This year a lesbian couple, Amy Aed (22) and Emily Knipe (21) aim to become the first people to walk the length of the River Danube from source to sea. The aim of the walk is to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ travellers.
The couple began their journey in early September in Furtwangen, in the heart of Germany’s Black Forest. They intend to cover approximately 35 kilometres per day but so far have managed to reach upwards of 45 kilometres some days. Within the first thirty days, they had already covered 885 kilometres to reach Vienna.
Each day will require an average of seven hours walking, meaning that exhaustion levels are high. Emily says that the “constant struggle of never reaching our calorie goal means that we go to sleep tired. It’s a lot more difficult than the two of us first expected”.
The couple plans not to use any public transport to reach their destination and will rely mainly on strangers for accommodation and food. So far, they have welcomed a wide variety of dwellings from communes to nunneries, sheds with cult leaders to the homes of spiritual healers and even a stay with a Michelin star chef.
The pair who started dating in early November 2019, recognised that there was a lack of awareness or support for female-identifying LGBTQ+ travellers. One of the underpinning motivations for the walk was to break down perceived stereotypes.
“As it stands,” Amy describes, “the adventure industry is over-saturated with straight white men. The people that don’t quite fit that criteria face incredible prejudices when undertaking expeditions like this. We hope that by doing a walk like this, we will be able to challenge the stereotypes and expectations for female LGBTQ+ travellers in the industry, and hopefully inspire others to take the plunge.”
So far on the walk, the lesbian couple has experienced very little hostility, however, Emily admits, “we are constantly quizzed on whether or not we are sisters. When we explain that we most definitely aren’t sisters, they struggle to understand how two females could be travelling so closely together.
The total journey will cover approximately 2,850 kilometres and could see the couple travelling through as many as 10 different countries. While the likes of Germany and Austria are considered to be reasonably liberal, other countries such as Hungary and Romania have far more oppressive attitudes and laws governing LGBTQ+ rights.
In acknowledging this challenge, Amy says, “With the finish line looking to be in eastern Romania in late December, we are super excited to see how cultures, languages, and landscapes change along the way.”
© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.