There’s an endless to-do list when it comes to planning a vacation, from booking flights and hotels, to creating a sightseeing itinerary. But for the LGBTQ community, there’s an additional concern: comfort and safety. Not every destination is LGBTQ-friendly.
Gray Jones Media, a digital LGBTQ+ media network, relaunched its LGBTQ travel publication, Vacationer Magazine, on Tuesday to satisfy the community’s wanderlust. The magazine curates content for LGBTQ individuals who plan to travel in 2022 and beyond, after more than a year of remaining homebound. It serves as both a guide and travel inspiration that keeps LGBTQ safety top of mind.
Vacationer Magazine initially launched in 2019, but Gray Jones Media co-founders Richard Jones and Robin Gray shut down the publication in January 2020 as they searched for an editor suitable for the role.
“We needed to find a really good editor to take it forward,” Jones told Campaign US. “Because we're not travel experts. We were doing a passable job, but we quickly realized, it's not the best job.”
This time around, Gray Jones Media tapped Kwin Mosby as editor-in-chief, a travel writer with a strong background in covering underrepresented audiences. Mosby has worked at BBC News, Travel Channel and Travel Leaders Group, among other media companies.
Although the pandemic still rages on, the timing was ideal to launch a travel magazine because people are slowly returning to travel or starting to make future plans, Jones said.
“We're going to be very cautious with how we talk to our audience, and also listen to our audience about what's going on out there as well,” Jones said. “People are traveling and we'd rather give the best advice to our community.”
Vacationer Magazine differentiates from other publications in the LGBTQ media space because it prides itself on including content written by and for people of color, women and the transgender community — facets of the LGBTQ audience that are often overlooked.
“Not all voices were being heard in the queer media space,” said Jones. “Even the photography that's used is very often young, white and male. Our goal is to tell a story that gives much more guidance and wanderlust to a broader community that may have never seen themselves targeted or on screen before.”
The new Vacationer Magazine also includes a companion web series titled “Check Your Luggage,” hosted by Fire Island star Justin T. Russo. Each episode centers on a specific culture found in New York City and celebrates other destinations in the U.S. and abroad.
Gray Jones Media’s other online publications include Bear World Magazine, a lifestyle publication for the gay bear community; Gayming Magazine, the world’s only LGBTQ video game magazine; and Queer Forty, an online magazine for the over 40 LGBTQ community. All three publications reach a combined 1.2 million people per month, with the majority of readership coming from the U.S., and growing readership in Asia.
Digital media is a vital resource for the LGBTQ community, who face issues with safety, stigma or discomfort when buying a print LGBTQ magazine. It’s why Jones and Gray view their publications as life-saving resources.
“Sometimes for LGBTQ people the ability to go to a newsstand and buy a magazine comes with so many challenges, like morality or not having access,” said Gray. “Being able to offer our content digitally is a way of cutting through all of that nonsense and getting through to people, wherever they are in the world. There are markets that still have a variety of stigmas, so the ability to reach into those spaces can give people access to our content.”