As a young gay couple who have travelled the world, Auston Matta, 34, and David Brown, 29, have a great perspective on travel, and enjoy sharing travel stories and advice through their website, Two Bad Tourists.
The guys are originally from Phoenix, Arizona, and call themselves ‘bad tourists’ because they prefer to travel their own way and avoid the pressure of hyper-sightseeing. Rather than visiting the standard tourist sites, they make an effort to meet locals, through couch-surfing, for example. They say that this has given them their best travel experiences, as they have learned to open up and trust strangers who have let them into their homes and shared their favourite home town experiences with them.
Speaking to Lonely Planet, Auston and David have picked their top five spots for weekend breaks for LGBTQ travellers.
Madrid is one of our favorite cities and is currently our home town. It is perhaps the most gay-friendly capital city we’ve ever seen, and with nearly 10% of the population identifying as LGBTQ, it’s incredibly tolerant. The community is loud and proud, not only in the gay neighbourhood but across the entire city. They have the largest gay pride celebration in Europe and will host World Pride 2017, where they expect three million attendees.
Iceland is one of the most progressive places in the world with regards to LGBTQ rights, and is a unique experience not seen anywhere else in the world. Amazing nature, landscape and geothermal wonders make this a must-visit place.
Slovenia is unrated and unknown to many people, yet is incredibly beautiful, friendly and relatively progressive, considering its location in eastern Europe. It’s ahead of its neighbours with regard to LGBTQ rights and is a tourism dream come true. Ljubljana is particularly welcoming, progressive and beautiful.
There is a huge LGBTQ community in Tokyo but it’s really underground. Japan is a bit of an isolated destination and is unlike any place we’ve been. It’s interesting, safe and technologically advanced. You might not be able to be open in terms of PDAs as you would in other western places, but there’s really no risk to safety. Simply follow the cultural norms and you’ll be fine. Best way to find the LGBTQ scene is to meet a local – try a gay dating app or couchsurfing to connect with a local who can show you everything.
South Africa is a stunning country and Cape Town is one of its gems. Not only is the landscape one-of-a-kind and incredibly picturesque, it’s very forward-thinking and welcoming to the LGBTQ community. It’s a fantastic destination that is well worth the long trip.
Auston and David say that gay people should always be aware of their surroundings and try to understand the cultural norms while travelling. ‘Your personal safety is in your hands and it’s important to be a smart traveller,’ they say. ‘If you’re going beyond the known gay-friendly places, you should do some research in advance. But also don’t let your identity stop you from visiting places you want to see. Just like any traveller going to a foreign place – be smart, be safe, do your research and know how to best blend into the culture.’
The guys were married in 2008 in Sedona, Arizona, with 100 of their closest friends and family present. Same-sex marriage was not recognised in Arizona, so there was no legality to the marriage. In 2014, they decided to officially get married again in Spain as it was recognised there, and did so in a small town outside Madrid named Rascafria.
Their family and friends were incredibly supportive around their journey to leave home and travel the world. Travelling long-term with someone is probably one of the most socially challenging things you can do, they say, whether it’s with a family member, friend or partner. ‘We learned that we are very different in many ways and that we need to give each other space and let each other be individuals,’ they say. ‘We’ve had some tough times on the road together, but it has helped us become stronger and build a better relationship.’
To keep up with Auston and David’s travel adventures, please visit Two Bad Tourists.