LGBTQ travelers who decide to go abroad – whether that be to study, teach, intern, or volunteer – are making the decision to take on an even bigger challenge than their heterosexual and cis-gendered peers. Every country around the world has varying laws, customs, and beliefs about the LGBTQ community, and therefore will react and treat LGBTQ travelers in a unique way. After potentially overcoming the challenges of coming out in their home countries, LGBTQ students who head abroad can be overwhelmed when faced with coming out all over again, except this time in a completely foreign and sometimes unfriendly environment for people who identify as LGBTQ that may or may not lack an understanding or acceptance of LGBTQ students.
Accessibility is an issue for most students who want to study, intern, teach, or volunteer abroad, but don’t have the resources to do so. Beyond just financial resources, if students can’t see themselves in the stories, articles, and blog posts, written by alumni, going abroad won’t seem like a viable option. In a field centered around diversity and cultural exchange, this is a shame. Our contributors are sharing their personal stories and LGBT travel expertise in order to change that.
From experiences like this:
“I couldn’t fight the feeling of exhaustion which had been building all day. I was suddenly overcome with an urge to lean in to my boyfriend, to let the sleep deprivation and dehydration just melt away in a quiet hug. But just as quickly as the urge had come over me it disappeared, as my desire for affection was outweighed by my fear of prison time and deportation.” - The GoAbroad Writing Team, Traveling with Someone You Love in a Place You Aren’t Allowed to Love them
To realizations like this:
“Strike up a conversation when the situation presents itself. Many people think that being LGBT is a decision, not an identity. Now, hold your horses before you say “Hey mum, can you pass the falafel? Oh and by the way, I’m gay.” Instead, ask her what the community thinks about LGBT issues. If the community is fine with it, then ask her what she thinks about LGBT people. You don’t have to out yourself, but you could mention an LGBT friend you have who you miss back home, then see how they react.” - Char Johnson Stoever, How to Come Out to Your Host Family Abroad
And so much more…
More and more, studying abroad is becoming somewhat of a standard endeavor of college students; this guide was created to help ensure that LGBTQ students have all the resources they need to participate in LGBT travel safely, happily, and successfully. Everyone deserves the opportunity to travel meaningfully, and GoAbroad is dedicated to providing every LGBTQ student, and every student for that matter, with the tools, knowledge, and confidence they need to do so.
This is an open book (pun intended). It will continue to grow as we share more LGBT travel stories and add more voices.