Recently, a Gaytravel.com team member spoke with Ash Beckham, a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community. Ash has had a series of TEDx talks about her personal stories that inspire others to do good in the world and be a better advocate.
As a decorated global traveler, I wanted to sit down with Ash and discuss safe traveling and what to avoid when traveling as a member of the LGBTQ community.
Traveling is super important to Beckham. Her family traveled in the summer as she grew up. Ash has traveled domestically and internationally as well as being fortunate enough to attend the olympics. When asked why she enjoys traveling Ash answered because she is a curious mind and it helps an individual give empathy to the rest of the world.
Traveling as a member of the LGBTQ community in today’s society vastly differs than even twenty years ago. Ash recalls memories of when people used to claim their allied stance to the community by having an immediate gay family member and saying things like “Oh my sister is gay.” However, traveling today or interacting with public community as a whole today, people will say things like “Oh my niece at school has a friend with two moms.” We are seeing the slow change and acceptance because now more impersonal relationships force people to be out in middle america cities.
Ash and I discussed traveling to different parts of the United States and assumptions or fears that a person in the LGBTQ community may have traveling to rural parts or places where the political and cultural stance on sexuality is unknown.
“Don’t go into the assumption because someone lives in the part of country that you don’t know very well that they hate you because you are gay. They might not understand it but it isn’t this surprise thing anymore.....A huge part of that for me is not physically manifesting my fear”
Often times, we as members of the community may feel immediate fear when walking into uncertain parts of the country. It is important to understand that when traveling, we should just be humans and not worry or fear our outed sexuality based off of dress code. We all dress differently and our sexuality doesn’t dictate the way we dress. Allowing stereotypes to let us live in fear of who we are or who we want to be is what keeps us from being ourselves. However, Ash explains the concern involving the recent bathroom issues.
Some females and males choose to dress androgynously occasionally, sometimes, all the time or as much as they please, and this type of dress should not be causing looks when going into bathrooms, but it does. Recently with the “bathroom laws” dictating which sex can use which public bathrooms, some members of the LGBTQ community who aren’t even trans are seeing direct effects. Ash opened up about how she chooses to dress more feminine when it comes to traveling certain parts of the United States because it becomes more a matter of safety and comfortability in that safety.
“If i’m driving by myself anywhere in the country I am going to be as safe as I can. We are here to fight another day.”
She also explains that she feels the community shouldn’t criticize each other for the way they dress or choose to express their sexuality.
“There is no one way to be gay or be out or be an activist.”
We still have a lot of fight in us when it comes to traveling and making all parts of the world safe for the entire LGBTQ community.