[otw_shortcode_quote border=”bordered” border_style=”dashed”]During our last holiday to Portugal we got quite a few funny looks from us just simply holding hands[/otw_shortcode_quote]
In April, the Foreign Office updated its travel advice warning gay and transgender travellers visiting the American states of North Carolina and Mississippi to be careful. The land of freedom and opportunity is still just that – as long as you’re not a transgender person wanting to take a whazz in a public toilet.
I’ve travelled a lot on my own but now that I have a super full time long term girlfriend we have been travelling together. Other lesbians and gays will be familiar with that nervous few moments when you first approach the hotel’s receptionist with your partner and check in to your double room.
A few things go through my mind when you first give your booking details to the receptionist: are they going to say anything about us being massive lesbians? Will they say that we can’t stay at their hotel because of our sexuality? Or will they press the homosexual button where rainbow flags drop down, Wham bursts out of the radio and suddenly two sparkling pink cocktails appear in our hands. Sounds fabulous. Even if they don’t say anything, you know that they’re going to be thinking something to do with our sexuality.
Once you do get past the receptionist you are finally in the safety of your hotel room where you can be as gay as you like. But in the morning, you’ll need to go down to breakfast. Anyone who has gone down to breakfast in a hotel knows the awkward walk from the door to the table when everyone is looking and most likely judging you; this is never truer than when two people of the same-sex on the morning after Valentine’s day walk into the breakfast room.
When my girlfriend and I went on a romantic weekend to Eastbourne, she had booked us the spa suite with a Jacuzzi in the bedroom, rose petals on the floor, prosecco in an ice bucket and the towels shaped like two kissing swans on the bed. It’s crystal clear what this room is used for.
When we walked into the breakfast room, the waitress asked us which room we were in, we’re in the Oceania room, we told her. ‘Oh, the Oceania room,’ she replied, before walking us through the crowd of straight couples enjoying their grapefruits whilst silently looking both of us up and down.
Usually when we go down to breakfast I give the waitress our room number and then she turns to my girlfriend and asks for her room number too. No, we’re in the same room. ‘Oh, is that a twin room?’ was literally what the waitress asked us when we stayed at a spa in Chatham.
In February we are going to Thailand, and although the country is well known for its lady-boys and women with remarkable ping pong skills, their attitude towards the gays is still rather conservative. There are certain countries I would never go to because of the way they treat LGBT people and especially how they treat women, but if I didn’t go to every country that wasn’t completely accepting of my sexual orientation then I would never travel.
During our last holiday to Portugal we got quite a few funny looks and reactions from us just simply holding hands. It made me feel more uncomfortable than when my credit card gets declined and there’s a massive queue behind me.
I don’t mind “toning down” my gayness whilst in other countries if it means that I can travel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to deny who I am and start wearing dresses, take out a clutch bag and drink gin and tonics while I smile at the bartender through my thick fake eyelashes. I’m still going to be in my jeans, with my backpack on drinking my fourth lager with my girlfriend sat next to me doing the same thing. I want to travel the world and see different cultures and places and if that means that I don’t get to hold my girlfriend’s hand while we walk down the beach then it’s a worthy sacrifice. I’ll just make sure we have mad passionate sex when we get back to the hotel room.
Jenna Wimshurst is a designer and writer from Bromley who studied media and film production at Exeter College and Bournemouth University. Having performed stand up in and around London for two years she is now focusing on comedy writing whilst travelling with her girlfriend. She is currently writing her first novel and is in the planning stages of a hopefully hilarious sitcom.