Hostels welcome a diverse range of travellers, in fact, 83% of Hostelworld customers think hostels are extremely or very inclusive. But how? And how are they ensuring everyone feels confident to be themselves without discrimination? Well, as part of Hostelworld’s Sustainability Stories, we’re sharing the hostels that are not only welcoming but are going above and beyond to create a more inclusive world.
Travel pushes us out of our comfort zones to experience new things, be brave and challenge our normal routines. But, when it comes to the accommodation we stay in, we need the opposite, to feel comfortable and welcomed in the places we treat as temporary homes. For that to happen, accommodation needs to be inclusive; not just for us sleeping there, but for the staff and wider community too.
In the last instalment, we heard how St Christopher’s Inn Barcelona, are driving sustainability through innovative recycling solutions. This month, we take a trip to the US, to Greenville, South Carolina, to meet a hostel that is empowering the LGBTQIA+ community and creating space for travellers and local people to celebrate who they are.
Meet Modal Hostel
Greenville, South Carolina is regularly named the Friendliest City in the US. Looking like the location for a Hallmark movie, a trip here would see you gobble up its delicious food and become immersed in its growing arts scene.
A cultural hub littered with museums and with Appalachian Mountain trails on its doorstep, Modal Hostel emulates its surroundings. A modern boutique-style hostel complete with its own art gallery and coffee shop/bar, Modal is a meeting place for creatives, adventure lovers and digital nomads alike.
While Greenville boasts southern hospitality, it’s also steeped in very conservative values and dated views about sexuality and identity. This is where Modal is entirely different. A true ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, Modal has become the go-to spot for Queer locals and visitors. From hosting events and charity fundraising to providing a voice for those discriminated against because of their sexuality. It’s no wonder they were crowned the most Extraordinary Inclusive Hostel in our 2021 HOSCARs! We sat down with the hostel’s Owner and General Manager, Joe Hindman, to learn about their journey and find out how you can get involved.
Inspiring LGBTQIA+ people to be their authentic self
Born in Greenville to a strict religious community, Joe suppressed his own identity until the age of 25, when his experience travelling and staying in hostels gave him the confidence to come out as a gay man. Inspired to build his own hostel back home to recreate that feeling for others, and with no gay bars or meeting places in his city, Joe wanted to create a space for representation and visibility for diverse groups.
Before they opened, Modal made it their mission to employ a diverse workforce and encourage guests from all backgrounds and identities to visit. When he came out, Joe met others who claimed that seeing how open and vocal he was about his identity inspired them to embrace theirs. And with a staff member suggesting they organise a Queer night, turned into Modal becoming the place to be for the Queer community. Now, they run weekly Queer nights every Thursday to bring people together for events like drag shows.
Supporting nonprofits in serving the community
With the events becoming popular, Modal led the first Pride in their city, hosting events throughout June from the hostel. They’re now the main meeting place for Pride every year.
But they didn’t stop there. Meeting nonprofits that serve the LGBTQIA+ community, Modal discovered the wider issues people in the community face. From those displaced from their homes or kicked out of university for their identity, to healthcare support for sexually transmitted diseases. To help raise awareness of the nonprofits, Modal launched their Queer Nonprofit Showcase, a fair at the hostel where organisations can share the support services they offer.
Modal works with one nonprofit in particular, 864Pride, that provides mental health support, food, clothing, and funding for healthcare to LGBTQIA+ people in crisis. With homeless shelters often not welcoming or discriminating against people of certain identities, Modal provides safe housing where all people are welcomed and celebrated. They’ve helped around a dozen people this year and fundraised to get them back on their feet, even offering some people jobs. This hostel’s generosity truly knows no bounds!
Championing Queer artists
Crowned LGBTQIA+ Business of the Year by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Modal worked with the Chamber to create a Queer Arts Initiative. As we said, Greenville is teeming with art and creatives, but Queer artists are often left out of opportunities for projects like murals and performances due to local opinion. Modal set out to change that, creating a subcommittee in the Chamber which focuses on helping Queer artists get a seat at the table. Starting by hosting artists at the gallery in their hostel, they’ve now raised $10,000 to give artists access to resources and to create their own shows.
How travellers can get involved
Modal is a shining beacon of light for inclusivity and diversity. While they do so much for the LGBTQIA+ community, they welcome people from all walks of life. By choosing to stay there you’re contributing to a business that’s bringing so much positivity to the world.
The hostel itself is beautiful, and as you can tell, their event schedule is jam-packed! When you walk through their doors, you’ll be introduced to their Queer Art Showcase (where the art is available for purchase), events and sociable coffee shop/bar where travellers and locals mingle and make friends.
Why diversity and inclusion is so important
As Joe put it, we travel in hostels for that social connection with others, but that interaction needs to feel safe. As an LGBTQIA+ person travelling, discrimination can be around any corner, but knowing that you can be yourself and feel relaxed at your hostel is the true key to a positive experience. No culture, race, age, sex, orientation, or identity is better than another, we’re all human looking for that human connection as we navigate the world. And in our opinion, every business could take a rainbow-coloured leaf out of Modal’s book.
To book your stay at Modal, click here.
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