First Time Nerves – Stepping Out And Proud On Your First Gaycation
Coming out is an incredibly liberating experience. It involves the kind of deep acceptance of self and unofficial ‘rite of passage’ transition which many straight people arguably lack. However, it can also be very stressful. For those from traditional, conservative backgrounds, coming out may involve an agonising battle between being your true self and being rejected by the culture from which you hail. That’s something which nobody should have to go through but, alas, it occurs all too often. Thankfully, people are slowly becoming more open-minded. People are finding it easier to come out now, and they’re doing it at younger ages, confident in the knowledge that they’ll be loved and accepted no matter what. Nonetheless, going on vacation for the first time as an openly gay person can be daunting. It’s one thing to expose yourself to those you know and love, and quite another to expose yourself to the unpredictable reactions of strangers in a foreign environment. In fact, as it turns out, going on a ‘gaycation’ can be one of the most rewarding and empowering things you can do as a newly ‘out’ homosexual. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your very first Gaycation.
Don’t Stress It
It’s sadly true that we have not yet achieved a society in which everyone is treated like the human that they are, and bigoted ignorance is a thing of the past. Having said that, life for today’s newly-out homosexuals is a lot better than it was twenty or even ten years ago. The media doesn’t help to make the stress of coming out and living as an openly gay person any easier, by taking ghoulish delight in reporting on things like the high prevalence of mental-health issues among homosexuals (largely caused by the stress of non-acceptance and minority struggles) and the related likelihood of things like substance abuse disorders. They also love to devote a lot of page space to hate crimes against gay people. Of course, it’s really important that this kind of thing comes out into the open so that society can deal with it – but the consistently doom-laden manner in which the media treats homosexual issues can make those who have just come out very worried about their future, and the way in which the world will perceive them. All we can say on this score is: don’t be worried. Really, don’t be. The world is a different place to what it was in the seventies, and people are a hell of a lot more tolerant. On your first gaycation you’re much, much more likely to find people who approve, validate, applaud, or are simply not bothered by your sexuality than you are the reverse. Naturally this is not the case the world over – some countries have a lot of catching up to do (as do some states, alas), but in general you’re likely to find that a gaycation expands rather than constricts your horizons and makes you more rather than less confident in your sexuality.
Head To Europe
We like to think that America is aeons ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to basic freedoms – but actually many European countries can more than give us a run for our money when it comes to gay rights and acceptance (as well as many other things). While there’s something of an East-West divide in Europe over homosexual rights (don’t take a gaycation in Russia. Really, don’t), Western Europe has by and large assimilated the idea and presence of homosexuality pretty flawlessly. While there is the odd flare-up of anti-gay feeling, it’s not nearly as pronounced as here in the US, and most Europeans you encounter on your gaycation won’t give two hoots whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or in a polygamous relationship with your household utensils. This may be because religion generally plays a very small part in European politics, and the Religious Right has virtually no power there, or it may simply be because the European media is more willing to treat homosexuals as humans rather than as caricatures. Whatever the reason, a gaycation to Western Europe will almost certainly leave you feeling empowered and confident in your status as an out gay individual.
Go With Friends
Humans are social beings, and the moral support of those you know you can rely on means a lot to many people. Taking friends with you will not only mean that you have people with which to share your gaycation experience, it means that you’ll be bolstered by their presence and affirmed by their support in the event that you do run into any nerve-racking situations. Needing the support of others is nothing at all to be ashamed of. It’s completely natural, and can help transform potentially stressful events into empowering ones. With the right location and the right company, your first gaycation could easily become the thing which makes you – something to remember for the rest of your life as an empowering, formative, and (most of all) fun experience.
Cover image: “CircuitParty” by Leah Love from Atlanta, GA, USA – Circuit Party. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons