Whether backpacking in Southeast Asia, solo traveling in South America, or just on a city break in Europe, you’re a part of a community of travelers. And as an LGBTQ traveler, there’s an instant connection and sense of camaraderie. Traveling while gay (or queer, or LGBTQ, or…) instantly makes you part of a community.
“Community” is a word often used when talking about LGBT issues, but, at a broad stroke, the LGBTQ community is made up of a mix of genders and sexualities. We all end up lumped together with an all-encompassing acronym despite a diversity of people and ideas.
Thankfully, the LGBTQ community is increasingly accepting and diverse. But it can still be a challenge to meet other LGBTQ travelers and make gay friends whether at home or when traveling.
5 ways to connect with LGBTQ travelers
1. Connect on LGBTQ Facebook groups
Our world is increasingly more connected on social media networks, and Facebook is pretty much the biggest. One of the best ways to meet other LGBTQ travelers is to look for and join various Facebook networking groups.
Many groups exist specifically for certain regions and cities. And while there are many that are specifically for the LGBTQ community, some of the larger city-wide groups can be equally useful. For example, there are huge groups for some cities, such as “Secret Tel Aviv” and “Free Advice Berlin” run by volunteer moderators.
Joining one of those city-specific Facebook groups can be really useful to get local tips for your next travel, or there are global Facebook groups just for LGBTQ travelers, such as the LGBTQ Travelers group which I set up last year as a way to connect.
How do you find useful Facebook groups? It can take some digging, but many travel guides are increasingly mentioning them as well. Use the Facebook search feature to look for groups based in the city you plan to visit with popular terms like gay, LGBT or queer + the city you plan to visit.
2. Use Instagram to make friends
Even if Facebook groups are a a great way to connect and collect travel tips, Instagram is great for making friends and meeting new people. The information you might get from a Facebook group will be useful for planning a trip, but if you’re looking to make friends or meet new people, then Instagram will be more useful. That’s probably why Instagram is also one of the best dating apps!
There’s also an under-utilized search feature on Instagram, which can be helpful for making gay friends. If you search certain hashtags or locations, you’ll often stumble on cool spots to check out.
3. Get travel inspiration from Reddit
The “front page of the internet,” Reddit has always been a favorite spot to connect online. It’s also often cited as a social media network because of the Reddit community, though most people don’t necessarily think of it as a network. But gay and lesbian people have been using Reddit for a long time to connect and share important information, tips, and advice for the community.
There are a number of different Reddit groups (subreddits) which are useful for the community. Again, like the Facebook groups, there are many subreddits dedicated exclusively to certain cities—and many of those actually arrange Reddit meetups. There are other, more specific subreddits to just gay life in many of the biggest cities around the world, too, but you’ll find the best Reddit meetups in the non-LGBTQ-specific groups.
Looking to meet LGBTQ travelers? Join my Meetup.com group, Queer Travel Social, to meet local LGBTQ travelers here in New York City.
To connect with other LGBTQ travelers and the larger LGBTQ community, though, there are some great places on Reddit to find information, ask questions, and get advice. One of the biggest LGBTQ subbreddits is /r/ainbow, but for LGBTQ travelers, you can also join my brand new /r/gaytravel subreddit.
4. Read and follow LGBTQ media
Despite an increasingly segmented world, many niche media outlets have had to shut down. GayStarNews was the latest LGBTQ publication to stop publishing—a big surprise for the LGBTQ community. But more local LGBTQ publications still exist around the world.
Gay bars and clubs are often the “go-to” spot as makeshift LGBTQ community centers (though those also exist) and you’ll often find printed weekly & monthly guides or magazines available in those spots. LGBTQ-owned and LGBTQ-friendly venues often connect and work together to provide a community space for the locals, and as a traveler, if you can tap into the local scene, you’ll be privy to all the best local travel tips.
From the Philadelphia Gay News to Siegessäule in Berlin, there are still at least 100+ independent LGBT publications from around the world. This website maintains a global directory of LGBTQ media outlets. For places where LGBTQ resources may be more limited, these kinds of local publications and guides are often online-only, such as Element Mag which serves Singapore. These digital magazines often provide weekly or monthly event calendars, plus interviews and stories from the local community.
For any LGBTQ traveler, finding these locally published magazines should be at the top of the to do list if you’re looking for the most recent travel information.
5. Get out there and make new friends!
Of course, the best way to make gay friends (at home or abroad), is to simply put yourself out there and be willing to talk to strangers. Hang out in the gay bars, meet new people at the gay clubs, and attend LGBTQ community events and festivals.
Go to drag shows (often a great way to meet people because they’re so social), and visit LGBTQ community centers (where you can often find pamphlets and flyers for LGBTQ events and LGBTQ-owned businesses).
The best gay travel experiences come from connecting with other LGBTQ travelers and locals, so you just have to make sure you get out there to make new friends and meet new people—as much as you can digitally on social media as in the real world.
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