, etc. I get it, that doesn’t bother me, and I’m not offended. I’m never going to be upset at anyone for making that assumption, because, well, I’d spend a lot of time being upset, and that doesn’t benefit anyone.

That being said, when I feel it’s safe and helpful to do so, I try to subtly avoid that and correct misconceptions. Let me give some examples:

  • If I’m in contact with a hotel in advance, I’ll make it clear that I’m traveling with my husband, so that they’re clear on what the relationship is, and that booking a room with one bed isn’t a mistake; whether or not they process that correctly is a different story
  • If I’m in a setting where it’s safe to do so (in my travels that’s a vast majority of places), and I’m referring to Ford in any context, I refer to him as what he is, which is my husband
  • If someone refers to him as my friend, I’m typically not going to correct them right away, because I don’t think it helps to make anyone feel like they offended me (and I’m not offended, for that matter); that being said, if I interact with the same person multiple times, I might say “oh I’m just waiting on my husband, he should be here shortly,” or something, so that hopefully they get the hint

It’s also important to acknowledge that context matters:

  • If I’m in a taxi in Moscow at 10PM and the driver is trying to get us to go to a strip club, we’re not going to correct him and tell him we’re gay (note: I’m not going to Moscow now, but this did happen when we visited several years back)
  • Generally speaking I feel much more comfortable being openly gay when staying at a major international chain hotel, because they have global standards around acceptance and inclusivity; if I were (theoretically) at a small guest house in Saudi Arabia it would of course be a totally different story
  • Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to come out (because it’s exhausting), or the setting isn’t right; in 2018 I wrote about my experience getting a massage in Singapore, and the lady asked if I have kids, and when I said I didn’t she asked “why not?” and said that after the massage I’ll “be nice and relaxed and can make babies soon,” and I don’t really feel like that’s the time to come out
I’m still booking a room with one bed, sorry

There’s value in interactions at all levels

Even at a chain hotel, I think there’s potentially huge value in the individual interactions you can have with people. Perceptions don’t change overnight, but rather it’s a slow process. For example, take Dubai, which has workers from all over the globe.

The workers you interact with may be from countries that aren’t accepting of gays. But if you can be yourself around them, and they realize you’re not that different than others, I think there’s value in that, and that over time will lead to a shift in mindsets.

Peoples’ perceptions don’t shift because they take a one hour training course about inclusivity when they started their job. They shift through firsthand experiences.

Similarly, I’ve had people in countries that aren’t particularly accepting come out to me, and say how they could never come out to their family, etc. But it’s nice to be able to hear them out and be supportive.

There’s value in interactions at all levels

Laws in the Middle East are complex for everyone

People often say “I’ll never travel to [insert Middle Eastern country] because of the laws they have against gays.” That’s totally fair, and I get it. You’re not wrong, and in many cases the laws are very problematic. Look, I probably wouldn’t travel to Saudi Arabia with Ford and book a hotel room with one bed (this is a moot point, because Ford has no interest in traveling there).

But for countries like Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, etc., I have absolutely no qualms being myself. If someone wants to generally boycott these countries because of the laws, I respect that. But I also think there’s some nuance to understand:

  • Admittedly a lot of these countries have a lot of laws that aren’t actually enforced, and this goes way beyond being gay; this includes laws around public displays of affection, laws around unmarried people staying in the rooms, laws around sex, etc.
  • For example, until 2020 it was technically illegal for unmarried people to share a hotel room in the UAE; yet how many tens of millions of unmarried couples visited the UAE over time, shared a hotel room, and had no issues?
  • Essentially many Middle Eastern countries operate on a system of unenforced laws, which is a problem, but that also goes way beyond laws involving same sex relationships
  • My philosophy is that if you’re respectful to locals, including following local customs, then they’ll be respectful back to you

I also think it’s important to recognize when countries are making progress, even if they’re not as far along as other countries, or as far along as many of us would like them to be. I think we often forget that many countries in the Middle East have official religions, and are only a few decades old.

Yes, it’s the year 2022 for all of us, but there’s a difference between a country that has been around for hundreds of years and claims to not be guided by a particular religion, and a country that has been around for a few decades and is based on religious law.

Laws in the Middle East are complex

Bottom line

I often get questions about my approach to traveling to countries that (on the surface) aren’t particularly accepting of gay travelers. Hopefully the above is a useful rundown of the approach that I take. I’m not claiming to be right, but rather I’m just sharing my take.

Personally I think it’s important to try to be “out” whenever you safely can, and for that matter I just don’t have interest in traveling to destinations where I have to hide who I am. There’s admittedly a balance here, since local customs have to be respected as well. But those aren’t always as black and white as people might assume.

I’m curious how OMAAT readers approach this issue?

Conversations (112)
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  1. will Guest

    I just got back from the UAE as a single gay man. I didn't hide at all who I was, I had some conversations about coming out and that experience with people who I was around. But I also didn't flash my sexuality anywhere. I was travelling with friends including a straight couple who felt more uncomfortable being affectionate publicly just in general.

    I think it is based on the setting, the environment all sorts of things.

  2. Arewa Guest

    Going to a country with a "system of unenforced laws" and breaking said laws can be very dangerous, especially for people of color or people from certain countries. It's good to keep that in mind, just because "some" people are getting away with it doesn't guarantee anything. Frankly, I would not depend on a "system of unenforced laws" to travel to another continent and break a law. That risk is not worth it.

  3. Tony Meola Member

    Thanks, Lucky. I agree with a lot of what you say, especially about being clear that I'm married to a man but I have no desire visit a country for leisure travel that has any anti-gay laws, whether they are "enforced" or not.

    1. Tomtom23 Guest

      The trouble with that philosophy Tony is that once you start to take a moral stance on travelling only to countries with laws that you agree with it can become extremely limiting to say the least. Should people who are pro-choice now not visit the US since the change in abortion rights? The middle east is probably the extreme end of the spectrum with this, but its a slippery slope. Whilst maybe not official law, how gay or black friendly is the southern US really...

  4. vlcnc Guest

    I think Lucky makes a very good point about Middle Eastern countries and probably a lot of muslim countries in general - laws are oppressive but also rarely enforced and people in general can be a lot more accepting than their governments. There is a bit of racism and western chauvinism at play here, the idea that muslims/brown people are all savages - as a gay couple of mixed backgrounds travelling we've never had an...

    I think Lucky makes a very good point about Middle Eastern countries and probably a lot of muslim countries in general - laws are oppressive but also rarely enforced and people in general can be a lot more accepting than their governments. There is a bit of racism and western chauvinism at play here, the idea that muslims/brown people are all savages - as a gay couple of mixed backgrounds travelling we've never had an issue travelling to many of these countries.

    The worst experience we had was actually in a Christian country - Georgia, I don't use it lightly but our experience was genuinely frightening and I don't put this lightly - menacing. Our relationship was constantly questioned by authorities, it was the opposite of 'don't ask, don't tell' in that they were obsessed with finding out if we were gay whether that was police or border guards. On the same trip we went to Azerbaijan which is listed last on a 'European' countries for gay rights, and out and about we weren't bothered at all and were free to go about our business safely and securely. So my advice is have an open mind when you travel, don't be blinded by your prejudices and you might be very surprised.

  5. Jose Fernandez Guest

    You are an admirable person and excellent world traveler. We live and travel within Mexico with total gay acceptance. One is welcome everywhere as much as you welcome them.

  6. BookLvr Gold

    Great post! I especially like your awareness that by being there and being yourself, you make at least an incremental difference in the lives of people who may not have a lot of exposure to out LGBTQ people. This is how hearts and minds change.

    There are organizations on the ground trying to advance this work as well, like the organization Rainbow Street, working to protect LGBTQ people in Middle East and North African countries.

    Great post! I especially like your awareness that by being there and being yourself, you make at least an incremental difference in the lives of people who may not have a lot of exposure to out LGBTQ people. This is how hearts and minds change.

    There are organizations on the ground trying to advance this work as well, like the organization Rainbow Street, working to protect LGBTQ people in Middle East and North African countries.
    https://www.rainbow-street.org/

    I appreciate the nuance and awareness in your piece that official government policies do not necessarily reflect the views of every citizens, and that there are LGBTQ people living in every country, some of them advocating for change.

  7. Edgar Guest

    Gosh! I have never seen any report of yours that has sparked off so many comments!! Gives a clear idea of who follows your blog :)

  8. Ian Macdougald Guest

    Thanks for that. As a gay married man I have never had a problem in Europe, South Africa or South America. I have had a few problems in the US when making a road trip and in small town asking for a double instead of two twins. I have decided not to travel by road but ti fly between destinations as feel safer.

  9. TravelinWilly Diamond

    When my partner and I travelled together, he would let me answer any questions about the nature of our relationship, mostly because he trusted my judgment more than his own (because I have / had travelled so much more than he).

    Only very very very rarely would I say we’re “friends,” and we never met any downright hostility except on an Amtrak ride from DC to Chicago when a couple of Nebraska “Christian” women...

    When my partner and I travelled together, he would let me answer any questions about the nature of our relationship, mostly because he trusted my judgment more than his own (because I have / had travelled so much more than he).

    Only very very very rarely would I say we’re “friends,” and we never met any downright hostility except on an Amtrak ride from DC to Chicago when a couple of Nebraska “Christian” women we were seated with at dinner literally stopped talking to us when I informed them that we were domestic partners.

    Sadly, we can’t travel together any more (he has late stage dementia and is living in a memory care facility now…apologies if that’s an overshare), but we pretty much never had issues in the 17 years we’ve been traveling together internationally.

  10. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    We've (my husband and I, Latin and Caucasian) and have visited Brazil (ALL OVER), Thailand (Bangkok & Phuket, Japan, India (Jaipur, New Delhi, Jodhpur), Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Qatar (Doha and the Desert Regions), and have never had any real issues. In some "farther from the city" places (even HERE in the US) we are just somewhat careful. I don't think you can judge a region/country/ethnicity by one set of "laws". We can have a bad...

    We've (my husband and I, Latin and Caucasian) and have visited Brazil (ALL OVER), Thailand (Bangkok & Phuket, Japan, India (Jaipur, New Delhi, Jodhpur), Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Qatar (Doha and the Desert Regions), and have never had any real issues. In some "farther from the city" places (even HERE in the US) we are just somewhat careful. I don't think you can judge a region/country/ethnicity by one set of "laws". We can have a bad experience in Wyoming just as likely as the steppes of Argentina. There are all types of people all over the world. Good article Ben, and great community conversation!

  11. Peter Brown Guest

    Other than Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Oman are the only Islamic states worth visiting. There is nothing in the Gulf states unless you admire tall western skyscrapers. The only exception is the Islamic Museum in Qatar. Bahrain, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are run like Medieval shiekdoms. I only make an exception for Oman as there is plenty worth seeing and it is slightly more benevolent.

    1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      That museum in Qatar is amazing! They recently opened up a Qatari History museum that resembles a "desert rose gypsum" too. I suggest you go back, it was amazing in early 2020!

    2. Ricardo Guest

      Turkey not worth visiting? Indonesia? Albania? Not even Maldives?
      Dont agree...

    3. Mitzy Guest

      None of those countries are "Islamic states," and yes, there is a big difference between an "Islamic state" and a state with a preponderance of Muslims.

  12. George Romey Guest

    For the most part in Western Culture no one really cares. Those places that are unaccepting are generally places I would never have any desire to go to. For example, the Middle East.

    1. Chuck Guest

      A rather large group in the US still cares, apparently.

  13. Kevin Guest

    I so appreciate this article, especially from a couple so well travelled. When I travel my focus is to respect myself and my partner, respect the country and culture we’re visiting, keep safe and have fun. My partner and I are each from a different culture and race ourselves which can add another layer of complication to travel. If we’re heading to a country we assume is not especially LGBT friendly, we err on the...

    I so appreciate this article, especially from a couple so well travelled. When I travel my focus is to respect myself and my partner, respect the country and culture we’re visiting, keep safe and have fun. My partner and I are each from a different culture and race ourselves which can add another layer of complication to travel. If we’re heading to a country we assume is not especially LGBT friendly, we err on the side of caution using large chain hotels and, if in doubt, not over share with people we encounter (e.g. taxi drivers). It’s also fair to say that some countries are more conservative about intimacy in general, regardless of gender or sexuality. It wasn’t so long ago in Ireland that if you turned up to a B&B as an unmarried straight couple, you could be turned away at the door.

  14. Experienced Traveller Guest

    After 40 years in Asia, and widely travelled I can tell you that many people are not used to gay people. I am not gay but I have seen the nightlife in all countries in Asia including Thailand .
    Older people cannot accept gay issues .

    1. Eskimo Guest

      You don't seem experienced at all. Might have been true if you didn't say Thailand.

      Have you encountered Thai ladyboys? They do go out with older people and they're openly coming out everywhere.

      If your nightlife in Thailand means you ordered room service after midnight, then you've probably mistaken nightlife with night life.
      And 40 years in Asia means you watch Seven years in Tibet 6 times?

  15. derek Guest

    My feeling is that straight couples should hide the fact. They should not hold hands in public nor talk about their husband or wife. Sex talk is dirty. Same for gay couples. Don't tell. Don't show it.

  16. Joseph Guest

    Thanks for your post Ben.
    I’d like to add a thought,
    When I call a hotel, Car rental, credit card call center, bank, I refer to my better half as my spouse. (We’re married). More than half the time the representative refers my spouse as Mrs. When I say “his name is ….” I get dead air for a moment. I honestly don’t know who is training these people.

  17. Henry Guest

    I recall several years ago my partner, who is now my husband, and I booked a small, perhaps 6 rooms, b&b in a Sicilian village. The desk clerk, who appeared straight out of central casting as an Italian granny, escorted us to our room and proceeded to moved the two beds that had been together about 4' apart. She left; we moved them back together. Each day of our 4-day stay it was the same...

    I recall several years ago my partner, who is now my husband, and I booked a small, perhaps 6 rooms, b&b in a Sicilian village. The desk clerk, who appeared straight out of central casting as an Italian granny, escorted us to our room and proceeded to moved the two beds that had been together about 4' apart. She left; we moved them back together. Each day of our 4-day stay it was the same ritual. We had a pleasant stay. Nothing was said; every one was pleasant, courteous & helpful. To this day we chuckle at the experience.

  18. JS Guest

    Great article Lucky! While reading, I couldn't help but remember many years ago when my partner and I travelled together to Puerto Vallarta. This was our first time for both of us to PVR and didn't realize where the "gay" area of PVR was (Zona Rosa). What do we do, we stayed at the Westin resort near the airport (long way from Zona Rosa) since I was a devout SPG. Anyway, I will never forget...

    Great article Lucky! While reading, I couldn't help but remember many years ago when my partner and I travelled together to Puerto Vallarta. This was our first time for both of us to PVR and didn't realize where the "gay" area of PVR was (Zona Rosa). What do we do, we stayed at the Westin resort near the airport (long way from Zona Rosa) since I was a devout SPG. Anyway, I will never forget when we checked-in as we of course had reserved a King room. The female checking us in insisted, I mean insisted that we change to a Double-Double room. She just couldn't imagine why 2 "straight" looking guys wanted to share a bed. After a LOT of convincing, we were able to win her over and we insisted that we wanted a King bed. She was not in any way rude or anything like that, she just wanted to make sure we were aware that the room only had 1 bed! LOL. Again, I just laugh about it now.

  19. iamhere Guest

    Laws - As a foreigner you are still subject to the local law. There is no exception. Keep in mind that in some places a foreigner may get more consequences for not following. I mean it may not be enforced for locals, but for a foreigner it may be different. There also may be some sort of system or something you do not know about if you are a local.

    International Hotels - Agree with...

    Laws - As a foreigner you are still subject to the local law. There is no exception. Keep in mind that in some places a foreigner may get more consequences for not following. I mean it may not be enforced for locals, but for a foreigner it may be different. There also may be some sort of system or something you do not know about if you are a local.

    International Hotels - Agree with you that they are much more likely to be understanding, but it depends on where. A major city, much more likely than in a town. Keep in mind that a lot of these hotels are more localized in smaller places while maintaining the brand.

    As you said just because the laws in the developed world do not make it a crime anymore, does not mean that everyone accepts it.

  20. Ernest Smith Guest

    My partner of 35 years is from Saudi Arabia and I have traveled with him all over the Middle East. We personally have never had a problem that I'm aware of. We have friends in Dubai that have lived as a couple for many years, a friend (citizen of and in)Bahrain who is "in your face gay" announced it at the office, introduced his French boyfriend, and continued to work in a Bahraini government office....

    My partner of 35 years is from Saudi Arabia and I have traveled with him all over the Middle East. We personally have never had a problem that I'm aware of. We have friends in Dubai that have lived as a couple for many years, a friend (citizen of and in)Bahrain who is "in your face gay" announced it at the office, introduced his French boyfriend, and continued to work in a Bahraini government office. It was a really a yawn to most of his co workers. LOL. Another friend working in Saudi had a boyfriend who was an officer in the Saudi Military. It's just a thread that runs through Arab society that no one even talks about. Unless you are making a show or spectacle of it , it seems no one really cares.

  21. Ludo Diniz Guest

    There is a lot of wonderful places around the world that acept and respect the LGBTQ+ community.
    So I had to spend my money in a place that I can't be myself?
    Not today Satan.

  22. Mick Guest

    I travelled to Vietnam when I was 20 and the advice was that if you were a single female you should wear a wedding ring because travelling as a single female was considered strange in Vietnam. I met an American girl who disagreed. Basically said “I want to be “out” that I’m a single female and happy to travel. To empower women here”. Always thought an interesting point of view. Not changing a culture but...

    I travelled to Vietnam when I was 20 and the advice was that if you were a single female you should wear a wedding ring because travelling as a single female was considered strange in Vietnam. I met an American girl who disagreed. Basically said “I want to be “out” that I’m a single female and happy to travel. To empower women here”. Always thought an interesting point of view. Not changing a culture but empowering. And obv not direct parallel to the challenges of bay travel

    1. Jorge Paez Guest

      That woman sounds conceited.....

  23. Steven S Guest

    You may think it is OK to go to a country where certain behavior is illegal but never enforced but to me, they can selectively change their mind at any time and you have no one to blame. I'm not gay but would never want to go to these countries.

  24. Coolbeans202 New Member

    My husband and I have traveled pretty extensively and, for the most part, follow the same rules of thumb that you do. We try to be open where possible, but we’re not militant about it and certainly aren’t going to jeopardize our safety.

    We’re more likely to opt for king beds at large chain hotels, but decided on two beds in Jordan and were going to do the same in Egypt. If it’s a...

    My husband and I have traveled pretty extensively and, for the most part, follow the same rules of thumb that you do. We try to be open where possible, but we’re not militant about it and certainly aren’t going to jeopardize our safety.

    We’re more likely to opt for king beds at large chain hotels, but decided on two beds in Jordan and were going to do the same in Egypt. If it’s a country I’ve never been to, I will do a fair amount of research ahead of time to try and know what we’re waking into.

  25. anon Guest

    If the Republican party had their way, you wouldn't be able to get married. Your state of Florida is waging war on LGBT but the guess the tax savings are worth it?

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @anon

      What in the world are you talking about ? That is not true. No one is waging war on LGBTQ. As a registered Republican in California I voted for legalized gay marriage in the 2000s .

    2. Max Guest

      key word being "California"

      neo-liberalism is a little bit different from the current brand of Republican, particularly in Texas, Florida, etc

    3. D3kingg Guest

      @Max

      There is an LGBTQ neighborhood in Houston , Texas. Monstrose. There’s about a dozen gay bars/clubs and they are always packed. They have the rainbow colored streetwalks etc. It’s a young crowd here whereas in West Hollywood I was more likely to meet age disparity couples. Texas is a big place.

    4. LarryInNYC Diamond

      I believe @anon is referring to the Florida "don't say gay" bill which restricts mention of LGBT issues (or even existence) at all levels of public school and requires school staff, including counselors, to out students to their families.

    5. UA-NYC Diamond

      Why Texas Republicans are, if you un-bury your head

      https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/texas-books-race-sexuality-schools-rcna13886

    6. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      I'm a Gay Republican living in Texas. Stop living in the past, like the party of 30 years ago is not the party of today. Remember back in 2008 when even Obama/Clinton/Biden all wouldn't support Gay Marriage??? Things change. Get over yourself.

    7. hartd8 Member

      are you insane??? the GOP has no issue with being LGBTQAI+ There is no war except in you mine!!!

    8. Rick Guest

      You need a reality check. Look at their bills in various state legislature. Most Republican voters may not care, but GOP politicians and party members in the conservative states absolutely care and they want to be in everyone's privacy. The Democrats have become the party of freedom. There is really no way around it anymore. All my Republican friends are independents now. I don't really see a long term future for Republican party if it...

      You need a reality check. Look at their bills in various state legislature. Most Republican voters may not care, but GOP politicians and party members in the conservative states absolutely care and they want to be in everyone's privacy. The Democrats have become the party of freedom. There is really no way around it anymore. All my Republican friends are independents now. I don't really see a long term future for Republican party if it continues to trend rightward on social issues; its like watching a dying animal attack everyone, its goingvto be an ugly death, but they are digging their own grave. If you are a Republican in a conservative state who supports sexual freedom and personal privacy then I hope you run for congress.

  26. Jjmpdx Guest

    I’ve traveled to many countries that are less than friendly to GLBT rights and have never had a problem. First, use common sense; Second, be fortunate enough to be able to stay with four- or five-star Western hotel chains.
    Happy travels.

  27. jrr Guest

    First thanks for the thoughtful post, I agree with much of what you said, and when traveling with my wife I behave with a philosophy pretty similar to yours. Having said that in some parts of the world (including the Middle East) women travelers (regardless of sexual orientation) face issues of discrimination and personal safety that men just don’t. It’s a vast oversimplification but misogyny trumps homophobia… It’s something we consider when deciding where to...

    First thanks for the thoughtful post, I agree with much of what you said, and when traveling with my wife I behave with a philosophy pretty similar to yours. Having said that in some parts of the world (including the Middle East) women travelers (regardless of sexual orientation) face issues of discrimination and personal safety that men just don’t. It’s a vast oversimplification but misogyny trumps homophobia… It’s something we consider when deciding where to travel.

  28. Brad Guest

    Excellent article. Frames what I have felt, as a gay male traveler for years. My partner is 34 years younger than me and we are often mistaken (of course) as father and son. When it would "bring something to the table" to correct that, we do. Otherwise not. We have traveled together in Cuba, Russia and Asia with no difficulty. Far from it. Thank you for all you do !

  29. ken Guest

    A great introspective article laced with the personal experiences. I applaud your ability to assess when and where to be open with your sexuality, yet show some reserve when you feel it is necessary. Undoubtedly it's bit of a balancing act.

  30. Pari S Guest

    I’ve had the privilege to live and work in many of the destinations (as a hotelier) you have mentioned here. In all of these places Bahrain, Seychelles, Dubai what you said about respecting local customs is true and more importantly it is your discretion to understand where being out is sensible and where it isn’t. Local people I’ve found are very tolerant as long as it’s not making the general atmosphere awkward for them and...

    I’ve had the privilege to live and work in many of the destinations (as a hotelier) you have mentioned here. In all of these places Bahrain, Seychelles, Dubai what you said about respecting local customs is true and more importantly it is your discretion to understand where being out is sensible and where it isn’t. Local people I’ve found are very tolerant as long as it’s not making the general atmosphere awkward for them and in turn you as well. I’ve never had a problem being myself where I can and funny enough the bed question has been an interesting topic of helping the staff understand LGBT people. Once they know about it, they don’t treat you any different than other guests. You are for them, simply put a guest/customer.

  31. Stuart Goldman Guest

    Thank you for sharing. It’S sad that there are still countries and people who don’t understand we are all the same. I have been married to my wife Debbie for 36 years and we have raised our children to understand we are all the same. I enjoy reading your blog .

  32. FLLFYER Guest

    Great read Ben - thanks for your candor and insights. I have experienced similar issues as you but never anything blatantly homophobic - then again i have never been in the Middle East, but throughout Europe, Asia and Latin Am.

    I think it's very important to do your research prior to booking a trip. I would not want to book a week at Sandals in Jamaica for example as it would be uncomfortable. (They didn't...

    Great read Ben - thanks for your candor and insights. I have experienced similar issues as you but never anything blatantly homophobic - then again i have never been in the Middle East, but throughout Europe, Asia and Latin Am.

    I think it's very important to do your research prior to booking a trip. I would not want to book a week at Sandals in Jamaica for example as it would be uncomfortable. (They didn't allow same-sex couples a few years ago anyhow - not sure if this has changed). Having traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean for work, I can tell you that it is a very homophobic region - albeit with a few exceptions.

    Remember the old tagline - Know before you go!

  33. D3kingg Guest

    Yesterday I voted in the Texas Primaries and as a registered Republican there was a ridiculous prop suggesting the outlaw of transgender sex change procedures and I voted no. That prop was nonsense and has no chance of ever passing. I have no problem with people being LGBTQ+.

    I lived paycheck to paycheck most of my life and gay people were always upbeat people and good tippers in the hospitality business. In the 90s...

    Yesterday I voted in the Texas Primaries and as a registered Republican there was a ridiculous prop suggesting the outlaw of transgender sex change procedures and I voted no. That prop was nonsense and has no chance of ever passing. I have no problem with people being LGBTQ+.

    I lived paycheck to paycheck most of my life and gay people were always upbeat people and good tippers in the hospitality business. In the 90s I would laugh just in general it was funny not at them but for example if they ordered a cosmopolitan with pineapple juice instead of cranberry juice lol

    I also think it’s funny that Stewie Griffin is gay and in a serious relationship with his stuffed animal Rupert.

  34. Leigh Gold

    Just to add another perspective...that of a single and mostly solo international gay traveler. I always embrace the local cultures of the countries I go to; why else would you want to travel? What I find awkward, however, are the kind folks who ask about my family "back at home", the wife and kids, and why they aren't with me. The questions are always out of kindness and friendliness, and I always quickly revert to...

    Just to add another perspective...that of a single and mostly solo international gay traveler. I always embrace the local cultures of the countries I go to; why else would you want to travel? What I find awkward, however, are the kind folks who ask about my family "back at home", the wife and kids, and why they aren't with me. The questions are always out of kindness and friendliness, and I always quickly revert to talking about my nieces and nephews...but it is tiring, as I don't feel the need to respond to them that I'm gay.

  35. Faygala Guest

    My husband is quite a bit younger looking. We struck up a conversation with a woman on the tram in Istanbul. She asked “is this your son”?. I answered “No he’s my husband” and showed her my wedding band. She was speechless and scurried to get off at the very next stop.

    1. Co-stan-za Guest

      For some reason this story reminds me of the Seinfeld episode set on the subway when Elaine was on her way to the lesbian wedding. (A lot has changed since the mid-90s...)

  36. JJ Guest

    I'm in a similar situation with my husband. I'm not a travel blogger, but honestly could be with all of the places I have been - mainly alone for work. When I travel with my husband, we aren't ashamed of who we are, but also don't make it blatantly obvious that we are gay. I think there is a happy medium here. There is certainly a difference between traveling together in Amsterdam vs. Doha, but...

    I'm in a similar situation with my husband. I'm not a travel blogger, but honestly could be with all of the places I have been - mainly alone for work. When I travel with my husband, we aren't ashamed of who we are, but also don't make it blatantly obvious that we are gay. I think there is a happy medium here. There is certainly a difference between traveling together in Amsterdam vs. Doha, but we've been very lucky (no pun intended) that we have never run into any issues anywhere. My general philosophy is to answer any question honestly and feel free to elaborate when someone is inquisitive, but not proactively share stuff that I probably wouldn't share here at home traveling domestically. The fact is that most employees of larger international hospitality brands either are gay, know someone that is gay, or are exposed to gay travelers, so it shouldn't be a complete shock.

  37. walester New Member

    As an eldergay in a very long relationship, I have spent the majority of my adult years working for an international health organization that operates in the poorer countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Experience has taught me that despite the advances made in the West (developed world), you really need to be discrete when visiting some of the countries where I work. In many countries in Africa, for instance, even at international hotel...

    As an eldergay in a very long relationship, I have spent the majority of my adult years working for an international health organization that operates in the poorer countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Experience has taught me that despite the advances made in the West (developed world), you really need to be discrete when visiting some of the countries where I work. In many countries in Africa, for instance, even at international hotel chains or high-end resorts, we might opt for two beds instead of our preferred King bed. I’m lucky because I often have a local office with staff who understand my situation and can advise me. I’ve seen first-hand the violence that can be focused on gay men and women. So, I’ll continue to default to “cautious, but hopeful” and wait for the rest of the world to catch up with us.

  38. Simon Guest

    My Husband and I travel a lot (not as much as you but we do as much as we can). I try to check the Gov.Uk website which states the level of danger for gay people to travel to certain countries. A lot of the times rules state you can visit as a Gay Man but not live in the country as one.

    One example was Morocco which was one of my favourite trips...

    My Husband and I travel a lot (not as much as you but we do as much as we can). I try to check the Gov.Uk website which states the level of danger for gay people to travel to certain countries. A lot of the times rules state you can visit as a Gay Man but not live in the country as one.

    One example was Morocco which was one of my favourite trips of all time. No one asked no one made comments we went about our Holliday and went shopping in markets with no issues and people were overly friendly.

    I think how we act ourselves and respect peoples beliefs makes a difference. But there are some countries I personally wouldn’t visit as and Russia has always been on that list as much as I’d love to visit and see the sights and enjoy the cultural aspects.

  39. Adi89 New Member

    Very mature reflections. Particularly around the perspectives on non-western cultures and social laws. LGBT communities and social circles in the west are often extremely critical and quick to judge eastern cultures/countries around stuff like this without taking into account these nuances, so it's nice to see such rational and accommodative thinking (saying this as a brown, ethnically Asian, European immigrant in the US that is also LGBT...)

  40. HJay2020 Member

    Thank you so much for writing this thoughtful article. I have often wondered what this experience has been like, as I have many gay friends who travel and I worry about them, and also you! It can be tiresome to constantly be educating others about these things, so I am hesitant to ask, and appreciate your taking the time to do this and your openness. Great job all the way around!

    1. foo blah Guest

      i was going to say the same, but you said it better!

  41. SINJim Guest

    Ben brings up a great point about long-standing laws and the enforcement of said laws. These situations apply to all parts of life, not just one's private life, and in the United States as well.

    This blog has previously attracted negative comments from readers with respect to Singapore, a nation that officially has a law against male to male sexual interaction (but not female to female).

    Just this week, the highest court was...

    Ben brings up a great point about long-standing laws and the enforcement of said laws. These situations apply to all parts of life, not just one's private life, and in the United States as well.

    This blog has previously attracted negative comments from readers with respect to Singapore, a nation that officially has a law against male to male sexual interaction (but not female to female).

    Just this week, the highest court was examining whether the law should be struck down based on its (un)constitutionality. While the court found that it was not unconstitutional, they did find that it was unenforceable.

    Here is a quote and a link to a Reuters story on the court's decision:

    "SINGAPORE, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Singapore's highest court on Monday dismissed a challenge by three gay rights activists against a law criminalising sex between men, ruling that since authorities did not enforce the law it did not breach plaintiffs' constitutional rights.

    The Court of Appeal's ruling follows emboldened efforts to get rid of the colonial-era law by activists after India scrapped similar legislation four years ago. Previous challenges in the socially conservative city-state in 2020 and 2014 also failed.

    The activists who brought the latest challenge against the rarely used law, under which offenders can be jailed for up to two years, included a retired doctor, a DJ and a former director of a non-profit group.

    In a written judgment, Singapore's Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said that although the law, known as Section 377A, had "long been a lightning rod for polarisation" the court did not find a breach of the constitution.

    The law was "unenforceable" because Singapore authorities do not plan to prosecute gay sex and thus would not deprive a person of the right to life or personal liberty under Article 9 of Singapore's constitution, Menon said."

    https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/singapores-top-court-dismisses-attempt-overturn-gay-sex-ban-2022-02-28/

    I think Singapore is a perfect example of what Ben was noting about other countries, particularly in the Middle East.

    It is a positive step towards the finish line...a finish line which many countries have not yet reached.

  42. Neal Z Guest

    Add me to list of gay men who won’t travel to anywhere in the Middle East except Israel. As a gay Jew, it would be insane for me to go to a country where the laws - both relating to my religion and my sexual orientation - are Neanderthal. Whether they are routinely enforced or not, as long as they’re on the books, they still CAN be enforced at the discretion of someone other than me. I’ll spend my money elsewhere.

  43. kels2003 Member

    Thanks for this great post Lucky. As a gay woman I feel like my wife and I have it easy. We are always asked "are you friends or sisters?" and almost everyone assumes we are on a girls' trip, there's no question with one bed, etc. In places that have questionable laws or views, we always prefer to pass as friends, given that we have to be careful as women traveling alone anyway. We wear...

    Thanks for this great post Lucky. As a gay woman I feel like my wife and I have it easy. We are always asked "are you friends or sisters?" and almost everyone assumes we are on a girls' trip, there's no question with one bed, etc. In places that have questionable laws or views, we always prefer to pass as friends, given that we have to be careful as women traveling alone anyway. We wear our wedding rings and when people ask "are you married?" the answer is yes! And they assume our husbands are back home. This usually makes inquiring men leave us alone.

    I know it might seem disingenuous to some, but traveling like this has opened the world for us, and for that I'm grateful. I can say that when we trust a guide or someone we interact a lot with, we will often come clean. Safety first to enjoy our vacation, connection when possible.

  44. DAVID FAGAN Guest

    About 6 years ago we spent an amazing few weeks in Iran. My husband and I (not married then as Australia did not allow us to/not married now because we don't need to) have never felt safer--incredibly warm, open people, super friendly and curious as to what the world thought of them. We booked a two-bedroom apartment in Tehran but only ever used one of the rooms and the second room remained obviously unused ---apart...

    About 6 years ago we spent an amazing few weeks in Iran. My husband and I (not married then as Australia did not allow us to/not married now because we don't need to) have never felt safer--incredibly warm, open people, super friendly and curious as to what the world thought of them. We booked a two-bedroom apartment in Tehran but only ever used one of the rooms and the second room remained obviously unused ---apart from our luggage on the bed. The only time we have felt at all "awkward" was when we drive around the west coast of the USA and stayed in a small private hotel somewhere where we managed to fight off managements determination to have us stay in separate rooms. Oh, and the time we took my mother to Los Angeles and when we checked into the room it had only one bed for the three of us. Mum and I went to the front desk and she said "This may be West Hollywood but there is no way I am sleeping in the same bed as my son and his husband." But that's a different story :-)

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      I want to hang out with your mom! :)

  45. Ron Mexico Guest

    Wow—bravo. You are a very thoughtful, analytical, introspective (and at times self serving) writer. As we all are. But, your for most part transparency and honesty is what keeps me coming back to your blog. I’ve been doing this “miles thing” since the mid nineties.
    You are a good egg Ben.
    Bravo.

  46. Mary S Guest

    "It’s important to be out and unapologetic"

    @Lucky - I think that was most meaningful and direct to the point.

    Good article all around.

  47. TonyM Guest

    My husband and I really don't put too much into changing our behavior when traveling. But, as you said, staying in international branded hotels makes a difference when it comes to how you're treated. We can't say that even in smaller boutique type hotels or resorts that we've been looked at differently. I guess we've been fortunate to have had acceptable, to our standards, reactions when we're checking into a hotel with just the one...

    My husband and I really don't put too much into changing our behavior when traveling. But, as you said, staying in international branded hotels makes a difference when it comes to how you're treated. We can't say that even in smaller boutique type hotels or resorts that we've been looked at differently. I guess we've been fortunate to have had acceptable, to our standards, reactions when we're checking into a hotel with just the one bed in the room. Thankfully the world is becoming more accepting.....but we still have a ways to go.

  48. docntx Guest

    Thank you so very much.
    Maybe it is not my place, but, I find myself worrying about your travels in "gray" places in terms of how they follow their laws, and, how they might to arbitrarily apply a law or rule that is on the books, but usually not applied.
    Intolerance lives unfortunately, even in the 21st Century.

    1. HJay2020 Member

      I have also worried!

  49. Nadia Guest

    Hi Lucky--Any thoughts about being an out trans woman in these countries? I pass, but my voice does not, and so I worry that going to places like UAE or Oman might still land me in trouble

    1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      I think you may have some issues in some Western Countries as well to be honest. Latin America, Africa, parts of Asia, not just the ME. Be careful, and I would travel with a companion/friend too. Safe Travels!

  50. Rob Guest

    Funny the only place we ever had a problem was Marriott Seoul Korea. They refused to allow me, Lounge access without my husband who is platinum elite. We even spoke to the manager. My husband called Bethesda MD Marriott WHQ that night, lol. It was rectified in the am with many apologies. Not a place where we expected an issue but the franchisee was not fully onboard with corporate policy.

  51. David Guest

    As a gay married couple, I can tell you we were *much* more comfortable and accepted in Dubai, Moscow, and Beirut than we ever were in Dallas, Tulsa, and Jacksonville. In Tulsa we were physically threatened while having dinner. There are far worse places in the United States than in other countries.

    1. UA-NYC Diamond

      Yeah the MAGA cultists don't like things these days that make them "uncomfortable", like LGBTQ and BIPOC...easier for them to just ban books and write discriminatory laws.

  52. jakrobb New Member

    Great post, Ben. I echo many of your thoughts and the great comments here. My husband and I have been lucky enough to travel much of the world, and I have to say for the most part I don't give a lot of thought to how to plan our trips from the perspective of being a gay couple. On occasion, we've perhaps been careful in our interactions with others when we thought it for the...

    Great post, Ben. I echo many of your thoughts and the great comments here. My husband and I have been lucky enough to travel much of the world, and I have to say for the most part I don't give a lot of thought to how to plan our trips from the perspective of being a gay couple. On occasion, we've perhaps been careful in our interactions with others when we thought it for the best.

    The only really awkward experience we've had was checking into a 5-star hotel in Abu Dhabi. We had reserved one bed and the desk agent was insisting this was not possible. I politely stood my ground and after a few moments a manager stepped in, very quickly and politely resolved the matter for us, and even sent a bottle of wine to our room.

    As you and others have said, coming out can feel exhausting and never-ending! As a consultant / road warrior type for most of my career, I'm regularly working with new companies, teams, people. So on one hand I'm used to it but other times I get a little tired of the half-beat that can happen when I mention my husband. Mostly it's just amusing to me. As you wrote, it's incredibly important to be out and unapologetic.

  53. mike Guest

    Another gay guy married here. I won't visit countries where the law is death or jail time for LGBTQ people. There are enough places in the world that have appealed those laws that I would rather award them. Plus, I'd rather go where I can avoid uncomfortable situations. I know there are many places in the world from Costa Rica and St. Barths to Israel where I'd receive the same welcome.

  54. Ray Guest

    ROFL at the comment the Singaporean masseuse made to you

  55. Andy Diamond

    Being gay (but not married) I think that most importantly it depends on circumstances. In many muslim countries, even hetero couples showing their afection in public are frowned upon, so it's probably better not to disturb the locals with overly explicit behaviour. And perhaps, if your boyfried is not so travel experienced, it's better to manage expectations beforehand. On the other hand side, I never had an issue staying in a room with one bed.

  56. Matt Guest

    This is really thoughtful, thanks for sharing. I have traveled internationally as a same sex couple to many places and I appreciate your comments about coming out being exhausting and never-ending. It's particularly difficult and confusing with travel with all of the language/cultural/religious barriers." The only time we were ever heckled for being gay was in Barbados, and I've heard generally that the British Caribbean islands (particularly Jamaica) can be challenging (obviously not at large...

    This is really thoughtful, thanks for sharing. I have traveled internationally as a same sex couple to many places and I appreciate your comments about coming out being exhausting and never-ending. It's particularly difficult and confusing with travel with all of the language/cultural/religious barriers." The only time we were ever heckled for being gay was in Barbados, and I've heard generally that the British Caribbean islands (particularly Jamaica) can be challenging (obviously not at large hotels and resorts, however).

    One thing I am curious about - I do find that when traveling as a gay couple there are some random "judgement calls" where you aren't sure whether to just say your friends or lovers. No one wants a trip or experience ruined by a homophobic encounter. I'm curious to know how often you do this, and how do you weigh when to live out and proud and when to just deflect to avoid any conflict?

  57. Rich Guest

    My husband and i also travel often and pretty much follow the same "rules" as you. We are always out but never obnoxious. I never hide who he is, or who i am to him, but we dont make it a show or over the top. On an interesting side note the places where we have had to tone it down the most are in rural America (Kentucky, Georgia, etc) when driving a car cross...

    My husband and i also travel often and pretty much follow the same "rules" as you. We are always out but never obnoxious. I never hide who he is, or who i am to him, but we dont make it a show or over the top. On an interesting side note the places where we have had to tone it down the most are in rural America (Kentucky, Georgia, etc) when driving a car cross country (Florida to the Midwest). Parts of America can scare me much more than Asia or the Middle East.

    The first time we went to Dubai i was worried as we had heard so much from people. I quickly learned Dubai = Las Vegas.

  58. Cobber Guest

    A timely reminder for our straight and allied friends of the thinking we need to do before we travel anywhere. It’s a challenge they will never need to face. Many of the former British colonies still have harsh colonial anti gay laws on their statute books - Sri Lanka is one, but a recent trip there highlighted the difference between laws and day to day experience for visitors.

  59. Desperado Guest

    Lucky - Thanks for this post. As a straight male, I’d never even thought of many of the considerations you mentioned in the article.

    Insightful post for sure and I really respect your openness to understanding other cultures stance on same sex couples (whether we agree with them or not).

    I’m 34 years old and proud of how far the United States has come in terms of fully accepting and supporting same sex...

    Lucky - Thanks for this post. As a straight male, I’d never even thought of many of the considerations you mentioned in the article.

    Insightful post for sure and I really respect your openness to understanding other cultures stance on same sex couples (whether we agree with them or not).

    I’m 34 years old and proud of how far the United States has come in terms of fully accepting and supporting same sex couples and marriage. I understand we still have ignorant people, but also recognize we’ve come a long way.

    Bottom line: As long as no harm is being done to others, why do I care who someone loves? Who someone marries? Everyone should be entitled to enjoy this short time we have on earth however we see fit.

  60. Andrew Guest

    This is a great, thoughtful post. Good job, Lucky!

  61. Joshua Guest

    I also have traveled extensively both with and without my same-sex partner to various countries. As you noted I try to read and be as educated as possible, and overall am more cautious about room bookings / PDA in certain countries. I also am traveling to Egypt in less than a month with friends (some gay others straight), and we are taking a more conservative approach (everyone gets their own bed) both for safety but...

    I also have traveled extensively both with and without my same-sex partner to various countries. As you noted I try to read and be as educated as possible, and overall am more cautious about room bookings / PDA in certain countries. I also am traveling to Egypt in less than a month with friends (some gay others straight), and we are taking a more conservative approach (everyone gets their own bed) both for safety but also to limit comments/questions. As you noted and others have commented the laws and situation in each country is nuanced, and not so black and white. Furthermore, there are many places in the US that I don't feel comfortable traveling to as well.

  62. CF_Frost Member

    The biggest challenge regarding laws is that it's usually not a problem until it unpredictably becomes an issue.

  63. Michael Guest

    Been married and together a long time, but we're still cautious depending upon the destinations we visited like UAE, Turkey, Poland. More out in W. Europe, some of Asia, and the US. And it also still depends upon the vibe I'm feeling from a place, regardless of official laws.

  64. steven kapellas Guest

    How do you adjust to PDA or say a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant. I’m going to sit across the table from my friend but sit next to my husband at the restaurant.

    Love everything about your blog.

  65. Joe Guest

    First of all, in whatever country you are, you should feel safe and free to express your own sexuality, that being said, you can't shout out to every place you go that you are gay. Why, becaus it is a personal matter. Why would anyone wants to know your personality in the first place??. Only those gays who are obviously showing it with their clothes, their attitudes etc. are often judged by that first impression.

    First of all, in whatever country you are, you should feel safe and free to express your own sexuality, that being said, you can't shout out to every place you go that you are gay. Why, becaus it is a personal matter. Why would anyone wants to know your personality in the first place??. Only those gays who are obviously showing it with their clothes, their attitudes etc. are often judged by that first impression.
    It is a difficult situation, because their are still traditional values or archaic cultures in some societes in the world in which you still have prejudices towards men behaving too much in a femine way etc.
    Here men are seen to be the fathers, the strong man who provides for their families and less the dependent femine one in the family. And especially in these strict societes being gay means hiding it because they fear of being rejected and even killed by society. There is still a long way ahead in fighting those prejudices and paving the way that either men or women can choose and live freely in the way they feel.

    1. GBOAC Diamond

      I'm sorry but I'm tired of hearing tropes such a same sex-couple walking down a street hand-in-hand is "Shouting out that you are gay" while a straight couple doing the same is perfectly normal and not particularly noticed.. I'm also tired of hearing that gay men "behave too much in a feminine way".

  66. Brian-EWA New Member

    Fellow married gay couple here, and we've never had any truly awkward experiences when abroad. The closest was at an independent hotel in Beijing when the front desk was adamant that our lesbian travel companions needed two beds but left us alone. (I suspect room type was what made them leave us alone as there weren't two-bed types in the category we booked.)

    We're going to the Maldives later this year and planning a stopover...

    Fellow married gay couple here, and we've never had any truly awkward experiences when abroad. The closest was at an independent hotel in Beijing when the front desk was adamant that our lesbian travel companions needed two beds but left us alone. (I suspect room type was what made them leave us alone as there weren't two-bed types in the category we booked.)

    We're going to the Maldives later this year and planning a stopover in either Singapore or Dubai (or maybe both if award space means two one-ways on different airlines) and have talked about the two-bed situation and are still undecided. Husband is Jewish and is actually more concerned about that ruffling feathers versus our sharing a bed. I'm also not opposed to having my separate sleeping space. We've been married/together for sixteen years, so a few nights without my covers being stolen sounds kind of nice.

    1. Faygala Guest

      People in Dubai and Singapore aren’t tuned into who is Jewish or not Jewish

  67. Jimbo Guest

    Was gonna comment about being an LGBT Saudi citizen, but I’ve come to realize that very few actually care about that specific lived experience.
    Even within the LGBT community, people aren’t interested in anything beyond “your country is horrible”.

    Nice post though.

    1. DenB Diamond

      I'll never forget the look on my saudi boyfriend's face after I made a particularly stereotypical remark about public executions of gay men, when he looked at me with patient, kind disdain and said "Grindr works just fine in Jeddah". It opened a dialogue and I've learned a great deal about gay Saudi life, which is not preferable to that of Toronto where I live, but which is not the caricature we're fed. Nuance, nuance,...

      I'll never forget the look on my saudi boyfriend's face after I made a particularly stereotypical remark about public executions of gay men, when he looked at me with patient, kind disdain and said "Grindr works just fine in Jeddah". It opened a dialogue and I've learned a great deal about gay Saudi life, which is not preferable to that of Toronto where I live, but which is not the caricature we're fed. Nuance, nuance, nuance. Speaking of nuance, your final sentence should say "many" people or if you're in a bad mood, try "most" and be prepared for pushback. Saudi Arabia is on my bucket list and I have a wonderful guide. Maybe we'll have 2 beds in our rooms.

    2. Clem Diamond

      Those are all really good points, and great insights. The problem is when visiting a country for the first time, it's just so hard to know how much of a gap there can be between the stuff you can read and research online, and the reality on the ground. Hence why I tend to approach things on the "safer" side, and then I can still relax about it if things turn out to be much easier than anticipated.

    3. Jimbo Guest

      It takes a certain level of open-mindedness to decide to learn about a place Vs just going with what you’ve been told over and over again.

      I get it, it’s had a negative reputation for decades and that can’t change overnight, add to that some questionable political moves in the past few years and it’s understandable why people may be cautious (a lot of which I’m opposed to).

      The Gulf countries all get a pass...

      It takes a certain level of open-mindedness to decide to learn about a place Vs just going with what you’ve been told over and over again.

      I get it, it’s had a negative reputation for decades and that can’t change overnight, add to that some questionable political moves in the past few years and it’s understandable why people may be cautious (a lot of which I’m opposed to).

      The Gulf countries all get a pass in that department, Saudi Arabia being the one exception (in spite of all the similarities they share).

      We’ve come to accept that.

    4. Aaron Guest

      "Grindr works just fine in Jeddah"

      If you have a VPN. Otherwise...

    5. mdande7 Diamond

      I hung out with a gay Saudi a few years back. He taught me a lot. How he balanced being gay with his family with his (still devout) religion. When I talked to him about how a pilgrimage to Mecca looked like pure hell to me, I had to explain that I would be freaked out with that many people everywhere, not that it's religious (even though I am not). We both learned and pushed each other. Frankly, that is why I travel!

    6. Jimbo Guest

      @mdande7

      Isn’t it a lot more interesting to actually talk to someone about that experience than here about it from media? It’s what traveling is all about.

      Thank you for highliting that!

  68. Clem Diamond

    I am also in a same sex marriage, and that topic comes up every now and then. We recently traveled to Anguilla, and the reading I did before about LGBT travelers made it seem like it could be tricky - but we were staying in a high end, international chain hotel so I wasn't really worried about anything and got a room with one bed with no hesitation.

    However, later this year we are...

    I am also in a same sex marriage, and that topic comes up every now and then. We recently traveled to Anguilla, and the reading I did before about LGBT travelers made it seem like it could be tricky - but we were staying in a high end, international chain hotel so I wasn't really worried about anything and got a room with one bed with no hesitation.

    However, later this year we are supposed to go to Egypt, and I decided to only book rooms with 2 beds, just in case. Maybe I'm overreacting, I don't know, but in that case it's a very expensive trip and I just don't want to take any risk that would ruin the trip. There is enough documentation out there that it's not always smooth sailing for LGBT travelers, so I'd rather play it safe. It's not like we are big on PDA or that kind of stuff anyway, so quite frankly the only adjustments we have to make is the 2 beds rooms, and possibly just telling someone we're friends or whatever, if we are even asked.

    So I 100% appreciate your approach, which is to be as open and unapologetic as possible, and most of the time I agree and will act similarly. But sometimes, I honestly just can't be bothered, and pretending to be friends is just quicker and easier. I can count on one hand the number of times I had to do that though.

    1. JetSetGo Guest

      Egypt is fine as long as you are staying at high end hotels. You will be fine at Four Seasons Cairo, Sofitel Luxor, and Sofitel Aswan. No need to get two beds if you are staying at the above three hotels. Just don’t expect Sofitel Luxor to be anything but dusty and tired. Sofitel Aswan, on the other hand, I can stay for a month.

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Just got back from Egypt with my travel buddies, as a perfect little spectrum: gay (me), bi, and straight. None of us would be what most would consider "obvious," but still, we were out to our hotel staff and to our tour guides (you're required to have the latter at all of the major tourist areas; if you don't, you'll be assigned one!) who were some of the greatest people we've ever met, and though...

      Just got back from Egypt with my travel buddies, as a perfect little spectrum: gay (me), bi, and straight. None of us would be what most would consider "obvious," but still, we were out to our hotel staff and to our tour guides (you're required to have the latter at all of the major tourist areas; if you don't, you'll be assigned one!) who were some of the greatest people we've ever met, and though both were straight, they were 100% supportive.

      Absolutely no troubles in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor.

      Had a suite conjoining two rooms, but only single bed in both, in Cairo. No one raised an eye at us.

      Feel fairly confident in telling you that you won't have any troubles at all. :)

    3. Clem Diamond

      Thank you both - this is great to know! Staying indeed at Sofitel Luxor, Aswan and then Four Seasons in Cairo.

  69. Jeff Guest

    Great piece, and I say that as an academic who has written a book about passing (a topic that is related to disclosure, or coming out). Not often I see such thoughtfulness on these travel blogs. I also appreciate your awareness and identification of your privilege. Thank you.

  70. Veldo New Member

    As a gay, married traveler in his mid-twenties, I agree with your sentiment, and try to live my life proudly, yet still travel with caution. I have also been to many "gay-unfriendly" countries, but just use my best judgment when to come out. I understand the struggle of constantly needing to "come out", and being referred to as Ms. whenever I contact hotels and mention my husband. Thank you for providing your voice to the...

    As a gay, married traveler in his mid-twenties, I agree with your sentiment, and try to live my life proudly, yet still travel with caution. I have also been to many "gay-unfriendly" countries, but just use my best judgment when to come out. I understand the struggle of constantly needing to "come out", and being referred to as Ms. whenever I contact hotels and mention my husband. Thank you for providing your voice to the travel community! It is an invaluable resource to all travelers, especially LGBTQ allies.

  71. Veld Guest

    As a gay, and married reader in my mid twenties, your blog has been an inspiration to us and our travel adventures. We have already been to many "gay-unfriendly" countries without issues, just using our best judgment along the way. We are also proud of who we are. Thank you for providing your voice to the travel community!

  72. Rich Guest

    Ben, thanks for this article and the many great points you’ve made.

    I’ve encountered many of the same issues/challenges you have and similarly, I try to read the situation. I don’t get offended and I’m also not out to embarrass anyone.

    I have practiced the most caution in middle eastern countries, but part of that is being respectful of local cultures.

    Discrimination, hate, and violence can—and does—happen everywhere. However, I’m also fortunate to...

    Ben, thanks for this article and the many great points you’ve made.

    I’ve encountered many of the same issues/challenges you have and similarly, I try to read the situation. I don’t get offended and I’m also not out to embarrass anyone.

    I have practiced the most caution in middle eastern countries, but part of that is being respectful of local cultures.

    Discrimination, hate, and violence can—and does—happen everywhere. However, I’m also fortunate to live in a place where I can live openly and for the most part freely. I’ve encountered other gay people in almost every place I’ve visited and oftentimes they do not have the same rights and privileges as I do.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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GBOAC Diamond

I'm sorry but I'm tired of hearing tropes such a same sex-couple walking down a street hand-in-hand is "Shouting out that you are gay" while a straight couple doing the same is perfectly normal and not particularly noticed.. I'm also tired of hearing that gay men "behave too much in a feminine way".

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CF_Frost Member

The biggest challenge regarding laws is that it's usually not a problem until it unpredictably becomes an issue.

8
Andrew Guest

This is a great, thoughtful post. Good job, Lucky!

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