n the summer of 2014, I was walking along a road in Cluj-Napoca, Romania when I saw something surprisingly poignant. There was a bit of graffiti on a wall I walked past that seemed to sum up the gay experience for most of human history – not just in Romania, but across the world. It was two block characters, one with its arm around the other’s shoulder, with the words “We 2 boys together clinging” – a quote from a Walt Whitman poem I’ll include at the end of the post. That was the moment the seed of this project began to sprout.
You don’t necessarily think of graffiti as being profound, but I feel like this one was. LGBT people have lived that way for a very long time – clinging to each other while facing outside opposition. When the world is against you, you have to be there for each other.
Drag queens and leathermen, bulldykes and lipsticks, swishes and muscle queens. Transgender, intersex, bi-, pan-, a-, and the other types of -sexual I’m missing. And the vast majority of us who don’t fit nicely into any of those categories. Queers. For most of history, we have been an out-group who could only rely on the rest of society’s rejects for acceptance. And that’s something we should never forget, even as society begins to magnanimously bestow its approval upon us.
The Internet has changed every aspect of our lives, including the ability to learn about the life experiences of people from other countries and cultures. This creates the possibility for an even larger and more inclusive LGBT community than has ever before existed. We can ‘cling together’ across borders.
So I decided to create this project. My mission is to bring you stories of gay people’s lives in areas you may not be very aware of. Not all of the posts are from areas that are openly hostile to the LGBT community but most are. Many of the articles draw upon my own personal experiences. Others are from information found elsewhere.
In my travels, I intend to see the sites, admire the men, hit the museums, and get drunk at least once in each city I travel to. I like to keep it classy and sleazy. I’ll let you know how it goes. But I hope this will be more than a travel blog. I want it to provide insights into the life of a gay person there, not just the short-term experience of an outsider.
No, I am not independently wealthy. I am able to make this journey because I am also simultaneously doing a research project involving some of the places to which I travel. I’m hoping to be able to continue after my research has ended. Wish me luck on that one.
I hope you enjoy! I know I will.
Jeremy A. Quist
We two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going, North and South excursions making,
Power enjoying, elbows stretching, fingers clutching,
Arm’d and fearless, eating, drinking, sleeping, loving.
No law less than ourselves owning, sailing, soldiering, thieving,
Misers, menials, priests alarming, air breathing, water drinking, on
the turf or the sea-beach dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking, feebleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.