Magazine article Out

Out in Africa

Magazine article Out

Out in Africa

Article excerpt


As a kid in Ohio, my travel fantasies were shaped by places' names: Kathmandu, Bora Bora, and all the locales the Beach Boys rhapsodized over in theirhit "Kokomo." By 33, I'd hit many of them, but one still loomed: Zanzibar.

Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania, Zanzibar's parent country, but I couldn't shake the need to get there - and being told I shouldn't go because of who I am made me want to go more. I wasn't looking to Laura Ling my way into North Korea or open a gay bar in Kingston, Jamaica. My determiningfactors? Could I experience something similar somewhere else? Would I be putting myself in certain danger?

It became clear that Zanzibar's scope and beauty couldn't be approximated elsewhere. An archipelago in the Indian Ocean occupied by humans for 20,000 years, Zanzibar is best known as Africa's entryway to the Arab world and its spice trade and was until recently the world's largest supplier of cloves. Though overwhelmingly of African descent, 95% of the population follows Islamic law.

Fortunately, it wasn't hard to find companies operating in Zanzibar with a history of accommodating gay customers. I traveled with &Beyond (AndBeyond .com), a company with 54 safari camps throughout India and Africa.

Before embarking to my island paradise, we made two stops - Lake Manyara, where I was treated to the only open-Jeep after-dark safari in Africa (nocturnal porcupines, tree-climbinglions), and Ngorongoro Crater, home to 60,000 Maasai people and thousands of zebras and wildebeest, hundreds of hyenas, and 60 lions. &Beyond's lodge is a Shangri-La cluster of mud and thatch huts overstuffed with cut crystal, ornate antiques, floor-toceiling windows, fireplaces, and stunning soaking tubs.

I'd nearly forgotten why I'd started this Tanzanian journey, but after a twohour Jeep ride and a two-hour flight, I was at the Zanzibar airport. …

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