The "Has Travel Really Broadened Your Mind" thread prompted me to wonder how open to be while traveling.
I'm an open, chill, gay guy and I get along with most people I meet. The majority of my friends are straight and I don't allow my sexuality to label who I am as a person. With that said, I am completely open and out with who I am and, although I don't plan on running around letting everyone I meet know, it would be hard to revert to pretending to be someone I'm not.
The "Has Travel Really Broadened Your Mind?
" thread made me wonder about how broad people's minds really are when traveling or if I'll be forced to pretend that I care about soccer and skimpy bikinis on Aussie chicks.
So my question is do other people go back into the closet while they travel? I haven't done much backpacking and as I plan a 6 month solo trek through SE Asia I figured I would get a feel for what it's like along the backpacking paths.
Anyways, I welcome all responses.
(edit - feel free to move this to another forum - wasn't sure where to post it.)
Hello Jason 😊
I think whether you should hide in the closet or not while travelling depends on which countries you are travelling in. Keeping safe can be more important than being youself. In some countries you may encounter not just silly prejudiced comments but violence and worse. Being gay is a crime punishable by whipping and/or execution in some countries. Even in some of these countries there are underground gay communities which may be worth checking out if you feel it is worth taking that risk.
Be safe. Do as much research as you can about the legal situation for homosexuality and the general attitudes of people in the various countries in order to assess to what extent you can come out of the closet while there.
Before I went to Iran last year I read some of the Iranian constitution. There are different degrees of homosexuality in the constitution with different levels of punishment for each. Being naked under the same roof as another of the same sex is a degree of homosexuality punishable by whipping according to the Iranian consitution. The bathroom in the hostel I was staying in Iran had locks on all the shower and toilet doors. It was also possible to lock the main door of the bathroom. I locked the main door when I went in there because taking a shower in those cramped conditions is a complicated affair for women when we cannot be seen even showing our heads and with no place in the individual shower cubicles to put clothes. After I took off my clothes, an Iranian women started pounding at the main door shouting 'let me in, let me in...' I was going to let her in because there were no other toilets in the building which muslims could use. Then I though about the homosexuality laws and told her I cant let her in. She continued to pound on the door shouting ''let me in....'' . I thought, maybe I should let her in because only one of us is naked so it would probably not be breaking the law so they would not whip me and she seemed to really need to use the bathroom. I peeked out and saw that she was one of those conservative Iranian women, dressed from head to foot in black. I decided to not let her in when I imagined how it would look if I was discovered naked with a woman like that. She did not speak English so plenty of opportunity for misunderstandings.... People in Iran already think that Western women have no morals.... Well, I didnt let her in. Better safe than sorry.
Thanks for the heads up Mel. I recently watched a documentary on gay men in Iran trying to immigrate to the US. It was pretty sad stuff. They all had friends who mysteriously disappeared or were arrested and they were all receiving threatening e-mails and letters. Makes me realize how fortunate I am to live in a country where I can be myself.
I'm not flambouyant so I think I'll just keep it to myself for the most part. I'm not into gay clubs or anything like that. Was just kind of wondering how other travelers generally react. Since I'm going solo I'm hoping to meet people along the way to travel with for a while. I'm sure there will be plenty of people along the way who won't care. I just wanna see as much of SE Asia as I can in the 6 months I'll be there.
Thanks again for the response!
Great question. I think that you should just be yourself and completely honest with the other travellers you meet. I am sure that the majority of people will be friendly and not have another thought about your orientation. As in life in general, if someone does have a problem with you being gay they are not worth knowing.
I think that travellers in general are a little more broad minded than the average population as well which can only help.
Have a great trip!
Thanks for the response Ruth!
I'll just err on the side of caution if in doubt. As you mentioned, those who are too narrow-minded to care about someone's orientation are generally not the type of person I would want to spend much time around anyway.
Just read through some of your blog. Sounds like you're having a great time! Hope all continues to go well on your travels (and no more missing wallets!!)
Im a gay traveller and have wondered the same thing as you many times. If I am ever cautious I just dont really mention it. But you will not have a problem in SE Asia, there quite tolerant and it can be very fun for a gay man. Just dont show public emotion and stuff, but that goes for straight couples as well. Backpackers really are some of the most liberal people in the world so you really have no need to be cautious for the most part.
For what my experience as a straight backpacker is worth - Mell and the Travelling Turtle have summarised it pretty well. I don't think you'll encounter many issues with fellow backpackers at all, and as long as you remember that in many countries homosexual acts are still at least technically illegal (so be discreet but not paranoid...), you'll be fine. Enjoy...6 Months??!! I'm envious!!
Hi Jay, I came across your entry because I literally typed "to be or not to be gay whilst backpacking" into Google - I have recently decided to take a year off and go travelling before hitting 30 myself next year. It's definitely a consideration I'll be making when heading off - I really want to meet decent people on my travels and don't want my sexuality to be an issue. As you said, I too am not defined by being gay. Anyway - thanks for the post - I'll take it as it comes. Happy travelling
I just got back from backpacking Glacier National Park for a week, and I have to say it was awesome beyond comprehension. At one point alone at the top of a high medow (about 9,000 feet up) a herd of Rocky Mountain Sheep walked right through me! It was an amazing experience, but it was also sad--sad becauase there was no one there to share it with me. I don't know a single gay guy who enjoys doing what I enjoy. Whenever I bring up how much I love outdoor adventure and backpacking in particular to gay guys, they either look at me like I'm crazy, or they scream "I love to camp!" and then they go on and on about this "cool" gay campground in Michigant or Maryland where they have discos in the barn, etc. Um, not my thing. And when I do come across gay backpackers, they are almost all into the "backpack across europe" thing. Again, not quite what I'm going for. I'm a very "straight acting" mainstreamed gay guy, not into the herd mentality, tend to be more politically middle to conservative, I'm about as typical in the gay world as a grizzly bear is in downtown Miami. is it possible that I'm the only mainstream type gay guy in the world who could live in Alaska's bush? I could live hiking up and down the Continental Divide. I think there is no more awesome place on earth than the western US. How many gay guys would rather be in Paris or London rather than Utah or Montana? For me being gay is like a punishment from an angry god. It sucks! I'm destine to roam alone the peaks of North American continent.
Hello Mark 😊
I met a gay Dutch guy in the desert in Egypt. Not many travellers go there. In fact he and one other were the only backpackers I met while there. So, I dont think all gay backpackers are the ''backpack accross Europe'' types.
But, I think you will find that not only fewer gay people go off the beaten track, but also fewer heteros. I get some pretty annoying comments from people who dont love travelling as much as I do. In fact, the only people who understand are the ones who do travel like I do. Gay or straight has nothing to do with it.
And I met two gay women, on my recent trip to India. It is travel I had in common with them, and not sexual orientation. If I were you Mark, I would think of the people you want to connect with while travelling as travellers, rather than gay or straight.
For me being gay is like a punishment from an angry god. It sucks!
I sometimes think it would be a real nuisance to be gay, because everybody I meet would presume I am straight. Straight people dont have the breaking the news thing, because it is widely taken for granted that people are straight.
Thismay sound like a stupid question but when you book hostel accomodation as a gay person are youmore inclined to choose a unisex room or a male room. I only ask because I wonder if some men would get the wrong idea about your reasons for selecting a male only room?
I think, only the most narrow minded men, would presume that a gay man is in a male dorm for anything other than sleeping. There are other opportunities for them to meet men or to look at them, or whatever.
Yeah you'd think so wouldn't you. But then again I've met some very homophobic people unfortunately.
hello ! im soon off round india with 2 good mates, basicaly im wondering indeed how gay to be lol! i know its agaist the law there but if you spoke to me or saw me it wouldnt be aprent unless you super hot :P any adivce to give ?
If it's against the law my advice is to simply stay celebate while you're there! It's not worth risking is it?
well this is all based on nuthing realy :P i never been to india only read a few things on the tinter net.... any one whos atachaly been to india and is gay could offer there exspirances ?
or any gay indians on this site ? :D
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8129836.stm infact this answers most my worrys 😊 dont worry i wont be running around with a hand bag we dont all conform to stero types 😊