In 1999 the gay politics and lifestyle magazine The Guide published an article, “Postcards from Around the World,” which celebrated gay men as the world’s sexual adventurers. “More than serially-coupled heterosexuals or long-mating lesbians, gay males are the free radicals of social life. Rare is even the ‘monogamous’ gay relationship not peppered by extramural flings. And if homophillic desire is defined by attraction to the same, on another level, it’s characterized by the pursuit of the exotic. All the great pioneers of homosexual identity – Oscar Wilde, Wilhelm Van Gloeden, André Gide – were sex tourists.” While heterosexuals “are weighed down by the practical imperatives of ‘proper’ match-making” gay men, “with relationships founded on nothing more than personal magnetics and pleasure, support a richer internal heterogeneity. Take that queer male lust for variety and throw in the democratization of travel and communications in the late 20th century, and the result is a gay worldwide web of friendship, affection, and sex.” Though The Guide’s author exaggerated straight (and lesbian) monogamy, his depiction of gay male travel habits was spot on.
Though The Guide magazine is sadly gone, gay sex tourism remains vital in the 21st century. “What is Gay Sex Tourism?” asks the web site www.sextourism.net/gay, which proceeds to answer its own question: “Sex tourism is the practice of traveling to a domestic or foreign city with the purpose of taking part in sexual activities. Gay sex tourism is simply sex tourism for gays! The types of activities that gay sex tourists participate in vary – some go with the sole intention of having sex with others whereas others only partially go with that intention.” The gay sex tourism industry, we are told, “is a niche tourism market that is starting to catch on more predominantly around the world. As homosexuality is becoming much more acceptable around the world, more and more people are openly taking part in gay sex tourism and it is expected to become a much larger and open industry with new specifically gay sex tour companies opening up all the time.” The Australian historian Robert Aldrich discussed gay sex tourism in the 19th and 20th centuries in his books The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art and Homosexual Fantasy (1993) and Colonialism and Homosexuality (2003). Michael T. Luongo collected accounts from more recent gay sex tourists in Between the Palms: A Collection of Gay Travel Erotica (2004), Looking For Love In Faraway Places: Tales of Gay Men’s Romance Overseas (2007) and Gay Travels In the Muslim World (2007).
Berlin publisher Bruno Gmünder Verlag, which knows a thing or two about gay sex and gay tourism, has done its part for gay travel literature with the recent publication of The Promiscuous Traveler ($17.99), a collection of travel tales by a well-traveled gay sex tourist known to us as Sebastian V. “These pages are a diary, a confessional, a record of what happened, to somehow make it all real and permanent. The tales are fantastical and masturbatory, but the facts are as solid and honest and unforgiving as the earth,” Mr. V tells us. ”I am a promiscuous traveler. And the title is that on two accounts. The first reason is a little more oblique: I never like to go back to the same place twice. The second is more traditional: I’ve tasted so many different types of men. Young, old, big, small, brown, black, white, straight, gay, or simply just men. I appreciate all the tastes of all the cuisines of the world.”
According to Mr. V, his travels have taken him to more than 70 countries – “Even Greenland, even Antarctica” – and he enjoyed sex in most of them. “I’ve had sex on trains, on boats, in speeding cars, [even] in a horse carriage,” he writes. This very promiscuous traveler’s sexual adventures are catholic; that is, universal. They include trysts in such places as Puerto Rico, Estonia, Senegal, Russia, Australia, Ghana. Hawaii, Tahiti, Morocco, Hong Kong, Egypt – even the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. The stories are well-written, and they are as interesting as they are stimulating. But are they true? No doubt Mr. V, like most men, exaggerates his sexual conquests. On the other hand, there is no reason for us to doubt him. So let us enjoy The Promiscuous Traveler for what it is, a joyous celebration of gay sex tourism.
by Jesse Monteagudo