Are you thinking of traveling with a group that is same- or mixed-gender? For some it is important and for others, it does not matter.
Above: A hiking week in the Alps with both gay men and lesbians
The author: Sasha Alyson is the founder of Alyson Publications, the country's leading publisher of gay and lesbian books. He sold that company in 1995 to start Alyson Adventures, which specializes in active and adventure vacations for gay men and lesbians.
Also of interest:
A look at
Also by Sasha Alyson:
Children of the Rainbow: A response to the controversy around the children's books Sasha published in a previous career.
Table of Contents of Venturing Out columns
"I want to vacation with both gay men and lesbians," my friend Joan asked me not long ago. "What's out there?"
Not a lot. Most of our community's opportunities fall into one of three categories: Trips of all men; trips of all women; or "gay and lesbian" trips that are 80 to 90% men.
Not everyone considers that a problem, of course. Single-sex groups are popular, and for just the reasons you'd expect. Woody Allen once quipped that bisexuality doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night. If you're gay or lesbian, it's a same-sex trip that doubles your chances of meeting Mr. Right or Ms. Right Now.
Some travelers have other reasons for preferring a same-sex group. "I can't stand the PC nonsense that you always get from lesbians," a man told me. "Men always want to be in control," said a lesbian. Dan Ware reports that his company, TotoTours (800-565-1241), finds that older gay men often prefer an all-male environment, while Generation Xers usually enjoy a mixed group. Ware is committed to having both men and women on his trips, though when staying at clothing-optional facilities, he will sometimes target only men.
Price has a big influence on gender ratios. RSVP (800-328-RSVP), originally famous for its cruises, has branched out into a "Club RSVP" resort package. Paul Figlmiller, the company's marketing director, says that cruises get about 10% women, while the resorts, often priced lower, get 25%.
Different activities draw different mixes. Whitewater rafting seems particularly popular with lesbians. Mariah Wilderness Expeditions (800-462-7424), a lesbian-owned company offering rafting to the general public, has women-only trips that are about 80% lesbian, reports co-owner Donna Hunter. Their designated lesbian and gay trips get about 30-50% women, and they often run charters for gay and lesbian groups. "Many women still want women-only trips, but we're seeing more women who want to mix with men. There's not as strong a need anymore to make such political statements," says Hunter. The 1998 Gay Games in Amsterdam also seem likely to draw a mixed group, according to Kevin Kailey of Above and Beyond (415-284-1666), which will run a 1998 tour there.
This fall, my own company will try a new approach: For a bike trip in France, we've reserved half the spots for gay men, half for lesbians. If this proves popular, I hope other companies will try it. (Alyson Adventures, 800-825-9766.)
What should you do if you want a particular mix? Ask clear questions of the tour operator. They should be eager to steer you to the trip that best fits your interests.
On several occasions, I have heartily recommended the lively and practical gay travel newsletter, Out & About. This month, I'm proud to welcome Out & About's guiding lights, Billy Kolber-Stuart and David Alport, who will contribute a few paragraphs each month.
Summer lovin' gets better and better as gay events offer fun in the sun from coast-to-coast. While most circuit parties happen in New York, LA, Miami and San Francisco, these events bring hundreds and thousands of gay people into some interesting, less-traveled destinations. If you've never been to Austin or Atlanta, Pensacola or Albuquerque, this summer provides a unique opportunity to combine your exploration with a little recreation.
For men, May brings the 6th annual Wild & Wet Weekend in Montreal (514-875-7026), organized around a party at Canada's largest dance club. Pensacola has become a major gay destination for Memorial Day weekend, and Jeffrey Sanker's Beach Maneuvers Party (888-777-8886) is one highlight. July Fourth weekend, Sanker takes over Laguna Beach, California with the Laguna Surf II party. Hotlanta (404-874-3976), one of the oldest gay events, will turn the river into the world's biggest gay raft party and water fight August 7-11.
For women, Wiminfest (800-499-5688) takes place in Albuquerque, May 23-25. The Women's Music Fest (317-927-9355) will follow in Bloomington, Indiana the weekend of May 29th. The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (616-757-4766) is the Grandmammy of them all, August 12-17th near Hart, MI. For those who can't say goodbye to summer, Key West's Womenfest '97 (305-296-4328) offers a chance to hold on a few more days, from September 3-9th.
Gay women and men both flock to the Gay
Days in Orlando , June 5-8th, for the unofficial "gay day at Walt
Disney World," and associated events. The last weekend in August is
Austin's Last Splash (512-476-3611), a lake-side and lake-top party closing
the summer (Splash Days also start the summer the first weekend in May).
Next Month: 1997 AIDS Rides and Gay Tours in Europe.