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  1. #1
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    Any other Queer bike tourists "out" there?

    I have posted this on crazyguy, but got little response. I am six months into a tour of Latin America (from California) and finding that continually passing for straight is getting somewhat old. I wonder if other queer (lesbian, gay, transgendered, etc.) bike tourists have been out on tour in countries other than the U.S.
    It's not that I feel the NEED to declare my sexuality to every guy (it's usually guys) that ask about the wife, or where I think the most beautiful women are, but part of me is just plain fed up with passing, letting it slide, not saying anything, or making up some lame response. Not sure I will ever find myself brave enough to come out on tour in Latin America, but definitely would like to know if others have dealt with this.
    Last edited by Dubzo; 10-18-12 at 05:08 PM. Reason: correcting geography

  2. #2
    eternalvoyage
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    I think you would be able to find more responses on other sites. Sorry you are having difficulties. Part of it might be your choice of words. In some subcultures the q word is accepted. But for the large majority it does not seem to be as acceptable as the word gay. That just seems to be the way it is.
    I have run into several who are gay on tour. Hetero males in general are unappreciative of aggressive advances by gay males (some very). Most are appreciative of advances by hetero females.
    My suggestion would be to go by your sensitivity to specific cases and situations, and not to come across as aggressive.
    Case by case awareness seems better than blueprints applied generally.
    Hetero Latino culture has a strong or very strong element of machismo. I don't think most of them are terribly open to people who cross certain lines with them. Roberto Duran was flagship machismo, and the Latinos loved him for it. There are some great comments by Burt Sugar about his machismo and his place in their culture and hearts -- and another, more subtle side of machismo -- in a short documentary about Duran. You can find it on youtube.com.
    Why do you have to make it an either-or--either pass/pretend (which feels dishonest or like you are hiding) or declare? It seems possible to find other ways.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 10-19-12 at 07:12 PM.

  3. #3
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    There aren't too many places in Latin America which are gay-friendly. Off the top of my head, I can think of Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and Buenos Aires. San Jose, Costa Rica isn't too bad, either, I suppose. And then there's Brazil. Other than perhaps those places, it's unfortunately safest to pass unless you've gotten to know the person and have judged the situation. I went to a language school in a small town in Costa Rica for a few weeks and I lived with a local family. There was no way I was going to come out to anyone in that particular family. One of my teachers, however, was cool. She asked me one day, "tienes una novia...o un novio"? (she wasn't born yesterday.) So I answered her honestly, which led to some great conversations. But she also recommended that I NOT tell another teacher there, because that one was super religious. She also agreed with me that I shouldn't come out to my Tico family.

    I have a little rainbow sticker on my helmet. I was sitting on a park bench next to my bike in a city in Chile's Lake District, when it became clear that a guy was cruising me and was being urged on by his friends. We eventually started chatting, and I learned that he had noticed my sticker.

    I toured in Mexico once with a straight friend (in the Yucatan), and once with a gay friend (in Michoacan/Jalisco). When we got to the Caribbean coast in the Yucatan, my straight friend wanted to go to some awful gringo bar/restaurant (Senor Frogs, I think) in Playa del Carmen, which had lots of tourist chicks imbibing too much alcohol. I begged off and went to eat by myself in a hole-in-the-wall in the non-tourist part of town and had a better meal for 1/3 the price. My friend did not get lucky.

    A few years ago, I noticed a "Companions Wanted" ad in the Adventure Cycling magazine. The guy mentioned that he was gay. I contacted him just to find out what sort of response he had gotten, and whether he got any nasty homophobic responses. If I recall correctly, he told me he hadn't received any responses at all.

  4. #4
    Senior Member huie's Avatar
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    I'm gay and toured the length of South America and then across Canada (crazyguyonabike.com/vagabondingsa). I met lots and lots of touring cyclists but I didn't come across any gay ones. Or I may have met some but I didn't make it a habit to ask about their tires, panniers, and then their sexuality. I experienced the same thing as you though. Lots of questions about where the hottest girls can be found and girlfriends, etc. I'd come out to people I hung out with a lot but in general I didn't feel any need to tell everyone I was gay.

    In January my fiance and I will be touring Southeast Asia (>hojobiking.com). Southeast Asia is supposed to be very gay friendly but as oppose to here where we make plenty of PDAs, in Asia we're planning on keeping a low key.
    Finished my tour up South America and across Canada. Now I'm nearly on the road to ride Southeast Asia with my fiance.

    Follow our ride at hojobiking.com and my twitter

  5. #5
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    Thanks huie and axolotl, those are the kinds of replies I am hoping to get; input from others who have had the experience.
    I definitely don't feel the need or even desire to come out to everyone I meet, and this isn't about hooking up, either. It's just that, after six months of basically pretending I'm straight, it has gotten really stale. I'm tired of posing as something I'm not. And I think a lot of people would be better off having their stereotypes shattered.
    I long for a world where sexuality is a non-issue, though I know that world might not exist in this universe any time soon.
    I do realize it isn't the worst thing to ever happen to me, and I am not letting it ruin this terrific adventure. Just hoping to commiserate, I guess.

  6. #6
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    I can see how that would be a drag. While I don't talk about my family, I guess it is possible that I would let out the fact I had one, and then move on to other stuff, having put up the wall. I never discuss any of the topics you mention with casual contacts. I guess it is still a big ask to want a non-sexual context to live in were one blathers on endlessly about sexual identity and the possible outlets for it. I guess you could shut people down by saying you are gay, but the other alternative is to let it be known you don't want to talk about sex when it come up, because apparently you don't. Think of yourself as Mormon, or something. People with strong religious beliefs, or "conservative" dispositions, manage not to talk about where to pick up folks, and normally it is with some subtle cue like a frown. I've never taken drugs, and somehow I manage not to have a lot of discussions with people about drugs either. I'm sure other folks hook up and talk endlessly about where they can score and how hammered they were, etc....

  7. #7
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Your perception of Latin America in regard to gay/lesbian/bisexuals might change quite a bit once you cross the border. Certainly, you wouldn't want to advertise it in big letters as you might still encounter bigotry in certain areas/countries. My partner and I have been happily living here in Mexico for the past two years, although we have been coming down here for the past five years (since we bought our house.) I can only speak for Mexico, but everyone (locals and expats) have been more than welcoming - more so than in many places in the U.S. We have traveled extensively to many parts of Mexico with the same positive experience. We are straight-acting and never show public display of affection, but if we ever get asked, we don't hide it (that rarely happens and if it does we've realized by then that that person is gay-friendly.) Every year we see more and more gay people from all ages (mainly from North America) who move down here and love it.

    Having said the above, there are still places you might want to be a little cautious or keep a low profile. Remember that you will cover a lot of territory quickly on a bike, so things will change by the day. Definitely be careful in villages and rural areas where people tend to be very conservative and narrow-minded. I would not carry a rainbow flag/sticker on my bike! I have read reports of bigotry in certain places of Central America (I believe it was in Honduras/Nicaragua, but not sure) where straight males wearing spandex (bike touring) have been verbally harassed by ignorant guys with a "macho man" attitude (they normally hang out in groups.) Panama (lived there for a long time) is like Singapore - so modern in so many aspects but still pretty backwards in regard to gay rights and viewed as "wrong" by many (Yes, the Roberto Duran macho and anti-gay attitude described above is very much alive there.) Most of South America seems to be up-to-speed vis-a-vis gays, especially in larger cities. You will get a feel for every place and adjust accordingly. Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay (Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador apparently are not that far behind) are gay friendly places. YMMV.

  8. #8
    eternalvoyage
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    There is another possibility that might be of help: exercize your right to select good environments and situations to a greater extent.

    We aren't always able to select; but in many cases one can select -- and it seems possible to extend or expand that as well.

    If I had selected my living and study situations (for example) more carefully and thoughtfully or insightfully, it would have made a huge difference for years of my life. Instead of judgmentalism, interference, misunderstandings, and various forms of difficulties and even hostilities, it could have been accepting, enjoyable, mutually enriching, full of life and goodwill and friendship.

    Wouldn't it be possible to take extra care to put yourself in more of these sorts of good environments and fewer of the others?

  9. #9
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    Dubzo, thanks for starting this thread. After I replied to you, I was wondering if anyone else would come out. I thank all of you. For the small number of replies so far, there have been a relatively large number of views. Curious straight people or GLBT folk wondering whether to post?

    For your current travels, my suggestion is to feel grateful that you're able to do what you're doing, and also know that you'll be able to return home to a society where you can much more easily be yourself than is possible in most of Latin America. (But there are certainly still parts of the USA which aren't more enlightened than much of Latin America, and even at home we're continually being used as a punching bag by various politicians and others.) Also realize that what is a temporary frustration for you, is the permanent state of affairs for those GLBT folks who grow up in the places you're passing through.

    I don't think that most straight people realize that coming out is a continual process which never ends. Every time we are interacting with others, there are routinely moments when we have to decide whether to self-censor. I've been posting on this forum for nearly 8 years, and there certainly have been times when I self-censored. It gets old. It got old.

  10. #10
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    Hey - I'm one of the viewers/not-posters. I'm a gay-friendly straight person, if it matters. I don't have anything particularly helpful or relevant to add, other than, man it SUCKS that you have to think about such things, and I hope the world keeps getting more accepting, that you can tell whatever truths you feel like, and no one gives you any grief for it.

    Anyway, I guess I clicked on this because last month, on tour on the Oregon coast, I met a guy who was out in a very casual way, to me and to other random touring folks. He was just like 'blah blah blah my boyfriend blah blah blah' ... and it was just part of the conversation.

    I thought about writing something earlier, but Oregon Coast <> Latin America, so that little snippet of experience is irrelevant, and I don't know anything about Latin America (which is a huge continent, so probably can't really lump it all together, yeah?) - so I didn't write anything. So, yeah, nothing particularly helpful.

    One of the things that I find kind of awkward about touring is that usually every conversation is a first (and last) conversation, so it's hard to have deeper, meaningful connections with people - which might lead in your case to know whether you could share your queer status and connect further vs. needing to protect yourself from prejudice by staying quiet about that facet of yourself.

    That experience of being not-all-yourself is actually not one that is completely particular to your queerness. I personally have a rather black sense of humor and can be sarcastic, but I find myself dialing that part of my personality way back on tour, because most people don't "get" me -- I realize it's not the same as your situation, but, just drawing a little parallel, that might help you re-frame what you are going through in a hopefully helpful way.

    Anyway. Hope your tour goes well.
    ...

  11. #11
    Seņor Wences jwbnyc's Avatar
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    Your average Joe probably considers all bike tourists to be queer.

    We should all just accept it.

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Turn down the flame and just ride the bike, w no expectation of affairs,
    and not seeking them, is likely to not have you stick out .. blend in..


    there is 'Out' ,and there is just keeping your own council,
    and just riding your bike to see the countryside..

    Many times people have same sex travel partners,
    separate sleeping bags.. and perhaps tents , to go separate ways..


    Having Lived in San Francisco in The 80's,
    there are as I note various amounts of showing the preference..
    'Full Castro, to J Edgar Hoover

    I don't want any more Matthew Sheppards , Be safe. and careful .

    have a nice memory of a GF, a NZlander I met in Scotland,


    But it was just serendipity.. i made 2 prior tours no expectations..

    now 65, my hormones are in Remission..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-24-12 at 12:08 PM.

  13. #13
    Goes to 11. striknein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Turn down the flame and just ride the bike,
    You're responding like it's a choice.

    w no expectation of affairs, and not seeking them,
    Really?

    is likely to not have you stick out .. blend in..
    In a society where simply choosing to travel by bicycle is often seen as aberrant behavior, exactly how much blending can a person do? Besides, it's not like it's the prerogative of every homosexual on a bike to roll into town shirtless, proudly displaying their nipple-ring steering acumen.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nagrom_ View Post
    I actually just run calipers. Levers are for scrubs.

  14. #14
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    This....
    Quote Originally Posted by jwbnyc View Post
    Your average Joe probably considers all bike tourists to be queer.
    ...probably not this.
    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Even the rural US is unhealthy, if you get targeted.. Matthew Sheppard..
    I would guess most folks are happy enough to leave you alone... especially if you have the aroma of 3 days' laundry wafting...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Turn down the flame and just ride the bike, w no expectation of affairs,
    and not seeking them, is likely to not have you stick out .. blend in..
    "Turn down the flame..." Flame? Who mentioned flame? You wouldn't think I was queer if you met me. (And no, telling a gay man he "doesn't seem gay" is not a compliment.) "...expectation of affairs..." I have already stated clearly that this is definitely NOT about hooking up. This is about being able to be myself while interacting with others. The best part of these last six months has been the connections I have made with people, and I am not referring to sexual connections.

    And blending in? I don't expect to blend in on tour in Latin America. I want people to stop assuming I am straight, or Christian, or rich, or whatever. I want to feel comfortable enough to correct people, very matter of factly and casually, when they assume I am straight, without fear of reprisal. That's all. I know, it's a lot to ask. I posted this hoping to hear from other queer bike tourists, if they have had similar experience, and learn how they dealt with it.

    ---------------------------
    10-19-12, 09:42 PMjwbnyc
    Your average Joe probably considers all bike tourists to be queer.



    And no, being on a bike does not usually lead to the same kind of discrimination that being labeled queer often does. Equating the two, while I understand the sentiment, is insensitive and offensive to queer people.

    Whew! There, I've said my piece.

  16. #16
    Senior Member juggleaddict's Avatar
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    how did you twist bicycle touring and sexuality together in your head? Get out and ride more. There's introspection and then there's that. . . waaaay beyond in the distance somewhere.

    If your problem is people accepting you for who you are, then that isn't a biking issue. You can either lie, or buck up and be proud of who you are.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    I don't have anything particularly helpful or relevant to add, other than, man it SUCKS that you have to think about such things, and I hope the world keeps getting more accepting, that you can tell whatever truths you feel like, and no one gives you any grief for it.
    Totally agree.

    I'm neither gay nor male but I kind of know where you're coming from - being a single female biking alone I am constantly asked if or assumed that I am married etc. I much prefer to be honest and say I'm single, but it leads either to the same questions (why not? being the main one. In many cultures 30 is old to still be single) or to unwanted advances. So I sometimes I say I'm married just to make it simpler/safer. It's really rather tiresome sometimes.


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    Quote Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
    how did you twist bicycle touring and sexuality together in your head? Get out and ride more. There's introspection and then there's that. . . waaaay beyond in the distance somewhere.

    If your problem is people accepting you for who you are, then that isn't a biking issue. You can either lie, or buck up and be proud of who you are.
    You clearly don't get it. Try re-reading Dubzo's original post. And as hard as it is, trying putting yourself in someone else's shoes, because you're being pretty flippant about other people's personal safety and well-being.

    If this were an ideal world, there would be no danger in always answering questions honestly and not self-censoring in normal conversation. But it's not an ideal world, and I routinely have to gauge each conversation and each situation to quickly decide what I feel I can safely say. Increasingly I feel I can speak honestly and matter-of-factly at home (the USA), but it's not true yet in most of Latin America.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Dubzo, have you been to Uruguay? It's one of the most progressive countries in Latin America, and I imagine you'd be able to be yourself there.

  20. #20
    Senior Member huie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
    how did you twist bicycle touring and sexuality together in your head? Get out and ride more. There's introspection and then there's that. . . waaaay beyond in the distance somewhere.

    If your problem is people accepting you for who you are, then that isn't a biking issue. You can either lie, or buck up and be proud of who you are.
    Like it's been said you do not get it. Have you ever been on a bike tour before? Have you ever interacted with another person before? Often times people ask questions to get to know someone a little better. People may ask if you're married, have a girl friend, what you do for a job, etc. The original post is not about how best to gay up his bike but how to deal with situations when an honest answer may not be well received.
    Finished my tour up South America and across Canada. Now I'm nearly on the road to ride Southeast Asia with my fiance.

    Follow our ride at hojobiking.com and my twitter

  21. #21
    Senior Member juggleaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by huie View Post
    Like it's been said you do not get it. Have you ever been on a bike tour before? Have you ever interacted with another person before? Often times people ask questions to get to know someone a little better. People may ask if you're married, have a girl friend, what you do for a job, etc. The original post is not about how best to gay up his bike but how to deal with situations when an honest answer may not be well received.
    If it's an issue of personal safety, then I wouldn't really want to bother with the person anyway.I would avoid the topic first of all, and I would lie or divert and move on. I am accepting of others but my one exception is those who don't have acceptance for others.

    I understand the difficulties, but I wonder why Dubzo would subject himself to those people. It seems the larger issue is coping with strangers whether on or off the bike. Perhaps I am naive as to how often sexuality comes up on tour vs any other time. Maybe there is something about being on the road and meeting strangers that invokes that kind of response in them, but I haven't experienced it.

    All of my tours haven't been about meeting people, they've been about getting away from people, and I know that's not what everybody goes out touring for.

    Would you all have the same reaction about someone who was Hindu going through Latin America? Do you think the topic would come up that often? Do you think they would feel the need to tell everybody that they were Hindu or divert religious questions? I'm more curious than anything. Is there something about sexuality that is different? What about political views?

    You do have to consider that nobody is intentionally attacking you here, and you're the one that is feeling the need to withhold information about yourself for one reason or another. If you have a good reason, then why is that such a bad thing? It gets old pedaling up those hills too, but it's worth it. I think that the part that bothered me is that Dubzo is viewing his sexuality as a curse or a burden, and that it should affect other (seemingly unrelated) aspects of his life.

  22. #22
    Senior Member juggleaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
    You clearly don't get it. Try re-reading Dubzo's original post. And as hard as it is, trying putting yourself in someone else's shoes, because you're being pretty flippant about other people's personal safety and well-being.

    Truthfully I hadn't considered personal safety, and I apologize for coming off abrasively. Hopefully my other response doesn't sound like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
    Truthfully I hadn't considered personal safety, and I apologize for coming off abrasively. Hopefully my other response doesn't sound like that.
    Thanks, juggleaddict. I appreciate that.

    Re: your reply to huie:
    It's not that specifically sexuality comes up that often with strangers (but heterosexual men do sometimes bring it up, such as when making lewd comments about an attractive woman). Most straight people don't realize how frequently entirely innocent questions are raised when talking to strangers while traveling. (Yeah, I like to talk to folks when I travel. I also like practicing foreign languages.) I have often been asked if I'm married or if I have a girlfriend. If I simply answer "no", you'd be surprised how often I'm then asked "why not?". Or sometimes be told, "you should meet my sister" or something similar to that. Sometimes it's said as a joke, but not always.

    Think about how often people have banter in the workplace about what they did over the weekend, with casual mentions of spouses or girlfriends/boyfriends. Think about the simple action of putting up a photo of your significant other. (I have been out at all of my recent jobs)

    Religion can occasionally be as problematic as sexual orientation, but I've found it doesn't come up with the same frequency, either overtly or inadvertently. Also, in most places, it's not as risky to be honest about religion.

    I've had many political discussions when touring, but I never bring it up first. I had a memorable discussion about American politics with a man in Thailand. It was rather extraordinary for a Thai person to bring up something like that in a somewhat confrontational manner. His daughter was translating for us. But when I told him my honest opinion, which was in complete agreement with him, it was wonderful to watch his facial expression change to a big smile as his daughter was telling him what I had just said.

  24. #24
    Senior Member eja_ bottecchia's Avatar
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    I guess I just don't see the problem.

    If they ask where is your wife, a simple "I don't have one" should be enough.

    If they ask where to p/u hot chicks a "I don't know" should do it.

    Sexuality and gender issues are the farthest things in my mind while I am riding.

    Am I missing something?
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by takeonafrica View Post
    Totally agree.

    I'm neither gay nor male but I kind of know where you're coming from - being a single female biking alone I am constantly asked if or assumed that I am married etc. I much prefer to be honest and say I'm single, but it leads either to the same questions (why not? being the main one. In many cultures 30 is old to still be single) or to unwanted advances. So I sometimes I say I'm married just to make it simpler/safer. It's really rather tiresome sometimes.


    I'm with you guys. No one should have to be who they are not.

    Unfortunately, though, you'll always find someone out there just looking for an excuse, be it ethnicity, sexuality, gender, or just because you don't fit. I've never toured South America, so can't comment on that, but I'd would advise simply trusting your senses and playing it by ear.

    I believe the majority of humanity to be friendly, helpful and generous. Just watch out for the knuckleheads.

    All the best and hope it goes smoothly.

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