2019 Line Up

  • 2019 Line Up

    Some of the most creative and current individuals will explore the very latest thoughts, subjects and issues surrounding LGBTQ+ tourism during The PROUD Gathering and Masterclass Programme. We're excited to announce that the following speakers will be joining us in NYC!

  • H.R.H Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla

    His Royal Highness Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, the first openly gay Prince in the world and face of the #FreeGayIndia movement, will headline The PROUD Gathering 2019 by taking part in the Big Interview.

    H.R.H. Prince Manvendra has been one of India’s main faces for LGBTQ+ activism since he came out and was stripped of his Maharaja, as well as being disowned by his Royal family. Ever since, he opened up his own private palace to make it an LGBTQ+ refuge, started the Lakshya Trust, of which he is chairman – a charity dedicated to HIV/AIDS education and prevention – and has been a strong advocate in last month’s decriminalisation of homosexuality in India.

    Fred Dixon
    President & CEO, NYC & Company

    On March 14, 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of Fred Dixon as President & CEO of NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization. With more than 27 years of experience in the travel industry, Dixon has the overall responsibility for developing and implementing NYC’s tourism and convention development strategy internationally as well as in domestic leisure and business markets. At NYC & Company, he has built a professional sales and marketing team that is at the core of the organization’s strategy to increase visitation and economic impact across the City.


    Raquel Willis
    Executive Editor of Out Magazine

    Raquel Willis is a Black queer transgender activist, writer and speaker dedicated to inspiring and elevating marginalized individuals, particularly transgender women of color. She is currently the Executive Editor of Out Magazine. In 2018, she was named a Jack Jones Literary Arts Sylvia Rivera Fellow. She's also a part of Echoing Ida, a national Black women and non-binary writers' collective. She is a former National Organizer for Transgender Law Center. In 2018, she was also named an Open Society Foundations Soros Equality Fellow. Raquel is a thought leader on gender, race and intersectionality.


  • Ellen Stewart
    Head of Content, PinkNews

    Ellen works for PinkNews, the world's most-read LGBT media platform, where she leads a growing newsroom. She specialises in audience development and editorial campaigns. Ellen previously worked at the Evening Standard as acting growth editor & head of social, where she built an audience team from the ground up and successfully delivered double figure growth across social and SEO. Prior to that she worked at The Independent, Time Inc., DMGT, AOL and HuffPost.


    Adventures in family travel, with a gay twist

    Gay family influencers and travel bloggers, two dads with two teen daughters explore travel, lifestyle and the laughs of everyday life. Meet (from left to right) Triton Klugh, designer / teen whisperer / uber organizer / dad humourist, Ava Bailey-Klugh, teenager extraordinaire / cheerleader / collector of many things / nature girl, Jonathan Bailey, travel blogger / harried dad / vacation dreamer / planner and Sophia Bailey-Klugh, teen-going-on-30 / tennis player / constant shopper / pop culture fanatic.


    Sophie Griffiths
    Editor, TTG Media

    Sophie Griffiths joined Travel Trade Gazette in March 2010 as a news reporter, before being promoted to deputy news editor and then news editor in March 2013, with a seven-month sabbatical to travel the world in between. She looks after the news team, which produces daily and weekly content for the magazine and website. Sophie is the founder of TTG LGBT – a network for LGBT people and their allies in the travel industry - that was launched in March 2015, and comprises regular evening events and an annual conference.


  • Arnie Weissmann
    Editor in Chief of Travel Weekly

    Arnie Weissmann is editor in chief of Travel Weekly, the trusted source of news, research, analysis and opinion for the U.S. travel industry. He also serves as EVP/editorial director for its parent company, Northstar Travel Group, the largest business-to-business travel media company in the world, serving audiences in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Weissmann is seen regularly on PBS as a contributor to the television program “The Travel Detective.” His commentary has appeared on CBS, NBC, CNN, BBC and Sky News television, as well as NPR, SiriusXM, Armed Forces Network and Monocle radio. He has been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today, among other publications.

    Jake and Hannah Graf
    Writer, director & actor | British Army Captain

    Jake Graf is a writer, director and actor based in London who aims to elicit positive change through the medium of film. His first six films have won a collective 57 awards and screened internationally. Jake is one of the most visible transgender men in the UK, using his platform to promote understanding and awareness of the trans community. Hannah is a Captain in the British Army. She commissioned in 2010 and since that time has commanded soldiers across the world including in Germany, Canada, Kenya and Afghanistan. Hannah is also a transgender woman and her personal story of transition captured the imagination of the nation in 2015.


    Romey Louangvilay
    Head of Communications at ELMNTL

    As a gay Asian man who works in the tourism marketing industry and loves to travel himself, Romey Louangvilay’s goal is to make travel more inclusive for everyone. From visiting luxurious locales to off-the-beaten path experiences that could cause fear to some people, Romey absolutely loves meeting different people from various cultures, which is a step closer in his goal. Romey is currently Head of Communications, overseeing public relations, social media and influencer marketing, at ELMNTL (Elmental). His accounts include Tourism Authority of Thailand, Guana Island in the British Virgin Islands and ASEAN.


  • Joel Cabrera
    Co-Founder and Chief Travel Officer at Zoom Vacations

    Joel graduated from law school in Chicago and practiced law for over 10 years before starting Zoom Vacations®. He has been passionate about travel since he was a small boy and remembers going to New York City with his mother when he was eight years old, watching his native Puerto Rico shrink in the distance. Joel's travel log includes adventure trekking to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, and exotic trips to the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, Egypt, Guatemala, Mexico, and Tunisia. He is also somewhat of an airline and flight guru and spends almost as much time in the air as he does on ground, scouting the best destinations and venues for gay travellers.


    Billy Kolber
    Founder of HospitableMe

    Billy Kolber is the founder of HospitableMe, a diversity consulting practice for tourism and hospitality. He co-founded OUT&ABOUT, the first gay travel magazine in the US, and ManAboutWorld, one of the first mobile-only magazines of any kind. He and his team provide education and training around issues of sexuality and gender diversity, empowering destinations and brands to provide authentic, welcoming service to diverse travellers, and more personalized service to everyone. Billy travelled and sang around the world with the Yale Whiffenpoofs, has visited 62 countries, and still lives in New York City, where he was born.



    Ed Salvato
    Co-founder of HospitableMe

    Ed Salvato is co-founder of HospitableMe, which offers LGBTQ strategy, marketing and training for tourism and hospitality. He’s co-author of the recently released Handbook of LGBT Tourism & Hospitality Marketing: A Guide for Business Practice distributed by Columbia University Press. He’s also cofounder and chief content officer of gay consumer-focused ManAboutWorld travel magazine available via the App Store and in Google Play. Previously, Ed was editor in chief of Out Traveler magazine and OUT & ABOUT gay travel newsletter. Ed is a part-time instructor at NYU’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, teaching LGBTQ tourism & hospitality marketing.



  • Merryn Johns
    Editor-in-Chief of
    Curve Magazine

    Merryn Johns is the editor-in-chief of Curve magazine, America's lifestyle quarterly for LGBTQ women. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Merryn is a regular travel writer, commentator, and public speaker on the subject of lesbian travel and diversity and inclusion. When she's not travelling or preparing the next issue of Curve, she works as a digital international news producer in New York City.


    Darren Burn
    Co-Founder of OutOfOffice.com and MD of TravelGay.com

    Darren Burn is a former ITN journalist who set up OutOfOffice.com in 2016 after spotting a gap in the luxury tailor-made LGBT travel market. The business has grown from strength to strength and now has over 50% of its clients booking from the USA. In 2018, the business acquired TravelGay.com - the world's largest LGBT travel website - with millions of visits a year. The website is currently going through a major redevelopment to become an even stronger player in the OTA market.


    Thomas Roth
    Founder, Community Marketing & Insights

    Founder of Community Marketing & Insights (CMI), Thomas Roth launched the company in 1992, and currently serves as it's EVP, General Manager. Tom is now primarily dedicating his industry-leading expertise to head up CMI’s Research division, which produces the annual LGBTQ Community Survey, the annual LGBTQ Tourism & Hospitality Survey, as well as custom surveys and focus groups for a variety of market leaders in tourism, hospitality, government, etc., and conducts educational training seminars.


  • Tyronne Stoudemire
    Global Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Hyatt Worldwide

    Tyronne has more than 20 years of experience in diversity and inclusion, and human resource management. At Hyatt Worldwide, he works with the senior leadership team to implement culture, talent, and marketplace strategies that leverage diversity to grow the business across the company’s portfolio of brands. As such, his team and internal corporate partners have implemented diversity-training initiatives including Diversity Business Resource Groups, mentoring programs for high potential women and people of colour as well as enhanced brand marketing effort to further focus on multicultural and LGBT audiences.

    Richard Jones
    CEO of Bear World Media Inc.

    Richard is the founding Editor of Bear World Magazine, the largest online lifestyle magazine reaching the global Bear audience. To facilitate growth into other LGBT niche audiences and television production he formed Bear World Media Inc. Travel has been a hugely popular part of editorial across BWM and is the reason for the development of the new TV show "Check Your Luggage", a new fully inclusive LGBT travel show, hosted by Justin T. Russo (Logo TV's 'Fire Island'). Richard is passionate about making sure all members of the LGBT community are included when it comes to travel content. This has led to the creation of Bear World Medias latest online title Vacationer Magazine which will always focus on the destination and not on the "Beach Body".


    Aisha Shaibu
    Founder of When Night Falls in London

    Aisha is a LGBTQ+ advocate, event organiser and founder of the start-up company ‘When Night Falls In London’. Aisha has created an alternative and new way to tour London by providing authentic and safe experiences for travellers to explore London’s queer culture at night. Aisha's an emerging young pioneer of her time and a future leader within the LGBTQ+ travel community. In just a year, she has attracted over 400 travellers from all around the world and introduced them to the best of LGBTQ+ London.


  • Andréa Richardson
    Director of Multicultural & Diversity Relations at Hilton Worldwide

    Andréa is responsible for multicultural engagement & diversity relations initiatives for Hilton’s Global Corporate Affairs. In 2018, Andréa was named one of the 100 Most Influential Persons of African Descent in Business and Entrepreneurship as proclaimed by United Nation's General Assembly, in support of the International Decade for People of African Descent. In 2017, she received the Out & Equal Outstanding Champion Award for unparalleled commitment to workplace equality. In 2016 she was named one of the Top Women Executive in Advertising & Marketing by Black Enterprise Magazine. With almost 20 years of sourcing and creating synergies to meet evolving business needs, Andréa has built a solid competency in Marketing & Communications. Andréa has a passion for people and she has proclaimed herself a “Social Impact Scientist”.

    Jackie Huba
    Keynote and TEDx speaker, author, consultant

    Jackie Huba is the author of four best-selling books, including three on customer loyalty. Her book Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics was hailed by Publishers Weekly as “a thought-provoking, well-executed look at one of the biggest music sensations of this generation” that “deconstructs Gaga’s strategies and offers advice on how to Gaga-ize any business.” Her latest book, which helps people with self-confident issues, is Fiercely You: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like A Drag Queen, which was endorsed by none other than the top drag queen in the world, RuPaul. Jackie is also a Forbes.com contributor, writing about customer loyalty and word of mouth marketing. A sought after keynote and TEDx speaker, her work has frequently been featured in the media, such as The New York Times, BusinessWeek, and Fast Company.

    Francesco Galli Zugaro
    Founder & CEO, Aqua Expeditions

    As the pioneer of luxury small boat river cruises in Peru in 2007, Francesco Galli Zugaro has turned Aqua Expeditions into a global brand known for its trailblazing, award-winning ship designs that go hand-in-hand with cuisine by renowned chefs and personalised hospitality and adventure in the world’s most spectacular locations. Conservation, sustainability and innovation are key aspects of Galli Zugaro’s business philosophy, on which he frequently shares his insights as a speaker at events worldwide. Prior to establishing Aqua Expeditions, Galli Zugaro served as the Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Ocean Adventures, a highly respected cruise line in the Galapagos Islands.

  • Further announcements will be made soon!

  • Programme

    Find out where you need to be and when. Prepare for your very own PROUD experience.

    Event Programme


    Are you ready for inspiring surroundings? Find out where everything is happening in June!

    the venue

  • Testimonials

    • Now days there’s so many travel events to go to around the world, but PROUD Experiences is going to be a little bit different. This is going to be a place where the best LGBTQ+ travel minds will come together to network and share ideas. You need to be there!

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      • Joel Cabrera
      • Chief Travel Officer, Zoom Vacations
    • I’m delighted to participate in my second PROUD Experiences to share our experiences providing LGBTQ training, which is an efficient and effective way to educate your colleague and staff about LGBTQ travellers. Training helps everyone become more comfortable and conversant with diverse gender identities and sexual orientations in the context of travel, and shows how to be more respectful and welcoming, from marketing through service delivery.

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      • Ed Salvato
      • Co-founder of HospitableMe and ManAboutWorld
    • Tourism, hospitality, attractions, entertainment and events leaders depend on valid data to make important product development and communications decisions. CMI’s 23rd Annual LGBTQ Tourism & Hospitality Survey provides a snapshot of LGBTQ travellers today; where they are going, where they stay, what they enjoy doing, and how they research and purchase their travel. I’m excited to participate in PROUD Experiences this year, and to meet some of the market leaders in attendance.

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      • Thomas Roth
      • President, Community Marketing & Insights
    • I am very honoured to be a speaker at PROUD Experiences because I stand for the belief that no one should be scared to be themselves. Travel for me is a way for cultural exchange, and with fear in place, it’s difficult to explore outside your comfort zone. By learning how to navigate new areas and find safe zones, you can communicate to tourists and help expand everyone’s horizons. I look forward to speaking at PROUD Experiences and hope to see you there.

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      • Romey Louangvilay
      • Head of Communications at Elmntl

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