One of the things that surprised me when I first moved to the Dominican Republic is the openly gay community that you find here. While politically the Dominican Republic appears to be rather neutral, the predominant religion of the country Catholicism has historically been, at least publically, against same sex couples. Even with this pressure against this sexual orientation, homosexuality is more prevalent in the D.R than in any other country in the Caribbean.

While in the United States the more showy gay men (flamers) are usually only seen in the larger cities, it is not uncommon to see men in traditionally women’s clothing even in the smaller towns of the D.R. For the most part Dominicans are tolerant of this culture (either locals or foreign visitors), although there is frequent reports of “Gay Bashing”, either verbal or physical, reported in the news. It is not uncommon to meet younger men (15-20 years old) that are obviously experimenting with “alternate lifestyles”, even in the smaller towns.

Like the U.S. homosexuality is even more frequently observed in the larger cities, especially the ones that receive large amounts of tourist traffic. Prostitution, both straight and gay is open and readily accessible in most of the beach and tourist towns. While this is accepted by many, others that are considering visiting or moving to the Dominican Republic may consider the prevalence of this attitude of concern, especially when bringing their families.

Still, for those concerned about exposing their families to an openly gay culture it is good to note that most of the things that many families consider objectionable are easily avoided in the Dominican Republic. It is well known that families should avoid the nightlife areas near the beaches, bars and nightclubs during the evening. The same goes with other lifestyles that might be considered objectionable; it is pretty easy to avoid areas where that is more predominant.

Until you start to get a better feel of the country, it is usually safer to stay in the resort areas and not do much, if any, walking around after dark. For the most part due to crime and other problems foreigners, especially families should, for safety reasons, view the Dominican Republic like they would one of the larger cities in the U.S. Certain towns like Boca Chica, Santo Domingo and others are more noted for catering to sex tourists, prostitution and alternate lifestyles and so more care should be taken in these areas. During the day stick to the more public areas and you are usually as safe as comparable areas in the U.S.

If you choose to move here, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of which areas are safer and which areas you might want to avoid. If you choose a smaller town, it won’t take long before you get to know people and are well accepted by your neighbors. For the most part you will have no additional trouble from the gay culture than you would any other. Concerns of being “picked up on” if you are straight are probably unnecessary and for the most part open displays of affection by homosexuals, male or female, are not well tolerated or seen in public.