Why I Started Blogging
I’m a queer millennial, the internet has been my workplace and my playground for most of my life. In the early days of social media, MySpace and LiveJournal were where I met all my ex-girlfriends. No shame in my pre Tinder game.
I went to college in a very small town and was one of a handful of queer people on campus. Thus I reached out to the lesbians of the internet to find community, dates, and entertainment- well if I’m being honest it was mostly dates.
Fast forward to graduate school, living in New York City and working for The Trevor Project. I met Stevie, who was our social media guru and we quickly became friends. He was a blogger and I was obsessed with the glamor [ha!] of blogging. Spoiler; it’s not that glamorous, but Stevie made it look amazing. While Stevie’s blog is no more, he still works in graphic design and is an incredible advocate for queer issues. If you’re looking for some cute queer merch, he’s the gay er – I mean – guy.
Stevie planted the blogging bug in me way back in 2010 but I didn’t actually start my own blog for several years. I got burned out working in the queer advocacy world of NYC and jumped ship to move to South Korea. That’s when I launched my blog Dopes on the Road.
I’m a big ideas thinker, street art lover, and boundaries pusher, and I tend to opt for larger than life challenges and love pushing limits. I knew I wanted a big change and South Korea seemed like the change I needed at the time. I initially created DotR as a way to communicate with friends and family back home.
My first posts were on an awfully designed site that was not self-hosted [that’s a big no no] they were mostly just sorta off center grainy photos of me packing to leave for Korea in my girlfriend’s [wife’s] apartment. But from the moment I pressed publish on those first heinous posts I was smitten by the world of nomadic entrepreneurship and blogging.
It didn’t take long for me to realize there was very limited information for queer travelers online and started to get questions from folks looking to move to Korea, teach ESL, and travel as couples. My background in LGBT advocacy gave me a unique skill set when answering many of these questions. Which is when DotR morphed from personal blog to becoming more professional.
I hoped that DotR would become a space on the internet for LGBT people like me to find resources for travel that felt more familiar to my community. I knew I wanted to inspire others to have adventures in everyday life without sugar-coating the reality of traveling as an LGBT person. LGBT travelers face a unique set of difficulties when seeing the world. The policies and social acceptance of LGBT people varies widely from country to country, but the reality is that safety is still a huge concern for people when LGBT identity is illegal in 83 countries around the world. It’s my hope to lead by example and inspire other LGBT people to seek out adventures around the world and engage in building community around the world.
In my first year of blogging, I won two blogging awards, was featured in a number of publications, was invited to speak about my experiences at conferences around the world and partnered with dozens of brands on sponsored content.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think my little blog would become what it has. In 2016, Dopes on the Road was read by hundreds of thousands of readers across the world. The little blog that could has grown to a community of awesome people on social media that I get to engage with every single day.
At about the three-year mark, I started to really miss the role that my full-time job in advocacy had played in my life. Which is when I decided to accept a position working for the US federal government on an LGBT youth public health campaign. I thought I was going to find fulfillment, but in reality I just realized how much I had learned about queer media and online spaces over the course of my career. I left that position after a few months with a renewed energy for activism, travel, and community building.
I love meeting and connecting with other bloggers and social media folks. I could talk shop all day long, but if I did that I’d never get anything done. That’s when I realized I needed to put all this information down on paper for others to marinate in and learn from.
While I can’t pretend that my little travel blog is curing cancer or having the impact that some major nonprofits and nongovernment organizations are having, it does fill a need for my community and it gives me a platform to share life-changing resources from those nonprofits. The content that we as a community create and share builds on itself over time and creates a narrative that has the power to influence and shape public opinions. I talk about this power in my book SLACKTIVIST: Using Digital Media to Create Change but the important takeaway here is that I’m just like you are – I’m a person who cared a whole lot. I used all that care to create something tangible that I thought would help people.
Thank you for reading, following along on my adventures, and investing in independent queer media. You allow me to do what I love and help bring the queer world the information we need to expand our horizons through the radical act of queer travel and community building.