Travel Blogger Ucman Brings the Spirit of Pride to LGBTQ People in Homophobic Parts of the World
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The latest installment in our “What Pride Means to Me” series is a sit-down with someone who offers an interesting perspective on Pride and the experiences of LGBTQ people around the globe. Ucman is a London-based world traveler and travel blogger who runs the site Brown Boy Travels, where he documents his jaunts across the globe.
He says on his site: “I am a hippie inside who gave up on dreams of a big fancy house, traditional life and boring social status symbols. Most of my holiday and money goes towards traveling, and I started this blog to share my experiences with other people.”
You can also find him on YouTube, where he shares video footage of his trips, and which are great resources for other LGBTQ travelers looking to travel to the same parts of the world.
As we’re now half-way through Pride Month 2021, Hornet asked the Brown Boy Travels scribe to share his thoughts on Pride, its personal significance for him, and how he thinks the West can do better when it comes to involving the broad spectrum of the LGBTQ community.
“What Pride Means to Me” by Ucman Scher
I am not a Pride guy! (Unconventional and slightly controversial, I know). I love Prides around the world, but I am not a fan of how we celebrate it in the West, especially in London where I live.
I first heard about Pride in London when I moved here a decade ago. It was a new thing, but I was excited to celebrate with my ex-partner at the time, and it turned out to be a massive disappointment. I saw tons of mostly white guys in as little clothing as possible, glittered up, drunk and very dismissive of everyone else. I kept trying to find other guys like me — any brown or black faces — and I saw very few. We headed to Soho afterwards, which was packed, and I realized the hierarchy for the first time. It was a white guys’ thing. I haven’t been able to shake that taste ever since.
Since then, I have added to the list other factors, like the use of Pride by corporations and rainbow capitalism, as well as the need for a separate Black Pride in London due to lack of diversity.
Don’t get me wrong: I see Pride as an important day when a lot of people get the courage to come out (myself included when I formally announced it four years ago), and I see the role it plays in empowering LGBTQ+ youth around the world, especially in repressive regimes. I consider it the equivalent of Tank Man in Tiananmen Square. I now try to focus on Eastern European countries where this fight has become crucial.
As a world traveler, I have learned so much about the shame, the self-loathing, the insecurity mixed with the desire to be loved, adored and small moments and gestures like holding hands in so many countries. A lot of these places are very homophobic. I live for the moment someone gets the determination that they will get out of the repressive system, get out and be like me: Free.
I love empowering these people, I love meeting them, and I love spending time making them think for a small time they are normal in my company. We can talk about liking guys, kissing, safe sex or the simple pleasures of enjoying a moment. It is also a great chance to spread awareness about safe sex and focus on consent. That’s my way of celebrating Pride with people who might not actually get a chance to wave a rainbow flag in London, New York or Madrid.
I also started a little section on my website, Brown Boy Travels, where I request that people from around the world share their stories, and I absolutely treasure every single one of them.
I hope to spend Pride Month this year with the charity that saved my life and that I am now a trustee of, Rainbow Migration. It is a charity that works with LGBTQ+ asylum-seekers while going through the asylum process.
I wish every single person in the LGBTQ+ community a very Happy Pride Month. I truly believe we are all beautiful, and this diversity is our strength. For the people in West, please think of the BAME folk this year, and for everyone else who lives in a “conservative” society, may this year bring you the strength to be more you until we are all free to love who we want.