Black, Gay, And Abroad: Meet Three Atlantans Who Are Prioritizing Travel
If the app on Lonnell Williams’ phone that tracks his travel is accurate, he has been around the earth 103 times, accumulated over 2.5 million miles, and has traveled enough to go to the moon 11 times, and that’s just in the last ten years. Standing still has never been an option for the digital content creator who navigated the streets of his native San Francisco and Oakland before jet-setting across the globe, and ultimately landing in Atlanta.
“My dad lived in San Francisco, so I was back and forth across the Bay. I would travel on the Bart and the bus,” says Williams. “I had my little bag. I'd go and visit my grandma. So I was always used to being on the move.”
Williams recalls taking his first flight around age five or six to Peoria, IL, or maybe it was Los Angeles—the passage of time has clouded those details. But as a young impressionable Black boy, Williams says the exposure to travel “broadened my perspective of what was available and the exposure to the world at a very early age.”
“I always say, travel is the best education. You can read a book. You can go to college, you can look at slides of what their interpretation is of European culture, but it's one thing to look at the Sistine Chapel on a slide in a lecture hall, and it's a whole other thing to actually stand there,” he says.
Located in Vatican City, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and “The Last Judgment” created by artist Michelangelo, whom Williams says he felt a connection to for an obvious reason the moment he entered the sacred space, has attracted millions of tourists for centuries.
“The first thing that I thought when I walked in there, I looked up and I was like, oh my God, only a homosexual could do this,” Williams says jokingly with a tone of certainty.
“There's tons of artwork all over the place. But when you walk in that room, it's like, oh no, this is the hand of a gay,” he says.
It’s experiences like this that Williams attributes to the power of manifestation—a principle he lives by and encourages others to tap into, especially those who desire to travel but believe a lack of resources will prevent them from doing so.
“You can't afford not to travel,” he says. “Find a way. Make a way. Don't let money, don't let your fear or your thought process hinder or impede your path. If you only see having enough money as the only way to get somewhere, then you're going to miss all the other potential blessings because you’ve got tunnel vision. If you are open to the process, somebody might give you a ticket, and you think that's crazy, but that has happened to me before. Get out of your own way. Stop telling God how to bless you,” says Williams.
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