COMMENTARY: The ship was called the Allure of the Seas, and it was billed by Atlantis as the “largest gay cruise ever.”
The real allure, for many on board, was a port called Nose-Candyland. This was a trip on the high seas all right, but the crystal waters turned into rough seas when a 51-year-old passenger was arrested on charges of dealing drugs in St. Thomas. Among the items discovered in Captain Coke’s room were 140 ecstasy pills, around three grams of crystal meth, some ketamine, and over $50,000 in cash. So another gay cruise turned into a drug-fueled overdose-a-rama.
What makes this episode particularly unfortunate was the fact that the mainstream press caught wind of it, and the likes of CNN and the Associated Press aired our dirty linens at full mast. This endearing display of what it means when gays “party and play” comes at the same time we’re trying to convince straight society of how deserving we are of marriage and the right to adopt children. These drug-bust episodes only give comfort to our enemies, who seek to portray gay people as irresponsible, self-indulgent, and drug-crazed party boys.
Imagine if you took kids on one of these gay drug cruises. Child protective services would have to send a rescue boat.
I think it’s sad that a bunch of tweakers have turned gay cruises into a punch line. But what’s downright depressing is the fact that we, as a community, treat such self-destructive and illegal behavior as normal and acceptable.
I went on a gay cruise once and saw it for myself. While we were boarding the ship in Fort Lauderdale, police came through with drug-sniffing dogs. People around me in line started dropping their drugs to the ground, hoping to pre-empt their baggies from being discovered.
Multiple times the cops shouted out “there’s a drop” and cordoned off the line so the dogs could try to trace the drug droppers. A few people were arrested.
Once on board, fellow passengers complained about the homophobic police and gave thanks for the fact that enough people were “smart” enough to more creatively smuggle their pills and powders on their persons. Or maybe it was in their persons. Yup, you know where.
Then I witnessed, at every port, stretchers offloading people who had overdosed. It was no different from New York’s Black Party, where drugs are snorted and pills are popped gleefully out in the open. I was so disgusted that I walked out within 20 minutes. From Fire Island to Miami, every gay circuit party has a medical tent, and they’re busy places.
These experiences and the latest Atlantis embarrassment have caused me to wonder what it is about our community that allows us to accept this behavior as normal? I think it might come down to our obsession with appearances.
We’re all about looks and trying to appear young — many lying about their ages in their online profiles — and spending hours each week at the gym to make our bodies look perfect. On that gay cruise I went on, I noticed how all the massages and facials were booked, the gym was always packed, and how few people ever touched dessert.
But many of these same individuals, so obsessed with how their chests and abs appeared on the outside, were trashing themselves on the inside — going days without sleeping and poisoning their bloodstreams with toxins.
It reminded me of the movie Postcards From the Edge,when Shirley MacLaine filled a blender with carefully selected health foods and then poured in a half liter of vodka. Except this really isn’t funny. It’s time for those of us who skip the white pony rides to tell our druggie friends that we are done being witnesses and accomplices to their self destruction.
Yes, these people are self-medicating away the pain from childhood scars left by bullying, abuse, and homophobia. Clearly, the only time they feel free is when they’re high on drugs. But enough is enough. We should tell our friends who do drugs that either they have to quit or we’ll have nothing to do with them anymore. We should tell them to get therapy, get sober, and get a life.
It’s time we restore the term “party and play” to a more innocent meaning.
It’s time to stop giving the police reason to bring drug dogs to our vacations.
It’s time for our community to stage a collective, lifesaving intervention.