By Matthew Breen
Originally published on Advocate.com January 09 2012 5:00 AM ET
I was born traveling; my first trip was at 6 weeks of age. My parents, who lived in Germany then, took me camping on the shores of Lake Garda, Italy, in August 1974. (They camped. I mostly just lay there.) By the time we'd moved to Utah when I was 3, I was a seasoned traveling toddler, having made a bunch of transatlantic flights between our home in Munich and my grandparents' homes at opposite ends of the United States. My parents were both schoolteachers and consequently not wealthy, but they prized experience, especially travel, above possessions. It's a priority I took to heart: When I have the money and the time, I'm on a plane.
Destinations, both domestic ("Gayest Cities in America,") and foreign ("Vienna's Got Balls," "Rock Out in Sweden"), are the subject of our special section this issue.
"Nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people," wrote Mark Twain in a letter in May 1867. Is this something we as LGBTs understand inherently? It seems we do. In the U.S., 85% of gay men and 77% of lesbians have a passport, compared with only 37% of the overall population.
Travel provides enormously valuable lessons, imparting a perspective that only being outside your homeland can provide. Those American voters suspicious of Barack Obama because he lived in Indonesia as a child ignore the fact that Newt Gingrich (hopefully a distant memory of a candidate by the time this reaches you) spent formative years in Europe. While most of Gingrich's views are anathema to me, his epiphany on a battlefield in France when he was 15 prompted him to enter politics to prevent future carnage, surely a noble goal.
Dissolving prejudice and learning history are great aims. But travel is also fantastically exciting. So pack your bags, and I'll see you on the road.