The Evolution of Traveling for Queer Families

gay couple with young child

In recent years, a lot of the media coverage on queer travel has focused on queer couples and honeymoon destinations. That’s natural in the years following the legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states, as well as in some other countries across the globe. But gay couples often welcome children into their family, and these queer families are becoming another focus that the travel industry needs to watch.

According to a Community Marketing & Insights 2017 report on LGBTQ tourism, 85 percent of queer parents with children under 18 have taken one trip or more in the past year. But how are these families feeling about traveling today in an out and proud way? We asked a few for their thoughts.

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David Molino Dunn, a New Jersey-based flight attendant who’s married with a two-year-old son, takes about 10 trips per year, thanks to his airline job. Dunn thinks the world is definitely changing.

“I think people are becoming more accepting of LGBTQ travelers. At the end of the day, most people are respectful as long as you are respectful in return. It’s a two-way street,” he said.

“On the last night of our Transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2, an older gentleman approached us to comment on how wonderful it was that we live in a time where a family of our makeup is possible. He told us we were doing a wonderful job and that he had enjoyed watching us onboard the ship for the past week. It was such a sweet interaction.”

Jason Howe and Adrián Pérez Boluda, married for a decade, live in Los Angeles with their six-year-old twins, Clara and Olivia. They generally take about four family trips in an average year, Howe said.

“Maybe two road trips here in California and two involving airplanes. We visit Spain to visit my husband’s family once or twice a year and try to do a couple of road trips while we’re there. Our goal is to do at least one other international trip a year, but we haven’t been very good about achieving it,” he said.

“Last year, we took the girls to Yellowstone to witness the total solar eclipse and this year, we did a quick trip to Mexico City over Memorial Day weekend. We crammed a lot into our three days—Teotihuacan, Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, the Ballet Folklórico—it was the sort of vacation you need a vacation to recover from, but the girls are still talking about the pyramids and have caught the travel bug, so it was worth it.”

Howe feels that gay families that do travel face an easier climate than in years past.

“While we’ve never had any negative experiences related to being LGBT, I can’t help but think that attitudes have improved for LGBT travelers as our community’s legal and social victories have mounted,” he said. “Oddly, I was most nervous about our trip to Wyoming—a quick Facebook check of our Airbnb host showed that she appeared to be a conservative Christian. But she was lovely, and we had a great stay.”

And Dawn Ennis, who is widowed with three children, ages 12, 16 and 19, also is a frequent traveler with the kids, often taking 10 trips per year. Based in Connecticut, Ennis has found some better attitudes overseas, but overall, her experience has been mixed.

“Our experiences in Ireland were outstanding, and I felt a little less welcomed in Scotland (the U.K.),” she said. “I felt people were a little more suspicious and standoffish. In the United States, I think gay-haters and transphobes feel they can be more outspoken—and I’ve experienced this kind of hate personally, especially in states like Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. I’ve traveled the U.S. extensively and been welcomed in California, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana and throughout the mid-Atlantic and New England.”

Meanwhile, Dunn said that today’s politics, however, represented an unfortunate turn for queer families—and a specific worry for his own household.

“As far as the U.S. goes, even though we have yet to experience any specific discrimination, the current political climate concerns us,” he said. “More people feel enabled to come out and say hurtful and hateful things. The president has not encouraged any sort of unity or message of love and inclusion.”

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