What it is like traveling as a member of the LGBT community

Have you ever wondered if you can visit a certain state? Country? Town? Will you be hurt? Will people be mean? What if you have to go to the hospital? Will you be violated, or assaulted? Will they hurt your family? Will snide comments be made that will ruin your trip? Will you need to spend more to get out of an unsafe situation? Will you need to drive farther to make sure you are in a place where people will not just be nice to you but actually care that you are a person too?

This may sound extreme but LGBT people go through this everyday.

For our anniversary we wanted to go out to dinner with friends. Being that it was March when many Door County businesses are closed, none of the restaurants that we knew were open and affirming of all people were open. I hesitated for weeks to even make a reservation for fear it would mean outing myself and being treated poorly. I knew I would have to call places that gave no indication of believing in equality. In the end, after weeks of debating, I chickened out. I didn’t tell the place we were coming that it was celebrating my wife and mine’s 20th anniversary. We just went and ate dinner. I invited less friends because making it too big had worried me. I kept it low profile. 20 years and it still scarred me. People who know me will be surprised to hear this. It is the truth. I was too afraid. I helped start LGBT Door County so that people like me wouldn’t have to feel afraid.

At the suggestion of many friends we went to Alexander’s of Door CountyOur friends who were with us told the waitress it was our anniversary. I shuddered not wanting anyone to know. It turned out fine. Our waitress Laurel was LGBT Friendly, complete with surprise complimentary dessert at the end of our meal.

Ideally people who manage businesses will come to our trainings and learn more about what it is like to feel hated and judged, but also how to make your tourist attraction friendly to ALL people. If I would have known I was going to have a positive experience I would have invited more people to celebrate. The more people who join us, attend our courses, advertise with us and learn what it takes to erase hate will change the world. It will be another step toward peace. Help make it easy for people who are marginalized to know where they will be safe in celebrating their life.

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