Queer Queens Travel Is Helping Women Wander The World With Pride

Featured image: Anderson De Mata
Sheneice Brown and Shanoira Lewis are creating safe, inclusive travel experiences that celebrate queer joy and Black culture. Meet the dynamic duo breaking down barriers and redefining globetrotting for the LGBTQ+ community.

The word “community” often evokes a warm feeling of fellowship among people who share similar interests or life experiences. For Sheneice “Neicy B” Brown, founder of Queer Queens Travel, this feeling was the driving force behind the creation of her brand in 2019.

As a queer, Black woman who lived abroad in South Korea teaching English, Brown loved exploring the world. But the Toronto native also knew firsthand the unique obstacles that came with globetrotting as a queer woman of color. “When I was traveling, there weren’t many queer women around, and I wanted to be with more of us,” Brown tells Sweet July. “It was typically just one-offs.” She set out to create a travel experience that minimized those challenges and celebrated her community.

“I wanted to show that you can be queer and travel at the same time, and you don’t have to hide who you are in the process,” says Brown. “[There are] a lot of functionalities that make people feel like it isn’t safe for us to travel as queer women of color, so I wanted to be that representation.”

Queer Queens Travel founders Sheneice Brown and Shanoira Lewis in Guatemala. Photo: Anderson De Mata

Soon after launching, Brown teamed up with her friend and fellow Canadian, Shanoira “Noiry” Lewis. A former Thailand expat, Lewis became the brand’s co-founder in 2020. Since then, the two women have shattered stereotypes and redefined what it means to be queer Black women navigating the nuances of the world—and having fun while doing so. They’ve led groups to Jamaica (attending other aligned events like the party hosted by Connek JA), parts of Canada, Guatemala, Colombia and beyond. By keeping the group sizes small (usually no more than 25–30 folks), they ensure that each member walks away with not only core memories but also a sense of belonging to a true travel family.  

“We want them to walk away knowing everybody’s name and without the experience feeling watered down,” Lewis says. 

Sweet July had the chance to chat further with Brown and Lewis, delving into their vision for Queer Queens Travel and the inspiring work they’re doing to build up this beautiful travel community.

Queer Queens Travel in Jamaica. Photo: @Luckyeye
As queer women, the world isn’t always accepting. How have you navigated this, and how do you ultimately find places that are safe for your group trips?

Shanoira Lewis: Neicy and I are both travelers and have spent a lot of time outside of Queer Queens Travel, taking trips on our own. When we go to destinations, we’re always feeling it out through the lens of, “Do we feel safe here?” Not just as queer women but women of color in general. We also have to understand that, generally speaking, we are straight-presenting, which comes with a privilege that other queer women may not be afforded. So, we take that into account as well.

We’ve been very blessed to have safe experiences with our trips thus far, because we’ve been very intentional on doing research beforehand.

Sheneice Brown: We also reach out to folks in the community on the ground, too. We actually were able to find an amazing organization, Connek JA, that champions queer folk in Jamaica. This is significant because [queerness in] Jamaica is very taboo; people feel like you cannot exist as a queer person there. We ended up doing a trip there and held a queer party. People were shocked and surprised that we had the time of our lives. But we also were able to hold panel discussions at our villa with other queer folks living in Jamaica.

SL: Long story short, getting connected to community in the countries that we go to is important to us as it allows us to get a realistic perspective on what’s happening for queer folks, versus fear mongering. We exist in a lot of places that people don’t realize.

Queer Queens Travel in Thailand. Photo: @ebpix3
Talk a little about the feedback from the Queer Queens Travel community, as far as having this group to not only see the world with, but also for fostering a sense of comfort and authenticity among its members. 

SL: The biggest feedback that we get is just being able to be with other people who get it. Attendees appreciate that they don’t have to pick a part of themselves on these trips. They don’t have to be just queer or a person of color—they can be both, while having that same experience with others. They also express being able to make connections while feeling safe and comfortable. 

SB We also get a lot of feedback around the expectations versus reality. Some have shared that they thought we were a group of 20-somethings just looking to party, but we curate our experiences to hit many angles of travel. We get a lot of folks who are actually in their late 30s and early 40s—we range in age as a group, so that allows folks to really find their people. As far as the experiences, we include a range of activities: history, culture, wellness, community service, sightseeing, and of course, fun. 

The great thing is, our members always end up making lifelong friend connections. We have people that now meet up regularly to hang out or travel, just from meeting on our trips. 

What’s next for Queer Queens Travel?

SB: We are lucky to have sold out our remaining 2024 trips. We’re heading to Cropover in Barbados, and to South Africa in November. We’re still planning our 2025 calendar, but we’re looking to partner with more queer women of color to bring better experiences. We also want to host more trips throughout the year.

SL: Yes, the goal is just to get bigger and better. With our 2024 trips selling out, it’s proof that the demand and need is there.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


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