Long before she knew she was queer, Courtney Vondran recalls visiting Chicago for the Pride parade and just knowing that it felt like a safe, exciting place. But growing up in the midwest, it wasn’t until she was 29m came out as a lesbian and moved to Puerto Vallarta on the Mexican coast that she went to events for queer women for the first time.
“I went to a queer-women pool party and to a lesbian bar. Those experiences of being surrounded by queer women—even the bartenders and staff—were the representation I needed,” Vondran told me over the phone. “I need a gayborhood, a gay bar, queer community. Without that, I feel silenced.”
Today, the queer travel content creator is based in Chicago where she lives with her fiancée Liz Wieland, who she met on Tinder, and their dog Kali, and cats Phillip and Gilbert. Vondran works with tourism boards around the world to create inspiring travel content for the queer community.
It was while planning her trips around the world, Vondran turned to TikTok for information on queer-friendly destinations, but she could never find much about gayborhoods—so she started creating the content herself.