Hanns Ebensten forged a path for the gay rights movement that didn’t consist of protests or parades in the street, but rather raised the visibility of gay men around the world through travel.
David Alport of Upright and Stowed describes Ebensten’s as “fearless in his willingness to go where no group of gay people had gone before, and to do it standing proud and (very) tall.”
This shot comes from Alport’s trip up the Peruvian Amazon with Ebensten in 1996, but his travels with gay men began long before that: “In 1972, Hanns led his first group of gay men on an organized river rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. Hanns was a true revolutionary … and he was also a scholar, penning eight books on his adventures.”
After traveling for years in the closet with his late partner Brian Kenney (the pair were together for 41 years), Ebensen made reality out of a wish he related in a keynote address to the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association World Conference in 2004: “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to do this with a group of congenial men, who instead of getting dressed up in cowboy hats and jeans and boots to go to the bars, would wear that right here in the real Wild West?'”
Hanns Ebensten lived in Key West, where he owned a travel company, Hanns Ebensten Travel. Said colleague Phil Sheldon: “Hanns was the first to say that gay men want to travel together and do so joyfully.” Ebensten died after a bout of pneumonia. He was 82.