We belong to where our voice is heard and we are seen. I wrote three articles for GCN in 2020. They focused on LGBTQ+ people who left their home countries to be at peace with their sexuality. All those people I interviewed for that project shared the very same feelings of loneliness and isolation when it comes to living in their country of birth.
Obviously, not all of us feel this urge to leave home so we can experience our sexuality in its whole. Yet, one thing that we all have in common is the need to belong.
About a year ago, I researched the spending habits of the LGBTQ+ community for my college Business project. Even though it was not necessarily a big shock, the numbers I came across made me think about the possible reasons behind them. According to a survey carried out by Grindr in 2018, our friends in America spend around 10% of their purchasing power on travel, which accounts for almost $100 billion a year. As simple as the statement that opens this article may sound, I cannot help thinking that there is a correlation between these 10% and our sense of belonging.
As a minority, society reminds us every day that we are different. That certainly has an impact on how we perceive things and the people around us. Traveling, parties, festivals and cruises, these all become a form of escapism. The idea of meeting other people like us somewhere else is undoubtedly captivating. It reassures us that no matter how difficult it is, or how different they say we are, there will always be a place where we belong.
And where we can grow old.
According to a 2019 study by the UK-based LGBT Foundation, older LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience a sense of loneliness, isolation and abandonment as they are generally single and live on their own. It is even more difficult for those of us who live in a rural setting, where people tend to be more conservative. Most (all) of us will eventually feel alone at some point in life. However, this is and should be a temporary state of mind.
It is important for me to highlight that the purpose of this piece is to raise awareness on the impacts of ageing in the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ loneliness is real, and we must talk about it.
The people who have met me know I have a plane tattooed on my right hand. Traveling has always been my passion. Today, I’m still flying. But the question is: how many people will be there for me when my plane lands?
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