As summer approaches, there’s a bunch of topics to talk about regarding the LGBTQIA+ Community: things to do, bathing suits, meeting people….the list goes on. While I’ll get to those, I’d like to talk about a struggle that doesn’t get enough visibility: going to a foreign country as a member of the LGBTQIA+ Community. Whether you’re studying abroad, going on vacation, or just planning a trip, here’s some information about the safety and different things to think about.

So, where will you go?

The truth is, it’s illegal to identify as LGBTQIA+ in 79 countries. I won’t list them all here, but here is a link to the list.

What ya there for?

I’m not suggesting you stay away from those 79 countries. I’m a big advocate for traveling and getting out of your comfort zone, and doing that would be limiting yourself. I am saying to be careful with your expression and actions that may get you into trouble.

It’s interesting to think about sexuality and gender identity and how while there are certainly stereotypes, you have to physically disclose or display it for someone to be sure. So what’s so hard about that? Well, as someone who was possibly going overseas soon, it’s just something that’s not very fun to have to think about. Plus we are always talking about the stereotypes people have of the LGBTQIA+ Community so there may be pressure to change the way you look, act, or speak so you don’t appear to fit them.

Studying Abroad

While I have not studied abroad myself, I do know and have researched information about it. Using Goabroad’s LGBT Study Abroad Guide and an LGBT Student Guide for Education Abroad, I discovered a few things that are important to think about:

Will you be accepted in that country? By the students at the university your studying at? By the group of students/faculty director?

Can you express yourself and/or come out to the people around you if you wanted to?

Will you feel comfortable with your housing or the family that is hosting you?

These are only a few, but I think the main ones that maybe people are not really thinking about in the excitement of possibilities of studying abroad. That said, if you answer these questions negatively, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. They are really just things to consider.

My closing thoughts

As someone who is very passionate about the LGBTQIA+ Community, my identity is something I think about often. Some of these times are when traveling, meeting new friends, or seeing old ones.

In those cases, if there are instances where I think someone might react negatively to learning about something surrounding the community, it doesn’t mean I deprive myself of that experience. While it might be scary to travel to a new location, it gets you out of your comfort zone and also lets you learn about other people’s views on the LGBTQIA+ Community.

I hope this helps you learn a little bit more about traveling as an LGBTQIA+ individual. It’s definitely an intersection that people aren’t talking about enough, and an important one. Unless this is a required trip, give it some thought, do some research, and talk to people that may be or have experienced the same situation. Safe travels!

Originally published on Color it Queer.