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A Gay Pilot Reflects on What Travel Means to Queer Folks


Next got here the journey I made with my first boyfriend to Montreal. Three a long time later, I recall that on that long-ago summer season morning we proceeded north from Pittsfield in his Volkswagen, crossed the Canadian line and drove into town. We climbed Mount Royal for a view of its namesake metropolis and wandered via the McGill University campus. After we’d checked right into a resort and sat down in a restaurant with out anybody giving us a re-assessment, I questioned if I’d been too pessimistic concerning the world and a homosexual child’s future in it. On the drive house we listened to the Pet Shop Boys. I cherished their London-centered songs, even when I couldn’t respect the city geography — the West End, King’s Cross — they celebrated. Nor may I’ve conceived that at some point I’d transfer to London, fly airliners from town, or have a primary date there (a springtime stroll via a leafy park) with my future husband.

Finally, in school, my fascination with Japan led me to review its language and, one summer season, to work in Tokyo. My school instructor put me in contact with a former scholar, Drew Tagliabue, who lived there along with his companion. When I met them for dumplings one night, I marveled on the diminutive dimensions of one in every of their favourite eating places within the largest metropolis that has ever existed, and at lives lived extra freely than I had imagined doable. That summer season, Drew — who later turned the manager director of PFLAG NYC — New York’s “partnership of fogeys, allies, and LGBTQ+ individuals working to make a greater future for LGBTQ+ younger individuals” — gave me a group of E.M. Forster, through which I discovered the phrases that stay with me as a traveler right this moment: “solely join …”

Armchair L.G.B.T.Q. vacationers, after all, can hit the proverbial highway with the various writers whose phrases and worldviews had been formed by journeys. Consider James Baldwin in Paris, Christopher Isherwood in Berlin, and Elizabeth Bishop, who broke the guts of a boy from Pittsfield and later lived with an architect named Lota close to Rio de Janeiro. Some of the loveliest tales I do know — of the methods through which journey could result in self-discovery and new types of group — happen within the San Francisco (“no person’s from right here”) of Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” novels.

Like many Pittsfield of us, I’m impressed by the wayfaring spirit of Herman Melville, who wrote “Moby-Dick” in my hometown. Whatever the reality of Melville’s sexuality — as Andrew Delbanco notes in “Melville: His World and Work,” it’s not simple to separate the tantalizing clues from the response of “homosexual readers who discover themselves drawn to him” — one thing impelled him to set out for the open ocean and the wonders of distant cities. Born in New York, he wrote simply of Liverpool, Rome and London, and of the turrets of Jerusalem, the dome-obscuring mists of Constantinople, and “the Parthenon uplifted on its rock first difficult the view on the strategy to Athens.”

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