Photo Credit: Edward Lathan IV
Here's What Travel Has Taught Me As A Queer Black Man
In life, we encounter some unforgettable people, and Edward Lathan IV’s frenetic energy and passion for travel makes him one such person. Born in Mount Vernon and raised in Bridgeport, he’s a queer Black man who has been on the go from the start, and slowing down isn’t in the cards for him if he can help it.
A proud member of the LGBT+ community, Edward has an impressive travel background that keeps expanding. He’s been to thirty-five states, as well as Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti, The United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, India and Indonesia.
“Travel has shaped my life in such a way that travel has become my life!” Edward told Travel Noire. “My first travel experience was when I was nine years old. My father was a cross-country truck driver, and he drove me and my younger sister across The United States in his big ol’ rig. It was quite exhilarating as an adolescent to see new terrain and hear various accents all within the same country. We took that journey every summer over the course of four years or so, and I’ve appreciated travel ever since.”
Edward recently returned from a trip to Holland, Spain and Germany. While overseas, he worked on revamping his business, NuDance, an alternative dance initiative he founded over six years ago.
But it wasn’t all hustle and grind; that would defeat the purpose of a restorative sojourn. Time was made for self-care activities such as yoga, exploring nature, and drinking herbal tea with colleagues and friends. No doubt that being outside the United States, even temporarily, made it easier for Edward to prioritize himself.
“My tastes and identity have changed over time,” he said. “The amazing thing is that being a BIPOC, cisgender, queer Black man, I realize that my identity encourages me to travel more.”
Still, Edward is a realist, and knows to exercise caution when visiting places intolerant of marginalized people. Sometimes he travels with friends, and if he’s alone, he’ll rendezvous with locals, as it never hurts to have a support system.
Europe has a thriving gay scene, but Edward is selective about who gets his patronage.
“I very rarely attend LGBT+ clubs or lounges when I travel. I prefer the Ecstatic Dance parties in Europe, where there’s no talking on the dance floor, no phones, and only tea and water are served. I don’t mind a few drinks when I club, but sometimes I need an environment that is literally all about the music, movement and connection, without the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
One city that offers fantastic clubbing, especially for those seeking an alternative experience, is the German capital.
“I have to say that Berlin has never done me wrong.” Edward said. “One of the most lively clubs is Berghain/Panorama Bar. There are four or five floors of music, lounging, and just about anything consensual you can imagine, within reason that is. Amsterdam has some spots with relaxed vibes, and others where you can just dance all night and be free.”
The impact travel has had on Edward as a multidisciplinary artist is as difficult to quantify as his gratitude.
“I’m a dancer, choreographer, performance artist, writer and content creator,” he said. “I enjoy the cultural exchange that comes with traveling nationally and internationally. COVID-19 completely wiped out any idea of travel for at least a year. In 2020, I went to upstate New York, when some restrictions were lifted. But travel as I knew it before was non-existent.”
From couch-surfing to hotels, Edward’s travel accommodations have been varied.
“I’m OK with anywhere that has a decent surface to sleep on, in all honesty. I’ve crashed on sofas or futons in apartments. But sometimes, if there’s a spare bedroom, I can use it for a small fee or nothing at all, depending. Hostels can be cute, but now that I’m in my thirties, I’d rather not stay in a frat-like environment. When I travel for work, my hotel is usually paid for. If I’m leading a nature retreat, I stay in a cabin.”
Edward described his trip to Haiti in 2014 as “a Black experience like no other.” It was the first in a series of nomadic-like travels in his adulthood.
“I was invited to teach hip-hop dance workshops for two weeks alongside the likes of Kurt Douglas of José Limón,” he said. “This was made possible through Ayikodans, Haiti’s premier dance company.”
Sharing and learning in the world’s first Black republic, especially during Black History Month, did wonders for Edward’s creativity.
“Luckily, I’m self-employed, so this allows for more flexibility within my schedule,” he said. “I was never a budget kind of guy in the past. I had no real obligations, no kids, a month-to month lease, no credit card debt or student loans. Yeah, I was a ‘go with the wind’ kind of dude, which had its pros and cons. As I traveled more, I realized that having a fixed budget, emergency funds, and a backup plan were crucial.”
Edward moved to New York City thirteen years ago, and it’s a safe bet it won’t be long before he’s on the move again. Anything less just wouldn’t do.
Catch him if you can on Instagram @grey_poupon87 or NewOldSoul on Twitter.