As I think about traveling as a gay man or as part of a gay family, I try to consider what makes our travels gay. Yeah, um, it’s just that we’re gay; nothing else. I was sitting here analyzing our adventures and writing for my own blog, 2TravelDads, and realized that our journeys aren’t any different from what a straight family does. We camp. We take the kids to Mexico and Disneyland. We take our own child-free trips. Nothing about anything of these things is exceptionally homosexual. So what is it that makes our travels gay?
I figured it out. It’s how we feel in the places we go. When we visit cities, we are sure to stroll through the neighborhoods and see the sights/people. We might try to hit the gayborhood too if the city has one. Nothing too gay about this, I guess. What makes our travels gay is that as much as we try not to think about it, different areas give a different vibe of acceptance, and hence we feel like a gay family traveling.
Example: when we go to San Francisco, we don’t just go to the Castro; we venture into the Haight and into the Mission. Each place has a completely different feel. Each place embraces us differently. The Castro wants to hug us. The Haight is indifferent. The Mission wants to make sure we’re fed, but doesn’t want to chat.
Some places we truly feel at home and we get smiles from everyone we pass; other spots make us feel a little less than comfortable. Depending on where we are we interpret this as “Awwww, people think our family’s cute,” but sometimes as “People are staring at us because we’re two dads.” Ideally we just get to play tourist or go find a café to chill in, but it can be tough to not feel watched. Unintentionally, I’m always catching the glances and stares. This is just something that I’ve got to get past, but until I do, I’ll still feel like a gay traveler.
Recently we took our kids camping. It was our first camping adventure with all four of us. It went great. Everyone slept well and we had fun.
As we were setting up camp though, we were being watched. A couple close by was just staring as we unpacked and shared responsibilities with two kids. It was obvious that we were not the standard family. Were they watching because they were curious if we operated differently and used magical powers or because they were waiting to see what sort of down the gay guys lined their tent with? We were being watched as a gay family, a novelty. Either way, they indiscreetly watched us until they checked out. It was enough that I was distracted and uncomfortable. Moving on…
During the same trip we encountered a completely different type of traveler. An elderly couple set up camp directly next to us and paid no mind to us dads at all, but focused on the kids and just wanted to talk about kids and travel and food and such. When we were about to leave after the weekend, the woman told us that our family was beautiful and she wished she had a dad like either of us. Through all of our interactions with them, we felt just like a standard family, traveling and showing our kids the world. We weren’t gay dads with kids, just a family out camping.
Wherever we go we’ll feel something; we’ll get some vibe from the people. I’d like to think that everyone will only ever be welcoming or see us as normal, but that may not be the case. In the meantime, I’m personally working on not paying attention to the eyes peering at us, but just on the little people that we’re responsible for. We’re making sure the kids see the sights and meet lots of people. Our hope is that the world will learn to see us for what we are: just another family.