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3,700 men and a

3,700 men and a


The headliners in the main showroom were Charo and Joan Rivers. My stateroom TV played The Way We Were on a loop. I was terrified.

I was booked to perform as a comedian on a Caribbean gay cruise and I envisioned the worst: Trapped on an ocean liner for seven days with 3,700 drug-addled muscle queens. A nonstop circuit party with me stuck in a Jacuzzi, talking some porn star out of a K hole. My fears were no less assuaged when I was asked before checking in, "Have you had any vomiting or diarrhea?" I thought, Great. We haven't even left Miami, and the bacchanalia has already ensued.

Boarding was like entering an alternative gay universe. The Muzak piped into the elevators featured the canon of Cher, Kelly Clarkson, and Madonna. The headliners in the main showroom were Charo and Joan Rivers. My stateroom television played The Way We Were on a loop, and the gym, which usually languishes unoccupied on straight cruises, was packed with the highest concentration of genetically gifted men I had ever seen. I was terrified.

Outside the protective bubble of the spotlight, I'm extremely shy around the buff and the beautiful. I blame it on the childhood trauma of wearing glasses, corrective shoes, and a retainer all at the same time. I spent the first few days dodging rejection by avoiding eye contact and group activities. I never entered the pool deck without a book or a newspaper to hide behind. After 48 hours of cowardice I realized that the homo throwing the most attitude...was me.

Furthermore, the men I initially found the most intimidating turned out to be the nicest. A cluster of men resembling Tom of Finland illustrations invited me to dinner. Two handsome tennis pros from the Gay Games took me sightseeing in San Juan. My audience was filled with sharp, impeccably dressed men from all over the country who got every reference, laughed at every rotten joke, and made it abundantly clear that my presence was appreciated and welcome. I felt like such an asshole.

The passengers were far more diverse than I had expected. All shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and ages were represented. I met two seniors celebrating their 40th anniversary. This was their 10th gay cruise. When I asked why they repeatedly chose this kind of vacation, they said it was because it was "a week of acceptance."

By the end of the cruise my defenses were dropped long enough to do the unthinkable: I attended the White Party. I stripped to the waist and danced myself into a stupor. Were there tweaked-out muscle heads obsessed with each other to the exclusion of others? Sure. There were also drag queens shaming the moon with their frosted creations. Midwest farm boys inebriated on their first taste of freedom. Thousands of men floating away from convention. And me. Drenched and salty, watching the sunrise, and feeling my prejudice breaking away like the sea-foam in our wake.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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