worries for college students on spring break should be
avoiding alcohol poisoning, remembering the name of the
person they woke up next to, and knowing where to get
a dose of penicillin. It's not the most
upstanding vacation, but there's something to be said
for living stories you'll never tell your kids.
thrill-seekers are generally denied this rite of passage.
The Girls Gone Wild scene, if not outwardly
hostile to LGBT partiers, certainly doesn't
offer venues for queer students to let their hair down,
or simply hook up--unless it's two girls
mugging for Joe Francis's camera.
Florida's Key West offers somewhat of an
alternative--an official Gay Spring Break the
city's business leaders are selling as a queer
equivalent to the hetero hedonism of the state's
Daytona Beach and Panama City scenes.
The Key West
Business Guild, official organizers of Gay Spring Break, saw
an untapped market when they created the event.
"Spring break can be an awkward time for gay
students because events and destinations are not
geared around them," says the guild's
27-year-old director of new events, Ian Whitney,
understating the obvious.
Unlike other gay
spring break packages that offer one-week trips to
gay-friendly but expensive cities, Gay Spring Break spans
six weeks in a sunny and affordable U.S. locale that
already attracts around 500,000 LGBT tourists per
year. The guild is planning 600 events,
and women-only parties, drag shows, and boat and
snorkeling trips. Many local bars will not be charging
covers, and on March 16 a section of Key West's
Duval Street will be shut down for an enormous block
party. Gay-friendly hotels and guesthouses are already
filling up, with many offering generous discounts to gay
that the city will enforce a zero-tolerance drug policy,
work with police to prevent underage drinking, and
distribute "safe-sex packs" at numerous
venues. That said, event sponsors include the gay
hookup site ManHunt.net, and on GaySpringBreak.org one Key
West bar advertises "sluts on tap."
complained that Gay Spring Break is hypersexual, but if one
is going to criticize raunchy spring break culture,
randy gay kids shouldn't be singled out. All
students looking for a week of casual sex under a
tropical sun have an equal right to find it.
And what goes
perfectly with the beach and beer? "Activities that
allow for networking and leadership
development," naturally. The guild is
presenting such events along with the booze cruises, and
while Whitney admits they will be secondary to the
partying this year, the guild hopes to raise their
profile in coming years.
sure how effectively students can talk business following
hours spent pickling their livers. If you're
looking for networking or activism, you should
probably sign up for a leadership conference.
Otherwise, call a spade a spade and enjoy Gay Spring Break
for what it is.
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