Despite advertising’s best attempts, mainstream rom-coms, and Valentine’s Day propaganda, date nights, getaways, and romantic adventures are not just for cishet people. Queer couples also fall in love, go on dates, get married, go on honeymoons, and take vacations. Queer couples also want and need to reconnect with each other when life gets hectic and pulls us apart—especially if we have kids. We want to relax and feel sexy and silly with our partner but we don’t want the constant stares and scrutiny that comes with being out. We don’t want the risk of harassment or physical harm either.
Even the most out and proud censor ourselves at times based on our environment and the people in it. Some of us stay home or only head to gay bars or nightclubs if any are located nearby. But even walking in or out of a queer establishment can be dangerous if someone decides to turn their anger and bigotry into verbal and physical violence.
We have every right to go on dates and vacations, though, and we do! When we can, we hit up concerts, vineyards, spas, cities, and national parks. We hold hands, kiss, dance, and love each other openly even when hesitation and restraint hover around us. There’s no greater feeling than being able to just be. Existing without fear or external judgement is a privilege many LBGTQIA+ community members don’t have. If for no other reason we need a vacation from the bombardment of heteronormative life, and when we finally get to take one we want it to be really good. Good and safe are synonymous so I did a little digging to find places where folks can feel comfortable being themselves while being in love—or while bickering over being lost.
1. Book A Room or House With misterb&b
misterb&b is like Airbnb but a lot gayer. The site promises hosts or owners of rentals are LGBTQIA+ and lists only queer-friendly hotel rooms. There are over 300,000 queer hosts and 100,000 hotels in 200 countries for you to choose from. I reached out to both Airbnb and Vrbo to ask how to search for queer friendly hosts, but their own guarantee was that all hosts must agree to their anti-discrimination policies before they can list a rental. misterb&b promises safety with a side of rainbows and brunch, so pick a location and snuggle in and up for a weekend getaway, staycation, or exotic bucket list location. The app lets you connect with other misterb&b travelers during your trip if you’re looking to make friends with other queer couples.
2. Set Sail On A Queer Cruise
Booking a cruise is a great way to enjoy an all-inclusive vacation that comes with endless buffets, cheesy but delightful entertainment, and the opportunity to visit several destinations. Sail with pride with a LGBTQ+ cruise with Celebrity Cruises; you can also get married while on board and have the fleet’s captain perform the ceremony! If ocean cruising isn’t your jam take a river cruise with Brand g. They’re featuring Prague, Budapest, and Scotland in their upcoming tours, to name a few places. Olivia offers cruises (and plenty of other adventures) for LGBTQIA+ women. Atlantis also has a gorgeous list of gay cruises but they are predominately targeted and booked by queer men. Women are welcome, but only make up 5-10% of the guests.
3. San Francisco, California
Many years ago, I heard someone say San Francisco is “about as queer as a wooden nickel.” All of that sounds lovely, honestly. San Francisco is one of the most queer friendly places in the world and has also been called the “gay capital of the world.” The city is soaked in LGBTQIA+ history and is home to the Castro District, Mission Delores Park, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Check out Alcatraz Island, Lombard Street, and Fisherman’s Wharf too.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, Southern Decadence (which is very much like a six-day Pride event held around Labor Day each year), and plenty of LGBTQ friendly establishments and places to stay makes New Orleans a perfect location for romance, history, and drag queens.
5. Be Out With Out Adventures
Out Adventures hosts LGBTQ+ holidays, cultural tours, and queer cruises. You can choose your trip based on theme, type of travel, or destination. Choose an “Active” theme and pick from hiking, snorkeling, or glacier walks, biking, and more. Highlights from the “Culture” tours include: sleeping under the Northern Lights in a glass-roofed Finnish cabin, receive Maharaja treatment during the Holi Festival Foray through India, and bask in the Amazon Rainforest’s majesty on guided boat, walking and canopy tours. Sign me up.
6. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
TravelPulse recently named Greater Fort Lauderdale as one of the Top 4 places for LGBT+ travelers post-COVID. Fort Lauderdale has the highest concentration of same-sex couple households in America and is proud of the hundreds of queer-owned businesses. Sebastian Beach, part of the greater Fort Lauderdale beach, is one of the best gay beaches in the country. And while transgender rights and Florida don’t often go together, the greater Fort Lauderdale area prides itself on welcoming and affirming trans travelers. The city is often host to the Southern Comfort Conference, which is the largest transgender conference in North America.
The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) recently published a study that surveyed over 6,000 members of the queer community worldwide to get a sense of where they were regarding travel, especially after 18 months of COVID and with the introduction of a vaccine. 77% of those living in the United States said they hoped to plan a trip in 2021 and 75% of those folks said they would take a domestic trip and stay in either a hotel, condo, or vacation home. About a third of those said they wanted to find ways to reconnect with the LGBTQIA+ community.
Reconnection is something everyone needs and queer couples—whether they choose to mingle with other members or our community or not—want and need to find comfort and joy in our partnerships. This is not an all-encompassing list of queer friendly vacation spots, but let it be a push a to get you thinking about other locations that will entertain, relax, and rekindle love’s flames. It’s also a reminder that more places are all-inclusive in the way queer folks need them to be when we travel.