Home » PASSPORT’s Favorite Books For June 2024

PASSPORT’s Favorite Books For June 2024

Hot Type For Savvy Travelers

by Jim Gladstone
Books for Savvy Travelers June 2024

“Some feel like a party, others like a prayer…These gathering places form odd communities, giving us a sense of belonging to each other and the earth.”

Jim Gladstone for PASSPORT

THREE FOR THE ROAD: Twenty years ago, even those of us who pride ourselves on traveling light might schlep along a pound or more of paper in the form of volumes from popular guide book series including, Let’s Go, Lonely Planet, and Rough Guide.

But guide books, along with postcards, travel agencies, Fotomats, and AAA TripTiks, are among the many travel related products and services left dead or gasping in the internet’s wake. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The digital counterparts of these pre-millennial relics often provide enhanced convenience, lower cost, less environmental damage, and more up-to-date information. Few tears have been shed over the demise of infernally unrefoldable paper maps. And few queers miss the days when a quickly-dated gay guide book could lead them to establishments that had shut down or been taken over by unwelcoming owners. So, what sort of printed guide book still makes a worthy purchase or gift for LGBTQ+ travelers today? It should be as much about inspiration as information. It should have utility beyond a single trip. It shouldn’t feature long lists of addresses and opening hours for hotels, restaurants, and attractions, but it should provide plenty of queer-centric insight on recommended destinations without stereotyping our travel goals as clubbing, cruising, and shopping. Two newly published volumes not only share success in addressing these prerequisites, they also (awkwardly) share a title.

Out in the World: An LGBTQIA+ (and Friends!) Travel Guide to More than 100 Destinations Around the World by Amy B. Scher and Mark Jason Williams

Out in the World: An LGBTQIA+ (and Friends!) Travel Guide to More than 100 Destinations Around the World by Amy B. Scher and Mark Jason Williams

The first, by friends and travel writers Amy B. Scher and Mark Jason Williams, Out in the World: An LGBTQIA+ (and Friends!) Travel Guide to More than 100 Destinations Around the World (National Geographic. $30. bit.ly/OITW_Passport) and focuses on destinations and activities in which all queers (male, female, trans, and non-binary) can feel safe and welcome. Another of the book’s strengths is identifying U.S. destinations beyond the obvious coastal enclaves with vibrant queer communities; it provides a rainbow-colored key to cities including Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Ojai, California; Galena, Illinois; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Bloomington, Indiana, noting queer-owned businesses to support while you’re there. Packed with photos and illustrations, the book is eminently browsable and quirkily organized. A section called “Boozy Trips and Trails” offers inclusive itineraries through Dublin’s breweries, Scotland’s whisky distilleries, and South Africa’s wine country. Another chapter called “Fun Haunts & Spooky Spirits” leans into the queer affection for Halloween with tips on visiting supernatural sites in LGBTQ+-friendly locales, including Prague, Savannah, and Vancouver.


Out In The World: The Gay Guide to Travelling with Pride by Stefan Arestis and Sebastien Chaneac

Out In The World: The Gay Guide to Travelling with Pride by Stefan Arestis and Sebastien Chaneac

The second new volume, Out In The World: The Gay Guide to Travelling with Pride (Pavilion, $30. nomadicboys.com) is by Stefan Arestis and Sebastien Chaneac, London-based husbands well-known for their blog and website, Nomadic Boys. It’s written in a cheerful, chatty tone with first-person anecdotes about the couple’s own adventures, and will prove most useful to gay male travelers. An excellent source of inspiration for wander lusty young queers aspiring to get their life’s travels underway, it pairs infectious enthusiasm with brief but valuable general guidance, particularly in regard to trips to fascinating but more conservative parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. There’s sensible advice on public displays of affection, the use of social media abroad, the value of using a VPN internet service, and traveling with PrEP and HIV medications. Leaning heavily toward Europe and Asia, it’s not nearly as geographically comprehensive as Scher and Williams’ volume (The only U.S. locales profiled in the Nomads’ book are in Florida), but it provides welcome encouragement to travel adventurously; from a rousing endorsement of visiting the former soviet state of Georgia, to pointing out lesser-known spots within popular gay destinations (The rivers and gorges of France’s Ardèche region, just outside of Lyon, are on this reader’s must-visit list). While planning your own next trip, it’s well worth noting the two books’ common denominators: both are highly enthusiastic about two countries that don’t always show up on the rainbow radar: Scotland and Argentina.


Out in the World:Gay and Lesbian Life from Buenos Aires to Bangkok by Neil Miller

Out in the World:
Gay and Lesbian Life from Buenos Aires to Bangkok by Neil Miller

The invigorating double-shot of these identically titled books sparked a happy flashback to a third much older Out in the World: Gay and Lesbian Life from Buenos Aires to Bangkok (penguinrandomhouse.com. $18), historian Neil Miller’s wonderful, still-inprint 1992 journalistic profile of queer communities in countries including Argentina, Denmark, Thailand, South Africa, and Japan. While much has evolved over the intervening years, Miller’s well-researched, elegantly written takes on the origins, fundamental differences, and shared experiences of these international enclaves is still a model of excellence in gay travel writing.


Hot Springs by Greta Rybus

Hot Springs by Greta Rybus

WET DREAMS: If hot tub-hopping strikes you as a great way to soak up the world’s cultures, spring for a copy of photojournalist Greta Rybus’ Hot Springs (Ten Speed Press. $30. gretarybus.com) to get your brain bubbling with future trip ideas. “Some look like palaces, others like a hole in the ground,” she writes. “Some feel like a party, others like a prayer…These gathering places form odd communities, giving us a sense of belonging to each other and the earth.” With richly textured images and keen descriptions of local traditions, Rybus wades into the bathing cathedrals of Budapest, the travertine terraces of rural Turkey, a remote canyon grotto in Mexico, and many more wet spots you’ll want to spend time in.

 

 

 

AIRPLANE READ OF THE MONTH
Cinema Love by Jiaming Tang

Cinema Love by Jiaming Tang

Eye-opening, emotionally absorbing, and distinctly different from most contemporary queer fiction, Brooklyn-based Jiaming Tang’s Cinema Love ($28. Dutton. ajiamingtang.com) centers on the relationship of an elderly married immigrant couple in Manhattan’s Chinatown, rewinding their years together to the rural village in China where they first met. Bao Mei, the wife, was once a ticket-seller at a small art cinema that served as the undercover trysting place for closeted gay men. Old Second, her husband, was among the theater’s clientele. A sense of devotion and loyalty that transcends sexuality ties these two together over decades of turmoil and transition. It also leaves them haunted by the past and astonished by the world’s rapid change. This is an important and utterly engrossing story that we haven’t read before.

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