I caught up with Bailey Mills, also known as The Gay Globetrotter, to talk travel.
Where did you go on family vacation?
As a child, I didn’t get to travel. We’d go camping in the summertime most years, a 3–4 hour drive away from our life in Vancouver, Canada. This is where I learned to fish, hike, and connect with nature.
When was your first grown-up vacation?
I was 18 when I left my life in Vancouver to travel for the first time. I booked a ticket to London, and flew halfway across the world on my own. A couple girlfriends from high school were on a backpacking tour through Europe, so they met me in London. We flew down to Athens, and hopped onto a ferry to Mykonos. One of the most memorable trips of my life!
Ever had any travel disasters?
I almost died in Mykonos. I remember being locked in a closet while texting my mother that if anything happens to me, I love her. Gun fire was going off outside of our hotel. I tell the whole story here.
Which have been some of your favourite destinations to visit?
Thailand was definitely my favourite trip to date. Every time I visit, I meet such amazing and genuine people and get to experience so many things I can’t experience anywhere else.
Which have been some of the romantic destinations that you’ve visited?
Mykonos tops this list for sure. Watching the sun set over the Greek islands while sipping a pinot grigio with the classic white and blue architecture behind you is definitely a moment for the books. I wish I didn’t do it alone!
Are you a good travel companion?
I like to think I am a great travel companion, but don’t we all? I’m a very ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ type of traveller, so it makes it easy for anyone travelling with me to create their perfect itinerary. I can be pretty impulsive when I travel though. If a local recommends a spot on the other side of town, you better believe that I’ll find a way to see it before I leave.
I think travelling with one other person is the perfect mix. You can compromise and see everything you both want to see, without it getting too overwhelming to try and cram everything in. That being said, I’m more than happy travelling solo, and have done so many times.
Do you pack light, or do you take everything?
I do my best to pack light, but that is an uphill battle for me. I actually had to buy a smaller backpack so I wouldn’t be tempted to over-pack. If I’m going somewhere like London or Los Angeles and staying in a hotel, I’ll take a suitcase and pack every article of clothing I own. If I’m backpacking in Southeast Asia or Africa, I do my best to keep it light.
Which destinations are on your wish-list in the months ahead?
South America, for sure. I’m planning a solo backpacking trip through countries like Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile. I’ve heard good things about gay men being accepted in South America, and I’m so excited to see what that part of the world is like.
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We want to hear your opinion
Photography that embraces naked men
“Stop comparing ourselves to strangers on the internet…”
I caught up with photographer Anthony Patrick Manieri to talk about his ongoing series of work known as Arrested Movement.
Why do you think this project has captured the imagination of gay men around the world?
Because we’re all the same really, except we don’t all look alike. We usually just see what society deems to be the ‘perfect’ body types, flashed across TV and social media all the time.
This project encompasses a wide variety of men that are photographed equally and beautifully. I feel that the variety of men and body shapes being highlighted are recognisable to most men. We need to see diversity represented more in the media. That, and also the idea of male body positivity is refreshing in a world where the media seems to only push female body positivity. In this day and age, where depression and anxiety are extremely commonplace, it’s nice to know that we’re not alone in the struggle.
Why are men so keen to be photographed by you for this project?
Because we all want to fit in. We all want to be accepted, and here is a photographic series celebrating all men, all body types, and showcasing them artistically. I think men look at this and can relate and identify with some of the participating models, because they see themselves in the photos.
Most of the men you’ve photographed for this project appear to be first-time models, most likely being professionally photographed naked for the first time. Was that experience confronting for many of your models?
From what I’ve seen, and from what some of my assistants mentioned to me, for most of the men that participate there’s a definite shift in their overall energy levels from when they first arrive at the studio to when they’re done. One assistant asked me — “What is going on in the studio? Because when they arrive they’re quite scared, some even shake with nerves, but when they leave they glow and have this sense of empowerment.”
I make sure that the studio is private and a safe space for them to try and feel as comfortable as possible. I brief them, and coach them with suggestions of possible body movement. I also stop periodically to show the gentlemen their progression so far in the shoot.
Most men, after seeing themselves on the screen during the shoot, are delightfully impressed by how they look. They look at themselves in a positive light artistically, and not what they usually expect to see. I talk to them about how their hands are positioned, their facial expressions, pointing of their feet, and the overall lines of their bodies in the frame.
When you’re not quite happy with your body, putting yourself out there is brave. I watch some men almost lose themselves in the moment and in the music. I’m grateful that I get to witness such a personal moment of self-evolution. For others, they’re determined to take an amazing photo, so they push themselves so that their final image is strong and unique.
Should everyone tackle a naked photo shoot at some point in their lives?
I don’t know if that’s the answer. What people should do is take time to appreciate and accept themselves, to put themselves first. Fill their own cups before extinguishing their energy with others. Uniqueness is special. It’s okay to look different on the outside, because we’re all the same on the inside.
How is the project continuing to evolve?
I’m currently working on the design of the book — I’ll be releasing a Kickstarter page this Fall. I’m also looking at gallery spaces to have the first of many shows.
Are you still actively shooting guys for this project?
I’m still actively photographing men. If it were up to me, I’d be in a different city every weekend photographing.
Since I’m funding this myself, I need to take breaks between cities. Travelling, studio costs, and hotels add up quickly. There are a few cities in the US, Canada, and Mexico that I’d like to do before heading back to Europe. Beyond that, there’s talk of Australia, and possibly some cities in South America for 2019.
How can we help each other feel better about our bodies?
I think we really need to be kind to ourselves, and each other — daily. Judgement and self-judgement is such a human flaw, it’s like a vibrational plague. We should be detaching ourselves from our smart-phones and social media regularly. Yoga and meditation are great ways to feel centred and grounded, to be in tune with our higher self. Eating right always makes for a happier body and mind. We need to encourage and validate each other to be the best we can be.
What do the images that you’ve captured through this project tell us about gay men and their relationship with their bodies?
Gay culture is meant to be inclusive, and we celebrate that inclusiveness. Though within the gay community, there’s such a divide between men. We’re labelled and put in categories, therefore creating almost a hierarchy of what’s acceptable.
Body-image and self-esteem start in your own mind, not on Instagram. We need to literally stop comparing ourselves to strangers on the internet. We need to make mental health a priority in the gay community.
I hope that when people see this project, they know their worth, they know that they’re beautiful, and that it’s okay to be different.
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