Vacation planning has been on my mind lately; mainly how to escape from the Yukon this winter to warmer climes.

I have been inspired by the stories from friends who are abroad. One in particular is the filmmaker I profiled recently who is travelling all over Europe and attending the many Pride celebrations there.

Vacation planning is different for us because I do try and seek out “gay friendly” destinations and establishments.

Of course that clearly keeps Iran and Uganda off my list, but oh well.

When exploring a new destination, I will first ascertain if it has interesting historical and/or cultural sites and events, then weather is always a factor, price and accessibility and then I Google to see how the queer community is and if they do have gay-specific hotels or even gay-specific areas.

I don’t always choose to stay at a gay hotel, as I don’t feel it is necessary, but I like to explore the option.

Also a consideration is how the local population responds to gay people. It is a consideration as to how “out” we can act. There is always the threat of homophobic reactions from people, so being more conservative is often the best bet.

We always have to be prepared for the reactions of the locals if we book a hotel room with one bed. I know many gay couples that simply choose a two-bed room to avoid any hassles.

Going to a Catholic country like México can mean that we have be cognisant of their beliefs. However, México in recent years has proved itself to be very tolerant and accepting. Gay hotels are common as are gay beaches and areas.

Many queer people choose to go to big-city Pride celebrations for their holiday. I was thrilled to see an ad on CTV from Vancouver celebrating Pride. When mainstream networks will voluntarily advertise Pride Week, we have made great gains.

As parts of the world become more and more tolerant of queer culture, other parts of the world choose to become less tolerant. The views of the Ugandan government to make homosexuality illegal and punishable by death shows the extreme prejudice that still exists.

For every gain we have made in the west, we have to be forever vigilant as those gains can be taken away in a flash. Educating and showing people that our lives are really no different than theirs and that we are no threat is an on-going battle.