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R Family

R Family


As R Family Vacations embarks on its first Mexican cruise, Anne Stockwell talks with cofounder Gregg Kaminsky about making waves and changing attitudes.

Gregg, when you and Rosie and Kelli O'Donnell founded R Family Vacations, did you ever think that this month you'd be setting off on your sixth successful cruise? We've always taken it one cruise at a time. We are very grateful to all of our guests who have sailed with us. We do have a nice percent of repeat clientele, and it's always fun to meet all of the first-time cruisers.

What do you think is the secret of your success? We have a very talented team. Also, the magic starts when people are checking in and everyone there is totally judgment-free. Anyone who has ever been on a gay or lesbian cruise knows what I'm talking about. We do some amazing things on our cruises, but the love and energy is really from all of the wonderful people who sail with us.

In All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise, the HBO documentary about the first R Family cruise, antigay protesters met the ship in Nassau, Bahamas. Have you run into any unfriendly receptions since? We were scheduled to make a stop in Bermuda last year, and we learned about the possibility of protest by a large group of churches. I offered to fly there and screen the documentary. Not a single church took me up on my offer, and they would not promise that protests would not occur. We changed our itinerary. It was a shame, because there is this huge misperception that gay cruises are trying to promote homosexuality. Actually, all of the gay tour operators offer trips so we can go on vacation and not feel like we have to compromise our lifestyle. We are not trying to promote anything.

We hear that on this cruise you're celebrating friends and families of the LGBT community. Why is that important, and how are you planning to celebrate? One thing that makes R Family Vacations very unique is that everyone is welcome. We have such a nice mix of both gay and lesbian guests as well as straight friends and family. We thought it would be nice to honor all of the straight friends and family this year by honoring PFLAG and its members. We have Cyndi Lauper performing (the most famous PFLAG-er) and also PFLAG executive director Jody Huckabee speaking.

Pretend I'm a "family values" conservative who feels that LGBT people shouldn't adopt or have their own children. Would an R Family cruise change my mind? We have talked about inviting some conservative politicians to sail with us. The first thing everyone notices (especially our straight guests) is kids with gay parents are so well-behaved. GLBT families go through so many steps to have children that they really think about being amazing parents. We have a lot of kids with special needs, and our boat really does look like one big gay Benetton ad. I would bet money that any "family values" conservative would rethink some of their ideas after sailing on an R Family Vacations cruise.

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Anne Stockwell