The LGBT community is rife with coming out stories — some extravagant and celebratory, others heartbreaking — but everyone in the community has their story.
Jeff Perla, a 24 year old who struggled with his sexuality wanted to spin the stressful coming out process into something “therapeutic and inspiring.” That idea became The Travelin Bum, a blog and Instagram account that shares and celebrates coming out stories with a twist — guys (and girls) expose their histories as well as their butts.
“I started this blog because I was not out yet myself and I wasn’t sure on how I should approach it,” Perla said. “I came up with an idea to anonymously share people’s stories and learn about how other people did it. As the account grew more and more people started reaching out for advice and it got to a point where I needed to share who I was.”
The Travelin Bum showcases butts from guys all over the world on Instagram, each one with a personal coming out story or experience as members of the LGBT community. Perla takes some of the photos himself, but as the blog grew people started submitting their photos and experiences from all over the world — giving everyone an opportunity to have their stories heard.
The page has given followers a chance to interact with people with similar experiences while also exposing them to new perspectives. The Travelin Bum is not limited to largely gay-centric spaces like South Florida and New York — it connects gay people from all over the world.
@thekidfit on The Travelin Bum.
“One of the things I love most is being able to share other people’s experiences as opposed to just sharing my own,” Jeff said. “I think people thrive on feeling relatable and that they are not alone. If someone reads my blog I think they can find someone to relate to.”
The majority of stories involve the coming out process, but some people share personal experiences with the LGBT community. There are posts about body image, homophobia, family issues and more.
“Ever since I can think I was told I was too skinny and that I should eat more,” one post read. “I wasted a lot of time in my youth comparing myself to others, thinking about how I could change myself … People might say I'm too small but I am skinny and fabulous.”
“Looking back, I wished that I had been honest with myself, but ultimately I am grateful for everything that I learned,” reads another. “ I lost a few friends, but gained so many more. I am now in love, and proud of who I am. I unapologetically live my life the way I want.”
According to Perla, The Travelin Bum showcases a very human LGBT experience, one that he says is easier to identify with than LGBT representation in the past.
@tuckerberardi on The Travelin Bum.
“My blog helps the LGBT community by making everyone feel welcomed,” he said. “I think the stigma of LGBT people on television has been very one sided, I never felt I could relate to someone gay in the public eye. Social media has made public figures, some of which are more popular than celebrities themselves.”
He continued, “I hope I give people a face to look up to, a place to go for advice when they have no one to talk to, and a place to watch gay culture and realize that gay culture does not force you into a bubble. Gay culture should be celebrated and I hope that’s what The Travelin Bum exudes.”