Traveling In and Out of the Closet

Excited for Travel

Excited to travel!

When traveling, the topic of being “out of the closet” comes into play again and again with each new country we visit. Regardless of where homosexuality lies on a country’s legal scale, we often find this doesn’t give an indication of how locals will react. So, we simply have to trust our gut when choosing to come out or not.

Referring to each other as “my wife” has become automatic for us, requiring no thought beforehand – the essence of being “out”. But when traveling, we constantly have to remind ourselves where we are and to choose our words carefully. After all, in some places in the world, using the wrong word could mean a lot worse than just getting a funny look.

Coming out in Abu Dhabi

We always try to be out wherever and whenever possible. Failing to do so not only hides us, but it can also lead to a whole slew of other unwelcome questions like “Why don’t you have a husband?” or “Why isn’t your husband traveling with you?” Although we find some places, like in Toronto or Berlin, extremely easy to be out, we quickly retreated to the closet in the riskier locale of the United Arabย Emirates, where we became “traveling companions”.ย Sometimes it is vital to just straight up lie (pun intended).

We’ll begin our global “closet check” in Utah, USA, with the most hurtful of remarks. While standing up for same-sex marriage, Ligeia explained “you can’t help who you fall in love with.” This was met with equating the love we share with the love a person feels for her/his dog. Knowing that her conversational adversary was carrying a concealed weapon at the time, Ligeia didn’t pursue this topic any further. She unfortunately left Utah having seen the ugly side of what is an otherwise gorgeous state.

Coming out in Utah, USA

Utah, USA

In China, it felt like a “don’t ask, don’t tell” sort of situation for us. After having so many Chinese students with English name in her classes, Ligeia wanted to return the favor when going to China so she asked a woman at a hostel in Xining to recommend a name for her. The woman suggested the name “LaLa” and told us that this was a famous TV star. What she left out, however, and what we only discovered a couple weeks later in Yangshuo, is that the name “LaLa” also means “lesbian”. Guess she knew all along after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Coming out in Xining, China

Dumpling steamers in Xining, China

One of the funniest coming out situations we’ve had occurred in the small touristy town of Pamukkale in Turkey. A friendly security guard with very limited English approached Ligeia with pictures on his phone of his wife and twin daughters. After being so open about his family, he now expected the same of Ligeia: “Why you no husband? Why you travel with woman?” Ligeia, simplifying her English as only an ESL teacher knows how, coincided a pained look with “Men are difficult.” Then, relaxing and smoothing her facial muscles, “Women are easy.” The security guard chuckled and diagnosed Ligeia’s condition as having a “man allergy”, which works perfectly for us!

Coming out in Pamukkale, Turkey

Mindy in the pools of Pamukkale, Turkey

During our stay in Hopkins, Belize, Mindy went out to get food one evening and started up a conversation with one of the locals. He questioned her as to where in Belize she had already visited and how long her trip was scheduled to be. Perhaps it was due to the relaxed atmosphere, sitting there at tables on the beach waiting for the take-away meal, but without thinking about her words, Mindy responded to all his questions with “we” as the subject. The inquisition continued with “Who is the ‘we’ you keep referring to?” to which Mindy made the decision to come out: “My wife and I.” The man’s gaze quickly focused on Mindy’s chest, confirmed the presence of female breasts, and with the most confused look on his face, ended the conversation with one final question: “You are a man?” Mindy simply answered with a sigh, and the food arrived from the kitchen.

Coming out in Hopkins, Belize

Restaurant in Hopkins, Belize

Our in-and-out closet adventure continued in the ancient Mayan metropolis of Tikal in Guatemala. A Guatemalan man struck up a conversation with Mindy, while sitting on the ruins of Templo IV, four steep steps above Ligeia. The small talk covered names and countries of origin, whether we had visited Tikal before, and then he pointed to a woman and two small children and explained they were his wife and children. Although it seemed perfectly natural to reciprocate the wife-pointing, something held Mindy back. She regrets that decision to this day, as his next question moved to the realm of uncomfortable flirting: “Tell me, Mindy, why are all the women from Canada so beautiful?” Again, Mindy could have smoothly come out of the closet with an answer of “Tell me about it! I feel the same way.” Instead, Ligeia captured a photo to document Mindy’s answer in her overwhelmingly confused state: “What?”

Coming out in Tikal, Guatemala

Confused in Tikal, Guatemala

On that same trip to Guatemala, we found ourselves in a rare disagreement of whether to come out or not. In a remote cloud forest village in the mountains above San Lucas, we stayed with a Mayan family, where no one spoke English and only one person of the family spoke Spanish. With our limited Spanish abilities, we at first misunderstood their question of whether we had husbands, and Ligeia quickly answered “Yes.” Their follow-up question of why they weren’t traveling with us alerted us to our error – esposo vs. esposa. In our undecipherable English, we were able to discuss whether or not to come out. Although Ligeia brought up some great arguments in favor of coming out, such as learning how their culture views homosexuality and that being so isolated, we might be the only lesbians they’ve ever met, Mindy was extremely hesitant and her worries of getting disgusted looks, being thrown out of their house, or simply being uncomfortable for the next two days, caused us both to hide the truth. We blamed our delay in answering with the Spanish phrase we overused those two days: “No se.” We learned a couple things from this experience:

  1. Not coming out robs both us and the people we meet of a great opportunity to grow as human beings.
  2. If one of us is not ready to come out, we as a couple stay silent, as nothing is worse than being pushed out of the closet instead of walking out on your own.
Coming out in San Lucas, Guatemala

Cloud Forest in San Lucas, Guatemala

Currently, we live in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we are out and for the most part it’s not awkward. However, Mindy is often called a boy and she’s referred to as “he”. Our favorite case of this occurs each and every time she visits the Immigration Office, when she’s called over the loudspeaker: “Mr. Mindy from Canada.” In addition, several colleagues, despite the fact they know us well, still have trouble even saying the word “wife”. They say instead, “How is your…um…friend?” or there is a long pause as they struggle to whisper “wife” or wait for us to fill in the word for them.

Coming out in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Doi Inthanon, Thailand

Without a doubt, the easiest place to be a lesbian is in Skala Eressos on the Greek island of…you guessed it: Lesbos! We knew we had reached the Lesbian Mecca when checking in at a guesthouse forย availability, the owner said, “I’m sorry. All we have available is one room with two beds. But…” We held our breaths with hesitation as this is usually an awkward moment when checking into any hotel. She continues, “…but don’t worry, I can put the beds together for you.” The world-sized smiles on our faces reflected the absolute joy in being in the presence of acceptance. We had finally found a place for “us”, where we didn’t have to explain a damn thing! ๐Ÿ™‚

Coming out in Skala Eresos in Lesbos, Greece

Taking it easy in Skala Eresos, Lesbos

Have you ever had a positive, negative or just plain weird experience traveling as a lesbian/gay couple?

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44 thoughts on “Traveling In and Out of the Closet

  1. Jeanne

    This post made me smile and laugh out loud at work. Especially the “Mr. Mindy” part. Maybe you can get away with it until they hear that tiny little voice….or see you freak out when there is a bug near you! ๐Ÿ™‚ Total girl!!

    1. Mindy & Ligeia

      Hey Jeanne! We’re glad our post made you laugh. Just so you know, living in Thailand is doing Mindy good for getting used to bugs. She can even handle large cockroaches!

  2. David @ That Gay Backpacker

    I haven’t yet really been in a situation on my travels where I’ve had to hide being gay yet. When it gets to that point, it will be very difficult – it is something that I am so loathe to do. Seems like you’ve done a great job at being open (when you haven’t been in any danger) – good job! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Mindy & Ligeia

      Hi David,
      We’re so glad to hear that you haven’t had any with being out yet. Perhaps it’s harder when you’re traveling as a couple because people are always curious about the relationship (sisters, friends – god even once in Belize someone asked whether we were mother and daughter! I did NOT want to know who they thought the mother was. :).
      If and when you do come across such a situation, be sure to write down the experience and share it with the rest of us. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Happy travels.

    1. Mindy & Ligeia

      Hi Erick,
      We’re so glad that you enjoyed our post. And what a good question about coming out as an American. Yes, very often it feels like I am coming out as an American when visiting certain places in the world as there can be so much stigma attached to it. I have often found that coming out as and American can lead to total trash talk of the US and Americans and other times by not coming out as an American…people around think they are safe to trash talk Americans bonding with the other non-Americans in the hostel, for example. I’d better stop here, as this is starting to turn into a post of its own. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. RenegadePilgrim

    I found SE Asia to be a “safe” place for me to be out…though I have to admit, I spent almost five weeks in Thailand and had one hell of a time trying to connect with the LGBT community. In Jordan, I stayed at a hostel in Wadi Musa owned by a Jordanian husband and a British wife. The husband was always asking me why I wasn’t married, meanwhile I would get these knowing looks from the wife when I tried to explain myself! It was hilarious. She knew what was going on with me but neither of us felt it was a good idea to share the info with her husband! ๐Ÿ™‚ Even in Spain and Italy, I feel like the places I tend to go (small and rural) I have to hide a bit of who I am just so I can feel safe. It’s great to read blogs like this and to know that more and more LGBT couples (and solo travelers too!) are getting out there and writing about their experiences. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Mindy & Ligeia

      Dear Renegade Pilgrim,
      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences on the road. We really enjoyed the “secret” you shared with the British wife. It’s like hiding in plain sight. It is so nice to be reminded that there are “others” out there and we are not alone. We think we will remember this the next time we encounter a coming out situation as it may give us strength. Something that helps push us out of the closet often is the thought that if we are out, it might make it easier for the next lesbian couple who visits that hotel, museum or restaurant.
      Happy travels Heather! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    That’s hilarious that you were diagnosed with a “man allergy.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    The worst experience I had was actually in that cesspool of Pattaya, Thailand. The woman at check-in made some derogatory remark after we asked for one king-size bed. Since most of it was in Thai, all we heard was “Two Men??? One bed?? Thai Thai Thai….Woman, Woman, Woman!!”

    I wrote them up on TripAdvisor and said if you’re gay, don’t even think about staying there.

    1. Mindy & Ligeia

      Hi Raymond,

      Yeah, we thought the “man allergy” comment was pretty funny too. ๐Ÿ™‚
      The experience you had in Pattaya sounds pretty unsettling and just plain mean. There are a lot of funny stories here but it’s good to remember that often the situations we face are not funny at all and instead very hurtful. These tend to stain a place for us and the feelings don’t go away so easily. We’re glad you wrote them up on TripAdvisor. You have no doubt rescued many future gay couple looking for a play to stay in Pattaya from having the same horrible situation and that’s something to feel good about. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Cultural Empath

      Hi Raymond. Why would you expect her not to react some kind of way to two men sharing one bed? Heteronormativity is a thing because the vast majority of human population is heterosexual. Most cultures are not used to homosexuals being so out and open. I see that you are eager to change that and get them used to it, but my goodness, evolution, and that includes cultural and social evolution, happens gradually over time.

      I wish more gay and lesbian folk, particularly post-modern Western gay and lesbian folk from privileged backgrounds in developed countries, would just take things in stride rather than expecting the entire world to be as “progressive” as they are.

      Practice some empathy and cultural sensitivity. Especially when travelling abroad.

      1. Mindy & Ligeia

        Hi Cultural Empath,
        We agree that when traveling abroad people should practice both empathy and cultural sensitivity. We certainly strive for that ourselves. We are completely aware that worldwide we are in a minority and some people in the world have never seen nor heard of homosexuals. We often enjoy being the first lesbian couple that a said person has ever met as we will most certainly always be remembered. The purpose of a post like this is to share our experiences with others, some of which do highlight discomfort and lack of acceptance, but also some funny exchanges. Furthermore, just because we have cultural sensitivity does not mean we will stand idly by when mocked, intimidated or discriminated against. We are first human beings with feelings just like everyone else.
        But for the most part, people around the world have been very accepting of us, with the most discriminatory encounter being in my Western home country.

      2. Raymond @ Man On The Lam

        You’ve obviously never been to Pattaya, home to one of the most famous Ladyboy shows on the planet, or Thailand at all for that matter — one of the most accepting cultures I’ve ever experienced. My only expectation was for the clerk to have acted more professionally. No post-modern progressive bullshit for me thanks.

        1. Mindy & Ligeia

          Hi Raymond,
          We completely agree about Thailand in general being so accepting of gays and lesbians. Mindy and I have lived here for almost 2 years and have never had a problem like this. This clerk’s reaction was completely unprofessional AND un-Thai. Furthermore, it’s a shame that some people assume that because a country is third world that its citizens must not be progressive and that Western countries all have rights for gays and lesbians. We have been more accepted here than back in many parts of the US, for example.

          1. Cultural Empath

            “itโ€™s a shame that some people assume that because a country is third world that its citizens must not be progressive and that Western countries all have rights for gays and lesbians. We have been more accepted here than back in many parts of the US, for example.”

            Well, if you were referring to me in that comment, that is not at all my assumption. Rather in my comment below I outlined how people who were considered “third gender” were traditionally subsumed into South Asian cultural milieus and how to a still large extent they are subsumed in much the same way, though the industrial revolution, modernism, and economic shifts have definitely transformed their livelihood, and not for the better.

            Moreover, state laws regarding sexual acts were never instituted in traditional South Asian cultures. That came with British Imperialism and Colonialism. Prior to that the sexual realm was solely the domestic and cultural realm. If parents observed what they considered “aberrant sexuality” in their children, then they would try to socialize them out of it most likely by arranging their marriages to opposite sex partners (still happens). Perhaps the village might look sideways upon a same sex couple and maybe they would get a few less festival invitations than previously, but they certainly would not be arrested or made criminals. As South Asian philosophies and religions are based on a concept of cyclical existence, homosexuals would also not have been condemned to an eternality of burning hell fire, rather it was understood that with each action undertaken by a human being, a corresponding reaction ensues, and that reaction often has both positive and negative sub-categories.

            However, with all that being said, we cannot deny that South Asian cultures were and are heteronormative because the vast majority of South Asians are in fact heterosexuals. We also cannot overlook the intense family orientation of South Asians in general. They enjoy extended family systems and close relationships with multi-generations of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Such a family oriented civilization of course has incentive to promote traditional heterosexual marriages and family formations. This is why for males and females who are not “third gendered” – heterosexuality is assumed and marriages are arranged to the opposite, not the same, sex.

            For these familial and cultural reasons it is not uncommon for homosexuals who are not third gendered to just keep their sexual orientation on the down-low and go along with the heteronormativity of South Asian family formation.

            These days you do find South Asian homosexuals (who are not third gendered) breaking the silence more. They are not met with the same reactions or given the same social placing as third gendered ladyboys and hijras are. The reason is that because they are not third gendered, they are assumed to be heterosexual men and women.

            Let’s also consider that many homosexuals would not find the social placings that ladyboys and hijras have traditionally been afforded to be appealing at all.

          2. Mindy & Ligeia

            Hello again,
            The idea of a “third gender” was very shocking to me when we first arrived in Thailand. Images of the Holocaust came to mind as that is the only other place I had heard the term and so was naturally offended…at first. But I have spoken with several Gender Studies professors about this here in Thailand and have learned more about it. I find it fascinating and a concept that has taken me time to digest as it’s an entirely different way of looking at both gender and sexual orientation. I believe that one of the reasons we have been so accepted here is that everyone assumed that Mindy is katoi (in English “man-lady”) because she has short hair. She is always referred to as “he” and “Mr.” and we have to realize that this is meant in a respectful way as they are fitting her into how they have been raised to see this situation. Some might say that they are fitting it to make it seem “straight”. Maybe both are true. After studying this at length I have also spent time re-evaluating the Western way of categorizing sex, gender and sexual orientation. I have found limits to both as neither is completely inclusive. In the “third-gender” ideology there is no place for non-katoi same-gender relationship and in the West there seems to be no room for a mixture of gender. I have spoken with many people who feel that they are either neither male nor female or both and except for biological hermaphroditic people, our categories have no place for them. In both cases, societal pressures can lead to catastrophic results for the individual. Wow, this could be another blog post entirely. Perhaps I’ll write about this one day. I find it a fascinating topic and I am learning more and more all the time. Still, I must admit that the Thai staff member in Pattaya sounded unprofessional and if she is planning on working with foreign tourists should probably get used to seeing a variety of relationships. Let’s hope she learns this or she has the potential of losing a lot of customers. Thanks for the good conversation Cultural Empath. ๐Ÿ™‚

          3. Cultural Empath

            “The idea of a โ€œthird genderโ€ was very shocking to me when we first arrived in Thailand. Images of the Holocaust came to mind as that is the only other place I had heard the term and so was naturally offended”

            I’ve not heard it in relation to the Holocaust. Did he have something to do with castration? Because in Indian history, lore and the Kama Sutra it does.

          4. Mindy & Ligeia

            To my knowledge castration was not part of Hitler’s agenda. Instead, he rounded up homosexual men (or those suspected of being gay) and sent them to concentration camps – the most well-known of these was Sachsenhausen in Oranienburg, just north or Berlin. There men were forced to work and were tortured in various ways – many were killed. You can read more about this in the book The Men with the Pink Triangles, written by a survivor from this camp. There is also a section of the Homosexual Museum in Berlin that talks about “the third gender”, that was used to explain homosexuality in the early 1900s. (This is what I remember from my visit anyway) I’d like to do more research about it to see if it translates (at all) to the Southeast Asian concept of the third gender.

          1. Cultural Empath

            Yes I have been there and know all about “ladyboys”. However, as you are not a ladyboy nor do you look like one, it is perfectly natural and normal for the Thai hotel employee/manager/owner to react as she did.

            In India the hijras are looked upon and treated socially much like Thailand’s ladyboys, however the average Indian does not expect a non-hijra and non-hijra-looking man to be openly gay. Socially it is a jolt to the cultural system so if you can expect similar reactions in India.

            You see, hijras and ladyboys have a certain place in those societies and their external looks and behaviors correspond to their social placement. Your (Raymond’s) looks and behaviors do not correspond to the ladyboy/hijra social placements so the people would be confused as to where to place you (socially and culturally) in their minds.

            Its all about cultures and their social structures and how they have evolved over thousands of years.

            While “third gendered” folk have historically been subsumed into the larger South Asian socio-cultural mileu within the context of pretty well defined social placements, those who are not third gendered but merely “gay” and seeking to map the traditional heterosexual marriage relationship onto their gay relationship while leading an otherwise mainstream life in terms of career and whatnot, well, this is a new and unusual thing in South Asia.

  5. Steve

    We’ve had similar things happen to us, like having to state that we were “fishing buddies”. I like the look of hotel receptionists when one asks for a king size bed. Their eyes dart back and forth. Then, their head drops as their brain shouts out a loud “whaaaAAAT?” as they are quickly trying to find a suitable room…..and don’t forget about that funny smile as they hand you the room key.

    You guys/gals/people/humans/beings from the best 10% of the earth are awesome!!
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Mindy & Ligeia

      Hi Steve,

      We know exactly the “receptionist” look you’re referring to. You think working in the hotel industry that they’d be over it by now! And we agree that we are all pretty damn awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Cultural Empath

      “You guys/gals/people/humans/beings from the best 10% of the earth are awesome!!”

      Where is the best 10% of the earth?

  6. daphne krijnen

    well, it’s different indeed travelling alone and out. I always come out. I usually don’t feel safe doing it, but lying feels worse. Anyway, a very nice experience in South Africa: A m/f couple I told I was gay, immediately invited me in their house and showed me pictures of their son’s wedding to their son in law. We immediately bonded. Another nice experience was in Tunesia, where I told a boy I was a lesbian and he told me he was bisexual and told me about an ex-boyfriend. Amazing in this muslimcountry. Only two times I felt as if I had made my hosts (I tend to be invited in people’s houses and accept it :)) feel uncomfortable. Once I was thrown out of the house the next morning, and the other time there was just an akward silence that passed when the more liberal of the four women who I stayed with, started talking about something else. So I continue coming out, reinventing the ways to do it every time. I believe too much in honesty and the universal value of sincerity. Don’t blame anyone who pretents to be friends or married to the opposite sex. We all make choices that we think are best.

    1. Mindy & Ligeia

      Hi Daphne,
      Thanks for your comment. We are both really impressed with your decision and follow through to always come out, regardless of the location. Because of this, do you find that some countries remain off your travel list? For example, the countries where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment, or worse. Your belief to not blame others for their decisions to be in or out of the closet is admirable and a testament to your non-judgment of others.

      1. Anonymous

        Hey Mindy and Ligeia,

        Only read your response just now. The whole world is on my travellist. I was planning to go to Iran this winter and had already bought a ticket, so no hesitance there. Happy travels!

  7. Lana

    Thanks for sharing your story. I didn’t expect Thailand to be too difficult, but then again, I haven’t lived your shoes. So thanks.

    1. Mindy & Ligeia

      Hi Lana,
      In comparison to many countries of the world, it is relatively easy to live as an open lesbian in Thailand. It’s what gets said behind your back that can be mean-spirited but not so often to your face. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Jade A - Former Solo Traveler

    Things like this happen as a solo traveler too, I mean questions such as, “where is your husband” “why don’t you have kids yet”
    For better or worst it’s not just a lesbian/gay thing, that’s the wonder/frustration of clashing cultures. In Central America for example it’s hard for anyone, male or female, to understand why a girl older than 19 would still be single and without children. Don’t wait too long they’ll tell you, implying maybe your ovaries will dry up or your wrinkles will scare the boys away.
    You have to take it with a grain of salt, there is no way to change an entire culture, sometimes it’s impossible to even open minds. I learn to love the status quo of “freak” while traveling. But again, for safety reasons sometimes I say I do have a husband, he’s back in the hostel, or he’s meeting me in the next town.
    Sounds like you ladies already know how to play it by ear.
    Safe travels.

    1. Mindy & Ligeia

      Hi Jade,
      Thanks for your comment. We agree that there are some similarities between coming out as lesbian and a single woman, namely safety. However, consider this as well: It is not illegal to be single in countries yet it is illegal to be lesbian in several and even punishable by death. But even more than that, being single is not an identity (correct me if you indeed feel that it is); instead, it is a status (ie married, single etc). Being lesbian is not a choice and is therefore an identity, one that you can not change. And if you get “caught” lying about being single, people understand why, but if you are caught lying about being lesbian, it is seen as you feel ashamed of yourself. And consider this: when we have not been out as a lesbian couple, we are then seen as 2 single women traveling and they still ask those annoying questions of where our husbands are.

      Thanks again for your comment and happy travels to you as well! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Jade

        Oh definitely would never try to peg the two as being in the same category, just wanted to point out some similarities. Being single is definitely not an identity.. at least not for me.

  9. Pingback: Interesting Blog: Lesbian Couple Travels Internationally |

  10. Nicole Rossetti le Strange

    I’m bi, and my partner is a very straight (uber wonderful!) man, so in the ten years we’ve been together, the only time we’ve ever been ‘questioned’ about our orientation has been in gay bars or fetish clubs! I used to think it was quite rude of people but I guess folks just need to know whether it’s OK to flirt, and who is OK to play with!

    Your Thailand part was really funny – I get called Mr all the time, even when Kevin and I are together! I suspect it comes from a) Thai language not having separate he/she/it (most of our Thai friends use them interchangeably when they speak English) and b) maybe my name (Nicole) is too similar to Nicolas? Like so much else about Thailand, I just find it cute and amusing!

    BTW, London is fine too. A few years ago, a girlfriend and I checked into a hotel, and were asked if we’d prefer a king size bed or a standard double. Funnily enough, we weren’t actually ‘together’ – just two good friends spending a weekend in London because it was her birthday, and we were going to see a play!

  11. Morgan

    My partner Alex and (pseudonyms) and I are a lesbian couple together since 1992. In 2007 we decided to get married, so set the date for the following year – 2008 to be on the day of our 16th anniversary of moving in together.

    Being Australian, and our so called ‘progressive’ country still being stuck in the 1950’s on matters of sexuality and gender, same sex marriage still being fought for – we decided to marry in Cape Town, South Africa. Not just marry but have a mega-safari beforehand. So we booked a 60 day travel extravaganza taking us through SA, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. The latter by car. Our Travel Agent who made all the arrangements for us – sent us the vouchers for all our accommodation and car hire etc – and on EVERY voucher for every country there was the “NOTE: Getting married in CapeTown Honeymoon couple”. WOW! Now, we are always OUT in our home town, anywhere in Australia, at work, play or events etc – we are lesbians through and through – no hiding who we are as individuals or a couple – but like you two we make a decision on a case by case basis about our ‘status’ in some countries, or with some people in other countries.

    Usually, given our longevity as a couple we don’t even know how MUCH like and old married couple we appear, ‘Lovey, have you seen my binoculars?”, taking care of one another automatically as couples do, or more to the point bickering, which is fun and a very married thing to do! Anyways – here we were 3 days before embarking with a neon sign on our travel vouchers for every hotel and lodge, every transfer and vehicle hire company around Southern Africa! Turns out – it was exactly the right thing to do. We were “Upgraded” to the honey moon suites all over Southern Africa – the only downside being these were usually the FURTHEST away from the Boma (restaurant area), but they were strewn with rose petals, or buckets of champagne, there were special treats all along the way… The BEST upgrades was from a standard hotel room to the Royal Livingstone honey moon suite and the even BETTER upgrade was instead of a VW Jetta which we had booked for our 36 day self-drive around Namibia, we were presented with a new model Mercedes Benz C200 Kompressor. Now, that was seeing Namibia in Style and sure beat our own 20 year old banged up Toyotas at home!

    Some people in various African countries are curious about our relationship – others assume we are ‘sisters’ which is hilarious given I am 6ft 2 inches tall and Alex is 5 ft 3 inches tall. Both blue eyed though, and been together so long we do look a little alike (as only old lesbian couples manage to do!).

    There is a tragic twist to our story, our very best friend, Rose (Pseudonym), a straight gal – but bent in all the best ways, was to be our Best Woman at our marriage ceremony in Cape Town. Tragically, at 53 years old, she was killed in a car accident a few months before our departure date. We were devastated to have lost our best friend and the world having lost such a beautiful woman inside and out. It looked like the only people at our wedding was going to be the photographer and videographer and celebrant. So, the journey for two months TOWARDS our wedding date was poignant, the last several thousand kilometres of driving towards a Rose-less wedding was heart-breaking every day, her absence loomed large for us. Given we were in Cape Town for the ceremony, Rose was to be our only “guest” and had her part to play in the ceremony by handing us our wedding bands (which we had made in Windhoek, Namibia) and reading a lovely piece about now “Being One”. (We are a Nation of Two when we travel). It was devastating to know that we were not going to have her grace our most special day.

    But wait! There’s more. Whilst in Botswana – we were at a remote wilderness camp, specifically for the great mokoro (canoe) experience on the Okavango Delta’s beautiful waters. Our first afternoon there, in bounced a couple of gals! Both South African, we made friends over G&T’s and went out on a mokoro adventure and wildlife viewing drives together and bonded (as you do for a few hours with likeminded folk) and told them about Rose’s death, our up coming wedding – they teared up (we teared up!) and next morning they mentioned with love, if we liked, they would come to Cape Town for our wedding… And they did! How awesome, at their own expense, and in an act of Sisterly love they flew to CT for the ceremony and took us out post wedding for a beautiful meal at a top hotel. An act of beautiful Lesbian Solidarity.

    There’s our story in a nutshell. This year is our 23nd anniversary of being together and our 6th wedding anniversary and the 6th anniversary of Rose’s death. Life goes on. Love goes on and we go back to Africa as often as we can.

    Anyways – have enjoyed connecting with your web site, your stories, love the Lesbian Elephants at ENP – special people you two – Ligeia and Mindy, thanks for sharing who you are. <3

  12. Indy

    Thank you for sharing! It’s great to read about lesbian-couple travel experiences. I am never quite sure how and if to come out as a queer solo traveler.

  13. Inge

    Great post! I recognize most of these situations and the constant question whether you’ll be in or out of the closet. People often address me as ‘sir’ and it’s always awkward, even after all those years.In Guatemala, locals kept asking me why my hair was so short: I was a woman after all. So in their vision, a woman must have long hair. We once had an entire community checking me out after my girlfriend said: “she’s a woman”. They just couldn’t believe it. I had short hair and I just looked too much like a man! I loved reading this article! Keep up the good work!

    1. Bounding Over Our Steps

      Hi Inge, I’m so glad that you could relate so well to the article. I’m also glad that your coming out experiences (whether you do or not in a given place) does not stop you from traveling and enjoying difference places and cultures. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. ELLA Festival

    Hi there!

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience, it’s undoubtedly helpful and also gives a voice to what many of us experience while traveling the world-

    Maybe if someday you come to Spain check the ELLA Festival and come see us, it would be great to meet you and share experiences.

    Let us know!

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