Jenni, a business manager for eBay, and Lisa, a social worker in HIV services, first met on the AIDS Lifecycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In the summer of 2011 they decided to take a year to travel the world together. In each destination, they sought out inspiring activist leaders, whom they coined “Supergays.” Along the way they conducted interviews, gathered personal stories, and were exposed to a whole new world of LGBT culture.
The couple documented their discoveries and interviews on their website, Out & Around: Stories from a Not-So-Straight Journey.
You were recently named one of Velvet Park’s “Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2012.” How did that make you feel?
Lisa: We were quite surprised, but also thrilled that our little film project has made such an impact.
Jenni: It really goes to show how everyday people can make a difference. Before we left on our one-year trip, we didn’t even know how to use a camera. With the help of friends, we were able to shoot a film and create a popular blog that had a far reach.
You both were in search of “Supergays” — what makes someone a Supergay? How did you come up with that term?
Lisa: I always wanted a T-shirt that said “Supergay,” with the Superman logo. The idea grew from there.
Jenni: During our year of travel, we were on the hunt for Supergays: individuals who are leading the momentum on the LGBT movement. We found Supergays everywhere across the globe. Supergays may be directly involved in community organization, or they may be using their influence in politics, health, arts, entertainment, or business to raise awareness and make progress on gay issues. Everyone can become a Supergay.
How did the project come about — random inspiration?
Lisa: I wanted to travel around the world with the woman that I love. We thought it would be fulfilling to have a project while we traveled, to interact with local communities.
Jenni: We were curious about queer life in the developing world. We wanted to see what life was like outside the West. We couldn’t find a global LGBT organization to volunteer with as we traveled, so we decided to create our own project.
Any thoughts on the recent Supreme Court cases on DOMA and Prop 8? What would a win mean for the both of you?
Lisa: A win would mean everything to us. Jenni popped the question two months into our trip, and we’ve enjoyed a long engagement. We have a wedding on June 8 with 150 guests, so the Supreme Court may be making their decision right at this same time.
Jenni: Because of their religious beliefs, my parents won’t be attending our wedding. This has caused me a lot of pain. A win from the Supreme Court would validate my relationship with Lisa and change the course of history. It also sends a message to religious groups that we deserve equal rights and are not second-class citizens.
Your favorite part about the trip? What was the most amazing moment or person you met?
Jenni: The best part of the trip was connecting to the Supergays. The LGBT community is so welcoming in the developing world. It felt like meeting extended family.
Lisa: The other best part was not going to an office for a year. Jenni and I got to spend time every day together.
We were most blown away with the Supergays of East Africa. Being from San Francisco, where we have so much freedom, it’s hard to imagine living in a world where you fear incarceration or even death because of your sexual orientation. We often asked ourselves what price we would pay to speak up for what we believe… We’re in awe of the African Supergays.
Read more on the official website here.