Seth Shezi - Brand Strategist, Creative director
What destination do you look forward to returning to?
I will not include Cape Town, even though I still maintain it's my favorite city, which is wild considering I live here. Outside of home, before Covid, I used to make annual sojourns to New York — there is so much going on that you feel somewhat invisible and small, and with that comes a freeing of the mind, and caring less about yourself or self image and just being; London, because my partner lives there and it's the easiest city in the world, at least for me as a South African, the way of life for Londoners comes very naturally, so being there feels effortless. Lastly: Istanbul. Contrary to the aforementioned cities, Istanbul is a very complex city, it feels like a culturally immersive experience, not just because I don't speak the language, but more because the locals seems to exist is a form of quandary, a very engaging, open and quite liberal society existing within a structure that is stiflingly strict and conservative. It leaves locals almost in a constant state of wanting to embrace but not knowing how much they can before they've overstepped what is acceptable within the structures of the community.
How do you approach personal safety when writing about destinations that might have anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment or laws in place?
Whenever faced with depicting an environment that lacks understanding of the LGBTQ+ experience, I have always found it most helpful to rather focus on a human experience. There will always be one person you encounter who will be open-minded, embracing or holding contrasting views to those of their anti-LGBTQ+ laws. These are the stories I always favor highlighting. This is because when you depict a society as lacking understanding, it opens room to pique their interest and they may want to learn and come to a point of understanding. When you criticize or ridicule then there is no coming back from that and you will not engender a sense of wanting to better understand.
What is a story you've always wanted to tell?
Traveling Africa as an African who is gay. One of my most acute observations is that most African countries are so embracing of LGBTQ+ people as long as they are not African. Granted, this is based on my limited exploration of the continent but this has been my experience. There’s almost a sense of amusement if the LGBTQ+ individual is European or Asian, but met with a passive-aggressive attitude when it is "one of our own.”
Have you had any negative experiences on the road that you think others could learn from? It wasn't much an experience, but being in Istanbul with my partner and not being able to be close or affectionate, or even appear like we were together was torture, but it was encouraging to find random strangers who would give us subtle looks of approval (showing they were open, but they had to conform with societal rules). I have had more experiences as a black person than a gay one. I have tended to avoid places I felt wouldn't be welcoming and also my privilege of being focused on writing or working with luxury properties means that irrespective of the country, the establishments don't tend to cast judgement above a certain income bracket.
What are your go-to sites, social media feeds, or media for planning a personal trip? Instagram, Conde Nast Traveller/Traveler, Travelnoir.