Jai Henrietta still remembers her first vacation with Olivia Travel: “I was speechless: to see how 2000 women gathered in one place, allowing each other gentle gestures, holding hands, kissing – it was a utopia for me.”

Since then, she has made six trips with the operator, the world’s first lesbian travel agency. His partner, Lila Rowe, has 13 on her account. The agency allows them to do without “extra precautions” which often refer to same-sex couples. “It’s relaxing and that’s what a vacation should be like – you don’t have to worry about anything else” she insists.

Born in 1973 as a music label. [Olivia Records] Created to create action artists, Olivia is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Becoming a cruise line in 1990, the brand has now welcomed over 350,000 LGBTQI women aboard its ships and in its holiday clubs, from Europe to Africa, to the point of becoming a small lesbian institution: in 2004 it was on board. cruise Olivia, which premiered World L, a pioneer of the lesbian series. Tennis legend Billie Jean King has been invited to the conference seven times. And it was during the Olivia Summit that Maya Angelou gave one of her last public speeches, a few months before her death.

Olivia Travel has been the birthplace of strong friendships and, of course, many love stories. In 2015, Donna Shands was working at Olivia Travel when her eyes fell on Cassandra Butler, a shopper strolling along the pool. “She was like that cartoon character who pops her eyes out of their sockets!” remembers Donna, also the creator of Olivia’s programs for women of color. “She was wearing an adorable little swimsuit.” Two women chatted by the pool for an hour. “There was real alchemy” Cassandra remembers. Today they are married and live in Maryland.