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The 12 Days of Lezmas: Lesbian Gift Guide 2019

I’m a sucker for holiday gift lists, even when they have nothing to do with my interests, or anyone I’m buying gifts for! This year, I thought I’d write up a silly one full of gifts that any lesbian would love. (Or at least that this lesbian would love… am I selfishly just posting my Christmas list online? Yeah, maybe. Still, it’s a great list :D) Sing along as you read!*

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

12 books for queer folks: One for every month! Apparently I’m a bad lesbian and haven’t read any of this year’s best, but here are 55 to choose from!

11 Crave subscriptions: so that the lezzie in your life and all their friends can watch The L Word: Generation Q! That said… one subscription might be better so that they can have L Word nights with friends – you’d basically be giving the gift of queer community 😉 You can also subscribe to Showtime directly, or get it through Prime, but this was the best option for us.

10 cubes for packing? 10 pots for planting? 10 puppies pupping? 10 bras for sporting? 10 socks for hiking? I’ll leave this one open so that you can cater to their interests beyond being a lesbian!

9 super-gay pins: Go nuts at the Autostraddle shop! They have an extensitve pin selection: gal pal? pronouns? scissors? Check check check! They also have sweet clothes, hats, and and other accessories (yes, I’m eyeing the Bette Porter 2020 tshirt).

8 button-up tees: You may be wondering ‘is 8 too many’? But you should be asking ‘is 8 enough’?!?! Peau de Loup is awesome for many reasons, among them the fact that lots of their button-ups are named after Brooklyn 99 characters! Also, they’re Vancouver-based! No stressful customs charges for Canadian shoppers eh!

7 gifts for others: charitable donations are always a nice gift choice, and the lesbian in your life would likely appreciate one (or seven) in their name towards a queer-oriented organization. Here’s a list of LGBTQ-related charities in Canada; a couple in BC: MOSAIC and Rainbow Refugees. No doubt an intersectional charity would also be of interest – Black Lives Matter Vancouver’s community resource list may give you some good ideas, or consider one of these Canadian organizations helping Indigenous communities.

6 toques for fashion: we all know that for lesbians, toques are more gaydar beacons accessories than something to keep you warm in winter, hence the need for so many. I always feel good shopping at 10 Tree. If six seems excessive, consider contributing to her snapback collection.

Fiiiive L Word sets: yes I know there are 6 seasons but we lesbians prefer to pretend that Season 6 didn’t happen. I guess if it *happens* to be included in the full set, that’s acceptable, siiigh.

4 boob earrings: Here you go, enjoy! Yes ok there are only 2 earrings but that equals 4 boobs, duh! Also Hinterland Empire is a really rad business with ethical, American-made clothing and accessories. They’re located in Northern California but are worth paying those pesky customs fees for.

3 top-notch toys [Warning: NSFMP (Not Safe For My Parents)]: Wet for Her makes great products specifically for lesbians. Why 3? Well… maybe she’ll require multiple parts, plus accessories. Also, the song goddammit! I had to add an extra syllable, but I’m sticking to the numbers!

2 diva cups: some lesbians menstruate; for those who do, the menstrual cup is such an awesome, economical, environmentally friendly way to go. That said, they can get lost, left at home when you need them or, after some time the silicone can get compromised, so why not get a backup?

Andddd… aaaaa… cheeky, sneaky, not leaky PEE-ZEE: Ok I definitely added some syllables here – worth it for the rhyme! This is a fun gift that can be used for a variety of purposes and by folks of various genders. I enjoy using it when camping! I like that this Pee-zee is Canadian.

Happy shopping, and happy holigays!

Hot Goss! Scalding Tea: Interview with En Route with Love

Last month I had the pleasure of doing an interview with En Route with Love, a queer married couple from Minnesota who love to travel. It was so much fun; they are lovely and asked such insightful questions about blogging, identity, overseas work, and queer travel.

Here’s a bit of the interview; head over to their post to read the whole thing! You’ll find out about working in Australia and South Korea, my favourite places in Canada and abroad, travelling while gay, and the thing I can’t be without while travelling! Drumrollllll…. check out the full article here! Without further ado, here’s a little teaser 😉

You have an incredible blog, lestalkmoretravel.com, that covers not only travel, but also posts about the LGBT community and being an introvert. How do these three themes play into one another in your writing?

Thank you so much! Les Talk, More Travel was born in 2015 from the intersection of what I considered the 3 most important aspects of my identity at the time. My intention was to write articles related to each of these topics, and the ways they interact. These days, I find myself writing a lot more informational (queer) travel posts. These are what people tend to search for when they find my blog, and I include the kind of information I look for when I’m planning a trip. That said, I love writing those deeper and more introspective posts! They do take quite a bit more time, and it obviously means being vulnerable, but they’re generally my favourite. I’m hoping to write a bit more about introversion in the coming months, since I feel like that’s the topic I’ve slacked on the most (and it’s an important one)!

One of your blog posts, “On Blogging: Don’t Change! Be Yourself!” really resonated with me, and I am sure other bloggers that share their personal stories with a greater audience. Through my lens, it spoke to the pressures of changing your ‘appearance’ to keep up with other bloggers who have a lot of followers and/or are sponsored. From your experience, what tips can you share with those who are just starting out in the travel-blogging world?

I’ve had a lot of trouble differentiating between “blogging” and “writing”, because blogging has always been about writing for me, but some of the most successful travel bloggers are not successful because of their fantastic writing skills (most DO have these skills, but not exclusively) – it’s that they are driven, often self-taught, business and marketing-minded individuals. I would love to build those skills myself, but what I have the capacity for at the moment is just continuing to write consistent, information-filled (sometimes silly!) blog posts.

Think hard about what motivates you to write and keep a blog. Do you look forward to writing? I do! I find it therapeutic and fun, and I’ll love it even if I never make money doing it. Would you still want to blog if it doesn’t end up being lucrative? Would you still want to blog if it does? How would you feel if you were pressured to write about a specific topic at a specific time?

My suggestions: write about things you feel passionately about, be picky about what you say yes to, and don’t undervalue your time. Know that it takes TIME, money, hard work, research, and skill-building to monetize your blog, if that’s what you choose to do.

Overall, in the last few years of having Les Talk, More Travel, one of the things I’ve felt the most pride and satisfaction from has been having members of MY community – other lesbian and queer travel bloggers – acknowledge my blog and connect with me so that we could collaborate in some way. Like this interview with En Route with Love! What an honour 🙂 THOSE are the most important and rewarding connections to foster!

Your blog post “How Travel Helped Me Come Out” is also a very personal and important piece of writing. There is a small portion on how you took some of your travel time to soak up queer television, and as a person who relied heavily on media arts to come out, I am curious as to how this influenced you in your journey?

Media arts are so important! I do think it’s different now, because most TV shows have at least one queer character, often a lesbian, and often a femme lesbian. That wasn’t something I had really even considered when I first saw the L Word, and then I was like whoaaa lesbians can look like me (well like… a way hotter version of me :P), so… I could be a lesbian?! As I tried to work up the courage to come out (this lasted a few years), queer shows and movies helped me feel less isolated. There may not have been too many with happy endings, but just knowing they were out there, that there were other people who watched them, helped me believe in the possibility of community in the future. (Or maybe I didn’t think that far ahead and just liked watching all the gay ladies hook up :P)

What are your tips on researching places to stay and things to do when traveling to countries that may not be as accepting of queer couples?

This is a long one! Short answer: Connect with local queers if possible! LGBTQ+ travel bloggers (like the ones featured on this website!) are always good resources. Search “lesbian/queer/gay/LGBT (destination)” and you are likely to find some decent information! For accommodation, try searching Airbnb or Couchsurfing for terms like “lesbian” or “queer”. Meetup.com and Facebook often have active, queer social groups and links to events pages.

Long answer: I would say that Step One is to look up laws and rights regarding homosexuality/same-sex relationships in the country. If it’s illegal or things sounds really bad, do you really want to go? I would think about not only my own safety (as a white, cis, straight-passing tourist who can come and go as I please), but the safety of queer residents.

Is it taboo to come out to family or employers there? Is there community, is there access to health info or LGBTQ+ rights groups? I can’t always find these answers. But I think as queer travellers, it’s really important to be conscious of the privilege we have when we travel to countries where – even if we have a bad experience – we made the choice to come and we have the option (and funds) to leave. We have the option to display affection in public, or to choose not to, and know that we can go home to our regular lives and spaces where we’re comfortable being queer.

I don’t mean to say this in a judgemental way – I’ve been to countries in the past without doing thorough research, and I may choose to visit countries in the future where it’s illegal to be gay. Just something I think critically about when brainstorming how to become a better traveller 😉

Read more at En Route with Love!

Queer Iceland: Tips for LGBTQ+ Travellers

Looking for more info about Iceland? Check out my 5 day Iceland itinerary for detailed information about Reykjavik and the South Coast.

This past summer, my girlfriend and I spent 5 days in the magical land of fire and ice! As far as we could tell, Iceland is a great place to be gay. We felt totally comfortable being couple-y there. That said, it’s always good to know what to expect as a queer traveller before arriving in a new country. Savvy lesbian travellers Lez See The World wrote a comprehensive post which details local laws and the social climate for lesbian travellers to Iceland; it’s definitely worth a read before you go!

Whether or not you visit a bar or attend an event aimed specifically at LGBTQ+ folks, you should generally have a safe and comfortable experience as a queer traveller in Iceland. This of course is from my perspective as a cis-gender woman and, as Kyla describes us, we could pass as “frumpy straight girls or femmey lesbians”.

Here are some businesses and events to keep on your gaydar for Reykjavik/Iceland:

  • Pink Iceland: Ok so I’m kind of obsessed with Pink Iceland! I’ve followed them for years now on Instagram; they plan the most beautiful (straight and not-straight) weddings, host some amazing tours, and are very involved in the Reykjavik queer community. It didn’t work into our schedule for us to do a tour with them, but we still stopped by their office, checked out their little store, met their cute doggo member, and chatted with the very friendly employees who told us about some events and invited us to join them for drinks later (sadly, too jetlagged)! It felt so welcoming; they are clearly an amazing company, and I encourage you to do a tour with them if you can! They also have some tips for LGBT travellers on their website.
  • Pride: You know you’re in a fabulous place when they have TWO Pride festivals! Pink Iceland hosts Winter Pride – Rainbow Reykjavik – in February. Last year they hosted Detox of Drag Race fame, and you can even find a mural in her honour in town! Reykjavik Pride is in August, and this year’s events included a community event painting a rainbow on the street, a queer literature walk and Stonewall museum exhibit, a drag competition, parties, of course a parade, and much more!
  • Kiki Queer Bar: the only gay bar/club in Reykjavik, free entry, Happy Hour till late, chill areas with tables and booths, semi-regular events, the outside is PAINTED RAINBOW, what more can you ask for?! Bravo bar, next door to Kiki, seems to be an unofficial queer hangout spot – it has a cozy and inviting atmosphere and an uber long happy hour (11 a.m. – 10 p.m.), which includes flights of craft beer!
  • Sometimes you can catch drag and burlesque shows in town; Gaukurinn bar seems to be the main event host, and Drag-Sugur would be a good page to watch for events.
  • Iceland has recently passed a progressive new law regarding the rights of trans, non-binary, and intersex folks. There’s a Facebook group called Trans Island; although the associated website and events are mostly in Icelandic, they might be worth connecting with if you’re looking for resources specifically relevant to trans folks. Andrymi appears to host an English-speaking support group “for trans and questioning people” on the 3rd Thursday of every month. A lot of their events sound very queer or queer-friendly!

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list! Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments. Lez hope you have a gay old time in Iceland!

5 Things to Look Forward to at Victoria Pride 2019

Let me start out by saying that there are waaaay more than 5 things to look forward to at Pride! Last year, I put together a list of as many events as I could find, but this year, the Victoria Pride Society has done that work: check out their events page for a comprehensive list of Pride events in the city!

Other pages to watch for queer events this Pride season (and beyond) are:

These websites have lists and maps of public all-gender/gender neutral washrooms, with accessibility information: guide to public toilets in downtown Victoria; thrones for everyone (Tourism Victoria). I’ll do my best to include any additional accessibility info I can find.

Anyway, scroll those lists and pages for drag, workshops and panels, youth events, nights out, alt pride, outdoor events, and more. Here are the events I’m most looking forward to this year (warning: a few more than 5 may find their way in)!

Continue reading “5 Things to Look Forward to at Victoria Pride 2019”

Cayo Levisa, Cuba: Bedbugs and Bare Bums

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Aaah Cuba. Where we rode horses through the Viñales valley, open-air salsa danced in Trinidad, played in the waves on the Havana Malecón… oh and where we went to dinner basically in the buff on the romantic island of Cayo Levisa!?!

How did we manage that? Long story short, it had a little to do with some uninvited roomies in Viñales (bedbugs, baby), and a lot to do with a tropical storm that set in RIGHT after we’d stripped down to wash all of our clothes and get rid of the icky buggy feeling. But you can read the long story long, because Kyla and I joined forces for the first time to write allll about it in a guest post for comedy writer Jenna Wimshurst: Nearly Naked on Cayo Levisa

Continue reading “Cayo Levisa, Cuba: Bedbugs and Bare Bums”

11 Things to Look Forward to at Victoria Pride 2018

On Monday, the city of Victoria raised 5 flags in anticipation of Pride (including the transgender, two-spirit, genderqueer, and non-binary flags, alongside rainbow). With just a few days left until Victoria’s 2018 Pride Week kick-off, there’s a LOT to look forward to in the next couple of weeks! Here are some events to consider!

 1. Drag Ball (July 1st)

The annual Canada Day kick-off to Pride Week and can’t-miss event: Kings vs Queens in a softball game where, in the wise words of WLIIA, “the rules are made up and the points don’t matter!” An awesome day to get dressed up in rainbow and day drink… or join in the game! More info about Drag Ball.

Continue reading “11 Things to Look Forward to at Victoria Pride 2018”

Guest Post: The Trouble with Travelling as a Lesbian Couple

Jenna Wimshurst is a comedy and travel writer who also happens to be a lesbian. Humorous travel writing and being a lesbian happen to be two of my favourite things, so when she wanted to write a guest post for my blog, I was ecstatic! She even spells ‘travelling’ the right way the same way we do in Canada! Clearly, Jenna is fabulous. Once you’ve enjoyed her insightful and hilarious essay about what it’s like to travel as a lesbian couple, head over to her blog to read more things that will have you guffawing in seconds!

The Trouble with Travelling as a Lesbian Couple

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The couple in room 12 are lesbians

In April 2016, the UK Foreign Office updated its travel advice warning gay and transgender travellers visiting the American states of North Carolina and Mississippi to be careful. It really got me thinking that a) America can be a dangerous place for LGBTQ community, and b) thank God there’s a government body here to tell me to tone down my gayness when on my holibobs otherwise I would’ve been throwing my lesbian self about all over the joint.

Other lesbians and gays will be familiar with those nervous few moments you get when you first approach the hotel reception with your partner and check into your double room that only has one bed.

A few things go through my mind when I first give my booking details to the receptionist:

– Are they going to say anything about us being massive lesbians?

– Will they say that we can’t stay at their hotel because of our sexuality?

– Will they press the homosexual button where rainbow flags drop down, Wham bursts out of the radio and suddenly two sparkling pink cocktails appear in our hands. Sounds fabulous.

But even if they don’t say anything, I know that they’re going to be telling their colleagues that there’s two lesbians staying in room 12 straight after they’ve served us. Ok, I don’t KNOW this, but I HIGHLY suspect it.

Continue reading “Guest Post: The Trouble with Travelling as a Lesbian Couple”

How Travel Helped Me Come Out

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It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to really put my heart into my writing, but it was such a joy to immerse myself in this piece for Travel with Mei and Kerstin.

Mei and Kerstin have been featuring lesbian travellers on their blog, and they asked me to share a story. The topic was open-ended; it could be about how I started to travel, a specific travel story, lesbian travel, or something else. As I started reflecting, I realized how interconnected travel and coming out were for me, and how difficult it would be to disentangle travel and my sexuality from my current identity. What followed was a sort of summary of 10 years of travel, where I focus on coming out, and the important connection between being a lesbian and being a traveller.

Take a look at the article here: Lesbian Traveler: Leslie from Les Talk, More Travel.

Read more on my blog about: my coming out story, queer and lesbian Victoria, BC (this could use an update!), one of my favourite trips with my girlfriend, and some highlights from Vancouver and Victoria’s Pride festivals.

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Queer Travel: Victoria

 

Updated July 2020. This post started out as lesbian-specific and has since evolved, but you may find some of the info to be a little lesbionic. 

The thing about Victoria is that regardless of whether you hit up any gay events while you’re in town, it’s a beautiful, safe city* to explore with your same-sex partner, or to meet up with a group of queer locals. It’s also a great jumping off point for exploring this magical island, and a short ferry ride to both Seattle and Vancouver. There’s a lot to be proud of in Victoria! Victoria’s public school board recently passed a thorough new gender identity policy, the city explodes with rainbows during Pride, and hey – our mayor is an openly gay woman! Tourism Victoria even created an awesome map of all-gender/gender neutral washrooms in the city and surrounding area, with accessibility information.

      Hold on, you might be thinking, I heard that Victoria is a small city with a disproportionately high retiree population?!? You heard right! But there are way more people living here who are below retirement age! It might seem quiet at first, but have no fear if you’re young and queer: there’s lots to do in this city, if you know where to look!

Lez Go to Victoria:

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Continue reading “Queer Travel: Victoria”

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