Gay travel has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. In 2011, it was estimated to generate over $65 billion in the US alone. Naturally, this has grabbed the attention of many places and agencies, including states like Florida who have unfriendly LGBT laws and practices.
They may not want gays to have equality, but they sure want a piece of the “pink dollar.”
While I think overall that is a positive thing, even if it’s hypocritical (“You can’t get married here, and we won’t recognize your marriage, but we’re a fantastic gay honeymoon destination!”), there is something about gay travel and how it’s advertised and covered that drives me nuts.
Yes, the label of LGBT has to do with a person’s sexuality, but I hate how the focus on gay travel is almost always sexual. Have a look at the following examples. I did a Google Images search for “greece travel” and “gay greece travel” and grabbed the first few photos that showed up. Notice the differences?
So as a gay man I wouldn’t be interested in Greece as a travel destination based on that first set of images?
And there were far less tame photos as well for “gay greece travel.”
What I also found interesting is when I searched for “lesbian greece travel” most of the images were either the ones like the top set or like the second. Only 1 photo out of about 30 included women. Do a search for LGBT, and it’s mostly men.
Women just can’t catch a break.
Now, I like eye candy just as much as the next person, but don’t treat me like a sex-crazed person just because I’m a homo.
If they aren’t trying to appeal to my sexual side, these agencies seem to think the only other things gay men are interested in when they travel are parties, shopping, and boutique hotels. And maybe going to the gym.
When I travel, I don’t do gay travel. Just like when I park a car, I’m not gay parking. I also don’t order gay pizza or gay beer.
To me LGBT travel is more about finding the places where I can be myself and where I can feel safe as a gay man. Most of my friends are straight, but I do enjoy hanging out with fellow gays as well because it’s the one group where I can completely be myself. I don’t need to come out yet again, and I don’t feel like I have to guard my words.
When a place is spoken of as being good for gay travel, to me it says I can hold my partner’s (if I had one) hand in public . I wouldn’t have to explain to hotel staff why two men would want one bed instead of two. I know it’s a place where my partner and I would be treated like any other couple.
It’s more about safety and ease.
To treat all gay men like their main travel interests are sex, shopping, fashion, and parties is really insulting to the majority of us. Time to get a clue, advertisers.
And that means you, too, queer publications!
What do you think about when you see the words “gay travel”?