Travel is my heart and soul but it’s not my only heart. I’m a girl who loves girls and not just in a Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins kind of way. Maybe I haven’t loved a particular girl yet but it’ll happen someday, that’s not really what this is about. Actually it’s about a question I get asked often since I’ve come out as bisexual. Why do I travel to countries where being part of the LGBT+ community can get me shamed at best, executed at worst? Well, you noble land mermaid let me tell you why.
1. Queer Countrymen
The absence of a voice doesn’t mean there is an absence and this is most prevalent in places like Russia where I could very well be jailed just for being who I am. Maybe I’ve not been yet but when I do go, because I will, I know that I won’t feel as if I’m attacked because a day or two back in the proverbial closet won’t do me much harm. It’s not as if many Westerner’s really believe my sexuality exists anyhow. What it will do is offer a voice to any person who isn’t free to be themselves to know that they are not wrong for feeling this way ever. It’s to let them know that I stand with them, fighting for their rights just as beautiful women fought for mine in the Stonewall Riots.
2. I Want To
If I let every bigot keep me from doing something I wanted to, I’d honestly have to stay inside all day. While I understand that some in the community might not feel the same way I do about giving money to often a corrupt system for entry I still want to see beautiful things and meet beautiful kind people.
3. Reppin' It
For many queer travellers I’ve met it’s scary to tell complete strangers you meet in hostels that you’re not straight, not cis, not a majority member basically because you don’t know what their reaction will be. Aggression, disgust, hatred, confusion, inappropriate curiosity are all valid concerns and there will be this in some places, to be sure, however my travel story began to combat fear. Maybe the fear was not about my identity but instead a long string of worries I’ve had about my future and now as an openly queer solo female traveller I must say that it is in the back of my mind but I will not let that stop me. Travel is the biggest combatant to narrow-mindedness and if it has to fight against something let it be against those who don’t want me to love who I love. Sometimes all people need to do is realize we are just people and don't have an agenda more than any other traveller does. Like with Americans pretending to be Canadians out of fear of judgement, I say that we're here and they should get to know us and they can only do that if we represent ourselves the way we want to.
4. Surprise Yourself
If you think that the world is full of people who hate us you’re dead wrong. Sorry to say if you’re more of a pessimist than I am but it’s just not right. You and I deserve to be surprised by the overwhelming acceptance you’ll face even in the most conservative places. In Amsterdam I worked at a Christian youth hostel as a cleaner and not only did they not mind that I am in no way a religious person, they supported my endeavours and showed me only kindness and when I came out there was an outpour of support from people I met there, even the most conservative people that I would think would never have and this shocked me most. Not because I thought them as hateful people because stereotypes ruin us all and if you never leave your comfort zone you will never see them shattered.
5. Pave Paths
There was the first female Indian surfer who is making surfing known more to girls everywhere and if I have to pave a path it might as well be doing the very thing I love to do and do it while being exactly who I am. I ask you to do the same and be safe about it too. I won’t give any PDAs but maybe that’s because I don’t believe in them much anyway and I’ll be aware of what I’m doing or saying where and to whom but it will not stop me ever.