Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Travelling As A Member Of The LGBTQIA+ Community

Now let me start by acknowledging my privilege in that I get to travel. That's not to say I don't work hard to go on trips, I work all of the hours under the sun, but, I still am privileged when it comes to my ability to take the time out to travel etc. Now that's been acknowledged, I want to get into the body of this point; the point, if you will - and that is, travelling as part of the LGBTQIA+ community can be really hard. It's not always hard, and as a white cis femme lesbian with a white cis femme girlfriend, I know that again, this shows a level of privilege above many others; but I want to note the difficulties that we have, as a lesbian couple, travelling to different countries.

I have to say that I have never had an inherently bad experience, in that it was so bad that it ruins my holiday, however - this is something that regularly impacts what we do on holiday, how we act in certain places, and how safe we feel when we are out alone. It's something that I regularly think about when we go to new countries; checking their views on same sex relationships, acknowledgement of marriages etc. That's not to say, however, that we don't travel to these countries, or even that we have faced more prejudice in these than countries that do recognise same sex marriage - but this is an extra step that I feel I need to take to get a full view of our safety in new countries.

There are four holidays that stand out as ones where we faced examples of what I am trying to describe; in a manner of different ways. We have been in Krakow, with parents having their children point, laugh and shout when I pecked Katy on the cheek when adventuring through the city at night, on a subway in Portugal where a woman moved to stand up rather than sit in a seat opposite us, where we regularly faced stares in the street. We have been in a tiny village in Spain where three boys followed us all the way home, shouting about our sexuality in a threatening manner, and in Riga where we had to actively stop ourselves holding hands due to the way they perceive same sex relationships. We have been in situations in many countries where we felt uncomfortable or unsafe due to our sexuality.

LGBTQIA+ relationships are still illegal in more countries than I can begin to list, and in some of those; they're punishable by death. There is a huge chance that in my lifetime, there are so many countries that I will never be able to visit; or at least not with my girlfriend or future wife - there are so many countries that we won't be able to choose to get married in purely because they wouldn't accept it, or the idea of us marrying is considered illegal, the act of us being together is considered illegal. Travelling with Katy is bittersweet; I always want to see the world with the person I love, it's something that is so integrally us, and yet we have to research where we go, be careful, judge reactions to us. We have to put up with thinly veiled homophobia, or sometimes open homophobia, we have to be that slightest bit more careful, purely because we love each other.

This isn't to say I don't enjoy travelling, but this is just to note what travelling can be like for people within the LGBTQIA+ community. As always, though and stories are welcome below.

Sammy xo.


  1. I relate with this a lot. I'm in a similar situation, of course, but my Katy leans more on the masculine end of the spectrum, so while I would never be read as gay on my own (and Katy might be, but could also just be seen as a "tomboy") when you put us together I think it's a lot more obvious. This makes me sad because, for example, I LOVED Marrakech and would gladly go back for a quick trip, but I don't trust myself enough to not slip up and do my normal girlfriend-y things. In fact, last time I was in Marrakech, Katy and I had only recently matched on Tinder and were still using the app to chat. I used the app on the Riad wifi, but I kept thinking like "oh my god, what if there's some sort of tracking, what if this isn't ok, what if I get in trouble." Of course, in most countries it's sodomy that is illegal and lesbians don't typically face as much legal trouble, but it's still always in your mind, isn't it? But yeah, I feel sad when I see people jet off to somewhere like... Dubai and think "Would it ever feel possible for me to go to Dubai?"

  2. This sounds like a massive headache for LGTBQIA+. If two cis hetero women go on holiday together it's fine, but as soon as there might be the notion of a romance between *gasp* it's suddenly NOT OK?! Come on world, wake up!