Image from Wikipedia
There are some tropes in this world that are always hard to shake. If you are of a certain social grouping, then there are places where you don’t believe your face will fit. If you’re a political activist, then you won’t feel at home in a city where your politics are deemed “out there”. If you are a young person, then you are less likely to move to Florida. If you are someone who burns in the sun, Arizona is out.
And speaking of out, if you are openly LGBT, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that there are places you won’t feel welcome. That’s far from unreasonable. Although the Supreme Court passed a law opening marriage up to same-sex couples nationwide, that’s just part of the story. Chances are that the phrase “We’re not in Kansas anymore” is a relief rather than a warning, given certain influences there.
Another state that has presented this kind of issue to LGBT individuals is Texas. The Lone Star State is routinely thought of through the prism of social conservatism, and not for no reason. If you fall under the heading of LGBT and say you’re off to Texas, people will assume you mean Austin. That’s no bad thing, as it is a beautifully diverse city. But the rest of Texas still has this image as a place where men are men.
Although attitudes are changing, it can be hard to shake off preconceptions. Many of us have had the conversation where we’re asked “Why are Pride parades necessary? You’ve gained acceptance now, it’s just divisive.”
The question comes from a position of privilege, of course. From the mindset of someone who’s never feared violence or discrimination based on their orientation. Freedoms that were hard won often feel like they are tentatively held. And reputations can hang around. Texas as a destination for LGBT travelers? Really?
Image from Wikipedia
Yes, really. And not just Austin, either. Texas is making great strides forward as a destination however you get there, with San Antonio in particular a wonderful place to visit. Its “Bigger Than Texas” Pride parade attracts visitors from out of state as well as within. And whether you visit for Pride or any other time of the year, there is a thriving nightlife to be enjoyed while you’re there.
None of this is to say that homophobia has upped and disappeared from Texas, of course. There has not been a magic wand waved which has made it a Utopia, any more than there has been elsewhere. However, those attitudes are now more than ever outliers and San Antonio is thriving as an inclusive city. This spirit of community is best seen in the many LGBT clubs where gay and straight party together.
If you’re over 30, and potentially even if you’re not, it’s easy to remember a time when the rainbow community was ghettoised. These days, that situation is more and more a thing of the past. It’s something to celebrate, and it’s being celebrated with gusto in San Antonio and beyond!