When a homophobic killer armed with an assault rifle perpetrated one of the worst mass shootings in United States history in an Orlando gay bar this month, the reassuring idea that such places are sanctuaries was upended for many of us. Gay bars are supposed to be refuges from intolerance; judgment-free zones that are, for many people, the only public places you can be truly, essentially, you. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often travel with the thought in mind that almost anywhere we go, we’ll be able to find a neighborhood, a club circuit or a beach town where acceptance is a given.
If recent events are any indication, L.G.B.T.-friendly and “safe” are not exactly synonymous. When it comes to safe places for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender traveler to visit, danger won’t always be as obvious as it is in Syria and Iraq, where people murder homosexuals by throwing them off buildings. But here, the same day the Orlando massacre took place, a man was arrested on his way to the Los Angeles Pride festival with several assault rifles and the makings of an explosive device in his car; though his motives were not clear, we can assume he is not a pacifist. In the ensuing days, officials in Oakland, Calif.; Atlanta; Houston and New York looked into people who made copycat threats.