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Texas is one of only four states (the others are Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma) that criminalize homosexual activity, with an antisodomy law that dates to the late 1800s. That law is occasionally enforced (two Houston men were arrested in 1998, spent a day in jail, and paid fines), but a gay-rights group is working to have the law overturned.

Despite the official policy, most gay and lesbian travelers will find they are treated just like any other visitors to Texas, as Texans generally have a "live and let live" attitude. There are vibrant gay and lesbian communities in all of the larger cities, particularly Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; tel. 800/448-8550 or 954/776-2626; www.iglta.org) is the trade association for the gay and lesbian travel industry, and offers an online directory of gay- and lesbian-friendly travel businesses; go to their website and click on "Members."

Many agencies offer tours and travel itineraries specifically for gay and lesbian travelers. Among them are Above and Beyond Tours (tel. 800/397-2681; www.abovebeyondtours.com); Now, Voyager (tel. 800/255-6951; www.nowvoyager.com); and Olivia Cruises & Resorts (tel. 800/631-6277; www.olivia.com).

Gay.com Travel (tel. 800/929-2268 or 415/644-8044; www.gay.com/travel or www.outandabout.com) is an excellent online successor to the popular Out & About print magazine. It provides regularly updated information about gay-owned, gay-oriented, and gay-friendly lodging, dining, sightseeing, nightlife, and shopping establishments in every important destination worldwide.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.