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“WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE!” LEISURE TRAVEL AMONG GAY MEN LIVING IN A SMALL CITY

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Leisure travel may create many constraints for groups that have been historically marginalized. It can also provide benefits to these groups that are not ordinarily obtained close to home. This study examines the use and significance of leisure travel by gay men living in a small city given the pseudonym “Soledad.” In-depth interviews and participant observation were used to collect data. Results revealed that gay men pursued leisure experiences that affirmed their gay self-identities. While gay meeting places and people existed in Soledad, the gay community remained largely covert. Leisure travel to larger cities was a major negotiation strategy used by gay men to escape this stifling, heteronormative community. Escaping perceived hostilities was essential for gay men to feel comfortable exploring their homosexuality in a positive, affirming manner. Furthermore, the benefits of leisure travel spilled over into the daily lives of gay men. Leisure travel helped them make gay friends and, in the process, helped them “learn” how to be gay and/or reinforced their identity. Gay men discovered a whole new set of possible ways to express themselves through a newly acquired “gay gaze.”
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Keywords: Gay gaze; Gay men; Leisure constraints; Leisure travel; Negotiation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Tourism Review International is a peer-reviewed journal that advances excellence in all fields of tourism research, promotes high-level tourism knowledge, and nourishes cultural awareness in all sectors of the tourism industry by integrating industry and academic perspectives. Its international and interdisciplinary nature ensures that the needs of those interested in tourism are served by documenting industry practices, discussing tourism management and planning issues, providing a forum for primary research and critical examinations of previous research, and by chronicling changing tourism patterns and trends at the local, regional and global scale.
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