To start, yes, this photo was taken in Beaver, Utah. And the irony made us exceptionally happy campers! Here’s how lesbians do Utah…
It’s hard to describe the awe of the desert. The extreme heat followed by freezing nights and the magnificent scenery found at every corner. The vibrant oranges with crisp blue skies makes any wannabe photographer gasp at the sheer majesty. It’s hard to capture its beauty in a single shot but we try. Utah is one of those places we wish we could live forever because it hosts some of the most beautiful national parks in the USA: Zion, Arches, Cayonlands, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef just to name a few. For outdoor adventurers like rafters and climbers, there is so much to do and to discover. As outdoors-women, we are entranced by its beauty and feel we’ve barely scratched the surface of what Utah has to offer.
We Sometimes Have a Hard Time Being Out
As out lesbians, on the other hand, Utah comes with mixed emotions.
Let’s talk about what it has been like as two lesbian ladies traveling through Utah. It’s been, well, kind of what we expected. We expected to be in the closet more often than not. And we expected people to be confused by us. We get asked if we are sisters, a LOT. How do we answer? Honestly, it depends. Sometimes we say, nope, she’s my wife. Other times… well…if it’s a burly man asking while sporting a confederate flag, standing next to his overly sized pick-up truck? Then the answer is yes, we are indeed sisters.
ARE WE OUT WHEN WE TRAVEL?
For us, we are both very proud to be out.
We both come from families where it was not ok to be gay, so being out and openly gay represents huge victories for our self-identities. Being out in all aspects of our lives –to family, to work, friends, and in public helps us celebrate being lesbians which is extremely important to us, our mental health, and a victorious testament to how much rejection and fear we had to walk through to get here.
So why is it different around strangers while traveling?
Right now, we feel that flying under the radar while traveling is different than stepping completely back into the closet.
This may be controversial, because some may say coming out to strangers is an opportunity to educate people who have never met an out gay person before. Yet, changing someone’s mind about our LGBT community in a brief interaction is not worth the risk of being verbally harassed, or asked how we have sex (yes, happens more often than you would think coming from complete strangers) or in extreme cases risking our lives. We have yet to feel like our lives are in danger in the USA, but if our spiny senses are uncomfortable about PDA, we generally shy away.
It’s All Circumstantial
Sure, if we were engaged in a deep, meaningful interaction with different types of people, then we let them know we’re married. But in a gas station parking lot where people are simply trying to make sense of two women traveling alone? For us, it’s not the time or place. Some LGBT people may be braver than us and some people don’t have an option to “pass” as straight. We totally understand the deep desire to stay far away from rural towns. Some of these towns remind us of parts of our childhoods where it wasn’t safe to be out, either physically or emotionally. So we’re not sure, if our caution is perceived or real, but as two women traveling alone, we tend to stray to the “safe” side.
For us, we would rather say we’re sisters at times and feel safer exploring the world.
In conclusion, Utah is a breathtaking destination, and we definitely recommend a visit. But we sure are looking forward to holding hands again when we get to Nevada!
After “passing” through Utah, it makes us appreciate even more the times and places where we feel super comfortable being affectionate in public.
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