There was a time when ‘gay’ men cruising meant wandering around parks and other public spaces in the quest for an ephemeral sexual encounter. A fleeting rendezvous with a stranger and danger, with the aspiration of an ejaculation at the end of it, and a potential arrest.
In our modern de-sexed times in which happy clappy homosexuals play out with ‘the adults’ and pursue sensible recreational pursuits rather than wandering around parks at 3am, the new ‘gay’ man interprets cruising as a brief vacation on a floating hotel with naff entertainment, an excess of bars and restaurants, and hordes of other human beings also pursuing the same activity. The danger element has ceased to be about whether you’ll be arrested, and become about whether you’ll have an Italian captain and/or dice with some stomach bug which will reduce your itinerary to a bed and lavatory (but not in a good way).
Or, at least so it was. It was revealed today that two ‘West Coast Americans’ as some reports put it (I did wonder if that was code for screaming homos from California) have been arrested for having sex. According to Pink News, two men from California (see, it was code) have pleaded guilty to charges of breaking Dominica’s anti-gay laws after being spotted having sex on a gay cruise ship which was in port.
This was a ‘gay cruise’, which unfortunately gives the impression that it’s alright to be on a gay cruise, so long as you don’t have sex. Which – and this may just be me – seems kinda ironic. It’s a reminder that homosexuality has culturally ceased to be a sexual identity, and is instead a social label that can be disassociated with a particular sexual act or set of acts. What exactly renders a cruise ‘gay’ if people cease to have gay sex? A fondness for gratuitous photographs of Tom Daley? An uncanny instinct for interior design? Are we reduced to an identity defined by social stereotype?
There have been those who took to social media sites to question visiting an island which has less than welcoming laws for its passengers, to which the organisers responded by commenting: ‘these [anti-gay] statutes don’t pose a concern to us in planning a tourist visit’.
Needless to say, the Daily Hate – sorry, Daily Mail – has brought itself to orgasmic delight at the story with mug shots and a range of publicity photos which make it look a rather jolly holiday to me, and which are sure to leave many Daily Mail readers with sleepless nights (and not in a good way. DM readers don’t do that sort of thing). If you want to read it, Google it.
Anyhow, in this new world it’s all about sun, sex and ahem, sightseeing. No hanky panky, we’re homosexuals is arguably the new mantra. That said, I don’t want to be seen as being critical or cruise organisers. Oh no no.
Imagine a cruise where you could get some enlightening academic chat from someone talking about the history of cruising, or laws around the world and homosexuality, or HIV and barebacking. That would surely add an extra sprinkling of delightful joy to your voyage. Well…funnily enough, hello cruise organisers, I am available for booking! Have anti-dysentery tablets, will travel (although no Italian Captains thank you). Alongside the danger of arrest and dysentery, let’s add the possibility of encountering Chris Ashford in the Oceanic Theatre talking about an older form of cruising.