Gay travel guru on a mission

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AUSTIN, Texas -- A gay travel blogger walks into a bar, and ...

"There was this guy sitting there reading a book at the bar," says 32-year-old Bryan Kosarek, the official Travel Guru for gaytravel.com. Mr. Kosarek pried the guy's nose out of the book and asked him what he was up to.

"I hate this city," the book-reader snarled.

Mr. Kosarek coaxed the man into joining him and his friend for drinks.

"He had a great time," Mr. Kosarek says. "He canceled his flight home and wound up crashing on our couch."

The scene played out in Austin, but it could have been anywhere, and it shows that Mr. Kosarek has grasped one of travel's secrets of success:

"It's the individuals that make or break a trip," he says.

Mr. Kosarek, an Austin real estate broker whose 2-year-old blog gayinaustintexas.com serves as a relocation guide, has been traveling for more than four months as gaytravel.com's guru and has about two months to go. He's been to New York; Aspen, Colo.; Denver; Dallas; San Diego; California's Napa and Sonoma counties, and three cities in Thailand on trips mostly provided free by the sponsoring cities, hotels and events. Next up: Orlando, Fla., Key West, Fla., and San Francisco.

He won the right to travel and blog about it after competing with about 1,500 others in an online contest. He said judges were especially impressed with his video skills.

The biggest challenge in being a gay travel blogger just might be defining gay travel.

"It used to be that gay travel was about being safe checking in with your partner," Mr. Kosarek says. "Now, as we move forward, if it's something a gay traveler appreciates, it's probably going to be something other people would like as well."

Some gay travelers, he says, are aiming specifically for destinations, clubs and events that cater almost exclusively to an LGBT clientele. Others just want to travel in general and don't want to be pigeonholed.

"I'm sort of in the middle," he says. He's been hitting gay circuit parties in his guru gig, but he also plays tourist in the traditional way, seeking out the attractions that define each destination.

Before he got this gig, he says, he traveled several times a year. Since January, he's been traveling fairly constantly -- by himself, because right now he is not in a relationship. That's not always easy, especially at big parties, but he says he likes striking up conversations with locals (and occasionally getting them to hold his camera so he can be in the shot).

"I do meet a lot of interesting friends," he says. "No matter how much research you do on a city, I always try to meet someone who will show me one or two things different. Every city offers a unique experience."

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