Where will your next gaycation take you? We tapped travel experts Bryan Herb and Joel Cabrera to tell us about three popular destinations for the LGBTQ traveler looking to set up a fun summer vacation with friends. Their three choices were actually unexpected destinations — not at all what we had in mind. And if you’ve ever asked yourself, “Is India safe for LGBTQ travelers?” then read on!
“LGBTQ travelers can certainly travel alone to India, and safely, because the gay community there is so closeted and somewhat not actualized. However, this is definitely a destination that is tremendously more fun when done as part of an LGBTQ group,” Herb tells Hornet. “From past experiences, it has been so much fun to share India with a group of fellow LGBTQ travelers. It’s fascinating to draw from and our own shared life experiences and knowledge within the context of such a unique, special and spiritual country.”
“People, whether LGBTQ or straight, have preconceived notions about destinations all over the world. Some are somewhat correct, but most are not,” Herb continues. “Many people think that India is just a dirty or poor country. There are many places within India that are in fact gorgeous, pristine and exquisite.”
“We’re not saying come to India expecting it to be like Fire Ireland or Folsom in San Francisco,” they write. “India — though culturally vibrant, colorful, festive and flamboyant — is still in many ways shy when it comes to public displays of affection. But if you’re respectful of the local culture, and aware that certain things may not run as smoothly as they would back home, you’ll find that India is safe, and quite exotic for gay tourists.”
Ed Salvato from Man About World has also published a list of resources for LGBTQ travelers looking to visit India on a guided group tour or work with a trusted tour operator or travel agent.
Here are Herb’s and Cabrera’s three unexpected destinations for LGBTQ travelers:
“In India, especially Varanasi, it’s like being on a completely new planet. Every notion you have thought about spirituality is challenged, and they take their faith to an entirely different level. India is absolutely inspirational, and it is aspirational. Going to India allows you to hit a reset button on how you want to live your life.
I am inspired by its beauty and so much more inspired by the people. I aspire to think about life the way they do, full of appreciation and happiness for what they have, and a deep understanding for what truly matters. When you go to India you can have a luxurious experience like nowhere else in the world. You can also have a spiritual experience like nowhere else in the world. You can see the difficulties of life for many of its residents, and you can see the beauties of their lives as well.”
2. South Africa
“On safari life slows down, quiets down, allowing us to truly settle down in our own groove, for it is in silence where so many of our answers lie. Being on safari, one instantly sees his or her connectedness to all things. Being on safari is like giving your soul a huge breath of fresh air.”
“Before the Spanish invaded Peru, the local people embraced all things they saw in nature, including homosexuality. They had a respect and a reverence for the earth. Even today, as you learn their history, it starts to seep into your heart and it starts to fill your soul. Perhaps it is this feeling that inspires all of us once we reach Machu Picchu and experience it firsthand. It’s hard to explain, but there is simply something there. There is a simplicity, and a beauty and a balance of life.”