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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. Here’s the full set, I guess if it *happens* to be included, 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? Here’s a Diva Cup pack, including a cleanser.

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; here’s another option that’s a different shape and comes with a little case.

Happy shopping, and happy holigays!

*Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links; however, the majority of links are just to products and businesses I personally love or believe in! Affiliate links mean that at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission through your purchase. I only link to products that I personally believe in.

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!

On Blogging: Don’t Change! Be Yourself!

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Last year, I paid a lot of money to change my blog membership to a ‘Business Plan’. I’d never earned a cent from writing, but for the first time ever, I’d been offered a paid opportunity to host an ad on my blog, for an organization that was incredibly aligned with everything I write about. The amount of money I would have made would have *just about* seen me break even for the upgrade, but I figured it was more than worth it, since I gave myself a crash course in creating a contract, a price list, changing my blog around so that I could include plug-ins and ads, and making it look nicer with an upgraded theme.

Then it fell apart. The company, and the person who contacted me, were legit and genuine, but the guy just ghosted me, right when he was supposed to sign a contract. I saw a travel blogger who I’ve followed for years do an ad for the company on Instagram, maybe a month later. He’d probably decided that ads on Instagram were better investments, and no doubt that this blogger in particular had a much larger audience, and I really didn’t have enough knowledge about any of this to write back and try to convince him to still work with me.

So… I had changed my entire blog layout, spent hours working through tweaks and getting caught up on everything I needed to learn, and spent a lot of money. It ended up being an expensive, intensive and unnecessary professional amateur development opportunity, I guess. I can’t afford to keep the business account, so I’ve downgraded, back to the much more affordable basic account. All the fancy stuff disappeared this week, but that’s ok. Because the experience taught me to ~~~*** be true to myself ***~~~. For real though, I’m not going to do that again. Here’s why:

1. It was stressful! Why did I spend so much time changing something I loved to cater to someone who hadn’t even paid me yet!? I should have been more honest and just confessed that I hadn’t hosted an ad before, and offered something that I could have provided. Maybe a sponsored post, or an Instagram post. He could have said no, and that would have been ok.

2. What was motivating me? I’ve decided that I don’t want to alter something I love in order to make money. (Okay… that’s a lie… I’d alter things A BIT to make MONEY to do what I LOVE!) This guy wasn’t asking me to change – in fact, he’d contacted me because a lot of what I write about is very much in line with the travel campaign he was advertising, but it got me thinking about this. I like autonomy, and I like to be wacky with my writing. I do like to grow and evolve, but sometimes IDGAF how something should sound; I’m going to write it the way I want to! For example I consciously choose to use the word ‘like’ a lot. Like (case in point) I wouldn’t mind someone telling me what to do, just not how to do it. You know? You don’t know? You don’t follow my crazy brain? TL;DR: don’t change! Be yourself! You do you! Ba dap ba dap bah I’m lovin it!

3. It was a pretty dope year, blog-wise, sans advertising, which was empowering. Late in 2017, a talented, lesbian blogger couple (Mei and Kerstin) asked me to write a guest post for their blog. I worked on it for a long time, and what came out was a vulnerable, long piece about how my coming out was related to travel. This post was the first one in a while that I really put myself into, which was rewarding in itself. It also generated a lot of positive reactions, and – I believe – directly led to my blog/Instagram being featured on an AUTOSTRADDLE LIST (basically the Buzzfeed of lesbians, but imagine if everyone who read Buzzfeed was your target audience). My blog was on a couple of other cool lists (Only Once Today, The Rainbow Route), I won a bit of money in a contest, and I got to work with ANOTHER talented and hilarious writer (Jenna Wimshurst). We wrote guest posts for each other’s blog, which for me meant collaborating with Kyla on a piece for the first time! The fall was a little quieter in terms of collaborations and features, but you know what? My readership has increased in a way that I’m really proud of. The number of visitors and views on my blog have more than doubled compared to last year. Let me stress that I still have a very small number of visitors compared to bigger blogs (come at me, potential advertisers, lolz!), but it’s been cool to see the growth on my blog.

4. I want to make more specific goals for growth (and potentially $$) for Les Talk, More Travel in the future, where take initiative and remain in control. I have a few ideas for potential collaborations, along with posts I’ve wanted to write for a long time, and at the very least I will continue “creating content” (i.e. exposing you to my crazy brain) at least once a month. I’ll be back with more travel posts soon!

I love this blog, and it might look uglier from now on, at least during the transition from $$$ to $, but writing makes me happy, and I want to keep feeling that way! Thank you SO much for reading! (Seriously who doesn’t have a blog these days; there’s definitely a disproportionate amount of writers to readers, so really THANK YOU if you made it to this line!)

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What Moving Means: ‘Pro Tips’ from a Seasoned Mover

This post is mostly about the logistics of moving, but click here to read my thoughts about making social connections in new cities – especially as an introvert!

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In September, Kyla and I bought our first home, and on Halloween, we moved in. This was far from my craziest farthest move, but it was definitely the most significant! It got me reflecting on my past relocations, and I figured that I’ve moved over a dozen times in the last decade or so. Across Canadian cities, over the Pacific and back THREE times, between states in Australia, to a new neighbourhood in Seoul, a couple of temporary, “extended visits” to my parents’ house in Ottawa, across Canada to Victoria, WHEW!

I actually love moving. I love that it’s dynamic and makes me feel like I’m evolving; I love getting to know new cities and neighbourhoods; I kinda weirdly love getting rid of stuff and re-organizing. But. It’s. Effing. Stressful. And expensive! All at once it can be a logistical nightmare and nostalgic and sentimental and heartbreaking. While I’m confident that this most recent move will be my last for a while, I wanted to share some tips that have been helpful for me in the past. If you have a move coming up, I hope that you can combine some of these ideas with your own strategies (P.S. what are they?!?!) to preserve the fun bits while fending off the stress!

Continue reading “What Moving Means: ‘Pro Tips’ from a Seasoned Mover”

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”

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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Happy New Year!

What an incredible year! It started with fireworks over the harbour in Victoria, and I’ll be ringing in 2018 in the Vinales valley, in Cuba! I have some great posts in the works for the new year, plus you can expect some Cuba-heavy content once we get back!

2017 was full of close-to-home adventures, and some big celebrations:

Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

Happy New Year!

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Happy 2017! I have a couple of posts in the works at the moment, which I’m excited to share on here soon! In the meantime, I wanted to look back on three favourites from last year:

  • Ways that Coming Out Surprised Me: In 2016, I reflected and wrote a lot about coming out; it was my 5 year coming-out-iversary last February! Yes, I keep track of it! It changed the way I communicate and how confident I feel, among other things.
  • Faking Extroversion: Making Connections in New Cities: Some strategies I picked up after lots of moves overseas and back, and across the country. Adventure and change are invigorating but the social aspect can be overwhelming for the introverted-soul! A year and a bit after moving to Victoria, I’m continuing to expand my social circle, and I still use these tools.
  • Wanting the World: This one’s a little cringe-worthy; a letter I wrote to my “future self” 6 years earlier about the importance of travel. So yeah, it’s from my baby brain, but it reminds me that’s it’s okay to prioritize travel, and that being passionate about it (a little obsessed with it?) is part of who I am.

Last year, I was lucky enough to travel to Portland and Seattle, and to do some camping on Vancouver Island. I relaxed in Mexico with friends, and remembered not being able to relax on Boracay. I got to celebrate Pride in Victoria and Vancouver, and I turned thirty! I’m pretty excited about new adventures in 2017. Cheers to a New Year!

Thirty

I turned 30 last month; a lot has changed in the past 10 years! Here’s the TL; DR of the longer intro I’m not going to write: I turned 30; here are some ways that I’ve changed and some things that I’ve learned along the way about travel, sexuality, introversion, and wisdom teeth.

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Continue reading “Thirty”

Vancouver Island Camping: How Did I End up Here?

Note: this story takes place on First Nations traditional territory. It’s a fun one about a recent overnight trip, written in response to the prompt: “How did I end up here?”

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“What should I name my pee-zee?”

We were a group of mostly lesbians, gathered around a campfire at our campsite on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast. My friend was obsessed with her new toy: a device that allowed her to pee standing up. Every so often she’d gleefully shout: “Be right back!”, and frolic off into the woods. We were excited about it too; a little jealous, even. We were also a little buzzed. Naming it only seemed natural.

Continue reading “Vancouver Island Camping: How Did I End up Here?”

Anxiety on a White Sandy Beach: GTFO of this Tropical Paradise!

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My first night on Boracay, I sat with a friend on a white sandy beach, beer in hand, waves gently coming in a few feet away. The air was warm, and we listened to live music from a nearby restaurant.

I had just finished my second year of teaching in South Korea and was taking the long way home to Canada. The small island in the Philippines was the first stop during about a month of travel, and it had drawn me in for the same reasons it appeals to most tourists: white beaches and relaxation. But the thoughts that began running through my mind were far from relaxing.

A jumble of worries quickly became more specific: I wasn’t employed in Korea or Canada. I was moving back home after more than two years of living overseas, where I had been financially stable, competent at my job, and free to travel around Asia whenever I had time off work. I had about upcoming commitments to normal people things: weddings and family reunions, big decisions on the horizon, and a crap-ton of important yet tedious tasks looming, like reinstating health care and paying taxes on foreign income. Things that are hard to process when you lead a weird, Peter Pan-esque lifestyle.

Playing vagabond during vacation from work was one thing, but holy shit what was I doing now?! Continue reading “Anxiety on a White Sandy Beach: GTFO of this Tropical Paradise!”

Coming Out-iversary: Ways that Coming Out has Surprised Me

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Earlier this month, I celebrated my 5 year Coming Out-iversary. I remember that first day very clearly, because it took 3 years to get to that point. I was 24, and had never had a significant relationship. I’d never kissed a girl! I didn’t have any close gay friends. I’d watched pretty much all the lesbian TV shows and movies I could find – and that was challenging, before Netflix! The L Word was my world.

I really really wanted my life to start.

Finally, I gave myself an ultimatum: I couldn’t leave the country until I came out. Not surprisingly, that worked! I set up a meeting with a Peer Mentor through a university Pride Centre, and told my biggest secret for the first time ever.

Turns out, coming out is as weird as it is wonderful. I thought so much about the day when I would finally have the guts to say the words that I didn’t really think about what would happen next. I didn’t consider all the ways that I would change.

Looking back on 5 years of becoming supergay, these are some things that surprised me:

Continue reading “Coming Out-iversary: Ways that Coming Out has Surprised Me”

Faking Extroversion: Making Connections in New Cities

 

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Moving to a new city is hard. It’s easy to pretend you’re brave and adventurous, but while you’re telling people how excited you are, it’s likely that your actual thoughts about the whole ordeal are an anxious mess. Leaving your life behind, the move itself, and the settling in period are stressful and emotionally draining. For many introverts, there’s an additional worry: how am I going to make good friends?

This problem isn’t exclusive to introverts. But in order to make meaningful friendships, you usually have to give yourself lots of opportunities to interact with people. Extroverts are generally able to create more of these opportunities.

The options for settling into a new city may seem pretty grim for an introvert: either give up your downtime to small talk with strangers, or be a happy recluse. Honestly, the second option is always the most tempting, but it turns out that having friends is awesome. So how do you get from Point A (reluctant acceptance that hermitdom is not the answer) to Point B (having consistent and meaningful social connections)? My suggestion is to fake extroversion. Just for a little while, I promise. Here are some tips for becoming a short-term, extroverted introvert:

Continue reading “Faking Extroversion: Making Connections in New Cities”

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