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10 Questions With Damon Dominique

10 Questions With Damon Dominique

You are a Global Citizen book cover and author Damon Dominique
Courtesy Damon Dominique/@damondominique

The LGBTQ+ YouTube star on dating his way around the world, his Call Me By Your Name experience and his new book.

Damon Dominique is the queer star of hundreds of YouTube travel vlogs (including the series Around the World in 80 Dates) and documentaries, a digital nomad, and author of the new book, You Are a Global Citizen: A Guided Journal for the Culturally Curious.

A pioneer of the modern-day social media travel scene, Dominique has made 500+ travel videos (fluently in 5+ languages), garnered 22.4 million views, and traveled to 50+ countries. "I started making videos of my adventures around the world before the word 'influencer' existed," Dominique muses. "Back then (pre-2015 days), nobody took the social media industry seriously — I mean, do they even today? I think people in major big cities understand how it can be a job, but for others, they still don’t know how it all works besides that it’s just content to watch. I think no matter what generation we’re in, people will always find a way to carve out a new way to entertain. Back in the day, it was theater, then radio, then TV, then blogging, then only YouTube, and now it’s an entire industry called social media."

You Are a Global Citizen is part travel guide and part self-improvement journal that encourages people to embrace being a global citizen. Dominique recently took time from his busy schedule to answer Out Traveler's questions>

What do you think sets you apart from other travel vloggers?

Hmm, I mean none of this is a competition; I think we can all “win” at the same time now that the internet is infinite, but I guess what my audience can relate to in me is that I speak multiple languages and live abroad. I recognize the English (and especially the American) market is one market, but not the only market. I think all the other markets deserve just as much recognition…and I think we’re slowly starting to see that with the incorporation of more and more shows from around the world on streaming platforms, for example.

What has been your favorite series to do?

Definitely the dating ones! I mean to put it simply, at heart, I’m a hopeless romantic. Now combine that with men from around the world, and wow. Just wow. When you’re dating someone from your own culture, you’re already learning so much about yourself in the process (perhaps without realizing it at the time), and then if you do it with someone from another country, you’re now adding culture on top of that. Life, to me, is like one big social experiment…and I’m intrigued…all the time.

Tell us about Around the World in 80 Dates.

I’ve always believed that the best way to get to know a culture more intimately is to date it. That’s when you’re really getting the real lowdown on a city. When you’re invited to meet an Italian guy’s family and see the Italian grandma is runnin’shit — that’s interesting. When a French guy comes over and stays at your place and makes a comment about how artificial Yankee candles are — that’s interesting. When you go on a date with a German guy and he recommends you meet at the abandoned amphitheater and not a nice restaurant — that’s interesting. And these are all just European men.

This isn’t to say that these aren’t things that couldn’t happen with someone from your home country, but these interesting things are pretty much guaranteed to happen with someone from another. I guess what I'm trying to say is that your brain seems to be working more just because you’re constantly comparing and contrasting everything your foreign date has to say with what you have to say.

How long do you usually spend in the places you cover?

I feel like 10 to 15 days is the sweet spot where you feel like you’ve got a feel for what daily life is in a city while still feeling like you’re keeping your itinerary on the road…literally.

Have you found that trips to places that resonate with something in your past end up fulfilling your expectations?

Honestly the Call Me By Your Name trip was a trip that did fulfill expectations. The idea of trying to recreate magic typically falls flat because…the moment has already moved on (but you haven’t), but that trip was actually special because…I felt like it hadn’t yet been overrun with tourism. The experiences I was able to have were genuine — how I was able to rent a bike and just go, by myself, on long bike rides in the Italian countryside or how I met a guy who worked at a bar there, and then I actually ran into him a year later in the supermarket when I went back a year later with a friend.

When you try to recreate scene by scene the magic that comes from a movie, or someone’s YouTube video, I think you’re more likely to miss the mark — because you’re trying to insert yourself into their life or their experience there instead of carving out your own story there (that could be similar). Does that make any sense? I’m still drunk from that trip.

Can you share a #TravelFail and how you overcame it?

I literally left my passport in the Beijing airport, caught my connecting flight to Tokyo, and then realized only at the immigration gate in Japan that I didn’t have a passport on me. Trust me, the immigration guards were just as confused as I was, and I had to wait 13 hours until somebody luckily turned it into Lost and Found, and then the airline flew it to me in my terminal. It was a miracle and I actually think it says a lot about safety in Asian countries and how people can be trusted to do the right thing.

What is a global citizen? And why is it important to become a better one? 

We all are global citizens already. We have nationality labels placed overtop that though (American, Guatemalan, Indonesian, etc.). Deep down, we’re just humans. Then we added all these identifiers to the mix — for better or worse. My book isn’t about removing these for good, but more so realizing that you are already representative of many aspects of your culture whether you know it or not…and that many of these qualities were just absorbed (because you had to be born somewhere). But are those qualities the real you? After all, how do you know you were born into the country that best suits you? This is what my book is about, and I hope in reading it, that people will take away from it a sense of curiosity and intrigue about the world.

What’s your top tip(s) for people who want to become better global citizens?

I would say it already helps a ton to realize that your entire way of current thinking stems from your experience…and your experience stems from one country…and your country already has a distinct lens through which it teaches you everything.

My book is not about renouncing your citizenship; it’s about realizing you already represent one way of going about things (what you find morally right and wrong, how you think a society should function, how you view the roles of family or career in your life, ,etc.), but the simple fact that you were born in a country doesn’t mean you have to be married to all of its qualities. In fact, I’d say it’s your duty to figure out who you really are despite being born in one country and mostly absorbing that one country’s values.

What’s your top recommended destination in 2023 for LGBTQ+ travelers?

Why don’t I write about the bottom recommended destination too? Oh, well, y’all gotta check Grindr’s 2022 Year-end review for both of those. No, but for real, personally, I’m all for showing up everywhere. Like, of course there are some countries where you can’t strut down a street waving the Pride flag, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do activism in other ways. I’m a strong believer that in order to change anybody’s mind you have to be their friend first and if that means that I have to keep my mouth shut on specific topics the first few conversations in order to get to know somebody, I think that’s beneficial in the end for everyone involved!

I would say Mexico has always been hot and people are now realizing it. The food, the music, the people — it’s just one big country of fun. Try sic club in Mexico City…and don’t be surprised if I’m that guy dancing sweating shirtless next to you.

Are you doing a book tour, or where can fans find you next?

I’m doing the first leg of my book tour in the U.S., and to my surprise, it has sold out (crazy). After launching the book, TV show pilot, a French course, and a Spanish course, I’m actually excited to get back to posting regularly on social media. Dare I admit that I kind of miss it?

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