Fresh off his hosting duties for The Gaycation Travel Show, LGBTQ travel expert and content creator Ravi Roth has officially set out on his next journey to explore various Pride celebrations around the world for a brand-new digital series, Ravi’s Road to Pride.
Airing exclusively on Roth’s YouTube channel, Ravi’s Road to Pride will showcase fierce and fabulous Pride celebrations, exploring what Pride means to the locals and offering a look at each destination from the local perspective. Roth aims to highlight the lesser-known stories and experience of queer people living major metropolitan and rural cities.
The limited series kicked off with Memphis, Tennessee’s Tri-State Black Pride, and later episodes will feature a special Pride in the Skies with Alaska Airlines, Brooklyn Pride, Franklinton/Columbus Pride, New York Pride, World Pride in Copenhagen & Malmö, and much more.
Roth took a break from his travels to talk more about the series with Instinct, how his passion for traveling began, and tips for traveling on a budget.
Hi, Ravi! Thank you for taking some time to chat with me about your new digital series, Ravi’s Road to Pride. What can audiences expect?
With Ravi’s Road to Pride, we are going to take audiences around the world and uncover Prides from the local perspective. As of now, I am going to eight Prides, but the list continues to grow and grow as the days go on. Basically, I want to tell the story of people because people exist everywhere. I am going to tell the stories of people in specific destinations and find out from them what Pride means to them, specifically to the location that they are at.
This is fresh off the Gaycation Travel Show. What made you want to begin this series?
I really wanted to do something for Pride from the beginning. Gaycation was ending, Pride was coming up, and I haven’t done anything on my personal YouTube page in, like, a year. Well, maybe even longer because of the pandemic. So, I just thought it would be a cool idea to attend a few Prides and see what happens. Suddenly, it blossomed into a series. I thought I was just going to go to the Tri-State Black Pride, Brooklyn Pride, and New York City Pride, and maybe do a couple one-offs. Then, a whole series got developed. I got a guy to write my new theme song, and I got invited to Prides around the world.
Now that all the episodes for Gaycation Travel Show are out, how has it been received?
It has been received very well. It was a hodgepodge because the format consistently changed. Some episodes, I was in person. Other episodes, I was not there at all, and we kind of figured out a rhythm and flow towards the end. The best part was having the crew with me for the last three episodes. The first five, the remote hosts shot themselves, and then a couple of them, I got my stick, camera, and drone and did my own thing. Having the crew, I think we really found a rhythm, and the episodes toward the end were a little bit longer than the ones in the beginning.
The off the beaten path destinations have been strongly received because everybody know Chicago. Everybody knows Manhattan. I just tried to put my own spin on them, but Cedar Rapids, Tulsa, Mount Dora, Florida – people really responded well to that.
What do you hope audiences take away from Ravi’s Road to Pride?
Ravi’s Road to Pride, it’s not like, here I am in the destination! It is really about the people. So, there are a lot of interviews. I talked to anyone and everyone. From little kids to baby boomers to everyone in between, and really got the perspective of people in the destination. I think what people will take away from that is, wow, that is a really cool destination, and that Pride seems super fun, super inclusive, super diverse. I think people will be interested in what their mission is. Every Pride has a mission. It’s not just going to a party and dancing in the street. They all have a specific mission.
The Tri-State Black Pride was the first one that I did, and that blew my mind. First of all, I felt so welcomed and so included. Also, it was super small and quaint. There were, like, 200 people there from the three surrounding states, then a couple from around the country, but there was an educational element to it. At night, there were parties, there were concerts, they had live music, there were pool parties, but during the day, they had educational seminars talking about how the AIDS epidemic is still really affecting people’s lives down in Tennessee, and Black trans lives are at risk. The use of drugs is prevalent, especially in the Black queer community, so these seminars are shining a light on how we can help people. They also educate people on what PrEP is, safe injection sites, things like that.
So, it was a very educational experience for me all around. I walked into the first event, and this woman was singing her face off. Everyone was just celebrating lie, and everyone was so stylish. It was just really fun. I think people are going to take away that each place is super specific to the mission that they have, and they will want to visit each destination.
Were there any other big surprises you discovered?
I went to Columbus, Ohio for Franklinton Pride, which is a super small Pride, and that one was surprising in that the headline performer was Nina West from RuPaul’s Drag Race, and she started at 9:00 a.m. I got to the event space around 8:30, I wanted to make sure I was going to be able to interview her, and I was surprised to see so many families and allies. It brought tears to my eyes. Like, if only my 14-year-old self could have seen something like this.
Another Pride, which is coming this week, was the Alaska Airlines Pride to the Skies. I think, over everything this season so far, I don’t know what Iceland or World Pride is going to be like yet, but for the Pride to the Skies, we got on an airplane at 7:00 a.m. First of all, there was a Pride party at the Seattle airport. The employees that were on the plane, like the flight attendants and pilots, nobody knew that this was happening. It was a surprise to them.
The plane was filled with 10 influencers, half employees from Alaska Airlines, and then half regular people that got tickets to go on a plane but didn’t know it was a Pride plane. It was amazing! They gave out free flights to everyone onboard, on each leg of the flight. I taught people how to clack the fan, walking down the runway in the air. I mean, it was so special. We stopped at four different airports, and each airport had a Pride party. We got to take pictures of ourselves with the plane, and Alaska is really changing the game. They are doing it 365.
I think a lot of companies do Pride in June, and that was a huge reason why I wanted to do Ravi’s Road to Pride because, what happens when June is over? Everybody goes back to changing their logos back to regular logos, but Alaska Airlines is keeping this plane for a year. This rainbow plane is flying for a year, so they are really setting the bar high for a lot of companies to, hopefully, follow suit.
As a LGBTQ travel expert, how did your passion for traveling begin?
It kind of started by accident. I went on my first trip ever when I was 26 years old outside of the country, and I went to London, Paris, and Barcelona with my ex. I just fell in love with traveling. My brother said that I should journal, and I said, I don’t really like to journal. He said I should then vlog. At that time, I took my phone, and I blogged vertically instead of horizontally. I didn’t know what I was doing, but then I started taking more trips and seeing more places, and then it became more and more exciting.
I then started to meet travel tourism boards, I started meeting very influential people in this world, and then it kind of took off. I am also an actor, so I got to go on tour with a couple shows. I would see the country, and I would do my “Ravi Round the World” thing and check out the queer bars or go to a museum or restaurant when we did not have a show. It was not that hardcore yet. When the theatre ended and I was back in New York, that is really when it took off. The year before COVID came.
As someone who is constantly on the go, how were you holding up during times of quarantine last year?
It was hard! It was hard for so many reasons. I love being on the go, and I was forced to be still. I actually left New York and went to L.A. to stay with my brother, his wife, and their five-year-old kid. I stayed in the same room as the five-year-old, and that was a major adjustment, but it was a great moment to slow down and realize what I do want. It was at that time while I was out in L.A. and decompressing life when the opportunity for Gaycation Travel Show came in. I do not know if that would have happened if quarantine didn’t rear its ugly head.
It has been a blessing and a curse. It has given me immense gratitude for what I do have in life. It made me realize we don’t know how much time we do have. I lost my mom last year during the process, which was very hard, but it was a moment where I got to, because of quarantine, see her. I got to spend time with her, and I got to really refocus on what I want to do as a storyteller and where I want to go.
What advice can you offer for those who love to travel, but have a limited budget?
Oh, you can travel on a budget. There are so many resources for you. You can go on Kayak, go on Orbitz, go on TripAdvisor, find your favorite influencers, DM them, and follow their itinerary when they go on trips. A lot of the places that I go to, I put in my Instagram stories so if people can go to these cities, they can do X, Y, and Z. Then, figure out what’s important to you. It’s either going to be food, or it’s going to be lodging. It could be transportation, and there are so many affordable ways to get to places.
There are so many affordable places to travel to and places to stay. There’s Misterb&b, Airbnb, a new one called FabStayz, which is fabulous because it’s all queer hosts. Those are more affordable. You can do a hostel, a cheaper hotel, and you can also eat more on a budget, too. So, it just depends on what’s the thing you are looking for when you are traveling.
What more do you hope to accomplish with your platform?
My goal in life is to be a mixture of the late Anthony Bourdain, and a little splash of Samantha Brown—but make it gay! I want to travel the world and be a wonderful host to inspire people to see these destinations. I want to get out there and get in there with locals, and I want everything to be queer. I want it to be just so radical. If I had, like, my druthers, I would have my own, mainstream show airing everywhere, and everyone can have eyeballs on it, see it, and everybody can get inspired to travel. Also, take all the facts and knowledge and continue to learn.
Before we wrap up, are there any other upcoming projects or anything else you would like to mention or plug?
Just continue to follow the journey. Subscribe to me on YouTube, Ravi Round the World, and continue to follow my stories on Instagram because I am going to be hiking some glaciers in Iceland with a bunch of gays before I hit up Iceland Pride. Then, I am going to World Pride, so it is going to be quite the August. Just stay tuned. Follow me. Join in on the fun. Shoot me some questions if you have them. Leave me a comment on YouTube. I just really want to inspire people to continue to travel and celebrate Pride 365.