Interested in learning about important aspects of LGBTQ+ travel and the latest travel trends? What is a fun place to visit? Where should queers be a little more careful? A panel of speakers from activists, influencers, journalists and others on the LGBTQ+ spectrum convened to discuss these and other issues. Moxy Chelsea Hotel Wednesday May 24th.
Stacey Lentz, CEO and founder of the organization, opened the event. The Stonewall Inn gives back inspiration, The Stonewall Inn charity helped support the discussion. She mentioned that there is a strong certification program that the Initiative uses in partnership with companies to avoid rainbow laundering. 20 people attended the event in an intimate venue with an almost cabaret atmosphere next to the hotel’s Bar Feros.
Panelist was Brandon Berkson. Hotels from Par, A website that reviews luxury hotels. The four panelists were Ravi Roth of the travel website. Ravi around the world; Dayna Troisi, Managing Editor Go to the magazine; Jahlove Serrano, A multi-hyphenate self-described “health educator, AIDS advocate and youth advocate, background dancer, choreographer and androgynous model and drag queen” on Instagram. and Anya Evelyn Santos Ortiz, who works Ali Forney Center And as a transgender, Puerto Rican activist she spoke about her journey.
Brandon’s first question to the panelists was to address “Did you feel unsafe being part of the LGBTQ+ community while traveling?”
Serrano prefaced the answer by saying that as a black man living with HIV, he knows that anywhere can be dangerous, including microaggressions.
“I’m just thinking about my P’s and Q’s and making sure I’m not aggressive,” Serrano said. But as an activist and advocate, I always want to fight at the same time. For example, he emphasized that he is fully aware of his rights when entering a hotel.
“It’s the first time I’ve been to a country where they criminalize homosexuality,” he said of a recent trip to Morocco. Serrano mentioned layering protection by code-switching, not wearing nail polish and removing earrings while traveling in the North African country. There are many countries where it is illegal to be gay, he reminded the audience, “There are a lot of places you can go where you can be safe, but I think it’s really important that we show up.”
Troisi admits she came to this experience “as a Sicilian American, as a white woman” and despite her disability – she’s missing an arm and has what she describes on her website as “badass bionics”. Arm”, however, she cited levels of discomfort and embarrassment, noting “the little moments that any decent person at any intersection would definitely understand.”
Perhaps the most disturbing story comes from Evelyn, who described a delayed luggage issue on a flight from Miami to LaGuardia. The obstacle course of the trip started without any further problems but started to turn into strong disagreements and misunderstandings.
“The first thing they did was attack my gender,” Evelyn said. “And in that moment, I felt like I was nothing. I was very hurt, and my anxiety increased. So, I felt insecure, and I knew where this could lead. So what I did was called security, and I called law enforcement.
She says they tried to bar her from future flights, but they pushed back, saying, “I have videos and notes.” Through this and his investigation, “they were able to find those allegations false,” she added.
Most of the LGBTQ+ spaces have been pleasant experiences.
“Everywhere I go, I like to find the gay,” says Roth, who mentions the gay-friendly chain Accel Hotels, headquartered in Spain. He and his partner added, “We always look for an LGBTQ+ friendly restaurant or club to go to and that’s how we integrate into the LGBTQ community in the places we visit.” Troci had similar experiences when traveling with her non-binary partner, saying, “A lot of places I go to are gay friendly. So I’m lucky.
The panel turned to what those in the travel industry need to know about the LGBTQ+ traveler. The idea that there was no one size fits all was immediately apparent. Serrano stressed, “Not all LGBTQ-identified spaces are safe for black people and queer people. You know, there’s a long history of why you should have black pride. The importance of choosing music, delivering it, and talking to security and DJs and their response to people of color is an indicator of how safe a space is.” Consistent training was also key, Serrano says, and not just during Pride Month.
“You train everybody and you train them constantly because the information of the LGBTQ+ community is always there. [changes]” he said, when he abused his transsexual aunt in a hotel in Amsterdam at a Pride event in that city.
Small gestures go a long way, says Troisie, “I definitely want to know if we want to feel safe, whether that’s a gender-neutral bathroom or maybe a pin you’re wearing. That’s like a rainbow flag or something like that. And it’s really the little things that make a big difference.”
Cities like Atlanta, Stockholm, Madrid and Paris are discussed where to go and their favorite places. “I was in awe,” Troisi said of her recent trip to Kansas City, telling the audience. I had never been to the Midwest before. And it was a very, very reassuring place. “This weird queer utopia, where queerness is not only acceptable,” Troisim, a native of Long Island, said of Fire Island. He will be honored and respected. We are the majority there and it is a beautiful, majestic place.
In contrast, Serrano explained to Queer Color that “Fire Island can be hit or miss.” For example, he discussed how black pride on Fire Island would never happen.
All the speakers were impressed with the idea of delegation and stepping out, even under difficult circumstances. And for the speakers, this means different identities.
Troisi explained that this applies not only to travel, but also to everyday life, such as a disability. “There was a little girl from Russia who had one arm like me,” she said of being a camp counselor. And I’m like, she can’t know that I’m out here, you know. She always wears long sleeves to cover her cleavage. And at first I lost sight of how much she meant to me. And the closer we got, the more I realized I was making a difference in her life, which was truly humbling and special to me. That’s what I want to say to anyone here – just be your true and authentic self, no matter where you are. You never know whose life you will touch.
“Our presence can really change someone’s life,” Troisi said of travel and other ways LGBTQ+ people live their lives.
Although many felt a sense of progress, in closing the event, Lentz noted that the current state of affairs in Florida is that their partner company, JetBlue, has rebranded their diversity training as “your customer base.”
“It’s such a crazy time right now,” she added.