This series of Q&A in celebration of Pride month has been so much fun that I decided to add one more. Today, I’m interviewing Vincent Jones aka Citizen Jones Travel.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a gay guy who loves to travel, meet people around the world, and experience life as it’s lived outside of my hometown. I started @Citizenjonestravel a year ago on July 1st. I’d thought about it for years. A desire to change my life after a traumatic car accident inspired me to just do it. So I became a travel agent, started my Instagram, built the website, and started the journey.
Why did you decide to start Citizen Jones Travel and how do you design your curated experiences?
I had been doing it unofficially for years as I planned trips and experiences for friends. Another friend suggested I made it into something more. I took her advice and Citizen Jones Travel was born. I curate experiences by letting my curiosity lead, and my desire to connect people through social engagement, follow. I think about what would spark conversation. What would be unexpected? What would get someone out of their comfort zone a little and into the shoes of a person living in that place? What is something someone would have a hard time planning on their own?
How are gay travellers different or unique?
Gay travelers tend to have more extravagant trips, are open to off the beaten track places if there is a gay or gay-friendly nightlife, and will often travel solo or in groups rather than with partners like our straight counterparts.
Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories from your travels?
So many. One I’ll share is when my guide in Petra left us stranded and we had 2 hours to get across the border into Israel before it closed. We made it thanks to some lovely Bedouins who were determined to help us, but were delayed leaving Jordan by the lack of Jordanian money to pay exit fees. It got resolved eventually because they agreed to take dollars after much back and forth. Luckily, Israel kept their border open for us and we were able to get across, meet our friends who were waiting, and then, head up to the Dead Sea, where the power was out. The hotel checked us in using paper forms and candlelight.
What is one place you haven’t been to yet, but is at the top of your list?
Are you openly gay to your friends, family, and co-workers?
I’m here. I’m queer. Get used to it!
How old were you when you came out to your family? Looking back, is there anything you’d have done differently? Do you wish you had told them sooner?
You never stop coming out. I did come out to my mom and a cousin but never said ‘hey everyone else, I’m gay’. But I’ve introduced them to my boyfriends, invited them to gay events I’ve hosted or been honored at, included them in events with gay friends, and been very open on social media where many of them follow me. In my case, being authentic and organic about it has helped to make it a non-issue.
Do you think there are challenges travelling as a gay black man? If so, how do you overcome them?
Yes. Many people have stereotypes about Black people and many foreigners only experience Black people in movies, TV, or sports, so they don’t always have a full view of who we are. Add being gay to the equation and sometimes I worry about my safety, avoid talking about relationships or allow them to believe I’m interested in women. I deal with all by being aggressively friendly. I’m like Effie White in Dream Girls when she sings “and you and you and you gonna love meeeeeeeeee.”
Do you think we need more diversity in the travel industry? How can we do better?
Definitely! Brands need to reflect more diversity in their advertising so that more can see themselves at the destinations, regardless of race.
Has Instagram changed the way you travel?
Well, I’m more intentional about getting selfies and content for IG stories and blog posts. Instagram has opened my eyes to new places and has been a vehicle to meet other travel lovers.
This or That – Travel Edition
Fly or Road Trip – Fly
Walk or Uber – Walk
Airbnb or Hotel – Hotel
Luxury hotel or camping – Luxury hotel
Sleep In or Wake Up Early – Sleep in
Nature or City – City
Mountains or Beach – Beach
Summer destination or winter destination – Summer
Adventure or Relaxing – Adventure
East Coast or West Coast – West Coast
Resort or Cruise – Both
Fine dining or street food – Fine dining
Planner or free spirit – Planner with free spirit Mimi
One long trip or many short trips – Many short trips.
Don’t forget to follow Vincent and his travel adventures on Instagram at @Citizenjonestravel!