Making an impact with your travel writing
I wanted to pause for a moment and recognize Meg Ten Eyck for her recent piece Dear straight allies: Please don’t come to Pride until you’ve understood these 6 things. As I type this, there are currently more than 3,500 people reading her work, and there have been literally hundreds of thousands of people who have read this piece over the past 24 hrs.
For anyone interested in making an impact with their travel writing, you owe it to yourself to take 5 minutes and read this piece.
I also wanted to offer just a few quick lines of commentary to help deconstruct some of why this piece works so well:
a. The title addresses the reader directly, with each point further reinforcing the title. Those who dismiss listicles as somehow an ‘inferior’ form of writing should take a lesson here. It’s not the form that matters, it’s the clarity with which the narrator addresses their audience. This begins right in the title itself.
b. The narrator weaves skillfully between tightly focused, scene-driven details and broader context to he;p place the reader in the scene.
So you’ll see sequins, rainbows, parade floats and pool parties sponsored by Absolut, but understand that Pride is equal parts a celebration, a protest, and a community building event. It’s the one time a year when we can come together and be surrounded by the family we choose. Because our bodies and our identities are still policed by the government, religious groups, and even the people we love, we reserve Pride as the opportunity to express ourselves in the way that is most authentic to our community. Sometimes that’s by drunkenly singing Robyn songs at the top of our lungs and sometimes it’s by crying during the eulogy for our murdered trans sisters. We are allowed to have multiple feelings simultaneously as we celebrate our wins and mourn our losses as a community.
c. The narrator isn’t afraid.
Meg’s voice in this piece is confrontational, and yet her positivity, inclusiveness, and sense of humor makes it come off without reading as preachy or combative.
<h2>6. You’re a guest in our space, act accordingly.</h2>
The important take-away here is not that LGBT people hate straight/cis folks. It’s not even about the presence of straight/cis folks at Pride in general. It’s about when straight/cis folks behave in inappropriate and culturally insensitive ways that threaten or dampen the experiences of LGBT people at events that are made for us in the first place. Straight/cis folks can go to any party and feel comfortable dancing, holding hands, and making out with their significant other (or hottie of the night) without feeling like they could be in danger because of their identity. LGBT people do not always have that luxury. If you choose to go to Pride, be a supportive observer and participate in activities, but don’t try to be the focus of the event.
That last paragraph is worth reading several times, as it’s not just a powerful message for this particular event, but for travelers in general–any “guest” in another’s space.