Being Queer in Barbados
This section was written by Juran Bowen, a cisgender male. Juran is a human rights advocate and PR officer at Equals, a Barbadian LGBTQI+ advocacy NGO.
Travel Alert. That’s what Tinder says to its LGBTQ+ members when they travel to Barbados. The safety feature released in 2019 is linked specifically to the criminalisation of same sex acts in countries like Barbados. However, to chat about the LGBTQ+ rhetoric in Barbados in exclusively negative terms would be unfair. Bim has a way to go but it’s seen a lot of change within the last 10 years; healthy, fun and safe LGBTQ+ spaces are popping up and the community itself continues to grow, as do groups of advocates and allies.
Here are some quick tips on navigating Bim as a queer person.
- It is not illegal to be queer. You will not cordoned off at immigration or at any point throughout your trip on suspicion of being gay. You’re gonna be fine, Jan.
- Pay close attention here. Although buggery is a criminalised offence in the country; it is not an enforced rule. Do what you want to do in the privacy of your own space.
- PDA, the point where it gets tricky. The level of PDA is discretionary based on comfort level and environment. Be mindful of where you are and who you're around and always follow your instincts. Some places are not PDA friendly but some might surprise you as to how accepting it might be. Avoid PDA if you feel uncomfortable in any space.
- Locate a like minded community member in the area, whether through a dating app like Grindr or Tinder or perhaps other social media apps and get recommendations on where to go. Trust me, we don't bite (often).
- Go to places others review as queer friendly. Some recommendations include Mojo, Cafe Sol, Outpost 1/11 and that’s just to name a few.
- Bajans love tourists so most places are really friendly even the more traditional rum shops and food spots, so throw in a visit to John Moore’s on the west coast or Kermit’s on the south.
Travelling here might be different from what you’re accustomed to and it won’t always be seamless. You might meet people that may not understand who you identify as or how you express yourself, but most people are very accommodating and nice. Trust your gut, you got this.
If you're travelling to Barbados, check out Juran's guide to Queer-friendly spaces in Barbados.