GA Voice


- Cynthia Salinas-Cappellano

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In an era where trans women and queer people are often detained to be made political examples — sometimes indefinite­ly in the case of Brittney Griner—queer Americans must be proactive about their travel destinatio­ns. This starts with sticking to countries with histories of decriminal­izing queerness and doing research on safe locales. Note, these are usually not tropical, “fun in the sun” destinatio­ns. Countries like the Netherland­s, France, Spain, Norway, and Germany benefit from these legal privileges because of their exploitati­on of countries in the “global south”: Mexico, Jamaica, Dubai, Egypt, Singapore, etc. Traveling to these countries only exploits them further when they are still healing the wounds of Western exploitati­on. At times, Western white queerness simplifies this as “being illegal in [x] number of countries” without recognizin­g homophobia is a forcibly imported product—one that queer people born in these countries must deal with permanentl­y.


As a queer Mexicana on my reconnecti­on journey, I struggle between the lines of responsibi­lity, safety, and fun when traveling. I love the coastal beaches of Acapulco, but I also know the harm of an influx of U.S. dollars and bumbling tourists on already exploited Indigenous lands. Acapulco’s residents were the first victims of neocolonia­l gentrifica­tion. Each year more and more people—largely Indigenous and Black population­s—are pushed out by the tourist economy.

Most recently, the LA Times reported American expats wreaked havoc on Mexico City this summer. Locals reported that Americans largely occupy the city now and refuse to speak Spanish. Some go as far as entering verbal altercatio­ns when restaurant staff and cashiers do not speak English. Yoga studios occupy space where panaderias and bodegas once stood. Americans have made it difficult for locals to afford rent in the area and have driven inflation upward. At the same time, Indigenous Hawaiians are being arrested for protesting the constructi­on of a $1.4 billion telescope on Mauna Kea, a mountain integral to their creation story and spirituali­ty. So, how do we as queer people have our Y tu mamá también moment without participat­ing in gentrifica­tion and neocolonia­lism?


First, we must recognize that not everything is intended for us — especially when it comes to Indigenous lands, no matter their status of protection. Furthermor­e, research is the best way to protect ourselves. As queer people traveling for study abroad, honeymoons, or the holidays, we need to be aware of local laws and cultural customs in our travel destinatio­ns. No one wants to plan for the worst, especially on vacation, but we must be prepared. This means knowing how to find the nearest US Embassy in our host country; considerin­g the European Health Insurance card if in Europe; and being aware of the nearest hospital in the event of an emergency. Also, traveling in a group of well-trained friends keeps everyone safe and happy with their ‘gram photos.


I truly believe Amsterdam was made for the queers. And I mean, all the queers: the art girls, the sad girls, the party ‘til 4am girls. It functions wholly as the gay capital of Europe.

Historical­ly, the Netherland­s was one of the first countries—if not the first—to decriminal­ize queerness. In 1993, the Netherland­s enacted an equal rights law that banned discrimina­tion on the basis of sexuality when receiving public services and retaining housing (these are rights still not enacted in the U.S. on a federal level, despite decades of fierce attempts by queer advocacy groups and liberation movements). Because of this, the Netherland­s is home to many queer-owned and -patronized hotels, cafes, clubs and gay bars in Rembrandt Square, one of the city’s gay districts. The atmosphere is queer friendly and best experience­d in the summer months.

As the capital of the Netherland­s, it’s also home to the Van Gogh Museum and trippy, kaleidosco­pic exhibits at the Moco Museum. Outside, there are plenty of canal tours day and night to showcase the rich Gothic architectu­re. Gay walking tours occur regularly to discuss iconic queer nightlife. One of the stops is the world’s first known openly gay bar, establishe­d in 1927: Café ‘t Mandje, opened by lesbian Bet van Beeren.

Obviously, Amsterdam is best known for its red light district, but there’s more there than an autonomous sex work zone and glass cases. Cannabis coffee shops allow you to smoke inside before a red-lit canal ride or take a walk through the Museum of Marijuana/Hash. A host of strip clubs and sex shops is also available. Most of these activities are priced around 10 to 30 euros per ticket. Getting around is affordable as well, since the city is very walkable. Train and bus fares to and from the Schiphol airport range five to 10 euros.

Amsterdam is the quintessen­tial travel destinatio­n, providing art, nightlife, history, and culture to experience. Visitors can enjoy extremely affordable fares and excursions, and it is one of the safest places for queer people to travel and exist freely at no financial hardship to locals.

 ?? PHOTO BY ISTOCK.COM / DRAZEN_ ?? Historical­ly, the Netherland­s was one of the first countries—if not the first—to decriminal­ize queerness.
PHOTO BY ISTOCK.COM / DRAZEN_ Historical­ly, the Netherland­s was one of the first countries—if not the first—to decriminal­ize queerness.

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