Come Out and Play

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 17 2007 12:00 AM ET

Unless your
profile is public enough to draw attention in grocery store
aisles, coming out can be a daily task. Like groundhogs, we
find ourselves coming out again and again, to new
friends and coworkers, unsuspecting acquaintances, and
the occasional relative. Even when it’s years
behind us, coming out remains a monumental personal
achievement. Yet we don’t tend to see it as
cause for an actual celebration. This year, why not
combine the act of coming out with a fabulous gay getaway
for you and somebody you love?

Go Where the Gays Are

Dip your toes
into gay-friendly waters at one of the ever-increasing
number of gay-popular destinations around the world. In
Provincetown, Mass., as nowhere else on earth, gay
women and men crowd streets and beaches all year long.
Fall may be the most perfect time to visit: Crowds
have thinned and events like Provincetown Women’s
Week light up the calendar. Or just head for the
mother ship: San Francisco still reigns as the most
gay-friendly, gay-popular, and gay-integrated destination in
the country, if not the world. If your hometown is
still a little stressed in the gay department, a
couple of days in the Castro will do you a world of
good. If you’ve got your passport handy, there's
an easy acceptance of lesbian and gay visitors in
friendly Curaçao—rooted in Dutch
tolerance, filtered through a laid-back island sensibility,
with a touch of Curaçao's singular
progressiveness thrown in.

Take to the Waves

If you want a
full-immersion, all-gay vacation, there’s a flotilla
of enticing cruises to consider. To celebrate the
unrestrained joy of being out, book a berth between
two hot South American destinations—Rio and
Buenos Aires—with Atlantis’s Rio Carnival
Cruise (February 3-15, 2008; AtlantisEvents.com; from
$1899). Those on board will experience a packed
itinerary on Celebrity Infinity, consistently
ranked one of the top three ships in the world by readers of
Condé Nast Traveler. For a more intimate break on the
breakers, RSVP’s Barbados Bliss (March 1-8,
2008; RSVP.net; from $1895) will whisk 227 pampered
passengers from one stunning island to the next by luxurious
private yacht. While guests on these two cruises are mostly
gay men, women have a tempting array of cruises to
choose from, courtesy of Olivia. Ready for a quick
turnaround? Then snap up one of the last cabins
available on Olivia’s 100th trip, Sunsets of the
Mexican Riviera, which sets sail from San Diego
(October 20-27, 2007; Olivia.com; from $2,299). The
voyage includes some of Mexico's sultriest spots, from
Puerto Vallarta to the Sea of Cortez.

Take a VIP Tour of Very Important Places

On your travels,
don’t forget to visit the increasing number of
monuments to gay-related causes. There are more than a
dozen sites in existence or in advanced planning
stages where we can go and pay our respects to those
who have fought the battle, paved the way, or been lost in
the struggle against AIDS and persecution. In New
York? Don’t miss pop artist George
Segal’s 1979 sculpture Gay Liberation in
Sheridan Square. Commemorating the 1969 Stonewall riots that
kicked off the modern LGBT rights movement, it
features two same-sex couples, cast in bronze, on a
park bench. If you’re in Florida, take a moment to
acknowledge the more than 1,000 names inscribed on the flat
granite monuments of Key West AIDS Memorial, a tribute
to those who have loved Key West and who have died of
AIDS. If you’re sightseeing in Amsterdam, stop
by the city’s Homomonument. Unveiled in 1987, it
commemorates the suffering of gay men and lesbians
during the Third Reich but also acknowledges the
persecution endured by gay men and lesbians throughout
history.

Make a Statement

Sometimes the
best way to replenish is to make a difference, and the LGBT
movement could certainly use your help. Campaign against
proposed antigay amendments in state capitals or
find other ways to lend your voice to gays demanding
justice. Where to start? You might try South Dakota,
Nebraska, or Virginia. All three states have banned same-sex
marriage, civil unions, and any marriage-like contract
between unmarried people. If you’re really
bold, consider traveling abroad to show solidarity with
queers in other countries. Joining a pride parade in Moscow
or Warsaw will open your eyes to the challenges we all
face.

Lend a Hand

Can’t get
time away from your daily routine? Then make a difference
right where you are. Volunteer, meet people, and learn
more about our community at an LGBT festival. Pitch in
and join your local LGBT center or LGBT help line.
Sometimes you can cover the most distance just by traveling
across town.