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A Guide to Traveling the World As A Queer Globetrotter

An adventurous dive into the intricate tapestry of global cultures, the humor and humanity we find, and the unique challenges faced when traveling the world as a queer individual.

By Nathan ChenPublished 6 months ago 6 min read
A Guide to Traveling the World As A Queer Globetrotter
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

In my bag, a medley of vibrant scarves, travel guides, and an openness to appreciate the world's cultural mosaic, I've crisscrossed continents, broadening my perspectives, and collecting a suitcase-full of stories along the way. Each destination adds a new patchwork to my queer traveler's quilt. Every journey holds countless tales - some are laughter-inducing, others are emotionally charged, and a few are challenging in a way that only fellow queer travelers might understand.

There I was, squinting in the bright, tropical sunlight of the Philippines, sipping fresh coconut juice, and observing the vibrant colors of Jeepneys passing by. A local vendor - an elderly lady with a heartwarming smile - noticed my rainbow pin on the backpack. Recognizing the symbol, she gave me an encouraging nod, a gesture that spoke volumes about the acceptance I've found in unexpected corners of the world.

Thailand, famous for its idyllic beaches, awe-inspiring temples, and spicy food, was no different. It surprised me with a dose of humor during a cultural performance in Bangkok. As I found myself on stage, draped in traditional Thai clothes, I knew my two left feet had met their match. Dancing wasn't my forte, but who could resist the infectious laughter of the crowd? That moment was a funny testament to the fact that travel experiences aren't just about the places we see, but the cultural interactions we engage in and the memories we create.

Humor aside, traveling as a queer individual has its share of challenges, and sometimes, it can feel like walking a tightrope. The world is a mosaic, not just of diverse cultures, but of varying acceptance levels. What is seen as a symbol of pride in one country might not be understood or accepted in another.

In Russia, for instance, the attitude towards LGBTQ+ people is quite different from the friendly nods and smiling faces I experienced in the Philippines or Thailand. In such places, one must tread carefully. But these experiences, though challenging, help you grow and understand the world better, weaving an intriguing narrative of our shared humanity.

Education, I believe, is our greatest tool. To navigate these varying cultural landscapes, equip yourself with knowledge about the countries you're visiting. It's critical to understand their societal norms, laws, and attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community. Also, seeking out local queer-friendly spaces and events can serve as an enriching dimension to your travel itinerary.

When I look back at my travels, I see a rich tapestry of human connections. The friends I've made, the cultures I've experienced, and the world I've seen through the queer lens have all contributed to this colorful journey.

Every journey has its moments of hilarity. Remember that scene in 'The Hangover 2' where they wake up in Bangkok with no memory of the previous night's revelry? While I can't vouch for the accuracy of such cinematic depictions, I can confirm that a night in the city can be unpredictably fun. Without disclosing too many details, let's just say I ended up on a Tuk-Tuk, belting out a spirited rendition of ABBA's 'Dancing Queen' with newfound friends. It wasn't quite a Hollywood movie, but boy, was it a night to remember!

But, for all its light-hearted moments, my travels have also shown me the depth of human kindness and the strength of the global queer community. In countries like Uganda, where homosexuality is considered a crime, I've seen the resilience of LGBTQ+ people. Their courage in the face of adversity is profoundly inspiring. In the Middle East, where public displays of homosexuality can be met with severe penalties, I've witnessed the power of quiet solidarity.

It's in these moments, these encounters with the various shades of human experiences, that I find my sense of purpose as a queer traveler rekindled. Every laugh, every struggle, every step on this journey of exploration and self-discovery is a chance to broaden my understanding of the world, and the diverse individuals who inhabit it.

Remember, no two journeys are the same, just like no two individuals are alike. We all carry our own experiences, identities, and perspectives. As queer travelers, we carry our stories, our pride, and our resilience with us. We venture out into the world not just to explore its landscapes, but to engage with its people and cultures, to challenge our own assumptions, and to be ambassadors for understanding and acceptance.

Before I leave you to your own adventures, I want to leave you with one last nugget of advice. Sometimes, traveling as a queer individual can feel daunting. But remember, our strength lies in our community. Reach out, connect, and support each other. There are numerous resources available for queer travelers - from online communities to travel agencies that specialize in LGBTQ+ travel. They can provide valuable insights, safety tips, and suggestions for queer-friendly destinations and experiences.

As a queer traveler, I've learned that my journey isn't just about the places I visit or the sights I see. It's about the people I meet, the stories I hear, and the understanding I gain. It's about the world I explore and the world that, in turn, explores me.

We might have our differences, our unique quirks and identities, but as a wise green alien from a galaxy far, far away once said, "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter." We are, indeed, beings of light, love, and experience, each illuminating the world in our own distinctive way.

By Oliver Sjöström on Unsplash

I remember my time in Japan, a country where tradition marries modernity, creating a fascinating culture. While visiting a local hot spring, an 'Onsen', I was faced with a surprising challenge. How do you explain to a polite, elderly Japanese attendant that you're more comfortable in a mixed-gender Onsen because of your non-binary identity? Well, let's just say that charades took on a whole new level that day. It was a slightly awkward encounter, but one that ended in understanding and acceptance.

Our identities may be complex, sometimes even challenging to express, but they are an integral part of who we are. When we travel, we don't leave them behind; instead, we carry them with us, sharing and learning along the way.

As we navigate through the myriad of cultures, it's equally important to navigate our internal landscapes. Self-care, my friends, is essential. Emotionally, the journey can sometimes be overwhelming. Be gentle with yourself. You're not just a traveler; you're a human being with emotions and needs. If you ever feel homesick or misunderstood, remind yourself that it's okay. These feelings are part of the journey, too.

Now, who remembers that fantastic scene in 'Eat, Pray, Love' where Julia Roberts enjoys a whole pizza by herself in a tiny restaurant in Naples? It's pure bliss, isn't it? It's a reminder to all of us that sometimes, you need to treat yourself. It's a big world out there, with so much to taste, see, and experience. So, don't forget to take a moment and savor the joy of being in the present.

Whether it's relishing a bowl of spicy Tom Yum soup in Thailand, swaying to the beats of Samba in a Brazilian carnival, or just admiring the serene beauty of the Swiss Alps, these experiences are what make our travels memorable. More than that, they make us who we are - explorers, storytellers, and queer individuals with a world of experiences.

This journey is mine, but I'm eager to share it with you. If my tales have sparked joy, laughter, or even a sense of camaraderie, consider buying me a coffee. You can leave a small tip through this link. Your support will not only fuel my writing but will also contribute to this beautiful journey we are embarking on together, a journey that allows us to traverse the world, one story at a time.


About the Creator

Nathan Chen

I'm Nathan Chen, a queer Asian writer advocating for LGBTQ+ issues, Asian representation, millennial lifestyle, work life & mental health. Let's explore life's complexities together!

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