Traveling as a member of the LGBTQ+ community has come a long way over the years. In an era before the ubiquity of digital resources and social media, LGBTQ+ travelers faced unique challenges in finding welcoming destinations. Enter Alan H. Beck and the iconic FunMaps – a series of LGBTQ+ travel guides and maps that have been charting a course for LGBTQ+ travelers since 1973.
A Journey Begins: The Birth of FunMaps
Alan Beck’s journey into LGBTQ+ travel started in 1973 when he founded Columbia Marketing Corporation. Initially, the company focused on creating maps for various markets, including real estate and tourism. These early maps were not specific to the LGBTQ+ community, but they laid the foundation for what would become FunMaps.
Meeting Jeff Goodman: A Turning Point
The pivotal moment in FunMaps’ history occurred in 1989 when Alan Beck met Jeff Goodman, who published LGBTQ+ travel maps under the David James Press label. Their meeting led to a collaboration that would redefine LGBTQ+ travel guides. Initially, these guides were designed to help LGBTQ+ travelers discreetly find LGBTQ+-friendly businesses and destinations.
The Birth of FunMaps: Embracing LGBTQ+ Travelers
With the combination of their efforts, FunMaps was born. The name “FunMaps” was a clever fusion of “fun” and “map,” reflecting the colorful and informative nature of the guides. The maps catered to LGBTQ+ travelers, providing valuable information about LGBTQ+-friendly hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, events, and more.
A Rapid Expansion: Covering North America
FunMaps quickly expanded beyond its New York roots to cover major cities across the United States. Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Washington, Baltimore, Rehoboth, and New England were just a few of the destinations included. Eventually, FunMaps ventured even farther north, producing maps for Canadian cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Halifax.
Tactile Travel Wisdom: The Value of Physical Maps
One distinguishing feature of FunMaps was its physical, tactile nature. In an age when digital resources were limited, these maps offered a tangible guide for LGBTQ+ travelers. The act of physically holding a map and exploring its contents added a personal touch to the travel experience.
Commitment to Inclusivity
Alan Beck and FunMaps operated with a commitment to inclusivity. While they aimed to create a resource for LGBTQ+ travelers, they also maintained a high standard for the businesses they included. Very few businesses were ever removed from their guides, emphasizing their dedication to promoting LGBTQ+ acceptance in various establishments.
The Digital Age and Fun Travel Guides
As the digital age dawned, FunMaps adapted. Fun Travel Guides emerged as a digital extension of the original maps, catering to the modern traveler’s needs. The shift to digital allowed them to continue providing up-to-date information and resources to LGBTQ+ travelers.
Alan Beck and Stonewall National Museum
Alan Beck’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community extended beyond FunMaps. He became the vice chair of the Stonewall National Museum, contributing to the preservation and education of LGBTQ+ history. The museum’s educational programs and conferences have become essential for promoting LGBTQ+ awareness and inclusivity.
A Changing Landscape: LGBTQ+ Travel in the Modern Era
Today, LGBTQ+ travel has evolved considerably, with many destinations openly embracing and celebrating diversity. FunMaps, now available digitally, remains a testament to the journey of LGBTQ+ travelers and the ongoing pursuit of inclusivity.
In an age where inclusivity and acceptance are celebrated, Alan Beck’s FunMaps and his involvement with the Stonewall National Museum serve as reminders of the progress made in LGBTQ+ travel history. From its humble beginnings to its digital adaptation, FunMaps continues to be a valuable resource for LGBTQ+ travelers exploring the world with pride.