An Interview with blogger Jose Harvey, from My Normal Gay Life
Hey Jose! Thanks so much for chatting to us about your experiences in the world of travel! Loads of people have questions about this topic, so we’re excited to hear about your awesome adventures, as well as your advice and personal experiences travelling as an LGBT person.
Firstly, tell us a little bit about My Normal Gay Life…
My Normal Gay Life was created about 2 years ago by me, Jose Harvey, and delves into all kinds of topics regarding travel with a sprinkling of personal posts about the LGBT community and life in general. Just think of it as your go-to blog for tips, tricks, insider notes, and connections to the rest of the world. Be on the look-out for inspiring photos and fun video update as well as interesting stories from my travel experiences. This is my way of bringing the world into your home and hopefully motivating you to get out there, travel, live your normal! My major goal is to inspire people to travel more in whatever capacity they can while increasing LGBT visibility within the travel industry. I’m just a normal guy having the time of my life and I want you to go along for the adventure.
What was your inspiration for starting your LGBT travel blog?
Well, originally, I started blogging as commentary about my life as a married gay man. Gay marriage had become the law of the land in the United States (where I’m from) not long before I started the blog and I kept getting lots of questions about how a gay marriage works (spoiler: it works the same as any other marriage). So, I decided to start writing about my life. Then I realized day-to-day life was boring…in the sense that I didn’t enjoy writing about it. But one aspect of my life in particular was always fun to write about…travel! Therefore, I began to focus on travel because it’s a HUGE aspect of our life together and that really took off for me. I’m passionate about travel and really want to increase LGBT representation in the travel industry in my own small way.
Which European destination has the best LGBT scene in your opinion?
Hmmm…it’s so hard to say because there are so many places in Europe that really have great gay bars and such.
At the top of the list is obviously Berlin. Berlin has probably one of the best gay scenes in the world. You can find a bar for every flavour and the city is just so open-minded and welcoming. Anything really does go in Berlin.
Second is Barcelona! The Eixample district of the city (known as Gayample) is filled with gay bars and other establishments. It’s such a fun scene and the city is pretty open-minded towards the LGBT community.
Paris has a great scene too, with a nice assortment of bars and other gay establishments all situated in Le Marais. I really enjoyed Amsterdam’s gay scene as well. It isn’t too over the top but the city is pretty welcoming and the bars are unique. I had a great time in Amsterdam.
Have you ever had any safety concerns travelling as a gay person, and what would your advice be for other travellers concerned about acceptance of their sexuality while abroad?
I’ve never felt too unsafe while travelling through Europe – it’s probably one of the most accepting areas of the world! However, there have been a few times when someone would shout derogatory slurs at me and my husband as we walked down the street. That happened in London, actually. When it comes to travelling through European countries and outside of major cities, I would suggest people use their best judgment. If you are in the middle of the countryside in any country, you are likely to meet people with closed minds and some backward attitudes. In these situations you have to make the choice…are you there to stir up trouble and ruin your trip or do you want to have a great experience with the understanding that it takes time to open minds?
As for gay travel advice:
- Unfortunately, not everywhere we go is going to be liberal-minded so you might need to tone it down a bit and “act less gay.” I really dislike saying that but if we are visiting any place that isn’t our home, we sort of need to adapt.
- Always put your own safety first…no matter what.
- If you’re interested in more info on this, check out my blogs on the topic:
What’s been your favourite capital city to visit in Europe and why? Have you visited anywhere that really surprised you?
My favorite capital city in Europe is Amsterdam. I simply love the atmosphere of this place. It doesn’t feel like a super big city and the canals are just lovely. The people are kind and there is a great party scene when you want it. I’d follow that by Rome because it’s Rome! The city dates back thousands of years and it’s so much about exploring all the history and incredible cuisine.
My final choice is London because of the history and plethora of things to do. I also love how you can hop on a train and get to all sorts of incredibly interesting places within a half-hour to a few hours. Travelling Europe by train is so easy! The only downside of London is how early the night ends.
The one place that really surprised me was Bucharest in Romania. It was such an awesome city and so much fun. Filled with parks, old buildings, abandoned buildings and an incredible populace, I just became enamoured with this city.
As for a non-capital city, I was really surprised by how much I loved the tiny towns in Scotland during a recent visit to the UK…specifically, the city of Inverness. It was such an awesome place and its atmosphere just made me happy!
Finally, what would your top 3 pieces of LGBT Travel advice be for those backpacking Europe for the first time?
#1: Try to have as open a mind towards others as you’d wish them to have towards you.
That means adjusting your behaviour if you need to do so in order not to stir trouble for yourself or for the local population. Be considerate of others and be friendly. The world is filled with people who just want to learn about other cultures and have amazing experiences.
#2: Don’t spend your days asleep and your nights awake all the time.
There is always going to be a party. Europe loves its parties. But Europe is also filled with architectural wonders, cultural gems, incredible people, delicious food, and stunning natural vistas. Use your time wisely. There is nothing wrong with partying it up a bit and I’ve been known to stroll back to my hotel at 6 am. But make sure you spend time exploring everything else this continent has to offer.
#3: Be flexible…always. (But that one applies to everyone, I think).
Things will come up and plans will not always go as you expect. Deal with it. But deal with it in a positive manner. Don’t be a diva and act like a queen. Just enjoy your travel experience regardless of the hiccups!
Follow more of Jose’s adventures in life and travel at http://www.mynormalgaylife.com/ as well as on all the normal social media sites: