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Guatemala is a largely Catholic, socially conservative Central American nation, and in general terms the nation is considerably homophobic. Public displays of same-sex affection are rare, and violence against prominent gay and lesbian activists is not unheard of. For these reasons, the local gay and lesbian communities are pretty discreet. For good, comprehensive information on the current situation for gay men, check out the site Gay Guatemala (www.gayguatemala.com), which appears in both English and Spanish. Information on the lesbian scene, and specifically lesbian clubs and bars, is much harder to come by. While Guatemala City has something of a gay and lesbian scene, and several bars and clubs cater to this clientele, the situation gets radically worse outside of the capital. The more touristy and cosmopolitan destinations of Antigua, Panajachel, and Quetzaltenango can be considered somewhat gay and lesbian friendly; however, the overall reality is rather challenging for gays and lesbians in Guatemala.

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 and tour operators.

Many agencies offer tours and travel itineraries specifically for gay and lesbian travelers. Above and Beyond Tours (tel. 800/397-2681; www.abovebeyondtours.com) are gay Australia tour specialists. San Francisco-based Now, Voyager (tel. 800/255-6951; www.nowvoyager.com) offers worldwide trips and cruises, and Olivia (tel. 800/631-6277; www.olivia.com) offers lesbian cruises and resort vacations.

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. British travelers should click on the "Travel" link at www.uk.gay.com for advice and gay-friendly trip ideas.

The Canadian website GayTraveler (www.gaytraveler.ca) offers ideas and advice for gay travel all over the world.

The following travel guides are available at many bookstores, or you can order them from any online bookseller: Spartacus International Gay Guide, 35th Edition (Bruno Gmünder Verlag; www.spartacusworld.com/gayguide); Odysseus: The International Gay Travel Planner, 17th Edition (www.odyusa.com); and the Damron guides (www.damron.com), with separate, annual books for gay men and lesbians.

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.