Chicago travel agency ensuring clients know of State Department advisory for LGBTQ+ community

Officials urging US citizens to be extra cautious ahead of start of Pride Month

Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Chicago travel agency highlighting LGBTQ+ advisory
A Chicago travel agent is ensuring his clients know of a recent US State Department advisory for the LGBTQ+ community.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Owners of a Chicago travel agency that specializes in gay group vacations around the world are ensuring their clients know about a recent warning from the U.S. State Department.

The State Department issued a global security alert about potential terror attacks against the LGBTQ+ community.

ABC7 Chicago is now streaming 24/7. Click here to watch

Officials are urging U.S. citizens to be extra cautious ahead of the start of Pride Month.

Bryan Herb and Joel Cabrera own Zoom Vacations.

"My first thought was when I saw the warning, like, well, people need to be extra careful when they're in these big crowd events, always know where the exit is, that kind of thing," Herb said.

While threats against the LGBTQ+ community are not uncommon, Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson said a widespread travel warning to a specific group is unusual.

"It also reinforces what we know to be true, which was that too many forces in our society, and globally, deny the dignity of queer people," Johnson said.

Johnson said data show hate crimes against queer people are on the rise.

"We are a community targeted more than any other community in recent years when it comes to hate crime. So yeah, I do think it is it is getting worse," Johnson said.

Despite the warnings, travel agents say their LBGTQ+ clients are not canceling any trips this summer.

Windy City Travel owner Lynn Farrell said they booked travel for destination June weddings in Italy.

"A lot of our clients are just, they're ready to go. They're going to be cautious. They're going to pack their patience. They're going to navigate through things, but they don't want to stop living their lives," Farrell said.

Herb said his community is a fearless one that has become numb to warnings and threats against them. Travel will go on.

"Whether we're getting a warning or not for the State Department. We always need to exercise extra caution. That's just goes without saying," Herb said.

The State Department warning comes days after the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning for the LGBTQ+ community to remain vigilant during pride events in the United States.

But, the FBI and Homeland Security did not name certain locations.

The FBI's Chicago office said, at this time, there are no specific threats to planned events in the Chicago area.