Hitting The Road – Biking Vacations For The LGBT Community
by Sally Calder
It’s been a long time since motorcycling was the exclusive preserve of the aggressively heterosexual white American male. While it still retains much of its cultural masculinity, biking no longer comes with the connotations of exclusivity and aggressive bigotry with which it was once afflicted. Plenty of people within the LGBT community have taken up motorcycling. For some, it – along with things like following sports and so on - is a way to engage with and assert their masculine side, challenging the societal view that gay men in particular must be effeminate. The homo-masculine and ‘leathermen’ cultures have contributed greatly to the way in which the world views gay people, and have helped them to be seen as human beings rather than a set of stereotypes. They have also helped to open up the world of motorcycling for all enthusiasts who like the freedom and exhilaration of a bike! If you’re so inclined, spending a vacation motorcycling around the world can be a truly incredible experience. Here’s a guide to some of the best biking vacations to be had:
Going It Alone
Obviously you don’t have to join any LGBT-specific tour to enjoy a motorcycle vacation. You could just hit the road of your own volition, on your own or with friends. The great freedom of biking is of course, one of its major enticements! However, you would be advised to do some research before you head off into the wide blue yonder. Make sure that your bike is prepped and generally ready for whatever the road has to throw at it – but also check out the reputation of the places you’re thinking of heading to. There has unfortunately been a rise in homophobic hate crimes in the USA, and some areas may be best steered clear of unless you feel like acting straight for the duration of your stay. This is sadly a particularly relevant piece of advice for those travelling by motorbike, as even in this day and age some people still see a biker as a challenge by which they can ‘prove’ their ‘masculinity’ – and a gay biker may well be viewed as an affront to that very same masculinity. Pitiful, but (alas) true. On the plus side, plenty of people are a lot more enlightened, and will be perfectly happy to treat you like any other vacationer. Just be sure to do your research and make sure you’re heading somewhere with a warm welcome!
Get Some Local Advice
There are lots and lots of LGBT biker groups all over the world. Wherever you’re going you’re bound to find a group of LGBT bikers with plenty of valuable local knowledge! If you want to get the lowdown on the area, find out the best biking routes, or even join like-minded people for a ride, making contact with one of these groups is a great way to go about it. Some even offer dedicated tours which could make for a great vacation! You’ll also find that there are plenty of organizations which offer guided biking tours and vacations, particularly within the United States. Again, do your research before signing up for any of these – you don’t want to be saddled with a homophobic guide for the duration of your vacation!
See The World
It is easy to combine a biking vacation with some sightseeing. If you’re planning on travelling to Europe, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by how LGBT-friendly Europeans are. In many ways, the USA still lags behind enormously when it comes to LGBT rights, and Europe – particularly Western Europe (the less said about Russia the better…) – is forging ahead. Europe is a fantastic venue for biking – amazing history, beautiful and varied scenery, a wide and fascinating mix of cultures, and some of the best roads on the planet! If you’re planning on travelling abroad with your motorcycle, again, do your research before heading off – paying particular attention to the highway laws, which are different all over the world. You don’t want to head off to Britain, Ireland, Australia, India, or New Zealand, for example, only to be completely flummoxed by these countries’ system of driving on the left!