June is a big month for marriage equality in the US. The historic Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges legalized gay marriage on June 26, 2015, and on June 12th, we celebrate that Love is Love. Loving Day is the anniversary of another historic Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, in which the court held that states could not prohibit interracial marriage.
But what does this have to do with travel?
As we travel within our own countries and to others, we may find ourselves in places where interracial relationships are not the norm. From small American towns, to big cities in Europe, Asia, Africa, or Australia, people are sometimes surprised to see people of different races together — let alone married! Reactions range from curiosity, to happiness, to fear, to visible hatred.
Love is love, at home, and when traveling. So what can we do to be more inclusive when we encounter people that live a lifestyle perceived as “different”? If we are considered “different,” what can we do to share our experiences in a useful manner? Is it even our responsibility to do so?
Are you in an interracial relationship? Do you have a story or experience to share from traveling with your significant other?
Notes from the author, Angela: My husband and I love to travel and have many stories to share about the reactions we get. I’m a white lady; he’s a black guy who eerily resembles the actor Vin Diesel. To be honest, he has been called “Vin” on every continent we have visited. But it’s not all harmless comparisons and laughs. For example, when we were in a medium-sized Peruvian town on our honeymoon, folks actively crossed the street when we approached, or would not serve us at establishments. In other locations, he was followed in stores by sales associates, while I was left alone. These interactions are unfortunate, but it does not dissuade us from continuing to travel and enjoy ourselves. If we can chat with people, we do (people usually love “Vin”). If we are unable to do so, we add it to the list of “travel stories” we can tell our friends and family, recognizing that we are extremely fortunate to never have been seriously threatened during our travels. Traveling is always a learning experience. Sometimes the lessons learned aren’t positive, but we can’t let ignorance ruin our time together.