Why we got gay married before our wedding

Why we got gay married before our wedding

On February 11th, 2017, my partner Constance and I decided to tie the knot. We have been engaged since last July and are in the midst of planning our wedding, so why did we get gay married early?

To friends and family who may be confused or concerned – yes we eloped and, yes, we’re still excited to celebrate with all of you at our giant family wedding in July.

Getting married early felt like something we needed to do. The current administration terrified us in the first few weeks. With executive orders being signed left and right, we wondered if our right to marriage would be next. All along we’ve heard liberal friends and family say that maybe nothing will happen. I’m here to say that is incredibly naive.

The platform which enabled our President to win was based on discrimination. With the election, those with internalized bigotry feel empowered to act out. In Texas, we’ve already passed a version of North Carolina’s bathroom bill, which forces Trans people to use the restroom of the gender on their birth certificate.

Constance and I are lucky that we are 1. gainfully employed, 2. have family and friends who love and support us, 3. are United States citizens.

This felt like a way to protect our relationship in the eyes of our government. I wouldn’t be surprised if other gay couples were doing this, too.

Are you apart of a gay couple who decided to get married in the face of our current president elect? Let me know in the comments below.

Blanco Texas: Birthday, Beer, & BnB!

Blanco Texas: Birthday, Beer, & BnB!

I recently celebrated my 31st birthday. Constance had made a plan to go camping, but Texas rains are brutal. Rather than risking getting flooded out, we changed up our plans and headed to a little town we knew absolutely nothing about.

Blanco, Texas is about halfway between Austin and San Antonio. Hidden in the Texas Hill Country, this little town has been around since the mid-1800s.

How’d we decide to stay in this town with only 1,900 residents? Well… I just searched on Air BnB within a 50 mile radius around Austin and chose the cheapest option.

A photo posted by Melissa Langley (@lezbacskpack) on

And we really lucked out. We ended up renting out a one room, tin roofed bungalow. Inside had only the essentials; a comfy bed, a claw-foot bathtub, and a six-pack of Texas beer.

A photo posted by Melissa Langley (@mllangley) on

A video posted by Melissa Langley (@lezbackpack) on

Coincidentally, the same day we arrived, Real Ale was having their 20th anniversary only a few blocks up the street. For $20, we got a single wristband that allowed us 4 beers and a commemorative glass.  At the festival, we enjoyed beer, various food trucks, and we even brought our pup Scout to enjoy the open fields. 

A photo posted by Melissa Langley (@mllangley) on

When we returned to Austin a box was left at our door step. Inside were two Baubax jackets. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to wear them on our mini-vacay but the rain was still coming down and we took this as an opportunity to give these jackets a try. We bought a couple tickets to the movies and headed out!

A photo posted by Melissa Langley (@lezbackpack) on

This jacket is now my most favorite piece of travel apparel. It comes with 9 utility pockets! I comfortably stored my phone, wallet, and bulky car keys in the jacket. But there is space for an iPad, glasses, and even comes with a “drink holder” pocket – which I definitely will be using on my next camping trip. Talk about a great birthday present! If you’re interested, you can even score your own for 15% off for a limit time! GO GO GO! So freaking cool. 

A photo posted by Melissa Langley (@lezbackpack) on

Blanco Texas was such a great adventure. I totally recommend this small town to anyone living in Austin.

Why you really should GET OUT THERE!

Why you really should GET OUT THERE!

Local travel is probably more important than international exploring. Here’s why.

If you’re following LBP on social media, you’ve probably noticed a project underway with Autostraddle. The GET OUT THERE local travel challenge is a new miniseries that encourages you and all your gal pals to explore your surrounding communities. 

But I wanted to take a moment to explain why I think local travel is so important.

This isn’t the first time I’ve focused on the being a tourist in your own city. I’ve featured local travelers before in the Local Nomad blog series here on LBP. 

So, why this emphasis on exploring what’s around you? This is a backpacking blog, right?? Shouldn’t my focus be on international travel? NO! And let me tell you why…

Get out there, lezbackpack, travel

1. Local travel is way, way, way cheaper than going abroad. 

Duh, right? I’m NOT saying that you shouldn’t explore the world. Obviously, there is something really magical about being able to do that. HOWEVER, there are all these blogs and articles out there about quitting your job to jet-set around the globe. I’m glad this worked for these people, but I have to say, in general, that’s not going to give you the carefree travel experience you’re craving. There are very few (privileged) people who can drop their job and see the world. 

Save your pennies (for your bigger trip?) and still be an explorer by adventuring around you. 

local travel, get out there, lez backpack, hiking, adventure

2. Local travel can satiate your desire for adventure. 

You know that feeling when you’re tired of your hometown? When you romanticize late night romps in the woods or car rides through forests with a window down and wind in your hair? When you just want to be anywhere other than there?

Let me tell you: small town, big town, that feeling happens. Sometimes we experience ruts with the places in our lives, which is similar to the moments of doubt we experience with the people we love. And there are times, much like in relationships, when we should move on to perpetuate self growth. 

But leaving isn’t always an option and being down and resentful of the place that you’re from is only going to hurt you. While it might seem counterintuitive, sometimes the best option is to invest yourself more in a place (or a person). Supersede your ill-feelings for a moment and climb a mountain you never explored, camp at a site you’ve never been to, learn about the wildlife and nature around you. 

Think about it as an experiment in your happiness. Don’t put any pressure on the outcome. Just see if exploring what’s around you strengthens your connection to the place. You might find there are things you can love about your hometown that you never noticed before. 

travel, local travel, explore, adventure, get out there, lez backpack

3. Break the stereotypical image of a traveler. 

I honestly think that the travel industry right now is aiming to target millennial women. Have you heard the statistic that solo female travel boards have increased 350% on Pinterest since 2014? I think it’s amazing that women are inspiring themselves to explore more and to shed this idea that it’s unsafe for women to travel alone in the world. 

But here’s my problem: when women want to spend money to do something, marketers and advertisers also take up the cause. Women these days will be bombarded with images and content that display happy, spiritually fulfilled women who have taken ethnically diverse lovers on sandy remote beaches. And there’s nothing wrong with this fantasy!!

But because so many of us are just making Pinterest boards and undoubtably sighing away over the adventure we wish we were having, I’m going to take a moment to stop and say: BREAK THIS STEREOTYPE. You do not have to go abroad to have adventure. You can be the woman with an adventurous streak and laughter in her eyes. It just takes a little planning and action. 

get out there, campfire, local travel, lez backpack, explore, adventure

4. You control the local narrative. 

When you make it your mission to explore your hometown, you are crafting your own narrative about the place. This is so important when it comes to cultural memory, which is the way a collective group of people recollect a certain event or place. You tell the stories that you’ve made to your friends – this inspires them to GET OUT THERE and explore their town, too. Maybe you talk about your city on a trip abroad and a foreigner falls in love with the way you’ve crafted your tale. There are boundless reasons why investing in local travel will enrich your life. 

On top of this, purchasing local and supporting your hometown independent stores and shops is a great way to give back to your community. By doing these, you might even become friends with local shopkeepers or restauranteurs. Maybe you’ll meet another townie with a thirst for local adventure just like you! BOOM a new friend or love interest.

Either way, you efforts to explore you city become apart of the local narrative. Which is worth a lot when you think about it.  

Feeling inspired? Check out these resources below to get you out and about:

GET OUT THERE: Local Travel Challenge Miniseries (AND DIY Passport book with downloadable stamps once you’ve completed the challenge!)



Or make your own!

You can create your own photo scavenger hunt! Make a list of photos you’d like to take and then set yourself out on a challenge to take them all. For an added bonus, use a disposable camera to be surprised by the outcome when you’re done. You could even make a scrapbook to keep the memories. 

Stay Gold Austin

Stay Gold Austin

Moving back to Austin has felt less like a homecoming and more like moving to a brand new city. Austin has also changed so much in the past 4 years since we’ve been gone. In order to feel like locals again, we decided to venture and make some new favorite spots with a beer in hand. 

This week we went to Stay Gold Austin, a jazz bar with killer cocktails and PBR for $2 during happy hour.

Stay Gold has the soul of a dive bar. When we arrived there seemed to be a a crew of tech folk who has sauntered in for a StayGold3post work day drink. Crowded around a MacBook with shiners in hand, they intently stared at the screen, probably creating a new start-up, I’m sure!

Happy hour was from 6-8 and we gladly took part in drinking down $2 PBRs. They also offered a dollar off cocktails and drafts.

The bartenders were kind, complimented me on my septum jewelry and called me “babe.” Yow, what a what to make a girl feel welcome!

The outdoor patio was a perfect place to bring our puppy, Scout. She was the star of the evening as usual. We’re thankful that Austin is so pet friendly, it’s really helping her to become socialized.

If you’re hungry, Stay Gold has the awesome food truck, Toaster, on premises. They had childhood favorites like tomato soup grilled cheese and baked mac – we didn’t have any because we had already eaten dinner but based on dishes we saw other people grubbing on, we’ll def order something next time. Prices range from $5 – $10.

When the music started at 7pm, the after work hours folks headed out – the Friday night crowd started slowly trickling in. Beautiful hobo ladies and their long hair, man bunned boy-toys looked to be a staple of the crowd.

I’m not surprised that Stay Gold would attract such late nighters.

The location on East Cesar Chavez has grown exponentially since the last time I was in Austin. Bars are popping up on every corner and with such a close proximity to East 4th & 6th, I imagine Stay Gold is a great starting point for an evening out in ATX.

Follow Stay Gold on social media

Facebook: Stay Gold Austin | Twitter: Stay Gold Austin | Instagram: Stay Gold Austin | Site: Stay Gold Austin

Ace Hotel New York

Ace Hotel New York

For Brooklyn Pride, Meg Ten Eyck from Dopes on the Road travel blog, invited me out for a night on the town and an overall gay ol’ time.

Ace Hotel Entrance


We had the amazing opportunity to stay at the hip Ace Hotel in Manhattan, which is one of seven Ace Hotel locations across the country.

If there’s one thing Ace Hotel knows how to do, it’s to create ambiance. As self proclaimed space for “for the people who make cities interesting, ” I can tell you that Ace hotel lives up to it’s reputation.

Ace Hotel Lobby


Entering the lobby from the bustling street of 29th, I was greeted by a dim interior and the chatter of entrepreneurs, artists, designers and luxury tourists. It had the kind of energy that only New York can: where anything and everything is happening so much that the potential is tangible.

The architecture contributed to the vibe. Vintage pieces were arranged in an fresh, urban way. This was echoed in the room as well.

Upgraded to a suite, we were delighted to find a record player and claw footed tub. All pieces gave the impression of simplistic elegance. I was charmed by it’s ability to be both a high-end space with a swank friendly feel.

Suite Ace Hotel


The Specs:

You can’t do better than this prime location in the city. It’s a walking distance away from Union Square, Madison Square Park and Broadway.

Prices are high-end, with a Mini room averaging around $180-240 per night. Loft style rooms cost upwards of $701-840.

The eats at Ace Hotel range from the Breslin: an English style gastropub, who will deliver room service 24 hours per day, to The John Dory Oyster Bar, which offers delicious seafood fare under $25. Any way you slice it, Ace Hotel offers a gastronomic piece of heaven.

For booking and pricing head their website http://www.acehotel.com/.

Thanks to Ace Hotel for accommodating us during Brooklyn pride!




Welcome to the Local Nomad Project.

At LEZ BACKPACK we believe that our wanderlustin’ curiosity is not dependent on our location. We aim to explore our local communities the same way we would a foreign one.

We’ve enlisted the help of fellow travel bloggers to encourage you to explore your surroundings with tales of their own nomadic experiences at home. 

LOCAL NOMAD: Deafinitely WanderlustMeet: Deafinitely Wanderlust, deaf travel bloggers from Los Angeles.

Their Instagram: @deafinitelywanderlust

Their Facebook: Deafinitely Wanderlust

Their Blog: Deafinitely Wanderlust

Their Twitter: @deafwanderlust

What’s your definition of a local nomad?

Our definition of a local nomad is someone who is always on the go but doesn’t necessarily always have to go to other countries to explore. A local nomad will make the best of their adventures within their own city. However, even those who do visit outside of their country can still be local nomads because they are always exploring, learning about different cultures and getting to know the area.

Tell us about yourself! Where are you a local?

We are Lilo and Stacey and we are both Deaf female adventurers. We’ve met in middle school and have been good friends ever since. We were born and raised in Los Angeles. We do fit the profile of local nomads because we are constantly exploring our own city, searching for hidden gems and participating in many events and festivals. We always find new adventures to take even if it means taking the local bus to Los Angeles rather than driving our own cars. We always try our best to find something new to do. We love to share our own adventures to people who don’t even know about Los Angeles. Currently we are in Los Angeles, California, but we will go back out on the road in Southeast Asia soon this summer.

What’s a popular place for locals to…

…kick back and have a few drinks?

Far Bar in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. It’s a great place to chill and drink, plus there is a lot of good food nearby!

…have the best food from apps to desserts?

-As for the appetizers, we haven’t had anything good that comes to mind but we heard that Library Bar has great appetizers so we are looking forward to checking that place out.

-For the main courses, check out Road to Seoul for all you can eat Korean BBQ

-The best dessert to get is from a place called MILK for the best macaroon ice cream sandwiches
LOCAL NOMAD: Deafinitely WanderlustLOCAL NOMAD: Deafinitely Wanderlust

…have a wild night?

Abbey’s in West Hollywood! It is a great place to go dancing, socialize with friends, people watch and get drinks at the bar.

…visit a nature detox spot?

Malibu Creek State Park! You can hike, swim, cliff jump and camp there.

…any think else you can think of?

Check out Runyon canyon where you can hike and catch the stunning skyline view of Los Angeles. There are different trails. Also, you might catch celebrities hiking here. It is also pet friendly!

What are some events that take place in your community that only locals know about? 

There are many different events here in Los Angeles. LA Art Walk occurs monthly, every second Thursday of the month, in downtown LA. There is also a free archery class every Saturday morning in Pasadena – not a lot of people seem to know about that.

LOCAL NOMAD: Deafinitely WanderlustIs there a place you’re surprised more people don’t know about? A hidden gem? Or a place you’d like to explore?

If you would like to catch a great view of Los Angeles, there is a great hidden gem that not even a lot of locals know about called Vista Hermosa Natural Park. It can be a little hard to find but that’s the fun part! Also if you are a Harry Potter fan, you should check out Whimsical Alley in downtown Los Angeles.

What’s the queer culture like?

There is a lot of support for queer culture in Los Angeles. There are many organizations and communities that advocate for queer culture. The most well-known place where everyone can be who they are without having to worry about being judged by others is West Hollywood. There are several nightclubs and bars where you can hop around and meet many other people.

What’s the best part of being a local in your community?

There are so many things to do in Los Angeles that you can never get bored. The best thing about LA is the diversity of activities, from beaches to museums. Not many people realized that there are so many hidden gems in Los Angeles that we can discover other than visiting the main attractions – such as Disneyland.

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