Sunday, September 25, 2022

Pride, Worldwide: How a Queer Photographer is Helping the Rainbow Community Feel Safe and Be Themselves When They Travel

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If you’re reading this story as a straight white person, you might be surprised to hear that our queer friends have to sometimes take a wildly different path when it comes to choosing a holiday destination.

New research from booking.com has revealed that it can be tough to feel safe as a member of the Kiwi LGBTQI+ community – from the way they dress, act and present themselves, through to serious considerations around safety. They include:

  • More than half (58%) of LGBTIQ+ Kiwi travellers say they have to consider their safety and wellbeing when picking a destination 
  • More than half (60%) also believe that travelling as part of the LGBTIQ+ community means that some destinations are off limits
  • 51% believe being LGBTIQ+ impacts the decisions they make when planning a trip, with 44% saying that it has affected their destination bucket list
  • More than half (54%) report that being LGBTIQ+ impacts who they choose to travel with
  • 53% indicate that traveling as an LGBTIQ+ person impacts how they behave with their significant other when traveling together
  • More than half (55%) believe being LGBTIQ+ impacts how they present themselves during their trip 

Capsule spoke to photographer Becki Moss, who worked with booking.com to create the Postcards from Pride series, which feature incredible images of Kiwi queer icons (including the gorgeous main image of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under champion Kita Mean) to help raise awareness and funds for Outline Aotearoa.

Becki Moss

Tell me a little about ‘Postcards from Pride’, and the messages behind it!

‘Postcards from Pride’ is a series of 5 postcards created in collaboration with Booking.com alongside the release of their ‘Travel Proud’ campaign, Winter Pride (before it got cancelled) and in support of OutLine Aotearoa. Each postcard features a photo of member(s)of the LGBTIQA+ community in Aotearoa, NZ as well as a brief quote about their experiences of travel. The core messages are normalising queer visibility in travel spaces, celebrating diversity in our rainbow communities and capturing queer joy. 

You’re an award-winning photographer – what is it about the medium that you love so much? 

I first fell in love with photography before I even started school when I pored over National Geographic magazines, later as 10/11 year I got my first camera and started photographing. When I was 15 I started working professionally as a photographer with a dream of one day being a photojournalist.  For me, portraiture has been the most powerful medium in photography and the way that it can invoke empathy in viewers on the other side of the world for the person photographed. Photography allows a window into the experiences of others and I think that is important in reminding us we are all human.

A Postcard from Pride featuring The AM Show’s Aziz Al-Sa’afin

Let’s talk about queer visibility – what do you think is the best way to increase this?

I think that having images and representation of LGBTIQA+ people (and not just cis white people) in places that are usually very heteronormative such as mainstream advertising, film & TV, public exhibitions are all important steps in increasing queer visibility. For me it is important that the visibility is intersectional and celebrates the diversity of the rainbow community. 

You live with chronic pain, kidney disease and endometriosis – how does that impact your daily life, and do you think it has any effect on the way you choose to portray those you photograph? 

I’m really privileged that I have a career that allows me a significant amount of flexibility with my schedule, meaning that I’m able to rest enough to not get sick. When I was studying full-time I was in the hospital every few weeks with kidney infections whereas now I am able to rest more and this means my hospital trips are now only occasional. Fatigue and limited mobility is currently the biggest hindrance to my daily life but I am lucky to work with people and organisations that are aware of this and happy to accommodate – this campaign being one of them. 

I hope that my lifelong personal experiences with chronic illness have made me a more empathetic and open person, something that I think translates into the way I interact with others and photograph them. I also aim to make people feel seen, validated and beautiful when I portray them. 

The findings released by Booking.com regarding queer travellers are probably quite surprising for those not in the queer community, but for those who are, I imagine they’re wholly unsurprising? What are your thoughts, and do you have to make the same considerations when you’re booking travel? 

I have the privilege of being a white, cis and ‘straight passing’ woman so I haven’t really had to consciously think about my queerness when travelling, the only exception to this is when I was last in Poland in 2019. I had been to Poland multiple times but this was my first time in the southern Polish mountains and I remember it was during the time when large parts of the country were designating themselves as ‘LGBT-free zones’, I remember making sure that I didn’t use my pride tote bag at all when I was there and didn’t that I had a girlfriend.  In the future when travel is (hopefully) an option again, my biggest concern would be about travelling with my partner. 

Finally, do you have a favourite postcard?

This is such a hard question because each shoot was so much fun and it was wonderful getting to know each person but I think the joy in the photo of Otis and Quentin stands out for me. 

Quentin and Otis’ Postcard from Pride

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