LGBT-friendly travel company offers trips free from discrimination

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Calgarian Shereen Samuels and her family are going on a cruise vacation this July. This cruise is special for Samuels and her family.

R Family Vacations, a specialty travel company, organizes holidays for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered) couples and their families.

Shereen’s wife Liz and their ten-year-old daughter will all be going on the cruise. As well as being a same-sex headed family, they are also an interracial one and their daughter is adopted. 

Same-sex couples in Canada

The number of same-sex married couples in Canada tripled between 2006 and 2011, from 7,465 to 21,015, according to Statistics Canada. That was the first five-year period during which same-sex marriage was legal nationwide.

Produced by Lauren O’Hare

In spite of these numbers, same-sex couples in this country still face prejudice, which the Samuels know firsthand.

“We’re very, very visibly outside of the heteronormative conception of family. On a daily basis, people don’t read us as family when we’re walking around,” says Shereen. She adds that people will often walk in between her and Liz or their daughter because of this lack of understanding.

She says that such discrimination doesn’t end when they are travelling. That is one of the main reasons why they decided to book their cruise with a gay-friendly company.

“It’s difficult for same sex-headed families to vacation in ways that you can see other families like yours,” says Shereen.

“The notion of being able to go on a vacation and be visible without that process of coming out and defending and justifying and explaining all the time, that’s something that is really a powerful incentive for us.”

Significance of LGBT spaces

Joshua Cadegan-Syms, the administrator of Mount Royal University’s Pride Centre, explains that the significance of such environments should not be underestimated.

“Queer spaces, just as spaces that are set aside for women, ethnic minorities, or religious minorities, these spaces are very important to them,” says Cadegan-Syms.

“I think for queer families, and especially for young people in families, trips like this enable them to see themselves reflected in other families and see that their existence is not abnormal.”

Shereen and Liz hope the holiday will be very memorable, particularly for their young daughter.

“We figured if we’re going to do something like this, let’s do it so that it’s a formative experience that she can remember and cherish all her life.”

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