With Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Melbourne Gay Pride March just around the corner, we thought that now would be the perfect time to have a chat to one of our fabulous Base staff members about her experience as a gay backpacker in Australia. As anticipated, our chat with Emily further validated our belief that if we were to coin individuals based on common traits, values and an approach to life, then "backpackers," whether gay, straight, transgender, German, Australian, Christian (you get the idea), as a "type" of people, share more commonalities as a group, than that of the gay community as a whole. In simple terms and generally speaking of course (there's always an exception to every generalisation), "backpackers," regardless of heritage, culture or sexual orientation, all share a common lust for life, open mindedness and a curiosity and tolerance of different cultures, countries and customs.
Anyway enough philosophical jargon... meet Emily:
Lets start off with your name, age and hometown? Emily. I'm 26 years old and I am from Wellingborough, England
Favourite food?(laughs) Pizza of course!
Celebrity crush? Emma Stone
What is your current role at Base? Bar Manager at Base St Kilda, Melbourne
So you must see some pretty crazy stuff. How often do you get hit on? Mmm... about 5 times a week, give or take. The offers tend to become more prevalent when I kiss my girlfriend in the bar - threesomes mainly
And when did you first arrive in Australia? F*cking hell! It was a while ago! October 2013
How many people have you made out with since you've arrived? Way too many to tell!
What is the most gay friendly city you have ever visited? Dublin in Ireland. That may because my fondest memory of Dublin was when my Dad and I watched the Alternative Miss Ireland beauty pageant. I'd never seen anything like it! It is an annual gay event where competing Drag Queens show off their best day, bikini and evening wear in attempt to win the title
Favourite country you have ever visited? I absolutely LOVED Italy (my love for Pizza may have played a big part). But I loved the culture, the food and the way of life. I'll definitely be going back one day... maybe on my honeymoon
So tell us a little bit about your working holiday experience in Australia. I spent the first part of my time in Australia in Byron Bay. I worked at Nomads Arts Factory Lodge on reception and as the bus driver. That was A LOT of fun! I then traveled the East Coast of Australia and was lucky enough to score a job as a travel agent in Noosa at MAD Travel. The job was amazing and so much fun and I even got to go canoeing through the Everglades for free! I then moved to Melbourne and worked at the travel desk at Nomads St Kilda Beach and now? I have been managing the bar at Base St Kilda for a few months
How much do you love Melbourne? Melbourne is my favourite place in Australia. I love the Melbourne music scene and there are so many great Aussie rock bands at the moment - the Bennies, Violent Soho and Holy Holy. There's always something going on in the city and so many free festivals, good food and night markets. There's definitely never a dull moment in Melbourne
Tell us your most embarrassing travel moment. Well. I was hoping that you weren't going to ask this question. On my 5th day in Australia I was trying to impress my new friends in Byron Bay. I drank 2 liters of Goon in 20 minutes and soon enough turned white and passed out. I don't think I impressed them, but I'm pretty sure that I left an impression
Most memorable moment in Australia? Getting up at 3:00AM to bike to Byron Bay's lighthouse to watch the sunrise, only to discover that I had (of course) made it to the top on the cloudiest day of the year! I went back up the following morning to a clear morning and watched the sun come up from the first place in Australia that sees the sunrise
Craziest Hostel memory? When I was working at the Arts Factory Lodge in Byron Bay I was actually working while the Inbetweeners was being filmed at the hostel. At the time I was the bus driver, so the fact that they were filming in the hostel car park for 2 days caused quite a bit of havoc for me. The actors were really busy but I got to meet them briefly - nice guys. When I picked up the guests from the Greyhound bus stop I had to inform everybody on the bus why we had to park behind the hostel. When asked why, I told them that the Inbetweeners was being filmed. Everyone on the bus from the UK went absolutely crazy - the rest of the visitors had absolutely no idea what was going on
What's the most difficult thing about travelling as a gay backpacker in Australia? Trying to have sex in a dorm haha! Probably out in public. When I hold my girlfriend's hand we sometimes get some stares - mainly from older people walking down the street with their children. Although Australia hasn't legalised gay marriage, the general public are a lot more open to it than I thought they would be
And when did you "come out?" Officially... New Year's Day this year! I met someone and things were going really well. Certain things were being said on Facebook and I wanted to be open to my parents and family about it. Traveling has given me the confidence to be who I am and my parents were so cute when they received the news
How does being gay differ from when you are travelling to when you are home? It's a lot easier. Travelers are open minded and less judgmental. I've also noticed A LOT of straight people to experiment with the opposite sex for the first time when backpacking. Backpackers tend to be a lot less inhibited haha!
Most "Aussie" experience? I worked on a farm once in a New South Wales country town called Gunnedah. The family I stayed with were amazing and still look after me since I've left. They are my Aussie family haha. I got to go pig shooting and ride a tractor
Best thing about hostel life? The families and friendships you create, life long bonds. When you have known someone for just a week, it feels like a year
And the worst? People who steal food
Raunchiest hostel moment? In Byron Bay I was sharing a tent with loads of other travellers. Every single night of the week I'd have to listen to people having sex. I sucked it up though because after all - that's Byron Bay. Listening to dorm room sex becomes quite a common part of the backpacking experience - people tend to lose their inhibitions
And romantic experience? I met a girl a while ago and she left to travel a bit of Australia with her family. When she left we both didn't know when we would see each other next. I was really sad about the whole situation. Anyway, little did I know that she had secretly organised with my boss to come back 10 days later. She organised a private double room at Base under the alias name Leslie Bian (yeah she's a cracker) and showed up unexpectedly at a work party. I was so happy that I cried!
Ohhh that makes my heart fizzle. So what do you miss most from home? English food. My dogs. My family (not in that order obviously)
What's next for Emily? Right now I am exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to do. Before I came to Australia I was an assistant manager at a coffee shop. I've always love working in hospitality as I love to keep busy and be around people. I aim to stay in Australia forever - if Base give me sponsorship (wink wink) and work in an industry that makes me happy. I'm looking forward to the Gay Pride March in St Kilda next week
And do you have any tips as to how hostels in Australia can better accommodate gay backpackers? LBGT nights would be a laugh and I have no doubt that most travellers would get involved and have a bit of fun!
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras kicks off two weeks of festivities from the 19 February 2016. Book central Sydney accommodation here.
Melbourne's 2016 Pride March will parade through the streets of St Kilda on Sunday 31 January 2016 and the city will host a number of events and festivals between the 17 January - 7 February as a part of the Midsumma Festival. Book accommodation in St Kilda here.