By Boston-based Global Correspondent Allister Chang
Boston-based The Welcoming Committee is bringing an innovative spirit of lighthearted activism into the world of gay travel. The TWC’s recent “take overs” of ski resorts, casinos, and other destinations have brought together a range of gay Bostonians. “Soon we’ll take over Cancun for Spring Break,” says Ashley Lucas, a recent hire who spearheaded the “Flannel Takeover” movement (GQBs organized specifically for our lesbian sisters).
TWC has reshaped the landscape of gay nightlife in Boston with their monthly Guerilla Queer Bars (GQB). On the first Friday of each month, TWC “takes over one of the douchiest bars in Boston.” What Daniel initially began as a joke with 20 friends expanded to over a thousand participants by the 5th event.
TWC was named “best gay bar” by Boston Magazine in 2012. “The funny thing about this award,” the founder of TWC Daniel Heller joked, “is that we aren’t a bar!”
I had the opportunity to join TWC on a take over of Foxwoods Casino in November. We 200 gays turned the dance floor into our space, a queer bubble in an otherwise heteronormative establishment, where we felt comfortable glitter-bombing one another and buying drinks for handsome men. Oh, and Kathy Griffin re-tweeted us with the hash tag #busfullofgays.
In Daniel’s words, these extended takeovers “bring the unique magic that exists in gay bars to places that are iconic.” One participant told us he’d never been to Faneuil Hall and couldn’t fathom being safe and having fun there without this group. Gay men were e-mailing TWC to “GQB the Red Sox” and “GQB the water park.”
Better yet, these bars, casinos, symphonies, and ski resorts have warmly welcomed TWC to shake things up. Many of these iconic destinations have been seeking outlets to engage the gay community in meaningful ways, going above and beyond to build meaningful partnerships with TWC. Tequila Rain, a notoriously bro-tastic bar in Fenway, actually called their staff in early for an emergency diversity training to prepare for a GQB.
When TWC took the suggestion to take over one of the Red Sox games this past year, 100 tickets sold out in 4 hours. After expanding to Philadelphia, over 600 people joined the e-list in the first month.
Moving forwards, one of Daniel’s goals is to “build the largest LGBT travel program that’s ever existed.” #SpringBreakCancun2015 baby! The gays are taking over!
For more on the Flannel Takeover Company and The Welcoming Committee:http://thewelcomingcommittee.com/
To join the Cruise Takeover in June: http://thewelcomingcommittee.com/upcoming-trips/