I recently had the wonderful opportunity to travel outside the country with my lovely partner. Our primary itinerary was to Milan, Italy, and we had a layover both ways in Istanbul, Turkey. Both our families freaked out, worried for our safety. We didn't have the same concerns they did, but we did wonder: As a couple comprised of a constantly female-clocked NB and a fabulously-femme lady partner, how would we be received by the people at each destination? What resources and what sort of queer scene would we find abroad?
As it happens, there is a large and esteemed LGBTQI* rights organization headquartered in each country where we stopped. Turkey has Lambda Istanbul
, founded in 1993 and headquartered in Istanbul. In Italy, it's Arcigay
, headquartered in Bologna, and you can buy a pass from them that allows you entry into some of the community's exclusive LGBTQI* night-life attractions. Founded by gays and lesbians with the initial goal to the rights and support of those communities, both Lambda Istanbul and Arcigay also fight for the rights of gender-variant folks in their respective countries.
In the end, my lovely partner and I didn't have a single moment of fear in either place. In fact, we weren't even verbally harassed, not once -- which, coming from Santa Cruz, was such a happy change in pace. We are very excitedly talking about plans for a dedicated visit to Istanbul and have no worries that we will be at least as comfortable in that city as at home. I hear that Taksim Square is particularly inviting.