We keep thinking about what a “gay tour” actually is. We’re offering them, but is it really clear what this means to travelers? It's not all drag queens, back rooms, booze, and rainbows. Sure, you'll find them sometimes, but a gay tour isn't just about the clichés.
We had visitors who were once astounded at how many stories we shared with them on a tour last year. They were overjoyed with how much they learned about gay life, and life in general, in Paris.
“We thought we’d just look at some gay bars, maybe,” one of the guys told us.
Apparently we surprised them. So we thought it might be a good idea to share what makes a gay tour, just so we’re all clear why there’s any interest in the first place to book a tour with a gay company, whether in Paris or beyond.
1. The guides
Newsflash. We’re gay. The guides who will guide you on a “gay tour” are living, eating, and breathing gay life in their destination, and we already told you why you could use one. We know it all and can share all of our information and experiences with you. We know what you’re looking for, what you need, what you might want to know. We’re by no means heterophobes, it's just that you won’t always find that with a non-gay guide.
2. The history
So-called gay destinations aren’t just about gay bars and districts. There’s a lot of history in Paris, London, Barcelona, and beyond that deals with LGBT struggles dating back centuries. Did you know Louis XIV had an incredibly flamboyant gay brother? Or that homosexuality was decriminalized in France during the French Revolution? There is so much to share, but most tour guides won’t get into the gritty details about the slang used by 19th century French people for lesbians. It’s just not on their radar.
3. The customers
Usually those taking a gay tour are gay as well. It’s cool, we’re OK with it. You have questions, you have concerns, and you can be open with us, and we can talk openly with you. Heterosexual couples might not get certain jokes, but the fact that our clients are mostly gay men and women means we are on the same page.
4. The boutiques and shops
Sure, Chanel and Louis Vuitton are great – no arguments there. But what about the various shops in Paris that have those slightly gay touches that tickle LGBT travelers? The bakery with penis-shaped bread? The candy shop run by that adorable gay man? The fetish shops? The over-the-top shirt store? The gay bookstores? We know these places and want to share them with travelers who will appreciate them. Every city has its gay-owned businesses, and as guides we try to highlight them.
5. The nightlife suggestions
This is an easy one that we also reiterate. If our families came on a gay tour, we don’t think they’d be interested in knowing about the saunas, the bars where you have to check your pants, or the clubs that have the best darkrooms. There’s always that one cousin that might be interested, but most of the family won’t want to hear it. On gay tours, however, we can speak freely about the variety of gay nightlife, lesbian bars, and other options that aren’t so mainstream even in the biggest cities.
6. The conversations
And the best part about a gay tour? All of the above indicators lead to honest, personal, enjoyable, and informative conversations. This is the defining marker of a gay tour – feeling like you understand what gay life is in your destination. That’s our goal. If you happen to pick up some information on a good backroom while you’re at it, well, you’re welcome!