"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole is one of my all-time favorite songs. The raw vocals of Kamakawiwo'ole paired with the ukelele is a throwback to a more relaxed time. For those that are less rainbow inclined, "Over the Rainbow" was written in 1939 for The Wizard of Oz and was originally sung by Judy Garland in the film. In 1988, Kamakawiwoʻole called a recording studio at 3 am to do an impromptu session, changing how we know the song with one take.
Life in Hawai'i is unlike anything that any mainlanders would be able to experience in the United States. The Hawaiian culture remains strong and distinctive, with those moving to the islands adapting to the culture instead of forcing their culture on their new home. This means that the islands have remained one of the most welcoming travel destinations. When vacationing in Hawai'i, you can experience what it truly means to be somewhere over the rainbow.
LGBTQ+ travelers to Hawai'i will find themselves in one of the most welcoming vacation destinations in the world. Before Western explorers brought Christianity to the islands, the Polynesian culture greatly influenced the Kanaka Maoli, the islands' original inhabitants. One notable aspect of this culture was the māhū or third gender. The māhū could be either a cismale or cisfemale, and they were an essential component of the community's spiritual health. The Kanaka Maoli also had what we would know as open relationships known as Aikāne. These relationships were often between a man, a woman, and a young male. They were often status symbols for chieftains or other leaders.
As Christianity and American culture started to make its way into the Hawaiian islands' laws and psyche, the first sodomy law was enacted in 1850. It lasted until 1972 when Hawai'i became one of the first states to legalize same-sex sexual activity. As much as I'd like to say it was all sunshine and rainbows from then on, LGBTQ equality had a long battle in Hawai'i. The first same-sex marriage was attempted in 1990 and wasn't settled until civil unions were allowed in 2011.
Even with the protracted battle for same-sex unions, the Hawaiian culture has been welcoming to same-sex couples since the 1960s when LGBTQ rights started to enter the national conversation. Pride festivals take place every year to celebrate the unique place that the LGBTQ+ community has played through Hawaiian history. This year, the Honolulu pride will be streamed virtually to allow for social distancing as the state continues to recover from COVID-19. The programing will be live-streamed online October 15th through the 18, 2020. If you want to live vicariously from the comfort of your home, check out the details here.
Coming back to our song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," the Hawaiian islands are genuinely wonderful; with blue skies, fluffy white clouds, beaches to relax on, mountains to hike, and waves to surf. The ukelele's soft sound is the undertones of waves crashing on the beach or the trees' breeze. The relaxed island vibe is as welcoming as the Aloha you hear while stepping off the plane.
As a gay man, traveling to Hawai'i felt like one of the most natural experiences I have had when traveling with a partner. From the moment we stepped on the plane, I didn't feel any hint of reservation or objection that usually accompanies traveling to a resort. Nearly everywhere I looked, I saw other same-sex couples enjoying their vacations. One of my favorite memories was visiting Waimea Falls. The hike through the gardens was as breathtaking as the waterfall itself, but what was really memorable was making a Lei with an Auntie. As we worked on our Leis, our Auntie told us the story of why Leis are quintessential to the Hawaiian culture and what they mean for relationships.
When thinking about traveling to Hawai'i, working with a Destination Expert is an absolute must. There is so much to do, see, and experience on the Hawaiian islands that trying to book a trip to Hawai'i on your own can quickly become overwhelming. Working with a Hawai'i Destination Expert like myself means you will worry less about what you'll do on vacation. We'll work together to ensure that you can be as active or relaxed as you want during your trip.
Rainbow Getaways is a full-service travel agency that specializes in travel for the LGBTQ+ community and our allies. We believe that everyone deserves to be themselves while traveling and feel safe while doing so. Ready to start planning a Rainbow Getaway? Request a free, no-obligation quote today.