* 7 minute read

Meet Ty (he/him/his) from SimplyFoodByTy, a Helen Hayes Award-nominated singer/actor who is also known for his magic in the kitchen. Born and raised in Chesapeake Beach Maryland, Ty’s passion for cooking began at a very young age and blossomed into his career path until he shifted his focus to the stage as a full-time performer.

Nowadays, Ty has married his love of the arts through his booming social media channels on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram where he cranks out delicious recipes on the daily, sprinkled with comedy and vocals, and talks truth on important topics such as self-love, body positivity, and race. Check out one of his recent videos below:

Radiating self-love and body positivity

Just a glance at Ty’s pages and you’ll notice his glowing embodiment of body positivity and inclusivity, something he feels he is called to play a part in.

Ty: “As a large, Black, gay male, it is extremely important for me to be the voice to stand against body shaming of any kind. In the gay community specifically, I find that those who don’t have a six-pack, perfect teeth, perfect jawline, etc. are often treated like they are the bottom of the barrel. I refuse to accept that, or to allow anyone within my range to feel that way.

I expose every aspect of my body PROUDLY. You can be big or small, with or without stretch marks, and still, learn to truly love yourself without needing validation from anyone else. The over-sexualization of the human body has caused people to be ashamed of showing themselves off in the most natural form possible. I’m here to put an end to it – let’s be naked and just LIVE!”

A world where everyone is comfortable, confident, and proud in their own skin? We’re here for it.

Traveling as a Person of Color and fostering inclusivity

Also at the top of Ty’s mission is making travel more safe and accessible to all People of Color. On a personal level, Ty has experienced microaggressions while traveling and at home in The States. But he makes it a point to throw those cares to the wind and live his life the way he wants.

Ty: “I’m always going to be watched in some form or fashion. What I’ve learned is that I can’t and won’t allow the ignorance of those that either don’t know any better or choose to not do better, stop me from living my best life. As long as we’re in a safe environment and there is some form of mutual respect, I’m a-ok!”

To prepare for travel, Ty encourages fellow Black travelers to do their own research before taking a trip so they have the knowledge they need to travel safely. His personal advice, “Follow travel bloggers of Color on social media, see what tips and tricks they have to offer.” It’s true, travel-gurus often have years of experience and helpful information for sharing.

Traveling together in South Africa

To further his mission, Ty is hosting group trips to Bali and South Africa that create a space for travelers of all backgrounds to come together, support each other, and connect. (Hint: you can join!)

Ty: “It’s important for me to show the Black community that we too can travel and share the same experiences that others frequently do! So as I go into planning these trips, I make it a point to be sure that anyone and everyone knows they are safe and welcome to join.  

As an African American man, it only feels right for me to host a trip in South Africa – I mean come on, it’s the motherland! South Africa is a bit more modern, but in my opinion, any aspect of Africa is going to be a life-altering experience!”

If you want to join Ty in checking off thrilling bucket list activities like cage diving with sharks, safaris, and touring caves, don’t hesitate to book, spots have been going faster than a South African Cheetah.

Words of wisdom

Every person/organization has their role to play in making travel a more safe and inclusive space. No matter who you are, it’s vital that we intentionally work together to bring change to the travel industry, an industry that has been tailored to upper-middle-class white folks for far too long. Check out Ty’s words of advice on how you can help break the mold below.

To fellow non-Black Trova Hosts:

Ty: “Recognize that your privilege may be blinding you from expanding your trips to people of color without realizing it. If you look at your trips and notice there is no diversity within your travel group, you may want to step back and reassess how and to whom you’re marketing your trips to.”

To brands and companies:

Ty: “When reaching out to ‘People of Color,’ actually make sure that you are doing just that! By that I mean, there is a wide range of people of ‘color.’ I’m sick of seeing these white-washed versions of what they want to consider ‘diversity’ as a representation of people of color. If everyone is the same damn complexion…. That ain’t no diverse group of people!”

Looking towards the future

When it comes to his vision for the future, Ty has some things he’d like to see change in the travel industry, and for good reason.

Ty: “There needs to be more accommodations for the handicapped and those that are not a size 2 when it comes to travel. Being able to participate in travel as well as the excursions is something that is truly lacking if you have disabilities or are considered overweight. Not everyone is a fitness-guru, and if we continue to market trips that only include such imagery, we’ve blocked out a large margin of people!”

Conclusion: What we can all learn from travel

Ty: “This world is way too big for us to sit back and watch others on T.V. and movies travel and live their best lives – we MUST get out and explore this beautiful planet while we still can. Take the time to experience other cultures and the ways in how other people live their day-to-day lives, in the end, it will only build your character!”

One of the things we love most about travel is its natural ability to bring people together. No matter where you’re from, what your beliefs, race, sexuality, or body size we can all find common ground when it comes to travel and sharing experiences. So come, join Ty as you are, and let’s travel the world confidently together.