As a lesbian, should I be nervous traveling with my partner?
As a femme couple, we’ve never had any trouble traveling in other countries. Morocco and Dubai, for instance, never made us feel unsafe. That said, we’ve also never been questioned about our relationship. Often, people think we’re sisters or cousins traveling together. Nobody has ever looked at us funny, and we never feel threatened – probably because we don’t look gay.
I’m guessing it must be very different for couples who don’t identify as femmes. I can’t speak to others’ experiences, but I can tell you what traveling the world has been like for me and my partner. So far, we’ve been lucky. But we’ve also been cautious.
When travelling as a couple, we are forever “toning down” our relationship to not draw attention. This is especially true in countries where homosexuality is not widely accepted. In many of these cases, PDA is acceptable if you’re a straight couple, while gay couples are frowned upon, condemned, and even at risk of being killed. We are not bothered if we can’t hold hands or kiss in public for the sake of keeping safe for a week or two, but it can be hard if you’re used to living in an area that is more progressive. If you live in a country like the UK, for example, where LGBTQ+ rights are more equal, it would be difficult to become accustomed to less accepting societies.
We’re currently planning a round the world trip. We’ve spent a lot of time researching the particular countries we’ll be visiting as we are taking our daughter with us, which will make it more obvious that we’re both her mums. This, of course, leaves us much more exposed. But you can only find so much information online, and we’ve gained a great deal of information from other lesbian travelers who have experienced some of the destinations we aren’t sure about. If you are feeling anxious about a particular location, our advice is to ask! You may think others won’t get back to you, but our experience is that the lesbian traveling community is a friendly place, and most people are happy to help if they have the info.
If you’re planning a trip, start by finding out everything you can about your destination regarding homosexuality. Find out whether you’ll have to hide who you are, and figure out how you plan to do that. What’s your “cover” story? Are you going to pretend to be sisters? Friends? Reminder: there are 76 countries where being gay is illegal, so if you want to travel the world, you’ll have to be okay with hiding your identity for the sake of your safety. It won’t be easy – especially if you’ve spent a lot of time accepting who you are! But sometimes it’s necessary.
If you’re still in doubt after reading up on your destination, look for experienced lesbian travelers who can share info with you. There are so many bloggers out there who can be reached on their social media accounts…us included!
And remember, it’s important for women to feel safe from abuse and hate regardless of their sexuality, so if you’re concerned that you might run into these things, find a different location! There are plenty out there waiting to be explored.