Traveling while LGBT in Morocco
Morocco is a beautiful country full of color and food to wow your taste buds. It is also still illegal to be LGBT in Morocco. Today, I will share my personal experience of traveling and living while LGBT in Morocco.
I am not sure what pulled me towards Morocco. Mostly, I just needed a space to wait out my Schengen visa reset. What I found was a simultaneous feeling of home and discomfort.
Read on for the positives and negatives of solo travel for LGBT in Morocco. This is just my personal experience, so your experience may always differ. Please leave a comment if you resonate with this or have a different perspective. I would love to hear from you!
- Colorful Environment
- The Food & Drinks
- The Weather
- Friendly Locals
- The Hammam
- Cats Cats CATS
- Illegal to be LGBT in Morocco
- Too “Friendly” Local Men
- Trash Everywhere
- Lots of Homelessness
Morocco is a feast for your senses. From the Blue City of Chefchaouen to the intricate Moroccan rugs. Bright colors will always fill your view as you wander through the medinas of each city.
There is an adventurous vibe no matter where you go. Life is also simple here. You can climb a mountain or venture out to the desert. Adventures in Morocco have that exotic quality that will make them extra memorable.
Many people complain about the pushy rug dealers in Morocco. I was aware of this before I went, so when a friendly rug dealer led me with a smile into his shop, I knew what I was coming next! You can say no, so don’t buy anything if you don’t want to.
I got a beautiful rug for my parents cheap. They even shipped it to the US for me. As a long-term traveler, I could have hugged this rug dealer for making my Christmas shopping so simple. He then took me to the rooftop of his shop and told me I could come anytime to sit, read, drink tea, or do yoga. It was a comfortable space with a view of the sun setting over the rooftops of Tangier.
Moral of the story… maybe it is not so bad to get pushed into a colorful rug dealer’s shop 😉
The food is delicious and inexpensive. I could eat and order anything I wanted all day without spending more than $10. Morocco has better avocado smoothies than anywhere on this planet. That’s a fact! The secret ingredient is blended dates or figs added to the smoothie. It has such a perfect taste and is even healthier than your average avocado smoothie.
On Fridays, it is traditional to get couscous and Leben, a fermented milk drink. Moroccan society uses Friday couscous as a communal meal to eat together with family and end the week. I eagerly awaited Fridays, not because I wanted the weekend to come, but because most restaurants only serve the couscous on Fridays.
You can not forget about the famous Moroccan mint tea. Wow! If you give me a pot of tea and sit me in front of a restaurant, I will be happy there for the entire day. Whether you are drinking tea solo or with new friends, it is a soul-warming taste that leaves you feeling peaceful.
It is worth spending a few months in this gorgeous country just to eat the food!
In Tangier, there was a fun art scene. You could go to live paintings, dance to Moroccan music in the streets, and check out local photography studios. It was easy to find cultural activities if I needed a break from work. Tangier has bookstores, art galleries, and museums to browse. However, my favorite afternoon activity was reading a book on the beach. The weather here is unbeatable. It’s not too hot or too cold, with a constant light sea breeze.
In the off-season, there are few travelers or expats, but they are still there! There is always a community of foreigners living in Morocco and you can connect via Facebook groups or local meetups.
There are a few bars. The bars that I went to had a speakeasy vibe to them. They were sort of hidden away with mostly shuttered windows. Despite being in a Muslim country, I did not feel too judged as a female foreigner drinking at the bar with some friends. However, I only ended up at a bar maybe 3 times while in Morocco. If you are very into drinking and clubbing activities, Morocco may not be the place for you long-term.
Now get ready for the bad parts of being LGBT in Morocco…
Back in the Closet
If you are LGBT in Morocco, you will be back in the closet. Being in the closet (again) can have huge implications on your psyche, whether or not you realize it at first.
I am pretty queer. It is hard to say what I am. I don’t place myself under a label, and you can use whatever pronouns you would like with me, depending on the day. Sometimes I will say I am a lesbian, but it’s all fluid and fluctuating.
At first, it didn’t bother me to keep quiet about my identity or sexuality. I told only about four people my real-life story during my time there; a fellow traveler, two Moroccan guys, and my best Moroccan female friend.
Because of the law, I considered my trust in them before sharing my story. Even after I did, I was still paranoid that I had made a mistake. Luckily, they were all incredibly open-minded humans. However, I could have easily told the wrong person and ended up having a problem.
Living while LGBT in Morocco, you can equate to putting yourself back in the closet. I was not interested in pursuing a relationship, so a lack of romantic opportunities was not a big deal to me. However, I underestimated the psychological effect of boxing up my identity once more. I started feeling alone, depressed, and anxious. After many months there, I did not feel like myself at all.
Because I am pretty strong-willed and raised in the western world, I ended up getting into a few arguments with Moroccan guys. My masculine style of dress and way of being confused some locals about what gender I was. It made me fear someone would think I was trans. In the end, I slowly started dressing more feminine to avoid worrying. It never feels good to change yourself based on other people or for safety reasons.
One of my trans friends traveled alone through Morocco, and I worried about her for the entire trip. When she finally told me she had traveled home, I let out a sigh of relief. The fact we need to worry about our LGBTQ friends in the world this way is a shame. Unfortunately, it is also a reality.
The last negative about Morocco would have to be the high level of homelessness staring you in the face. People will ask you for money A LOT. You will see people homeless everywhere. It is typical for Moroccan people to give the homeless money. This comes from the charitable virtues taught in the Muslim religion.
Also, be aware that some kids with homes will take advantage of this. I was buying one street kid lunch until I found out she had a home and cellphone while hustling me for snacks. They often leave the kids here to run amok. I have broken up fights where a group of kids was beating a younger kid while adults walked past as if nothing was happening. I found it bizarre and saddening.
Some kids in Morocco sniff a kind of “glue” substance and are not in their right mind. Towards the end of my time in the country, five young kids surrounded me in broad daylight. Their glazed-over eyes stared at my pockets, and I said some not-so-nice things to them. At that moment, I decided not to live in an environment that forced me to be so aggressive with 12-year-olds in the street.
Had a similar
or different experience while LGBT in Morocco?
Let me know in the comments!