How 2 Lesbian Travel Content Creators Became the Face of Bushwick, Brooklyn

by Merryn Johns

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday August 29, 2021
Originally published on August 25, 2021

Shanna Sciara and Gabi Meit of 27 Travels.
Shanna Sciara and Gabi Meit of 27 Travels.  (Source:@flytographer)

Love has no boundaries, at least for Brooklyn-based lesbian travel couple Gabi Meit and Shanna Sciara. When the pair started dating in 2016, they quickly discovered how much they had in common, parlaying their passion and skills (Gabi, a photographer and artist; Shanna, a videographer) into 27 Travels to document their love for travel and each other.

With a fun and colorful approach to mindful travel (they offer vegan guides to surprising destinations such as Pittsburgh and Wyoming), Gabi and Shanna are not so much influencers as LGBTQ+ ambassadors.

"For us, it's never just posting a picture and a quote," says Gabi. "We talk about our experiences (the good and bad), how a place makes us feel as LGBTQ+ travelers and as a lesbian couple, what funny things happened to us along the way, while also giving tips to other travelers about what they can do and see in whatever place we are visiting."

Always creative, resourceful, and optimistic, Gabi and Shanna, resilient New Yorkers, made the most of being locked down in one of the pandemic's global epicenters.

"In terms of travel during the pandemic, it was always about how we could travel safely," says Gabi. They took their first-ever U.S. road trip and thoroughly researched international destinations and protocols before leaving home.

But one of their best adventures happened right in their own backyard — Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Bringing Romance to Bushwick

Local queer artist David Puck thought the self-described "lesbians in love" would be the perfect subjects for a 15-by-45-foot street mural at Leslie's Kitchen (109 Wilson Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn) he was painting in collaboration with New York City-based graphic designer and artist Jason Naylor.

"They wanted to use a local couple as models," explains Shanna. "We responded right away because we thought the opportunity was super cool and even more special since we are both New York locals and Gabi is also an artist herself!"

"Gabi and Shanna fit the concept perfectly," reveals Puck. "They're local to Brooklyn (Shanna's Dad grew up two blocks from the mural), so it gives the mural local relevance. In their blog, they're open and publicly affectionate, so they're comfortable with the public kissing pose. Travel has been a hugely influential part of my life, including for understanding my queer identity, so their project to promote confident queer travel really resonated with me also."

"[Jason] painted the first layer, and then I went over the top of it to carve out the faces, blending his colors into the features. I do a similar technique for my solo work — abstract underlayer and then carve the face into that," explains Puck. "It was only my second mural collaboration, and it went super smoothly."

Naylor agrees, saying, "We worked together to make the piece colorful and cohesive, merging our two styles. It came together beautifully. The inspiration was love, inclusivity, and joy. We wanted it to feel like a celebration — and we both love bright colors!"

Puck says lots of people in Bushwick take selfies smooching in front of the mural.

"We love how the mural turned out," says Shanna. "It was better than we ever imagined, and it's so surreal when people go see the mural and tag us on social media."

The nomadic couple may be immortalized in one location, but Gabi and Shanna are both fully vaccinated and hitting the road soon.

27 Travels Takes Off

27 Travels Takes Off
(Source: @flytographer)

"We feel a bit more comfortable traveling now than we did last year, but of course, it's still scary with the variants," says Gabi. "We have to be more conscious of international borders, and rules and regulations are always changing. But it just means we have to do a bit more research. You have to make sure you are being safe, following the rules of the country you are visiting, and respecting the locals."

Shanna agrees, and says that while there may have been backlash against influencers who appeared to travel without regard for reality, 27travels was never called out by any of their 43k followers.

"We were always very vocal about what we were doing to stay safe, the rules we were following, and how other people could follow those rules as well," says Shanna. "We made several YouTube videos and Instagram posts about how to travel safely during the pandemic, so I think most of our followers knew how careful we were being. I think a lot of influencers were traveling without saying what they were doing to get there, not showing themselves in photos with face masks, etc., so people didn't like that they were promoting unsafe travel. We wanted to show people that if you are going to travel, this is how you can do it safely."

And while travel rules are constantly being updated, Gabi and Shanna are updating their creative tools, too.

"I think social media has grown immensely, and more people are seeing our content but also creating content of their own. We always try and keep on top of new trends and platforms to stay relevant," says Shanna. "We joined TikTok almost two years ago, we hopped on the Clubhouse train earlier this year, and we started posting Instagram Reels. I think, in general, it's good to keep up with trends and see how you can adapt what you are already doing into this brand-new entity. The world is constantly moving forward, and we want to move forward with it!"

"At the end of the day, we just want to make people smile," adds Gabi. "We absolutely love being positive representation for the LGBTQ+ community, and we want people to see that you can be in a healthy relationship, travel, be happy, and have fun all at the same time."

Merryn Johns is a writer and editor based in New York City. She is also a public speaker on ethical travel and a consultant on marketing to the LGBT community.