While parties and sexually charged activities are certainly a lure of gay travel, let us not forget the beauty of engaging in cultural activities while in transit. From film festivals to world renowned museums, and from home exchange and philanthropic opportunities to a night out at the theater, there is truly something extra special for every gay traveler out there.

The world is truly open for business, and this means that the cultural gay experience brings the lure of different people and communities much closer to home. Consider some of the following possibilities to whet your appetite.

Start With a Day at the Museum and End With an Evening at the Theater

Many major cities of the world have a great historical and cultural component to them. This is often captured in museums of various sorts and sizes. European capital cities, for example, are a walking treasure trove of societies long past. Museums preserve the past and give us a glimpse into where we have come from as a human race.
The next time you are in Paris, enjoy the parties by night and stroll hand in hand with your partner by day in one of the many museums that dot the city landscape. Everyone knows the Louvre. Plan to spend a day or two in this historical building alone, but do not neglect many of the smaller museums as well. Even cities that are not known to be accommodating to the gay traveler, such as Cairo, can culturally enrich your life in immeasurable ways.
Many travelers tend to leave their fancy clothes at home, but there are certainly occasions when we just want to shine those shoes and look our best. For those times, consider a night out at the theater. It is no secret that New York and London are two spectacular cities in this regard. You can see some great shows and look great with your partner at the same time. Part of the beauty of these cities, and more, is that a gay couple can feel comfortable in their surroundings and receive a culturally enriching experience at the same time.
Many cities also now have a gay and lesbian film festival. If you are in a city at such a time, this should not be neglected either. Not only does it lend support to the many independent filmmakers amongst us, but it can make for a great night out as well. You will find such festivals in most major travel destinations, from Asia to Latin America, and Israel to the major cities of Europe. Such films are an excellent resource to both educate and inform broader society about the importance of love and acceptance, and to draw attention to the gay lifestyle. Embrace these events and bring attention to their cause.

Get Off the Beaten Path

There has been an historic decline of homophobic attitudes throughout much of the globe in recent years. Wide paths of Europe are now equally open to gays and straights alike. Asia, a traditionally socially conservative culture, has come to largely embrace gays and lesbians. The America’s continue to lead the way in blending traditionalism and modernity. All of this combines to create a unique opportunity to explore areas of the world with your partner or husband in ways never before thought possible.
Let’s begin with Southeast Asia. Much of this area of the world is steeped in Buddhist ideology where individuals are encouraged to embrace life and their unique role within it. Because of this, gays are not generally frowned upon in the small villages that dot the countryside. This makes for a unique opportunity to take independent tours, stay with families, and learn the tranquil and slow pace of life that has marked this region for centuries. You might find yourself enjoying it so much that you never want to return back home.
In Thailand, there are elephants to ride, hill tribes to work with, and a host of other cultural activities to take part in that will truly make for the memories of a lifetime. Even traditionally homophobic regions in China have embraced this new style of tourism. Individuals and couples alike have reported largely positive experiences in visiting with families in the outermost regions of the country. Learning to better understand their culture helps them to understand ours. This enables the global community to begin to be drawn even closer together, all the while providing a unique and enriching travel experience for you, no matter what your age or level of physical fitness might be.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

When engaging in culturally oriented travel, there are certain unspoken rules of etiquette that today’s discerning gay traveler should keep in mind.
  • Dress Appropriately – Depending on what country you are in and what event you are attending, remember to pack appropriate clothes. You want to respect the culture, and you want to dress your part when in the presence of a mixed group. Remember that this is not your gay circuit party you are attending. You are looking for something a bit different, and different is what you are going to get. Know the culture. Do a bit of research prior to your trip. This will not only serve to enhance and enrich the actual experience itself, but it will help you to understand some of the rules you need to abide by when dressing. If you are going a Buddhist Temple in Southeast Asia, for example, you will want to keep your legs covered at all times. This means no shorts. Forget yours and you will be loaned a pair of pants that who knows how many thousands of tourists before you have worn. Do not go that route. Bring your own. A night out at the theater should be embraced as well. Dress the part. Use this as your chance to show off that bow tie that has been collecting dust. There will be plenty of opportunities during your travels to break out that speedo you have been working out in the gym so hard to make look spectacular. This, however, is not one of those trips. If you are going to hike in the villages and stay with families, make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes and clothes. The moral of this story is to do your homework before you leave home, and then you will truly enjoy yourself even more.
  • Keep Your Lips to Yourself – As mentioned, the world is truly opening up to our demographic group. In many major cities today, it is no longer an uncommon site to see a gay couple openly displaying their love for one another in public. A cultural event or trip is not such a place, however, so keep that in mind. Some regions of the world, for example, are very accepting of gays and lesbians, but they still frown on public displays of affection. This is not a hypocritical don’t ask don’t tell policy we’re talking about here. The same rules of social etiquette go for straight couples as well. So, enjoy the culture and get into the traditional way of life. Leave your public display of affection with your partner for another day.
  • Dare to Do Something Different – If you are engaging in cultural travel, you are likely willing to different things, try different foods, and generally embrace a different pace of life. As such, do not be afraid to look around at what is happening around you and then dive right in. If you decide to give a brief homestay a go, then really get into it. Within reason, do what the family does. Try new foods, dance the traditional dance, and let your hair down in a culturally appropriate manner. This is how you will learn the most, and it is how you get the most out of the experience.

So, there you have it. These are just some of the many varieties of cultural travel opportunities that you await you today. The world is diverse and it is rich. You can combine an electrified and fun-filled vacation full of parties and events with a variety of cultural components. This will certainly make for an interesting and far more enriching trip than you likely ever envisioned before.
Use local resources and contacts in the regions that you are traveling to. There are gay and lesbian travel and tour operators in almost every major travel destination of the world. Let them know your desires, and ask them for their advice about the unique components of their country that they recommend you experience. You will be glad that you did. Follow that up with your own research.
What are your interests? What do you wish you knew more about? Are you more the dinner and theater type of person, or do you prefer to get out in nature and explore the culture the way it was decades ago? Taking a self-inventory such as this can help direct the planning process. Be sure to pencil in time for yourself and to do the things that you and your partner genuinely enjoys doing. Work hard not to over pack your schedule, allow time for those parties and other activities that are on your bucket list, and get out there enjoy. The world is waiting for you to explore and experience.
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