Cruising on the High Seas
BY Job Brother
April 02 2009 12:00 AM ET
Recently, I was presented with an opportunity to enjoy a cruise to the Caribbean as part of Aquafest.
Aquafest is the brainchild of Tom Baker, president of CruiseCenter, and winner of Condé Nast Traveler 's prestigious title "World's Leading Large Ship Specialist." Aquafest organizes cruise packages for LGBT folks (and friends thereof). Significantly, their events are integrated with nongay cruise lines, offering a chance to be out and proud without being segregated.
I love travelingâ€¦ However, I've never journeyed in tourism circles, never been part of a larger group -- gay or straight -- nor have I ever been on a cruise. Every time I tried to imagine what to expect, all I could see was the huge face of Gavin MacLeod -- his gleaming, bald head blinding me with reflected sunlight. I bought dark sunglasses.
Eager to assimilate myself into the alien world of cruise culture, I arrived in Fort Lauderdale with my boyfriend and boarded the MSC Lirica , the Italian, Mistral-class cruise ship that would be our home for the next 10 days.
The ship's interior, with its colors of emerald, coral, and camel -- and accented with enough brass to craft a French horn for every child in North America -- reminded me of those Reno casinos you find near but off the Strip.
We met our gracious host, Tom Baker, and the rest of our queer peers. We were a group of about 70 -- small in relation to previous groups, as we were told by the event manager, Tom Thompson (Aquafest clearly has a strict "Toms-only" hiring policy).
The majority of the group was middle-aged, middle-class, and middle America. I got the sense that this opportunity, to be openly gay en masse in a predominantly heterosexual environment, was a rare event for most of the group; not so for me and my boyfriend, coming as we were from Los Angeles, where being gay can sometimes feel like an afterthought -- something as important as your religious beliefs, but not as socially weighty as, say, your choice of footwear.
- WATCH: What Happens When a Gay Boy Scout Comes Out to His Camp Leader
- We Love Liberace Now Even More Than 30 Years Ago
- Op-ed: Are We More Successful Because We’re Gay?
- Multiple Attacks on Gay Men in NYC, Hours After Rally
- Donald Rumsfeld Isn't Sure, But Marriage Equality Might Lead to Polygamy
- Anonymous Boy Scouts Employee Says Antigay Policy Hurts Business
Sign Up For Email Updates
- The Wedding Channel PHOTOS: Real Weddings, Real People 20 min 25 sec ago
- Youth WATCH: What Happens When a Gay Scout Comes Out to Camp Leader 1 hour 21 min ago
- Commentary Op-ed: Are We More Successful Because We’re Gay? 1 hour 46 min ago
- Current Issue We Love Liberace Now Even More Than 30 Years Ago 2 hours 20 min ago
- Sports Water Polo Player Addresses WeHo City Council in Speedo May 22 2013 10:00 PM
- Comics and Graphic Novels This Gay Superhero Comic Is So Super Duper May 22 2013 9:00 PM
- The End of Bullying Could Video Games Be a Cure for Anti-LGBT Bullying? May 22 2013 8:15 PM