For LGBTQIA+ people, finding safe spaces at home can be a challenge, let alone while travelling. But for Andy, tapping into the global queer community has helped him dig deeper into new places, while allowing him to become his complete self.

The Power of Finding Accepting Spaces

Growing up I never accepted my own sexuality. I was held back by being raised in a small town where everyone who was out of the closet was laughed at and ostracised by the people I grew up with. 

To stay popular I suppressed the part of myself that would later make me who I am. I can confidently say I wouldn’t be where I am today if I wasn’t gay. My sexuality has helped launch my career, as I’ve used my platform as a journalist to focus on queer issues. My queerness has also helped me find community whilst I’ve travelled the world. 

Read more: What’s it Like to be LGBTQIA+ and an Explorer



I wasn’t able to fully come into myself until I arrived in Melbourne, a city with a large queer community.

Attending LGBTQIA+ nightlife events, artist exhibitions, and sports clubs helped me learn how to fully express myself and find community as I developed my identity. 

Developing this confidence in my sexuality allowed me to travel from Australia and establish a social circle for myself in my new home of Wellington, Aotearoa. I’ll never forget when my close friend and workmate Savannah and I were closing the restaurant together, and she was unsure of whether I was queer or not. In order to test her theory, she played ‘Vroom Vroom’ by Charli XCX. 

Seeing I knew every word to this iconic gay anthem, Savannah took me under her wing, and over the next few months, introduced me to a beautiful queer family.

These bonds were helped along by knowing the same references in queer pop culture and the same lyrics to Lady Gaga’s new gay bar dance floor-filling album, Chromatica.

Transcending Culture and Language Barriers

The first time I ever noticed the power of being a queer traveller was when I was in New Orleans. We’d been on the city’s only voodoo tour, led by a practising voodoo priest. Hiding from the oppressive heat in the shade of a sprawling oak tree, the priest – who was also queer – turned to us and said, 

‘You ever need help, come on down to our gay bar, we’ll always help you out’. 

Such a simple offer resonated with me so deeply, I still remember it five years later. It was the first time I realised the strength of the global LGBTQIA+ community. Even when you’re far from home, queer spaces will exist where you’ll find acceptance. 



I’ve even been told stories by gay friends who’ve travelled to countries with laws and strong attitudes against queer rights, like Russia and Saudi Arabia, that they still found a thriving underground LGBTQIA+ scene. Whilst I think it’s important to prioritise your safety, the fact that these spaces still exist in some of the least accepting nations demonstrates the strength of the global queer community. 

I remember sitting on the beach in Barcelona when the idea for this article first formed. I was at Mar Bella, the gay nudist beach, surrounded by queer people, mostly men, enjoying the freedom of a hot Spanish summer day.

Looking around the beach, I clocked so many similarities to my own queer friends – from dancing to Britney Spears all the way through to screaming, ‘Yaaaaaaas’. I noticed the tucking of imaginary hair behind ears or the clasping of imaginary pearls whilst gossiping. 

It gave me such a feeling of familiarity and community, even though I was at the beach completely alone.

I knew who these people were, and I understood how their worlds and viewpoints worked, all thanks to being part of the global queer community.


Meeting The Locals Helps Me Dig Deeper

This community goes beyond finding familiarity in a crowd of strangers – I’ve gained huge insights into new places as a result of being queer whilst travelling. I’ve come to know new sides of cities I’ve visited by going on dates or having conversations with people in the queer community during nights out. 

Recommendations for restaurants, queer-friendly bars, warehouse parties, and art exhibitions have all come to me through the queer girls, gays, and theys I’ve met on my travels. I’ve used dating apps like Grindr and Tinder to make friends when moving to a new city which have been great resources to meet like-minded queer people. 



You can really get to know a city by going on dates with locals. I was recently on a date in Amsterdam and learnt about the time the Oosterkerk, a 17th-century Dutch Reformed Church, played the entirety of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and was given a rundown of the complete history of the Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s 120 acre public urban park.

Going on dates in my new home of Bristol introduced me to the city’s queer underground nightlife scene, where I’ve made a huge number of friends and evolved further in my sense of self-expression. 

Whether it’s taking my Mum and sister to a queer club in Nice, crawling down the strip of gay clubs on Reguliersdwarsstraat in Amsterdam or heading out to a queer night in Sydney or Melbourne, I’ve always found a sense of safety and community amongst the global queer community. 


Where The Queer Community Can do Better

Whilst the global queer community is welcoming on the whole, there’s always room for improvement. 

I’ve seen countless TikTok videos of guys going to bars, trying to make friends, before being made to feel so unwelcome that they leave. Unfortunately, like every other subculture, the queer community has a beauty standard. It tends to mean that those who fall outside that standard aren’t always as welcomed into certain queer spaces. 

Read more: Why LGBTQIA+ Visibility is So Important in the Outdoors

However, there are plenty of counter-movements within the LGBTQIA+ community to create spaces that embrace every body type, sexuality, and form of gender expression, one of them being voguing ballrooms. 

I’ve been to vogue ballroom events where the audience screams and supports every single person walking the runway, no matter how they look. Outside the vogue community, most sizable cities have queer nightlife events dedicated to queer people of colour, the trans community, and other often under-represented demographics in the LGBTQIA+ community. 



If you do enough research and put yourself out there, the global queer community will help make any city you’re visiting feel like home. This worldwide network is a vital lifeline that’s always been there for me whilst I’m on the move.