Mary Ann Thomas: Brown Queer Travel Writer

About

In 2014, I quit my job and left home to bike across the United States and Canada. I didn’t have a route, but had a few destinations in mind: San Diego, Vancouver, and Montreal. Maybe I’d hit up some national parks along the way; maybe I’d spend time in cities and figure out which one I liked best. I hoped to ride safely, avoid wildfires, tornados, and bears, and spend more time smiling than not.

I rode over 6600 miles. Most of the time, I biked alone. A brown girl in short bike shorts with an army belt on my hips, I rode on country roads through thirteen unfamiliar states and provinces. I camped along the way, but I also spent time with friends, strangers, extended families, and Warmshowers hosts.

When I returned to my home city, New York, I found it had changed. I had changed. Biking had led me to remote roads through forests and farms. New York City is anything but remote. I suddenly saw that there were people everywhere. Not only is there an onslaught of humans, smells, noise, lights, and traffic, but there’s social interaction required at every turn. There are people to politely smile for at work, strangers to butt up against on the subway, catcalls to be sidestepped, and racist, homophobic questions to be avoided. The city, while it gives me so much, also requires so much from me.

So, I moved to Alaska.

For the first time, I moved away from the East Coast and realized my job as a traveling healthcare worker could truly take me anywhere.

These pages are filled with my stories.

Stories of a brown girl bicyclist. Stories of a daughter of Indian immigrants who grew into a traveler. Stories of a Jersey girl who left home to bike across the country at twenty-four and has been making new homes ever since. Stories of queerness, and the many ways love can manifest itself. Stories told intimately, through postcards and essays, to friends and strangers thousands of miles away.