I am a “career queer”, having spent my adult life in positions that advance conversations around LGBTQ+ tourism, either as a travel writer, editor or now in my role as VP-Communications for the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA).
I’m so grateful to be able to live my passion for travel while being true to myself.
What kind of traveller are you?
Adventurous and eclectic! My tastes run the gamut from cities to remote locales, but finding great local cuisine, whether simple or Michelin star, is a common thread.
Tell us about one of your most memorable trips/travel moments. Where and why?
There are so many, but my first trip to Africa in 1996 was life-changing. It got into my bones. I spent two months backpacking in South Africa and Zimbabwe, getting a feel for the people, the culture, and the wildlife. The highlight was a canoe trip from Kariba to Mana Pools, sleeping under mosquito netting on sandbars in the Zambezi as elephants trumpeted in the distance.
What is your all-time favourite destination? In Africa? Internationally? Why?
I’m not sure I want to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me! (LOL) At IGLTA, we love our members all over the world equally. Honestly, though, my favourite destination is usually where I am. I try to appreciate my environment at the moment, no matter where it is.
That said, I truly love South Africa and could go on safari every month. I’m an avid fan of scuba, and the Belize diving was fantastic. My wife and I had a spectacular holiday travelling around Sri Lanka, experiencing archaeological sites, wildlife, beaches and amazing food.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling, what do you…
- Like to see:
animals roaming freely in their natural habitats
- Like to taste:
freshly caught seafood
- Like to feel:
cool sea water against my skin on a hot day
- Like to hear:
ocean waves breaking gently on a sandy beach
- Like to smell:
That fresh scent in the countryside air just after rain.
Suggestions on resources for other travel and tourism stakeholders. Any websites, publications, podcasts, thought leaders you can recommend or newsletters we should sign up to?
IGLTA has many free resources: travel guides, LGBTQ+ tourism research and educational information (iglta.org/research), and a B2B and B2C newsletter. I also love following our many media members covering LGBTQ+ travel for inspiration, such as OutThere, EveryQueer, and Once Upon a Journey.
Lastly, what was your favourite thing about Africa Travel Week (WTM Africa) in 2022, and why should everyone attend in 2023?
The in-person launch of EQUAL Africa to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity, of course! I was so proud to be part of its development and to see it finally unfold live. Everyone should attend in 2023 to see EQUAL Africa expand. It’s not just for LGBTQ+ tourism businesses; it’s designed to help all tourism businesses reap the benefits of being more welcoming and inclusive.
What are the main challenges you still encounter as an LGBTQ+ traveller in Africa?
I’m still cautious about when and where I out myself when I’m travelling in parts of Africa, mainly when I’m on my own. But I’m also very aware of traveller privilege, and our challenges are far less than LGBTQ+ Africans who live day to day in countries with laws and cultures that prevent them from an authentic life.
If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change to enhance LGBTQ+ travel to Africa?
To erase all homophobia, transphobia, and criminalisation of same-sex relationships across the continent and see every African country treat its citizens equally and with respect.
What is your message to tourism products to enhance their offering for the LGBTQ+ market?
Implement diversity training for your staff; make sure you have recruitment and employee policies that would make queer employees feel supported; and engage with LGBTQ+ organisations or individuals to understand the situation for your local community. Doing the work internally to ensure your business is inclusive needs to be thought through before marketing to LGBTQ+ travellers.