Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How to do a gay cruise

What to pack
As with most cruises, you’ll want to pack the basics: shorts, tank tops, flip-flops, sunscreen, tiara. But you’ll also need gay essentials like multiple swim suits because gay men are bitches who will keep track of what you wear. And fancy underwear because there will be a hypnotist show and if you volunteer to be hypnotized, you will eventually find yourself standing on stage in nothing but your underwear. Again: You will be judged by the brand and age-appropriateness of your underwear choices, with bonus points awarded for color selections that complement your skin tones.

There are also themed parties that require costume compliance: polyester and big sunglasses for the ’70s party, camouflage shorts for the military party, monochromatic creativity for the white party, body dysmorphia for the you will never look as good as everyone else party.

What to wear
Every cruise seems to have its own fashion trend. Last year, the theme was sweatbands worn just below the elbow—a look that says I will wear anything, no matter how ridiculous or desperate it looks, to show that I am not a 30-year-old businessperson but actually a high-school jock with a sweaty elbow problem. The theme this year was deeply cut V-neck T-shirts, a look that combines the casual masculinity of a drag queen in her foundation garments, the raw sensuality of a sweaty old man who yells at kids and the anal thermometry of a social-climbing fashionista.

Preventing disease
Something must have happened on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise. Something not very nice. Because the whole week we were on the ship, we were body-blocked by disinfectant-towelette-wielding crew members who made us wipe our hands before we entered any eating establishment. On the plus side, I never heard about anyone getting sick all week on our cruise. At least not from the food. We did encounter a number of people convulsing on the floor after consuming other ingestibles. And we heard the ship’s infirmary bills started in the $1,500 range. Which seems like an appropriate idiot tax on drug use.

Surviving customs
I never get through customs without a pointless holdup. Once when I was on a business trip to Toronto, the agent in Canada demanded to hear a detailed primer on marketing theory, presumably to make sure I wasn’t trying to sneak into his country without declaring my real job as a millionaire or janitor or international dancing sensation. This trip, as two customs agents were slowly processing the almost 4,000 passengers trying to get off the ship, my customs agent first accused me of looking fatter than my 5-year-old picture (I’ve weighed within five pounds of 190 since I got out of college 18 years ago, thankyouverymuch). Then when he noticed I wasn’t wearing the glasses that show in my passport photo, he grilled me about LASIK, as though to catch me in the elaborate lie I had concocted about having $3,000 eye surgery just so I wouldn’t have to wear my glasses on international waters.

How to dance
Dance as though you are filled with unspeakable joy. As though you are celebrating with the gods in Xanadu. As though you are floating through a world where for once you are the majority. Where you don’t feel afraid to be who you are. Where your rights aren’t bartered for hate votes. Where being gay is so commonplace it becomes irrelevant. You are never more than a few hours away from an epic dance party on a gay cruise. And despite all my snarky exaggerations here, I love my people. By and large, we all love each other. And I find there is no better way to channel our shared exuberance on a gay cruise than to bounce and smile and woot and pump our arms in the air with our friends and our loved ones and our extended community of family as we sail together through elysian seas of deafening thump-thump music and warm Caribbean air.

Stay tuned for more cruise news and reports and gossip. And pictures!

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