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Modal Hostel: Creating a More Inclusive World for Travelers

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Embracing Diversity in Hostels

Hostels welcome a diverse range of travelers, in fact, 83% of Hostelworld customers think hostels are extremely or very inclusive. But how? And how are they ensuring everyone feels confident to be themselves without discrimination? Well, as part of Hostelworld’s Sustainability Stories, we’re sharing the hostels that are not only welcoming but are going above and beyond to create a more inclusive world.

Creating a Safe and Welcoming Space

Travel pushes us out of our comfort zones to experience new things, be brave and challenge our normal routines. But, when it comes to the accommodation we stay in, we need the opposite, to feel comfortable and welcomed in the places we treat as temporary homes. For that to happen, accommodation needs to be inclusive; not just for us sleeping there, but for the staff and wider community too.

A Trip to Greenville, South Carolina

In the last installment, we heard how St Christopher’s Inn Barcelona is driving sustainability through innovative recycling solutions. This month, we take a trip to the US, to Greenville, South Carolina, to meet a hostel that is empowering the LGBTQIA+ community and creating space for travelers and local people to celebrate who they are.

Greenville: The Friendliest City in the US

Greenville, South Carolina is regularly named the Friendliest City in the US. Looking like the location for a Hallmark movie, a trip here would see you gobble up its delicious food and become immersed in its growing arts scene.

Modal Hostel: A Meeting Place for Creatives

A cultural hub littered with museums and with Appalachian Mountain trails on its doorstep, Modal Hostel emulates its surroundings. A modern boutique-style hostel complete with its own art gallery and coffee shop/bar, Modal is a meeting place for creatives, adventure lovers, and digital nomads alike.

Modal: A True Ally to the LGBTQIA+ Community

While Greenville boasts southern hospitality, it’s also steeped in very conservative values and dated views about sexuality and identity. This is where Modal is entirely different. A true ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, Modal has become the go-to spot for Queer locals and visitors. From hosting events and charity fundraising to providing a voice for those discriminated against because of their sexuality. It’s no wonder they were crowned the most Extraordinary Inclusive Hostel in our 2021 HOSCARs! We sat down with the hostel’s Owner and General Manager, Joe Hindman, to learn about their journey and find out how you can get involved.

A Journey of Self-Discovery and Empowerment

Born in Greenville to a strict religious community, Joe suppressed his own identity until the age of 25 when his experience traveling and staying in hostels gave him the confidence to come out as a gay man. Inspired to build his own hostel back home to recreate that feeling for others, and with no gay bars or meeting places in his city, Joe wanted to create a space for representation and visibility for diverse groups.

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Creating a Truly Inclusive Environment

Before they opened, Modal made it their mission to employ a diverse workforce and encourage guests from all backgrounds and identities to visit. When he came out, Joe met others who claimed that seeing how open and vocal he was about his identity inspired them to embrace theirs. And with a staff member suggesting they organize a Queer night, turned into Modal becoming the place to be for the Queer community. Now, they run weekly Queer nights every Thursday to bring people together for events like drag shows.

Going Above and Beyond

With the events becoming popular, Modal led the first Pride in their city, hosting events throughout June from the hostel. They’re now the main meeting place for Pride every year.

Supporting the LGBTQIA+ Community

But they didn’t stop there. Meeting nonprofits that serve the LGBTQIA+ community, Modal discovered the wider issues people in the community face. From those displaced from their homes or kicked out of university for their identity, to healthcare support for sexually transmitted diseases. To help raise awareness of the nonprofits, Modal launched their Queer Nonprofit Showcase, a fair at the hostel where organizations can share the support services they offer.

Providing Safe Housing and Support

Modal works with one nonprofit in particular, 864Pride, that provides mental health support, food, clothing, and funding for healthcare to LGBTQIA+ people in crisis. With homeless shelters often not welcoming or discriminating against people of certain identities, Modal provides safe housing where all people are welcomed and celebrated. They’ve helped around a dozen people this year and fundraised to get them back on their feet, even offering some people jobs. This hostel’s generosity truly knows no bounds!

Championing Queer Artists

Crowned LGBTQIA+ Business of the Year by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Modal worked with the Chamber to create a Queer Arts Initiative. As we said, Greenville is teeming with art and creatives, but Queer artists are often left out of opportunities for projects like murals and performances due to local opinion. Modal set out to change that, creating a subcommittee in the Chamber which focuses on helping Queer artists get a seat at the table. Starting by hosting artists at the gallery in their hostel, they’ve now raised $10,000 to give artists access to resources and to create their own shows.

A Shining Beacon of Light for Inclusivity

Modal is a shining beacon of light for inclusivity and diversity. While they do so much for the LGBTQIA+ community, they welcome people from all walks of life. By choosing to stay there you’re contributing to a business that’s bringing so much positivity to the world.

A Beautiful Hostel with a Jam-Packed Event Schedule

The hostel itself is beautiful, and as you can tell, their event schedule is jam-packed! When you walk through their doors, you’ll be introduced to their Queer Art Showcase (where the art is available for purchase), events, and sociable coffee shop/bar where travelers and locals mingle and make friends.

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Creating a Safe and Positive Experience

As Joe put it, we travel in hostels for that social connection with others, but that interaction needs to feel safe. As an LGBTQIA+ person traveling, discrimination can be around any corner, but knowing that you can be yourself and feel relaxed at your hostel is the true key to a positive experience. No culture, race, age, sex, orientation, or identity is better than another, we’re all human looking for that human connection as we navigate the world. And in our opinion, every business could take a rainbow-colored leaf out of Modal’s book.

To book your stay at Modal, click here.

To get involved in their events or others in Greenville, click here or follow them on Instagram.

Michaella is a freelance content writer and social media manager currently working at Hostelworld. When she's not backpacking to new places, she's living the beach life in Cornwall, hiking around the UK and skiing in the alps.

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