Gay couple who visited 100 countries had ‘most eye-opening’ experience in anti-LGBTQ+ nation
Visiting every country in the world is a tall task – even more so when one in three criminalise who you are.
There are 67 countries where private, consensual same-sex sexual activities are illegal, and many more that while accepting on paper are unwelcoming to queer people in practice.
This can make travelling a tricky prospect for LGBTQ+ people – but it’s done little to deter Oskar and Dan. The couple have traveled to more than 100 nations, and they one day hope to visit every country in the world.
Oskar and Dan’s dream germinated when they met at school in Gothenburg, Sweden. They quickly hit it off and started dating – by the time they graduated, they had seen eight countries together.
After school, they took a gap year to see as much of the world as they possibly could before starting university – and it was a life-changing experience.
“We weren’t chasing countries at that point, but our gap year travels definitely planted a seed for a dream to eventually visit every country in the world,” Oskar tells PinkNews.
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They continued travelling through university, eventually applying for a leave of absence so they could dedicate themselves to realising their dream.
“We convinced ourselves that our life’s calling was visiting every country in the world to prove that even LGBTQ+ people can do it, but the idea felt so daunting that we needed an initial goal to strive toward. We decided to make that goal 100 countries, which we’ve now completed three years later.”
Among the countries they’ve visited are China, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia – and each experience has given them something unique, even if there were also challenges along the way.
“Some of the most memorable places include those where we had little to no expectations,” Oskar explains. “Bosnia and Herzegovina is a great example and is in our opinion one of the most underrated countries in Europe. The same goes for Slovenia.
“Also, I’ll never forget the first time we flew to China. It was our first time in Asia back in 2016, and the feeling I had as we approached Shanghai, seeing such a different and foreign world from above, still gives me goosebumps to this day.”
Saudi Arabia was a more challenging experience. The couple admit they were “a little freaked out” visiting the country, but they still had a “special and unique travel experience” there.
Travelling the world opens LGBTQ+ people’s eyes to new cultures
Oskar and Dan have never let homophobic laws stop them from travelling, even if they have felt a degree of trepidation at times. They recall visiting Oman when they were just 19 – it remains one of their favourite trips.
“To this day, this was one of the most eye-opening, fascinating, and heartwarming travel experiences we’ve had,” Dan says.
“The people were so friendly and hospitable, and we were randomly invited for Arabic coffee and dates at complete strangers’ houses.
“Of course, we weren’t open with the nature of our relationship for safety reasons, but it allowed us to explore this rich culture that we otherwise might’ve been unable to experience.”
Since then, they’ve visited countries such as Kuwait, Morocco, Uganda and Brunei – all places that have attracted significant international attention because of their track records on LGBTQ+ rights.
“While we weren’t open with most people we met in these places, we usually booked king beds at hotels and were able to explore completely freely without any complications.”
After sharing their experiences on their YouTube channel, Oskar and Dan received messages from LGBTQ+ people in countries where homosexuality is criminalised, thanking them.
“Many say it gave them hope and a form of exposure they haven’t previously had,” Dan says.
The goal from the start was to visit every country in the world, but as time has gone by, they’ve had to reassess. While they love seeing the world, it can also be exhausting.
“It’s not a goal we’re actively pursuing at the moment,” Oskar says.
“We realised it’s much more sustainable mentally and physically to travel to places we love than to travel to new countries where you’re constantly slightly on edge, which is sadly quite a large number.”
While their goals have changed, Oskar and Dan are still fiercely committed to seeing the world, and having new experiences.
“Don’t let any part of you who you are limit you from living your dream,” Oskar says.
“People don’t accept change immediately. We need to be patient and understanding, and we hope that by putting our best foot forward and leading with respect, the world can become more accepting and change for the better.”
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