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10 LGBTQ trailblazers breaking barriers in the travel industry

Attitude 101 empowered by Bentley celebrates LGBTQ trailblazers.

By Alastair James

Following on from the success of last year’s inaugural list, Attitude 101 is back and once again we’re celebrating 100 LGBTQ trailblazers across 10 categories, and one person of the year. This time around we’re proud to be empowered by Bentley

The categories are Politics; The Future, supported by Clifford Chance; Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths; Media and Broadcast; Sport; Film TV and Music, supported by Taimi; Business, Financial and Legal; Third Sector and the Community; and Fashion, Art and Design supported by Klarna. Our Person of the Year is game-changinig rapper Lil Nas X. 

You can check out the full list and interviews with some of those included in the Attitude 101 issue – out now to download and to order globally. Check out our Travel category below.

Nicolas Streff, Global Brand & Corporate Communications director of Belmond

Nicolas Streff is celebrating his first year as Global Brand & Corporate Communications director of Belmond, a specialist in the art of high-end travel around the world. No stranger to premium brands, prior to joining the firm, he worked for names such as Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, Cartier watches and jewellery, Dom Pérignon, Moët, Hennessy. Nicolas has a strong record of championing diversity and LGBTQ+ rights within the wider LVMH group, creating the first internal group to celebrate inclusivity and he led the steering committee in the US that created All LVMH Pride.

Pattie Gonia, Drag queen & environmental activist

Wyn Wiley is the drag face of the great outdoors when he dons the eco-friendly outfits of his alter ego, Pattie Gonia. As well as rocking frocks, the American environmental activist is pushing for more queer representation in outdoor spaces by working alongside groups such as the US non-profit Brave Trails, which hosts summer camps for LGBTQ+ youth. Earlier this year, Wyn expressed his views on the importance of queer people bonding with the natural world to Attitude, “If we can’t connect to the outdoors, how the hell are we going to fight for it?”

Michael Bonsor, Managing director at Rosewood London

As managing director of the Rosewood London, Michael Bonsor supported the local community during the Covid pandemic with food deliveries to frontline medical workers, by sending care packages to patients and working alongside local charities, GOSH, and the Elton John Aids Foundation. After reopening in September 2020, the Rosewood is back in bloom. Earlier this year, they hosted the Oscars party with Dua Lipa and Elton John, while this winter sees a Scottish-themed winter pop-up with whisky brand The Macallan, and the opening of their newest suite, the 6,500-square-foot Lincoln House.

Shintaro Koizumi, President of Out Asia Travel

Shintaro Koizumi has been at the helm of Out Asia Travel for more than a decade, hosting hundreds of LGBTQ+ travellers from all over the world in his native Japan. Even though the country has the highest concentration of LGBTQ+ bars anywhere in the world — about 300 in one district of Tokyo — the general population has not yet fully embraced the queer community. But this year attitudes look like they are a-changing. With Shintaro’s help, the tourist board of the city of Osaka became the first to launch a campaign to celebrate Pride month. 

Brian Kelly, Founder & CEO of The Points Guy

In 2010, Brian Kelly launched The Points Guy website to help people understand and utilise their air-miles points. Now The Points Guy is a major lifestyle brand, with UK and US websites clocking up more than 10 million unique visitors a month and a loyal social media following. With such a huge platform, Brian has become the go-to travel expert for shows such as CBS This Morning, Good Morning America and Live with Kelly & Ryan. In November, it was announced that Brian has signed with talent agency WME to help him expand into the book, podcast and TV markets. Things are really pointing up for Brian.

Kelli Carpenter, Co-founder of R Family Vacations

In 2003, Kelli Carpenter left her marketing job to commit to her passion for travel. With her business partner Gregg Kaminsky, she co-founded R Family Vacations and, since their inaugural cruise, the first of its kind for LGBTQ+ families, they have hosted more than 20,000 guests. They have also expanded into adult-only tours and organising personal trips, while Kelli has become a travel advisor for Tzell Travel. She has received awards from Out100, Lambda Legal, Family Equality Council and the Family Travel Association as well as an Emmy nomination for producing All Aboard!, an HBO documentary about her inaugural R Family voyage.

Aron Le Fèvre, Director of human rights at Copenhagen 2021

Copenhagen 2021 encompassed WorldPride, the EuroGames, an arts festival and a human rights forum. Director of the human rights forum, Aron Le Fèvre told Attitude, “The main achievement was bringing people from all over the world back together physically for important conversations, after a long year and a half of digital events. The opening at UN City with different senior-level officials was a first in such a setting.” Since then, Aron has become deputy executive director of the Global Equality Caucus and a board member of the Equal Asia Foundation.

Craig Smith, President of Source Events

This year, Craig Smith celebrated the 20th anniversary of his company, Source Events, and in that time, the firm has hosted more than 12,000 people on cruises, journeys and special events. When he travels with groups on his luxury trips, he often takes them to support local LGBTQ+ organisations, such as the Lakshya Trust in India, and has helped raise funds and gifted cruises to various queer charities and groups. Craig told Attitude, “After such a long pause, it’s great to again be able to again fulfil my purpose of inspiring people to explore the world, learn more about themselves, and make a difference along the way.”

Shane Riley, Virgin Voyages’ associate vice president of International Sales

More than three years ago, Shane Riley was headhunted for Virgin Voyages, Sir Richard Branson’s cruising vision. Shane has built the international sales strategy, negotiated partnerships with travel agents, created worldwide e-learning platforms and helped to deliver a 2021 preview season of voyages from the UK. He told Attitude, “We don’t just embrace the LGBTQ+ community — it’s inherently in our DNA. As crew, we are encouraged to be our best selves at work and I’ve personally never felt so open to be myself. We have a series of creeds — one specifically resonates with me — Dive Into Different.”

Uwern Jong, Experientialist-in-chief for OutThere magazine

During lockdown, Uwern Jong, the co-founder of OutThere, the queer luxury travel magazine, launched the #KeepYourMindTravelling campaign. He told Attitude, “One of my greatest concerns during the pandemic has been that people, locked down or afraid to travel, will get used to living their life only seeing and knowing what’s, literally, around them and not experience another way of life. That’s not only sad, but potentially dangerous for society; as a community we have come too far to ever be faced with insularism again. OutThere’s #Experientialist campaign has been all about ensuring that never happens.”

Check out the full, detailed list in the Attitude 101 issue, which is out now to download and to order globally. The Attitude 101 issue includes the FREE Attitude 2022 calendar, presented in association with Taimi.

Subscribe in print and get your first three issues for just £1 each, or digitally for just over £1.50 per issue.