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April 13, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 15
 
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Tour De Life by Beau Burriola
Gay-friendly Greece?
by Beau Burriola - SGN Contributing Writer

All the research I did about Greece prior to leaving warned me severely: if you are Gay, be discreet. From travel book guides to Internet travel sites, the advice about how to act around conservative Greeks was mostly the same. Outside of the infamously "Gay isle" of Mykonos, being openly Gay isn't likely to be received warmly and could evoke unpleasant responses. With all the warnings, we half-expected to spend Easter weekend weathering the disapproving scowls of old ladies and running from cross-pointed spears of Orthodox priests, drumming up the masses to chase us into the sea.

We started out fully intending to be as discreet as advised. After all, we thought, there was no sense in bringing on unnecessary discomfort. Part of traveling around the world means accepting that other folks aren't as wide-minded as you yourself might be, so Julien and I started out looking like perfect strangers. Still, since he lives a few thousand miles and a few countries away, a little affection was inevitable. The stolen kiss turned to the brush of a hand and, within a day, found us like many other tourists, walking hand and hand in the shadow of ruins.

Our lack of resolve on remaining completely apart provoked a most incredible response: almost nobody batted an eye. Hospitality and friendliness flowed from every person in every place. As far as we have roamed, the Greek people have been marvelous and helpful every step of the way. Julien and I agree hands down that our treatment in Greece so far has been better than any other city we've visited. There were some sketchy moments in Sicily, Vancouver, and even a couple in France, but for those Greeks who responded to two affectionate men at all, the response has been overwhelmingly pleasant.

After our initial welcome, I wondered a bit if any of the folks who wrote the Lonely Planet: Greece guide or any of those travel web sites were "out" much, or if their assumptions and fears were the same that we (cautiously, justifiably) have against all those people who we just aren't sure of. When we think of "Eastern Orthodox," maybe we think of the attacks of Russian immigrants on Micah Painter or those who have joined the protests against Gay Pride parades in San Francisco as of late; but maybe, like we do with all the religions and like they tend to do with us, perhaps it is easier to define folks by their extremes instead of their realities.

I can now say with confidence that being Gay in Greece is not only comfortable, it is enjoyable. We feel like we've been treated the same as anyone else and as we head to Crete and Rhodes, we are sure that whatever adventure we encounter will not have a thing to do with the whole "Gay thing."

For today's traveling Gay couples, that is no small thing.

Beau Burriola is a Seattle-based Queer traveller, ticking off the places on his list to go.
visit Beau at www.beaubrent.com

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