June is Pride Month—an important opportunity to amplify and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
Here at U.S. Travel, we are taking this opportunity to highlight members of the LGBTQ+ community who have shown great leadership in the travel and tourism industry.
Lesbian couple and world travelers Roxanne Weijer and Maartje Hensen inspire other LGBTQ+ people to travel through their blog Once Upon A Journey. Together, they’ve traveled to more than 60 countries. Through the lens of their personal experiences, Roxanne and Maartje shared their recommendations for what the travel industry can do better to champion inclusivity.
You can also hear more from Roxanne and Maartje during our upcoming webinar Monday, June 27 at 2 p.m. ET, Creating a More Inclusive Travel Experience. Register here.
What does Pride Month mean to you, and how do you celebrate it?
Pride month is a month of celebration, a month of protest, a month of love and a month of progress. Pride is a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come and how proud we can be (in certain places). It’s a month of protest; homosexuality is still illegal in over 79 countries. There are not enough protective laws globally for LGBTQ+ people. Transgender and non-binary people and LGBTQ+ people of color still have few rights. And sadly, LGBTQ-based violence happens in every single country.
Pride Month is a month of love! Because love is love is love!
We are proud every day of the year, but not everyone can be out and proud yet. Visibility matters; with visibility, boldness, authenticity and Pride comes acceptance and progress.
There have been incredible queer people fighting the battle long before us. We owe it to them to show our pride and continue to fight for equality!
Do you have any favorite Pride festivals, parades or traditions? Do you have a favorite city or destination to celebrate in?
We are biased coming from the Netherlands but we love Amsterdam Pride. Especially the Canal Parade, which is a unique parade on water. There are very few Pride events around the world quite like this one.
Around 80 boats (floats) drive through the city's canals as thousands of people watch and party in the streets. It’s something you have to experience at least once. We have joined the Canal Parade on a float before and from the street—both are fun!
Besides the famous Canal Parade, there’s also a Pride Amsterdam walk, which is like other Pride marches in the world—a demonstration against LGBTQ+ violence and for LGBTQ+ rights in the Netherlands and internationally.
Can you tell us about a role model that has inspired you?
When we started our queer female travel blog and Instagram, there were barely any role models in that area. Meg Ten Eyck has been an inspiration to us—she has been a leader in lesbian travel blogging for a long time.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community today and what advice do you have for your peers on what they can do to help address these issues?
“No Pride For Some of Us Without Liberation For All of Us.” Marsha P. Johnson’s quote embodies the biggest problem. While some community members are protected with rights, in some countries, there’s still a large group that’s marginalized, even within the community—especially trans, non-binary and LGBTQ+ people of color. It’s the issue of intersectionality; one’s LGBTQ+ identity isn’t always the only cause for oppression.
In addition, queer people are more visible than ever, and anti-LGBTQ+ violence has also grown. It would be a good start for people to realize the fight is not over. Pride cannot be a party until there’s equality and freedom for all our community members and we need allies to speak up and help generate change.
What would you like to see the travel industry do better to elevate the LGBTQ+ community?
Include everybody from the LGBTQ+ community and diversify marketing! We often see specific destinations or travel companies promote themselves as LGBTQ+ friendly but we often only see white cisgender gay men when we look at the marketing.
If you want us, queer women, to join too, we would love to recognize ourselves in the marketing. And the same goes for other members of the community.
Our community is beautifully diverse, and LGBTQ+ marketing needs to move beyond gay nightlife because that’s not all our community needs.
Is there an example of a destination, attraction or organization that is leading efforts to prioritize and uplift the LGBTQ+ community?
Luckily there are! Stockholm is doing a great job by promoting the city as LGBTQ+ friendly, not just in terms of queer nightlife and Pride, but also having gender-neutral bathrooms almost everywhere, gender-neutral clothing shops and even perfume stores!
And destinations like Taiwan are incredible; they are not particularly loud about being a queer destination but they are making progress for their queer residents. A true queer-friendly destination isn’t just for queer visitors; it needs to care for its queer people.