In 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 two boys together clinging.” That was the moment this project was born.
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. I’m going to be bringing you stories of gay people’s lives in areas you may not be very aware of. Not all of the posts will be from areas that are openly hostile to the LGBT community, but some will. I’ll also be throwing in the occasional news items and general gay-interest articles for the sake of variety.
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.
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 I will be traveling. 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
A note about the research: While the research includes some interviews with locals in some of the places I will be visiting, I will not be using information gained through those formal interviews in the blog, to avoid any possible ethical issues.