Generally speaking, being gay is a nonissue in Laos. It's a deeply conservative country and any kind of overt displays of sexual affection will cause deep embarrassment. Although homosexuality is technically illegal, there is no sense of bigotry or homophobia among the Lao. Some travelers make the mistake of thinking that some of the more dubious social mores that are acceptable in a few of Thailand's racier resorts are also acceptable in Laos. This is not the case. Whether gay or straight, it is simply an issue of common sense in how you behave in order not to cause offence.
The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; tel. 954/630-1637; www.iglta.org) is the travel trade association for gay- and lesbian-friendly tour operators. They have an online directory of relevant businesses. Out Adventures (tel. 416/583-2680; www.out-adventures.com), based in Ontario, Canada, offers tours of the whole region. Another operator offering gay-friendly tours is Thailand-based Purple (tel. +66-(0)2/238-3227; www.purpledrag.com).