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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

The Next Generation Of Queer Travellers

Canadian YouTuber Michael Rizzi talks about his experiences travelling the world from a LGBT+ perspective…
By Michael Rizzi
As a 23-year-old gay Canadian man, I feel quite sheltered when it comes to travel. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to travel and experience new places and cultures, but I still feel as if I live in a bubble. I’m also a millennial vlogger (I know, I can almost hear your eye-roll), which means that I like to experience travel through the lens of my camera. I share my travel experience through a LGBT+ perspective via Instagram photos, Twitter posts, and vlog-style films on my YouTube channel – all platforms that young people flock to for life updates. In any given post, I try to answer various topics such as why a queer person would want to visit any given country, is this a safe place to visit for LGBT+ people, and are there entertainment hubs in place that appeal to our diverse community?
I remember the first time I travelled far from home for an LGBT+ event. It was November of 2016, and I was headed to Taiwan for Taipei Pride. I remember mindlessly packing my colourful tank tops, short-shorts, and a pride flag before stopping myself and thinking, “as a gay man, do I have to worry about being myself in Taiwan?” The short answer to that question is no – Taiwan is actually a very accepting country, and probably the most welcoming for the LGBT+ community in Asia. The problem was that I found myself assuming the culture of another country.
For a lot of Western millennials, including myself, we’ve grown up with the privilege of not fearing our sexuality. It was the generation before us, and the generation before them that fought for LGBT+ rights, even when it was terribly unpopular. I imagine travelling as a Baby Boomer or Generation X would lead to a lot more research and understanding of any given travel destination, because they experienced homophobia at home, first-hand. It’s not to say that queer millennials don’t experience homophobia, but there’s a general difference in the treatment of LGBT+ people, past and present. For millennials, seeking unique experiences when travelling is the ultimate goal; this means that they’re not surrounding themselves with traditionally safe travel spaces such as gay hotels or circuit cruises. Instead, a lot of LGBT+ millennials look to integrate queer experiences in their travel, whether that be nightlife or unique events as opposed to being dictated by it.
As a content creator and fellow millennial, I see the importance of telling stories that LGBT+ travellers can relate to. Many young LGBT+ people, including myself, travel without fear – while this is an incredibly beautiful thing, it can also be dangerous. It’s important for LGBT+ travel content to exist because it fills the knowledge gap that a lot of young people don’t inherently learn or quite simply, take for granted.
In August of 2016, Gigi Gorgeous, a prominent trans YouTuber, vlogged her experience in Dubai’s airport. She revealed that airport security had detained and rejected her entrance into the country on the basis of her transgender identity. It was a shocking moment for her millions of followers, and a harsh reminder of the realities towards LGBT+ people when they travel abroad. In a different way, Miles Jai, an androgynous and gay YouTuber, regularly uploads travel content to his channel that highlights the positive aspects of any given destination. For Miles, the purpose of his travel content might be to increase visibility of LGBT+ travel, and inspire other young people in our community to do the same.
This past summer, I had the incredible opportunity to travel on a Contiki trip through beautiful Spain. Out of 50 young people on the trip, four publicly identified on the LGBT+ spectrum, including my partner and I. My purpose on the trip was to create content for The Travel Project, which is a storytelling platform aimed to show how travel has the ability to create better humans. Each story is accompanied by a mission, and my goal was to discover why Spain is a great place to visit if you’re LGBT+. Initially I was hesitant, as I worried that surrounding myself with majority heterosexual people would divert the purpose of the trip. To my surprise, it actually enhanced it; I found many of the straight people on the trip were eager to visit local gay districts with us. It didn’t matter that they were gay or straight, it mattered that they wanted to experience LGBT+ culture alongside us. As we travelled, I was able to educate them on the do’s and don’t’s of LGBT+ culture, such as “tip your drag queen” (arguably the most important one!).
I was able to experience Spain in a very unique way; I saw everything that the straight travellers saw, but enhanced and complimented my trip with LGBT+ experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed visiting the gay barrios of Madrid and Barcelona, famous for their queer community. However, there was something about stepping beyond the borders of the gaybourhoods that opened up my trip to completely new experiences.
As our community grows, there will continue to be a progression in the attitudes of queer people, including their priorities when travelling. I believe the next generation of LGBT+ travel will focus on unique experiences that compliment a fearless generation of queer travellers. Of course, education towards safety and personal responsibility will always exist, as our strive for equal treatment has a long way to go. However, it’s motivating to know that LGBT+ travel is becoming a more open and free way to experience the world.

MICHAEL RIZZI is a content creator and vlogger of popular YouTube channel, MikeyThePlatypus. Michael travelled on Contiki Holidays week-long “Spanish Spree” trip. Follow him @MikeRizzi.

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    DragonLight / 25 September 2017

    Well, let’s just say it pays to do a bit of research into the countries/places to which we wish to travel. Education is key, and who better to lead us is none other than Michael Rizzi. 😉

    KrisJennerLover / 25 September 2017

    Wow, this is an amazing article. I feel as if he really captures the essence of young queer travellers


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