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  • Writer's pictureBrian McCabe

Visiting Podcast - coming soon!

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Two queer expats’ guide to navigating the city of Zurich.

The city of Zurich is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for LGBTIQ+ people to relocate to. Every year thousands of young queer people are drawn to this tiny metropolis, be it for work, study or purely to escape their hometown homophobia. Unbeknownst to many, this is a tradition dating back to a time where homosexuality was illegal in most European countries yet Switzerland and Zurich in particular, has offered safe haven for queers since the 1940s.

At first glance, the LGBTIQ+ community seems to offer an easy access for newcomers to connect, either through online apps or queer community spaces. Yet for people with different cultural backgrounds sometimes assimilation into Swiss life has its challenges. Queer people from abroad face these same challenges, like the multiple languages, the sometimes-rigid bureaucracy and even the perceived cold Swiss exterior. These factors often lead to newcomers leaving earlier than expected due to a lack of integration. But fear not queers, the podcast “Visiting?” by Benjamin Hampel and Brian McCabe is here to offer a helping hand. Both Ben and Brian have made the leap from their home countries some years ago and have moved to Zurich as queer “expats”. It wasn’t always easy for both of them to navigate but they both stayed and fell in love with this charming city. Not only that, they both leveled up and became integral fixtures of the city’s queer community. Ben arrived from Germany, at the end of his time as a medicine student. What was initially was planned as a short four-month layover evolved into eleven years and counting. In the meantime, he became the medical co-director of Checkpoint, a queer health center. Brian relocated from Ireland in 2012 with his husband of 12 years. He and his best friend Dominik, started to transform the party scene in Zurich a few years ago. At a time when the LGBTIQ+ community was becoming more and more fragmented, they founded Kweer Ball - a party that is celebrates true diversity and togetherness. They didn’t stop there and continued with queer safe spaces such as, Explicit, Drag Brunch Zurich and TEA – a day dance. All events made Zurich even more colorful and warmer.

So why the name "Visiting?”. Well, this is the most frequent question asked on dating apps like Grindr or Scruff when you are new to a city or passing through. And even when you have been here for years you might still get this message pop up in your notifications occasionally.

For many, these are the first contacts in a new city, but it can also the question you continually ask yourself as an “expat”. When does one stop being a visitor? At which point can you say that you have truly arrived? Ben and Brian ask this question, tell stories from the point of view of expats, refugees or visitors with the aim to help not only those who are new to Zurich but also those who have always lived here - to understand this city and each other better.

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