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Interview with David from ThatGayBackpacker

1. Can you start by giving us a little bit of background about yourself and your blog. How did you start traveling? When did you start blogging, and what did you expect readers to get out of it?

I’m a 28 year old guy from the suburbs of West London, though I’ve lived in East London for most of my adult life. I had absolutely no desire to travel until fairly recently. When people around me were going on Gap Years at eighteen, I thought they were nothing short of bonkers. All I wanted to do was go to University. And then in 2011, for the first time I had the desire to take a longer trip and I spent one month in Kerala. That trip was so incredible that I was sure that I wanted to travel more. The problem with being a Londoner is that it can be extremely difficult to save for travel, so I realised that I would need to work and travel at the same time. I spent all of last year building my experience as a freelance writer so that this year I could be confident of being able to write and travel at the same time.

As for the blog, I started writing that in November 2012, so a month or so before I started this trip. Honestly, if a reader lands on one of my blogs and reads it through to the end then I’m happy. If they are inspired or learn something or entertained by any of my garbled words then that is great, but mostly I just want it to be readable.

Interview With David From ThatGayBackPacker.com

2. Let’s talk experiences – what has been the best experience you’ve had on the road? The worst?

My best travel experience was unquestionably the one month I spent in Kerala. For one state in India, it has an incredible breadth of landscape (ocean, cliffs, swampy backwaters, port cities, mountains, and tea plantations), the people were the kindest I had ever met, and the food the best I ever tasted. I actually think about Kerala on a daily basis – I cannot wait to go back.

The worst travel experience I’ve had was ending up on a hippie farm outside of Pai. I feel so uncomfortable around hippies that I did a runner in the early hours in the morning before anyone else was awake and hitch-hiked my way to Pai where it was almost as bad. That town is a living hell and I can pretty much gauge how well I will get on with a person by the way they feel about Pai.

3. You keep your blog anonymous, never revealing any pictures of you – why is that?

There are a few reasons for keeping my blog anonymous. When I created the blog, I knew I wanted it to have a lot of gay interest content. If I was to visit a country where being gay is punishable by death, I still reckon I’d be able to uncover some kind of gay culture there and I would like to write about it – but I don’t want to put my life at risk. I’ve spent some time interviewing gay asylum seekers in the UK and I know that the threats the LGBT community experience in some countries are very real and force them to leave everything they know in order to protect their own lives – so keeping the blog anonymous is first of all a matter of protection even though I’ve not yet been to any countries where being gay is illegal.

Secondly, most of my blog influences are not travel blogs, they are celebrity blogs. Blogs like dlisted.com and popjustice.com do a brilliant job of creating a distinctive tone of voice and writing with personality without ever showing their faces, and I think it would detract if they did show their faces. Because these blogs are greater influences for me than travel blogs, it never actually occurred to me to show my face as I wanted to continue in a blogging tradition that I love the most.

And my final reason is that most blogs are basically terrible. Fear and probability tell me that I could well be one of those terrible blogs so I’d rather save the small amount of dignity that I have left and not have my face smeared all over the internet in association with a blog that should probably be better than it is. Am I selling myself?

4. Your blog is pretty overtly homosexual – what’s the “gayest” thing you’ve seen abroad?

Without question, a gay sex show in Bangkok. A guy was lip-syncing to some British boy band song from the late 90s, using another guy’s hard cock as a microphone. I’ve seen some pretty gay stuff in my time but that really takes the biscuit.

Shoe Socks

5. What’s the “least gay” country you’ve been to so far?

I actually haven’t been anywhere where I haven’t uncovered some kind of gay culture. When I visited India, homosexuality had only been legal for two years, so I imagine there will be a lot of developments there in the years to come as there is a huge population and consequently a huge gay population that will start making themselves known more and more. But even in India, I found pockets of gayness without even really having to look. One man was very persistent with trying to get me into a temple toilet and I had a few men stopping on their mopeds next to me asking me for my hotel room number.

6. What are some of your interests outside of traveling?

I worked in music for five years, so I have a way of obsessing over pop music and pop culture generally. I’m definitely not the backpacker who eschews all of their possessions to strum a ukulele on the beach – that’s pretty much my worst nightmare. If there’s a new Britney song, I’ll still know about it before anyone else, and I watch tonnes and tonnes of television as I travel. I LOVE television – Real Housewives, Mob Wives, The X Factor, all of that stuff – and make no apologies about it. I should probably make myself sound a little more well-rounded and list some intellectual pursuits, so I love reading and ‘literary fiction’ in particular even though that’s a bit of a wanky term. Give me a book that rambles on for hundreds of pages and has absolutely no plot and I’m a happy man.

Interview with David from That Gay Backpacker

7. What are your upcoming plans, both travel and non travel?

The travel plans are a little bit up in the air as this current trip was due to end in June and well, it’s very nearly June and I have no idea what’s coming next. It will be something in Asia still, but I’m not sure exactly where yet. In terms of non-travel, I am trying to teach myself Spanish every day. I’ve never really learned languages before so it’s tough, but I have Spanish friends and it’s just embarrassing when I can’t string even the most simple sentences together in their company. I’m also attempting to dedicate more time to personal writing projects that sit outside of my writing work but it’s tough when I am working, traveling, and trying to write this blog as well.

8. I know that freelance writing is a large component of how you fund your travel escapades – any advice for people looking at this as an option for funding their travel?

I 100% bullshitted my way through it, but that’s not to say that I’m not a good writer, I just don’t have any formal training. I knew that I was a decent writer when I was looking at getting into this line of work and I’m getting better and better the more that I put pen to paper. If you are starting writing from scratch then you might need to do a few jobs for free or at a cheap rate in order to build a decent portfolio, but once you have that writing portfolio and have samples that you can show people it gets easier to find the work. I think if I was in the UK still, I’d have to get a proper full time job as this line of work is not that reliable, but in Asia where I have far fewer costs, it’s working out just fine.

9. What do you miss most about being home?

I miss everything about London on a daily basis aside from the astronomical cost of living. I think that travel was probably supposed to make me feel like London isn’t the centre of the universe, but actually it’s done just the opposite. I feel like the world revolves around London, or at least my world revolves around London. I miss my friends there and I miss how gay it is. I didn’t realise how gay the little world I created for myself is – I mean, at home I have my little gay bubble of hanging out with gay people, going to gay pubs, dancing to gay songs while sniffing poppers, and sitting in parks surrounded by yet more gay people in their gay slouchy vests. I forgot that the rest of the world doesn’t operate in that way and travel has been a sharp reminder of how hetero-normative the world is. There are many other gay travelers who don’t feel dependent on finding a gay scene as they travel, but that has been such a huge part of my adult life that taking it away from me is like cutting off my right arm.

Author bio

That Gay Backpacker follows the adventures of David, a full time homosexual type who’s a bit keen on travel. On December 31st 2012, he flew to Bangkok to kick off a massive Asian adventure. Expect posts about hot locals, dodgy gay bars, and how the humidity is messin’ with his hair. Also on Facebook and Twitter.

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One Response to Interview with David from ThatGayBackpacker

  1. Very interesting! I hadn’t watched Tv for 5 years..and now recently got hooked on ‘The Following” You guys meet the coolest people! India is a place I’d like to visit…but perhaps not alone… xx

    PollyPop May 30, 2013 at 7:34 AM Reply

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