LGBTQ+ Tourism Changemakers Part 3: Interview with Aisha Shaibu-Lenoir, Founder of Moonlight Experiences

Aisha Shaibu-Lenoir, founder of Moonlight Experiences, is an LGBTQI+ activist, a cultural producer and is listed as one of the "Top 100 LGBTQ+ Trailblazers" changing the world. Through her award-winning company, she's on a mission to celebrate diverse queer culture and decolonise travel to address the lack of visibility and services for queer women, non-binary, trans folx, and Black/POC members. As part of our "LGBTQ+ Tourism Changemakers'' blog series this Pride Month, we chatted with Aisha to find out more.

Aisha Shaibu-Lenoir by Tom Trevatt .jpg Aisha sheds light and drives change for the LGBTQI+ community

Meet Aisha Shaibu-Lenoir

Moonlight Experiences, the company Aisha started, is dedicated to celebrating diverse queer culture through tourism and nightlife. It was launched in London and has since expanded to other European cities, as well as Africa and the USA.

Aisha helps design diverse travel campaigns and collaborates with other brands, institutions and communities within an intersectional framework. Furthermore, she also has a queer bookshop café and event space in East London she runs called "The Common Press". Her activism and community contributions extend to her role as the Head of Community Engagement for UK Black Pride and as a trustee for GiveOut.

We found out more about what sparked her success in the important work she does.

Aisha in Portugal .jpeg Aisha is driven by her vision for a more inclusive world for all

What inspired you to create Moonlight Experiences, and how do you envision it reshaping the way LGBTQI+ individuals and allies navigate travel and community?

I founded Moonlight Experiences out of growing frustration with the lack of travel services that were diverse and prioritised queer BIPOC, queer women, and non-binary folx.

I also strongly believe in the power of tourism to drive change and promote equity by supporting marginalised voices and the LGBTQI+ community as a whole.

Moonlight Experiences plays a crucial role in facilitating and bridging knowledge, helping people, companies, and organisations become better allies and the significant impact of collective support.

Can you share some of the most impactful moments from Moonlight Experiences that highlight the importance of intersectional queer culture and community-building?

There are so many incredible moments to share, but two immediately come to mind. The first is seeing queer guests who cannot be their authentic selves at home experience queer culture and lifestyle while travelling.

Watching them visit a queer venue for the first time, enjoying incredible LGBTQI+ performers, and being in a room with a diverse range of friendly locals offers them a glimpse into what their lives could be. It allows them to feel a sense of belonging, even if only for a short time.

The second example is witnessing the transformational change in people who know little about the LGBTQI+ community, but by the end of the day, they are inspired to become better allies and join our movement.

Aisha Shaibu-Lenoir 3.jpg Speaking up and connecting different changemakers as an IGLTA ambassador

Your work spans multiple continents, and you collaborate with various organisations. How do you ensure that each event or experience is inclusive and reflective of the local queer culture, especially for marginalised groups?

Everyone we collaborate and work with, from companies to locals, must understand the importance of intersectionality and be intentional about driving change in the travel industry and within the queer community.

We partner with changemakers, activists, educators, and creatives from the LGBTQI+ community, whom I consider local champions. Despite being undervalued, they continue to make a significant difference behind the scenes. It is also important to me that more queer Black and POC have the opportunity to be storytellers in travel, as there is a lack of representation in the travel industry.

How do you see the role of nightlife evolving globally, and what steps can we take to ensure these spaces remain inclusive and supportive?

The nightlife industry has changed since the pandemic, adding to the many factors that make it increasingly difficult for LGBTQI+ venues to exist. To ensure these spaces remain inclusive, it is crucial to have representation in leadership positions and to collaborate with LGBTQI+ travellers and corporate partners.

Nightlife venues need to be safer for non-binary, trans folx, and BIPOC. It is also important to create sustainable models in the nightlife industry that can withstand economic challenges. The LGBTQI+ community is also looking for venues that don't only serve at night but also during the day.

LGBTQI+ families are on the rise, and Gen Z has a preference for more wholesome environments that don't always centre around alcohol, such as more sober spaces and events.

Aisha Shaibu-Lenoir 2.jpg Aisha speaking at the 2022 IGLTA Conference in Milan, Italy

What does the concept of Pride Month mean to you, and what do you wish to see with such campaigns in the future?

Pride Month, for me, is a time to highlight the lack of LGBTQ+ rights that our siblings around the world still face, as well as the issues that queer members continue to encounter.

Pride is, and will always be, a protest. I hope to see future campaigns become bolder in standing up for the queer community and supporting grassroots organisations and charities through grants and donations.

There are many things that still need to change in our society, and the queer community has always been at the forefront of challenging injustices and building movements. Pride Month is a time to further amplify these issues in the hope that one day, LGBTQI+ members, as well as other attacked communities, can live their authentic lives safely.

Keep Making Waves, Aisha

Aisha is an inspiration, and motivates those around her to become bold and brave when it comes to supporting LGBTQI+ rights. Follow her journey, and join the movement today.

And, if, like Aisha, you fantasise about a fabulous world of judgement-free travel and entertainment, then reach out to our Travel Experts at Out2Africa, who can help craft your dream African holiday. We have first-hand experience of travelling as an LGBTQI+ member through our beautiful continent and will ensure you have all the fun and none of the fuss. Let's start planning!


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