As part of our commitment to publishing LGBTQ travel stories, we are highlighting queer figures making a significant impact in travel media. Each of these individuals has a compelling story to tell and being an LGBTQ traveler has affected them in unique ways–not one experience defines LGBTQ travel. Here are some amazing storytellers changing the world by the bravest action of all: being themselves.

josh rimerJosh Rimer 

Blog/handle: www.joshrimer.com / @JoshRimer 

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Vancouver, BC

When was the first instance that you recognized traveling as LGBTQ was different? Was it a certain moment or event or did you realize it over time?

I think the first time would have been when I was coming out and went to Sydney during Mardi Gras. It was just a coincidence that I went there while that event was going on, but it felt so different to be surrounded by people like me, to feel comfortable at events to fully be myself, to see businesses that wanted to show how welcome I would be in them… it made me realize how different a trip could be depending on LGBTQ-related factors.

The Hiking Husbands

 

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There’s no WiFi in the desert 🌵but it’s often the place where we find the best connection ♥️🏜

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Blog/handle: @thehikinghusbands

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: The arms of Mother Nature

Have you faced any difficulties while traveling because you are LGBTQ?

To be honest, we haven’t yet faced any major difficulties while traveling or out on the hiking trails, which keeps us optimistic. Occasionally, we will get a funny look when checking into a hotel room with only one bed, or when we are taking a photo while holding hands. One time, we had someone pass by us while we were hiking and shortly thereafter yell at the top of their lungs about how marriage is between a man and a woman, ordained of god, etc., but that is about the most egregious action we have encountered.

Nomadic Boys

nomadic boysBlog/handle: www.nomadicboys.com /@nomadicboys

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Bangkok

Do you think the travel industry is becoming more accepting and representational of LGBTQ travelers? Why or why not? 

The travel industry is definitely more and more accepting and representational of LGBTQ travelers, particularly across the Americas, Western Europe, South Africa and Australia/New Zealand. For example, we are so excited now to see campaigns focusing on transgender people and gay families – you wouldn’t have seen this in the gay travel industry a decade ago. 

Why? For one, LGBTQ laws are most progressive in these parts of the world, but also, because these areas of the world have caught on to the fact that the dolly dollar/pink pound is incredibly lucrative; the LGBTQ community generally has more dispensable income and therefore more likely to be looking for luxury experiences. 

Having said that, we remember being told by many hotels in places like Lebanon and in Sri Lanka that they could not collaborate with us because of their country’s respective anti-gay laws. Yet in India, now that homosexuality has been decriminalized after the supreme court decision of 2018, more and more businesses are realizing that the country’s LGBTQ domestic market is immense and are rushing to court it!

onceuponajrnyOnce Upon a Journey

Blog/handle: www.onceuponajrny.com / @onceuponajrny

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Thailand

Which locations have shaped you the most? Are there any places you would recommend for first-time LGBTQ travelers?

Mongolia was definitely a unique experience. Seeing such wide landscapes without any residents… there are no words to describe the feeling! And when you drive for miles and suddenly you see one yurt (tent) and a family lives there with their livestock, you realize you don’t need much! The food was also interesting–we must say we were very close to becoming vegetarians. It’s beautiful though: they don’t waste anything. But the result is that the meat isn’t so “clean” and sometimes there’s a bit of the soft bone or muscle in your dumpling (yuk).

For first-time LGBTQ travelers, we can’t recommend Thailand enough. It’s so easy to travel to, people are warm and welcoming and the food and sights are amazing. There are amazing cities if you like city trips, you’ll find incredible culture (the temples, oh my god!), there are white sand beaches (so many islands!), and adventurous jungles. You can’t go wrong with Thailand (except elephant tourism, please don’t indulge yourself in that!).

RNR Travel

rnrtravelBlog/handle: www.manonthelam.com / @rnrtravel_

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Bangkok

How did you get started with your blog/social media platform? Did you have a certain goal in mind?

I started the blog as a New Year’s resolution, and I literally bought my first domain name on January 1, 2011. I had seen others making money from blogging, so my goal from the get-go was to quit my corporate job and somehow see the world while working. That was over eight years, and it’s still going strong. Even stronger now that Ryan is on board.

Globetrotter Girls

 

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After John Lennon was murdered in 1980, a portrait of him popped up on a wall near the Charles Bridge. At the time, Prague was still the capital of Czechoslovakia, which was part of the Communist Eastern Bloc, where western songs – including John Lennon and Beatles songs, were forbidden. This kind of music – and especially John Lennon’s philosophy of freedom – was seen as anti-socialism, and spreading Western propaganda. Listening to it was seen as an act of rebellion a protest against the regime. You could even be sent to jail for simply listening to this kind of music, which is why many people did it in secret, and there was a big underground rock scene and black market. The Beatles in particular were said to promote democracy and to alienate the youth against the leadership of the Soviet bloc governments. So of course the police removed the mural right away. However, only a few days later, a new John Lennon mural appeared. The police removed it again. IT never took longer for the mural to return, and every time, song lyrics and quotes were added. This war between young Czech protesters and the police continued until the Eastern Bloc fell apart in 1989. The graffiti became legal, and more and more messages were added to the wall over the years. Poems, messages of peace, love and freedom. While what’s on this wall right now is not the same mural anymore that first appeared there in 1989, the message is still the same, and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, many of whom add their own messages to the wall when they visit it. #prague #prague🇨🇿 #praguestagram #johnlennonwall #johnlennon #johnlennonwallprague #johnlennonwallpraha #johnlennonwall🇨🇿 #johnlennonforever #prague2019 #praguelove #praguegraffiti #praguestreetart #streetartprague

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Blog/handle: www.globetrottergirls.com / @Globetrottergirls

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Mexico

What is one thing you wish you could tell your younger self about your experiences traveling? Any advice?

I wish I would’ve taken a solo trip earlier! I used to be scared to travel by myself and thought I might get bored, which is why I waited to travel alone until I was well into my 30s. Now, however, I cherish my solo trips and make sure I travel alone on a regular basis. On the one hand, it forces me to get out of my comfort zone, but on the other hand it gives me the chance to be completely selfish and do only the things that I truly want to do, without having to consider my partner’s or a friend’s needs/interests.

lgbtq travelersRob Taylor

Blog/handle: www.2traveldads.com / @2travelDads

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Florida (and not just Miami or Orlando) – all the springs, beaches, historic towns, and cypress swamps. Love it all.

Do you think the travel industry is becoming more accepting and representational of LGBTQ travelers? Why or why not?

To be fair, the travel industry as a whole has been a relatively safe space for the LGBTQ community for a long time when it comes to employment and providing jobs and promising career opportunities for us… but representation continues to be underwhelming. We’ve been fortunate to work with several brands and destinations that have a great track record and consistently put their money where their mouth is regarding supporting the LGBTQ community. That said, too many marketing campaigns are still using purchased stock photography to give a visual presence of gay travelers within their brand/destination portfolio. Some big travel players are taking big, public steps to be more inclusive or representational of the LGBTQ community, but in proportion to the actual travel spend of the LGBTQ community, the ratio of representation is still way off.

Uwern Jong

Blog/handle: www.outthere.travel / @uwern / @outtheremag

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Tough one, it’s hard to compare like for like, but Bangkok, in fact, all of Thailand is always magical to me; as is Stockholm. And I fall head over heels in love hard, each and every time I visit NYC.

Which locations have shaped you the most? Are there any places you would recommend for first-time LGBTQ travelers?

So many, for many different reasons. NYC as it helped me come out of my shell. Thailand because it’s close to where I’m from in Malaysia, yet years ahead in its appreciation and celebration of the LGBTQ community. Stockholm, because it is inclusivity in practice (did you know that it has been 75 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Sweden, as well as ten years of equal marriage?). Mykonos, the first time I saw throngs of gay people just let loose (in more ways than one) and be themselves.

adamgroffmanAdam Groffman

Blog/handle: www.travelsofadam.com / @travelsofadam

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: too many to list! I tend to gravitate toward hotspots like Berlin, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, but still love the big cities that have a lot of LGBTQ history such as New York and London. At the same time, I love visiting off-the-beaten path LGBTQ cities – ones you might not expect to have a lot of LGBTQ culture, but actually do!

FYI for identification purposes, I identify as a gay or queer cis male.

When was the first instance that you recognized traveling as LGBTQ was different? Was it a certain moment or event or did you realize it over time?

In 2010 I quit my job as a graphic designer to take a gap year traveling around the world. Traveling through Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, I was using guidebooks and blogs (remember: this was before Instagram even existed) to find my way. Unfortunately, a lot of those sites just didn’t have any LGBTQ travel information—or else their LGBTQ content would only focus on safety and medical issues. I was a young millennial, looking to meet other LGBTQ travelers, and the guidebooks and even the LGBTQ travel sites I found just weren’t cutting it. There was nothing I was interested in and the articles and guidebooks just didn’t have the information I wanted or needed.

Les Go There

lgbtq travelersBlog/Instagram handle: @lesgothere

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Portugal!

How did you get started with your blog/social media platform? Did you have a certain goal in mind?

Growing up in Bermuda, there weren’t many out members of our community to look up to. “Keep it in your house” was the general vibe about anyone in the LGBTQ community. We started our page as a joke to begin with, but we ended up getting so many people sending us messages or stopping us on the street telling us how important our page was to them. We try to be transparent as a couple… about traveling or just the hurdles of being together. Our goal really is for someone to see themselves in our posts. To explore the world even if it’s scary or you are nervous traveling as a member of our community.

This Colorful World

thiscolorfulworldYouTube/handle: This Colorful World / @thiscolorfulworld

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Stockholm and Portland, Maine

Have you faced any difficulties while traveling because you are LGBTQ?

People take for granted that Lauren is a man because she’s taller and more androgynous-looking. Sometimes people will say, “Excuse me sir, this is a lady’s bathroom” at the airport or similar. It’s not threatening or dangerous, but, of course, uncomfortable. Another weird, but almost funny thing that shows how strange the thought of same sex love is to certain people is when we check in. Even though I will clearly say, “Lauren is my wife and we’re traveling together,” the person sometimes refers back to, “Ehm…your friend’s passport please.” Saying wife to them seems hard. 

lodcbellaThe LODC Bella

Blog/handle: www.thelocdbella.com / @thelocdbella

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Whitefish/Missoula, Montana

Do you think the travel industry is becoming more accepting and representational of LGBTQ travelers? Why or why not?

I think some places are becoming a little more open to LGBTQIA travelers, because well, tourism = money. However, there are still countries that will throw you in prison or even send you death for being queer. I have a friend who traveled earlier this year to a country where her and her partner had to be low-key for the sake of their safety, all in the name of breaking barriers. That was one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen someone do.

Bailey Mills

bailey mills

Blog/handle: www.thegayglobetrotter.com / @gayglobetrotter

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Thailand

When was the first instance that you recognized traveling as LGBTQ was different? Was it a certain moment or event or did you realize it over time?

I definitely realized this over time. If you’re traveling for pride or specifically LGBTQ events, it will be sudden. When traveling to see the world, it can happen at any point, however travel can be as LGBTQ as you make it!

Barry Hoy

 

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A day late (I am busy okay! Lol)…. but I just wanted to share my coming out story. I came out over 10 years ago and I still remember the fear I had when I approached my parents. I was alone at home and when I finally mustered the courage to spit it out, I immediately regretted it. Not because of their reaction but rather my own fear of change. Change to the status quo and to my life that I have known up to that moment. That said, I also knew I needed to tell them so that I no longer had to explain why I never had a gf or why I like pretty things lol. ~ My parents took it relatively okay, for asian parents. I had the “why didn’t you tell us earlier, maybe we could’ve gotten you help!”… “why are you choosing such a difficult life?” And the “we still love you but we cannot accept marriage”. I thought I was done hiding and done pretending… nope, I now had to pretend that they didn’t know. They didn’t want others to know they knew so that people wouldn’t question. Again, Not that I can complain because over the years they have been very welcoming to my partners (past and present). ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ~⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ One of the hardest moments for me was when I told them I broke up with my ex of 13 years … the first thing my dad said was “oh, now you can find a girlfriend”. Ugh, really? After all that time they were still holding out hope. I couldn’t believe it! . ~ Anyway, all this say, it’s not always going to be easy but do what makes you happy and be happy with who YOU are!!! I love my parents and now they welcome @teraj08 into their home and our family trips…. so I still consider myself very blessed. I am glad I came out and more importantly that I am as gay as gay can be!! 💜🌈 ~ Share your story!!! #nationalcomingoutday #gaypride #proudtobegay #comingout #comingoutstory #liveyourtruth #beyourself @gayswithstories 📸 @teraj08

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Blog/handle: www.asianmapleleaf.com@asianmapleleaf

Favorite LGBTQ-friendly location: Toronto (known as asianMAPLELEAF for a reason)

Which locations have shaped you the most? Are there any places you would recommend for first-time LGBTQ travelers?

I think destinations that either show the culture of its people or the rawness of nature really shaped who I am as a traveler. My most recent trip to Kenya really helped open my eyes to how amazing nature is–seeing the great migration and all the wonderful animals in their natural habitat. Similarly, seeing the almost alien-like islands of the Galapagos also gave me the same feeling of being just a small part of a greater world, and that we all need to do more to protect it. My trip to Cambodia and horseback riding in the countryside brought me outside of my North American bubble and provided me with a greater understanding and appreciation of the cultures and people around the world.  

In terms of a recommendation for first-time LGBTQ travelers, I would say it depends on where in the world you are living and your travel budget. The easiest (and safest) first-time destination will be a larger LGBTQ-friendly city center. I may be bias (and proudly so), but Toronto is a great first destination that embodies the true meeting of diversity and inclusion–so much so that the city’s motto is “Diversity, Our Strength.” More than half the city’s residents were born outside of the country, so it’s easy being an out-of-town visitor. Toronto also hosts one of the biggest Pride celebrations in the world and has a thriving gay community across the city.

Read more about our commitment to representation in LGBTQ travel here. 

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Passion Passport’s community includes explorers, creators and storytellers from around the globe. Their travel experiences have challenged them, shaped their perspective of the world and given them a better sense of who they are. Both online and off, Passion Passport offers the opportunity to connect with one another, to share those pivotal moments, and to travel with purpose.