GayTravel.com kicked off its tour in Dallas with new queer travel guru Nick Vivion
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Vivion’s grandparents were from Dallas, so he visited the city many times when he was younger. “But I’d never been here doing gay stuff,” he says.
That changed last week. In a big way.
It might not be MacArthur returning to the Philippines, but Vivion marched victorious to his old family haunts with great fanfare, as Dallas was the first stop on the GayTravel.com “Travel Guru” tour. And Vivion is the guru.
In some way, it’s a far cry from where the 27-year-old Seattle resident imagined he’d be back in college. He went to school hoping to become a movie director of features, “like Spielberg.” Then he discovered documentary filmmaking and his outlook changed. “There are so many good stories out there you don’t have to make up,” he says.
His interest in filmmaking, photography and travel led to a passion and his livelihood since graduation: Making travel videos for Lonely Planet and YouTube, where his videos scored more than a million hits.
“I’ve been traveling doing films for about four years,” he says. “It is my profession.”
So when he heard that GayTravel.com was holding a contest to find an ambassador to scour the globe coming up with unique stories about gay destinations, he threw his hat in the ring.
“This is not the first travel contest I’ve applied to — probably the 12th or 13th,” he says. But it did seem like a good fit: GayTravel.com wanted a gay guy to do gay city tours. Still, it did require a leap of faith.
“I had always been reluctant to be the gay host or the gay travel guy. Then Prop 8 happened and that changed my perspective a little bit. I saw that I have the ability to capture the essence of what it means to be gay, to get paid to do what I do and share the gay experience a little more.”
Vivion won the contest during a competition last month in Las Vegas, where finalists were told to make a good travel video within 36 hours of touring the city. His product, plus an interview that was included a pageant-y question-and-answer portion, cinched his victory.
Dallas had dibs to be the first city on the tour, and Vivion had hoped to be here for Pride, but the timing was too tight. Instead, he launched his tour last Thursday, spending five days exploring everything from the Strip to the State Fair.
“I had a lot of fun at Gay Bingo — it was a blast to be silly with Jenna Skyy,” he says. “I have a lot of respect for drag queens and what they do, and she’s one of the best I’ve ever seen at being witty without being mean — very even-handed. And just to see the energy of so any people coming out for it, so many people to continue to support it was inspiring.”
Vivion admits he was a bit unprepared for the first leg of his trip — “It’s a blur” — but over the course of his six-month commitment as the guru, he hopes all the cities are as welcoming as Dallas proved to be.
“I’m hoping to kind of find good content about gay destinations. There will be plenty of nightlife coverage but I’m not trying to talk just about places to get drunk. In the end, it’s about inspiring people to travel. That’s what’s important to me.”
Vivion went from Dallas to Santa Fe with plans to spend Halloween in New Orleans. You can follow his tour — and see what he has to say about Dallas — at GayTravel.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010