Barbara, 30 years old, several travels already done and many underway, a lot of work for the LGBTI community and a natural way of living her homosexuality while travelling as well as in any other situation. In this interview she tells us about her experience and her opinion on solo travels (and more)..
How did you start travelling alone?
It all began with an Erasmus, more o less. I was attending the second year of Language studies at the University and, in some way, it was normal leaving with an Erasmus programme. I chose my beloved England and I went to Bristol. What a semester! I realized there how much I loved beer and, let’s use a set phrase (overused), I began to discover myself. When I came back to Naples after, I say it again, a crazy semester, I had to face a “choque cultural”, as a Spanish would say. I packed my things and a few months after I moved to Turin. Why Turin? In one word: “love”.
Turin is in my hearth yet. I’ve left it for two years now. After seven years I was unsettled there. I felt “refused” by a city that, at the time, had accepted me as a daughter and most of all had helped me to accept my homosexuality. Yes, I am lesbian, and it’s not an insult. I’m a travelling lesbian who, after Turin, thought to leave to Spain, now is in Ireland and is planning with her partner to go to Australia.
We often speak about how is travelling alone for women and what problems have they possibly to deal with because of many cultural resistances. How is solo travelling for an homosexual woman? Has ever it influenced your transfers?
Yes…I can’t hide that my homosexuality can interfere with the choice of the places and destinations to visit, even if it hasn’t occurred to me yet. Let’s say that I would probably avoid some cities. I don’t think I have to say which ones and why but that’s how it is. The “problem” is that for most of the gender role oriented people, I’m not the classical “female” and it’s “normal” that I attract negative stereotypes and prejudices because of my tomboy appearance. Therefore I’m immediately recognized, even if I don’t have any “lesbian” coloured label on me, translated in several languages.
I know that there are some websites which give specific information for LGBTI travellers, have you ever used them?
Once I’ve tried to download an app with such information, and, even more simply, before leaving to Granada I had asked information about night life to the LGBTI community. But afterwards I told myself: “Why should I look for a gay club?”. And my answer was: “Stop ghettoizing you”. By that I don’t mean to say that if you look for theme nights in a city you’re going to visit or visiting you want to “ghettoize”. This is my extremely personal opinion which originates from the consciousness about my homosexuality. I live it naturally. I’ve spent a long time now – since I was in Spain – without going to gay nights because I don’t feel that need. I ‘m not driven to stay, even for a few hours, in a place/club where I know most of the clients are LGTBI.
Have you found countries where you have felt more at ease as for socio-cultural acceptance?
I must admit I haven’t travelled a lot, unlike many female travellers of the group, but, I could simply answer yes, Spain and Ireland are definitely countries which welcome homosexuals. Not surprisingly, they also have equal marriage. Now I’m in Ireland but I’ll go around some more time.
I travel alone because i imagine myself everywhere and nowhere!
Can you also tell us which is your occupation?
I’m a new-generation unemployed, let’s say a “free worker”, as Guzzanti (Italian satirist) would say. I do a lot of things and I don’t do anything at the same time. Let’s say that my life is devoted to the LGBTI community, where I’ve volunteered for some years in Turin, starting as unskilled worker and now having a political office in the Arcigay Torino “Ottavio Mai” board. But the most important and emotionally engaging experience was the organization of the Torino Pride 2014 together with 50 volunteers, all coordinated by me as for the fundraising which takes its beginning some months before the big event. In the last two/three years I’ve developed a certain interest even for the themes connected to disability. I began with a civil service at Università di Torino in the office dedicated to the welcoming and tutoring of disabled and with learning disabilities students, and I arrived in Spain where last year I dealt with the same themes, especially inclusion and social volunteering.
My dream is to continue to dedicate myself to this… perhaps a Phd.