This New LGBTQ+ Travel Show Is a 'Love Letter to the World'
New York City has long been a pivotal place for gay rights and history, particularly since the Stonewall uprising in 1969. And now the new travel show Check Your Luggage aims to put LGBTQ+ travel in the spotlight.
Premiering this Friday, Oct. 8, on Parrlime's YouTube channel, the premiere season of the show, hosted by artist and illustrator Justin T. Russo of Logo TV's Fire Island, will feature how various cultures from around the globe are represented in New York City.
"The series is the first of its kind and goes in depth about locations, activities, and advice for travelers encompassing all enclaves of our community," Russo told Travel + Leisure, explaining that each episode will feature travel experts and focus its content on the queer community.
In the premiere episode, the show looks at British influences by visiting Tea & Sympathy tea shop and A Salt & Battery fish and chips eatery and chatting with its owners Sean Kavanagh-Dowsett and Nicky Perry, as well as talking to VisitBritain's Paul Gauger at the High Line Hotel. Future episodes, which will be released every Friday, spotlight the influence of Netherlands, France, Japan, Italy — and even Palm Springs — on the city.
"We are showing that New York can be experienced in a totally different way," Russo said. "Of course you must find the Empire State Building or head to Bloomingdales, but with us you can find some history about perhaps your own heritage or something totally different about a city you thought you knew everything about."
He also hopes that the show will shatter some of the stereotypes about New York City, like it being a "tough city that you must rush through," adding, "We hope that our show presents you with experiences you may never have noticed before and gives you a richer experience and inspires you to travel more too."
The creation of the program itself has shifted his own perspective. "My family has been in New York City for roughly 130 years, and it is easy to get swept up in our daily routines and local haunts," he said. "I am also very much an extrovert, and I loved being able to meet our experts and learn about their passions for travel... Making the show, I certainly learned so much about my home city!"
But most importantly, he hopes to shed light on the LGBTQ+ community with his goal to show that "we are found everywhere [and] that we can travel mostly wherever we want to," he said, calling the show a "love letter" from New York City to the world. "The queer community is leading the way back in terms of travel again and we hope that our show showcases not only our love for the city of New York, but its rich heritage and multicultural community [and] can inspire people to get back out there and visit places all over the world."