Navigating Unwelcoming Spaces: What to Do If You Check into an LGBTQ Unfriendly Accommodation

Feb 27, 2024

Traveling as a member of the LGBTQ community can be an empowering and enriching experience, offering opportunities for exploration, connection, and personal growth. However, despite progress in LGBTQ rights and acceptance, and more recently tensions growing in some jurisdictions, discrimination and prejudice still exist in some parts of the world. Unfortunately, LGBTQ travelers may encounter unwelcoming or unfriendly environments, including accommodations that do not support or respect their identity. 

If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s essential to know how to navigate it safely and assert your rights as a traveler. Here are practical steps and strategies to take if you check into an LGBTQ unfriendly accommodation.

City of Vancouver skyline on an grey, overcast day.

1. Assess the Situation

Before taking any action, take a moment to assess the situation and evaluate your safety and comfort level. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable due to discriminatory behavior or hostility from the staff or other guests, prioritize your well-being and consider leaving immediately. Trust your instincts and prioritize your safety above all else.

2. Communicate Your Concerns

If you encounter unwelcoming or discriminatory behavior, communicate your concerns directly and assertively with the staff or management. Calmly but firmly express your disappointment and discomfort with the treatment you’ve received and explain why their behavior is unacceptable. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and experiences without blaming or accusing the other party.

3. Request Alternative Accommodation

If you’re dissatisfied with the response to your concerns, politely request alternative accommodation options or ask for a refund. Explain that you no longer feel comfortable staying at their establishment and request assistance in finding a more LGBTQ-friendly accommodation nearby. Be prepared to search for alternative options independently if the staff or management are unwilling to assist you.

4. Contact LGBTQ+ Support Organizations

Reach out to local LGBTQ+ support organizations, advocacy groups, or community centers for assistance and guidance if you encounter discrimination or mistreatment at your accommodation. They can provide resources, support, and referrals to LGBTQ-friendly establishments in the area, as well as advice on how to navigate challenging situations while ensuring your safety and well-being.

5. Document Your Experience

Document your experience at the LGBTQ-unfriendly accommodation, including details of any discriminatory behavior, interactions with staff or management, and your efforts to address the situation. Take notes, screenshots, or recordings of relevant conversations, emails, or written communications as evidence of your experience. Documentation may be useful if you choose to file a formal complaint or seek redress through legal channels.

6. Seek Legal Advice

If you believe you’ve experienced discrimination or violation of your rights as an LGBTQ traveler, consider seeking legal advice from a local LGBTQ-friendly attorney or legal advocacy organization. They can advise you on your rights, options for recourse, and potential legal remedies available to you under local or international law. Keep in mind that legal proceedings may vary depending on the jurisdiction and applicable laws.

7. Share Your Experience

Consider sharing your experience publicly to raise awareness and advocate for LGBTQ rights in the travel industry. Write reviews, post on social media, or contribute to LGBTQ travel blogs or forums to inform other travelers about your experience and warn them about unwelcoming accommodations. Your firsthand account can help empower other LGBTQ travelers to make informed decisions and advocate for inclusivity and equality in the travel sector.

8. Support LGBTQ-Friendly Establishments

Show your support for LGBTQ-friendly establishments by patronizing and promoting businesses that prioritize inclusivity, diversity, and equality. Seek out and stay at accommodations that display LGBTQ-friendly symbols or affiliations, such as properties featured on HomoCulture using our gay travel guides, along with TAG Approved® or IGLTA (International LGBTQ+ Travel Association) certification. By supporting LGBTQ-friendly businesses, you contribute to positive change and create a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ travelers worldwide.

9. Advocate for Change

Use your voice and influence as a traveler to advocate for change and encourage greater LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance in the travel industry. Write to travel companies, tourism boards, and government agencies urging them to implement LGBTQ-friendly policies, training programs, and initiatives to ensure equal treatment and respect for LGBTQ travelers. Advocate for diversity and representation in travel marketing and media to promote LGBTQ visibility and representation.

10. Practice Self-Care

Lastly, prioritize self-care and emotional well-being in the aftermath of encountering discrimination or mistreatment at an LGBTQ-unfriendly accommodation. Seek support from friends, family, or mental health professionals if you’re experiencing distress or trauma because of the incident. Engage in self-care activities that promote relaxation, mindfulness, and resilience, such as meditation, exercise, or spending time in nature.

Be an Informed LGBTQ Traveler 

Encountering discrimination or mistreatment at an LGBTQ-unfriendly accommodation can be distressing and challenging for LGBTQ travelers. However, by taking proactive steps to assert your rights, seek support, and advocate for change, you can navigate the situation safely and empower yourself and others to promote LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance in the travel industry. Remember that you are not alone, and there are resources and communities available to support you along your journey.

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Brian Webb

Brian Webb

Author

Brian Webb is the founder and editor-in-chief of HomoCulture, a celebrated content creator, and winner of the prestigious Mr. Gay Canada – People’s Choice award. An avid traveler, Brian attends Pride events, festivals, street fairs, and LGBTQ friendly destinations through the HomoCulture Tour. He has developed a passion for discovering and sharing authentic lived experiences, educating about the LGBTQ community, and using both his photography and storytelling to produce inspiring content. Originally from the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Brian now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. His personal interests include travel, photography, physical fitness, mixology, drag shows.

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