By Thomas K. Pendergast
Jennifer Chang and Lisa Dazols left their home in the Sunset District to embark on a year-long journey around the globe that will take them to three continents and two subcontinents, and through at least 17 countries and 24 cities, to find what they call “supergays.”
“Anyone who is gay and is out is taking a stand, whether or not they want to be, is an activist, in a way, because they’re doing something pretty radical,” said Dazols. “But, we would define supergay as someone who is doing something pretty extraordinary for the community, whether it be in the arts, in business and community organizing or non-profit work.”
For the next 12 months the couple will be traveling through Australia, Asia, India, Africa and South America, blogging on their website Out and Around about their adventures and the supergays they meet. Chang expects their experiences will change that definition to some extent.
“We realize that as we go abroad our definition of what a supergay might look like will change and be very different and what being “out” means in these countries can be very different than what it means in, say San Francisco,” Chang said. “So, I think our understanding and our definition of that will evolve as we travel.”
Dazols explained that they’re seeking role models for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
“We know that we have some role models but we still lack everyday people that our youth can look up to,” she said. “We also want to help decrease homophobia, so by telling peoples’ stories, by telling our own stories, we hope to familiarize people with everyday gay life. And we’d also like to raise issues about things that are going on in the developing world that we’re not too familiar with here in the U.S.
Chang said they plan to visit a lot of developing countries in the southern hemisphere.
“These are places that being gay you can face a lot of potential consequences and so we wanted to highlight issues in those countries,” she explained.
Dazols was a social worker in HIV counseling for the past decade and last worked in San Francisco General Hospital. Chang has taken a leave of absence from her job at EBay to go on the year-long journey.
“I think that we wanted to contribute in a bigger way,” said Dazols. “I know in my job I was doing a lot of band-aid work in terms of counseling and helping and I wanted to do something where a message of hope could get out on a bigger scale. That’s why I wanted to step out and try something new like this.”
“There’s a lot of depressing stories out there, especially with regard to the LGBT community, between suicides and bullying and all that,” Chang said. “We really want to focus on the positive stuff, you know, people who are living thriving and happy lives, people who are really pushing for change.”
They both acknowledge that they are hitting the road at a time when much seems to be changing in the LGBT community throughout the world, though they did not intentionally time their trip for that reason. It just worked out that way.
“In terms of timing, it just seems like every day, whether it’s New York passing same-sex marriage or the United Nations standing for human rights in terms of protecting gays and lesbians abroad, we feel like there’s so much to write about, so much to research and look into that we’re very fortunate,” Dazols said. “We’re very hopeful that in a short time we’ll be able to get married in California and life will be very different for our kids.”
Travel expenses are coming out of the couple’s savings but they plan to produce video interviews along the way for a short documentary film, which is only about half funded.
“We want to use this documentary after we come back, to speak about global gay issues,” said Chang.
The public can follow the adventures of the couple or make a donation toward their project by going to the website at www.outandaround.com.