Joey Amato is a regularly contributing QNotes Travel Writer. A New Yorker who makes his home in Indianapolis, Indiana, Amato is busy traveling at the time of this interview, seemingly doing what he loves best. He’s en route to “P-Town” – Provence Town Massachusetts – an internationally known and long time gay friendly town, boasting one of the largest LGBTQ communities in all of the continental United States.
Prior to becoming involved with tourism, Amato published a gay magazine in Nashville, Tennessee. He later expanded it to Indianapolis. Having tired of Nashville, he decided to relocate to Indianapolis where he had colleagues. He has yet to regret that decision and enthusiastically expressed as much. “I loved it! We have a very fun culture there. The LGBTQ scene there is very supportive of each other and there are a lot of nonprofits there as well. There’s not a lot of night clubs and stuff, there’s a few bars. We’re more about nonprofits, grassroots organizations and events outside of the bar scene.”
One of those non-profits is also the home of Amato’s day job, where he’s an events manager for The Damien Center, Indiana’s oldest and largest AIDS service organization. “We help people who are affected by HIV/AIDS, people who are living with HIV or the family and friends that support them. We also offer comprehensive HIV health care,” Amato explained.
According to the organization’s website, “Though founded as an inter-faith collaboration, the Damien Center is now a fully independent, non-sectarian, not-for-profit public corporation” continuing to find innovative ways to fight against HIV/AIDS.
Let’s rewind to about four years ago when Amato’s then business partner, a graphic designer, decided he wanted to stop publishing their print magazine and you’ll have the inspiration behind the birth of PrideJourney.com, Amato’s syndicated LGBTQ travel directory. The directory is complete with a bird’s eye view of all the places and events Amato reports on.
How did it all begin?
When I first started the column, I wasn’t making any money, it was purely for pleasure, a hobby. Then a few years ago, I started the directory within the Pride Journeys website and destinations started to reach out to be added to the directory. They wanted to be considered an LGBT friendly destination. [Like] that, it became [a] revenue source.”
Where has your life in writing about tourism taken you?
I’ve been everywhere from Stockholm to Iceland, to everywhere in the U.S. and Sao Paulo Brazil [which is known as the largest city in the Western Hemisphere].
When you travel, what do you prefer, a glamorous hotel room or a scenic destination?
I actually prefer a nice combination of the two. I don’t need a glamorous room when I travel as I tend to not spend a lot of time in the room. However, sometimes having a nice room is a welcomed perk.
It’s wedding season. What are your top three suggestions for LGBTQ destination weddings?
I am definitely not an expert on wedding destinations although I have noticed many LGBTQ people traveling to parts of Mexico and the Caribbean for weddings. If I were to get married, I would probably choose somewhere like Iceland or Thailand just because I like adventure.
In all your traveling to date, what would you say is your favorite destination?
It’s hard to name just one. I have a few favorite destinations: Cape Town, South Africa – Chiang Mai, Thailand and Reykjavik, Iceland.
Do you have a bucket list travel spot? A place you’ve never been that you feel you must visit.
The Galapagos Islands are at the top of my list for now.
Please give QNotes readers your number one tip for LGBTQ travelers.
I always tell people to be vigilant wherever they travel. There are LGBTQ people living in every corner of the world, but you need to be mindful of the local customs. In some places, we are more welcomed than in others. People need to understand that not everywhere is as LGBTQ welcoming as Palm Springs or Wilton Manors. So, people should be aware of that.
What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
I’m trying to save up to buy a second home in Costa Rica or somewhere tropical. I still see myself involved in LGBTQ media in some way.