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Robert Schrader

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Is The Idea Of 'Gay Travel' Counterproductive?

Posted: 10/16/2012 7:00 am

During my recent visit to the all-but-destroyed island of Bali, a local friend convinced me to stay someplace I wouldn't have chosen on my own: Spartacvs, an all-male, clothing-optional resort.

Now, I love naked men as much as the next gay dude with a travel blog. But my sexuality is never among my first considerations when choosing a destination.

Ironically, since Bali's scenery and culture, which are always among my first considerations when choosing a destination, have been badly mutilated by decades of excessive tourism, Spartacvs became something of a refuge for me.

As lovely as Spartacvs, its staff and my fellow guests were, the experience reminded me why I tend to avoid "gay travel" whenever I can.

The chief benefit of travel, so far as I've been able to deduce in my seven years of doing it, is that you are able to step out of your comfort zone for a short time, to live in a way you might not otherwise choose or have the opportunity to experience. So why would you travel with your boyfriend to someplace populated exclusively with other men and their boyfriends?

I do want to be able to show my affection for a same-sex partner without fear of violence or discrimination, but one of the necessary steps to global acceptance of gays is global awareness of gays so I don't wall myself off when I travel. Unless you holiday in places with state- or church-sponsored homophobia, the worst that will befall you upon kissing your honey in public is gasps and whispers.

And I have holidayed extensively in homophobic countries myself, so I understand how alienating it can be to go weeks or months without so much as seeing another openly gay person, sexual frustration notwithstanding. But at the end of the day, my experiences feeling alienated, frustrated and even afraid have been positive ones -- they make me thankful I don't need to feel that way every day!

Obviously, a little bit of hedonism never hurt anyone. I thoroughly enjoyed all of my "gay travel" experiences pre-Spartacvs, from an inside look into the Brazilian sex motels, to jam-packed arena parties in Tel Aviv, to sleeping with practically half the city of Montréal back in June. I'm sure I'll have more of them in the future.

But just as it seems ridiculous for me that extremely rich people travel to poor countries in high luxury, it's disappointing that such an expectation-defying segment of the population would be so damn predictable when we travel.

 

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