Borderless Communities

As COVID-19 ravages economies across the world, I’ve recognised that vulnerable groups such as
LGBTQ communities, especially those of colour, bear the brunt of the economic fall out. Queer
people are disproportionately affected by rising levels of unemployment, homelessness and for
business owners, depleted income.


It’s important to note that LGBTQ people can be found in every social sphere and class and are
therefore affected in different ways.


During this time of travel restriction I’ve recognised that LGBTQ people across social strata migrate
and travel for three major reasons. Those are connection, safety and prosperity.
According to UNWTO, travel and movement has decreased by ~70% since COVID-19. However,
LGBTQ travellers, who according to CMI travel 3.1 more times than other travellers, are seemingly
the first to travel as soon as possible even given the present circumstances of the pandemic.
Connection - During the pandemic scores of LGBTQ people have braved chaotic and uncertain
conditions to travel to and reconnect with loved ones. While this can be argued as standard for
everyone, LGBTQ people generally find it more difficult to find romantic partners, genuine
friendships and community. As a result, they literally go the extra mile to restore connection and
companionship. Personally, I’ve travelled across the globe from Barbados to East Africa during the
crisis to be with my partner and we’ve been travelling and living together - this is true for many
others.


Safety - Without a doubt, places like Poland, Russia and Uganda that legislate hate create hostile
environments for LGBTQ people living there. Even in the most seemingly progressive places like the
USA, LGBTQ people, especially trans people often experience similar hostility. They travel across
the country in search of environments in which they feel most safe and protected from the emotional,
mental and physical violence that homophobia presents. In addition, due to COVID-19 many have
had to move back in with birth families - a seemingly safe space for many, but not often for LGBTQ
people. The pandemic has certainly exacerbated the need for various forms of travel for LGBTQ
folks in search of safety. Meanwhile, travel and relocation has become increasingly complex due to
pandemic restrictions. However, despite this we continue to be resilient in the face of uncertainty and
seek travel and community anyway.


Prosperity - LGBTQ migrants and refugees leaving most developing countries are often faced with
lack of economic opportunities or suitable and nurturing environments. As an LGBTQ advocate and
former LGBTQ non-profit Director I’ve seen most migrants and refugees leave to seek employment
and economic opportunities where they do not only aim to work but to thrive and prosper, living
authentic lives. This means that it is more than just economic prosperity that people seek. It is
comfort - queer people travel to live more holistic and fulfilling lives exploring and enjoying the world
around us. LGBTQ people deserve to live in dignity and to build lives and community with loved
ones. Travel broadens the scope of life and presents a world of possibility for LGBTQ people to live
and explore.

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