Welcome to Attitude’s annual Travel issue. For moi, family holidays were almost always spent in Cyprus, visiting relatives. It wasn’t until I was 17 years old that I was allowed to vacation without parental figures.
The destination my friends and I opted for? Benidorm. No joke. A seven-night stay in a below-average apartment for £225, including flights.
At 17, that kind of money isn’t easy to come by, so you take what you can get. That experience has made every holiday destination since feel like Monaco.
Deeply in the closet at the time and holding a torch for my then best friend, after he hooked up with his latest female friend one night, I snuck off to a gay bar. Not having the courage to step through the door, I sat outside for 45 minutes before going back to the apartment and to bed.
The following year, upgrading my holiday ambitions, I took a four-month internship at Marvel Comics in New York. It was during this visit to the Big Apple that I had my first homosexual experience. (But that’s a story for a whole other column.)
The next summer, during the break between ending college and starting university, I went island-hopping in Greece. And yes, that included Mykonos and all the adventures that came with being a young gay man discovering his sexuality.
I still wasn’t out at home, but my international capers provided the means through which to experiment without the fear of my parents or another family member spotting me slipping out of a gay bar in Soho.
Graziano Di Prima, shot by Joseph Sinclair exclusively for Attitude's February Travel issue, out now
When uni ended, I set my sights further afield and headed to South East Asia. My growing self-confi dence was seeking bigger thrills and I had acquired a taste for the unknown. I travelled through Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Bali, before heading on to Sydney, where I settled for a year and explored the vastness of Oz.
I met some wonderful new friends. I also made an enemy of Sydney’s foremost drag queen, Portia Turbo, who became my nemesis during my stay, scowling at me every time I turned up at whatever bar that she was working. And I fell in love with a boy. (OK, maybe it wasn’t “love” love, and it was quite fucked up... again, a story for another column.)
When it was time to return home, I did so ready to live life in London, confident in myself and my identity, and ready to start a new, more-open life as a screaming queen. Free of the restraints that weighed me down back home, travel helped me find myself.
Todrick Hall, shot by Conor Clinch exclusively for Attitude's February Travel issue, out now
Travel has the extraordinary ability to remove barriers, help us let our guard down and open ourselves to new experiences.
In the tedium of our nine-to-five lives and the humdrum routine of our three-meals-a-day existence, travel strips us of the straightjacket of life’s expectations and lets us loose to play, laugh and sometimes fall in love. Even if it’s only for a fleeting few days or weeks.
With travel, we aren’t necessarily escaping from our lives, we’re often escaping to something more genuine and closer to who we really are.
Attitude's February Travel issue is out now.