Ports of Hate Don’t Deserve Your Dollar

Norm Kent: Publisher

The debate over last week’s editorial went viral, and few stories we have ever published have drawn more of a response.

First, two men, one a retired police officer, were caught having sex on the balcony of their room on an Atlantis Events cruise ship while in port in Dominica. Second, the two men were removed the cruise ship, jailed, and then charged with buggery. After a day in jail, their charges were reduced; they paid a fine, and were released.

Third, I wrote an editorial last week calling for gay men of conscience to conscientiously boycott Atlantis Cruises.

As the debate crystallized, in print, online, and in bars, dozens of callers and letter-writers expressed their viewpoint, not only on our site, but also at Queerty.com.

Last week, the editorial was carefully worded to state that sex does not belong in public places. It was clearly negligent for those men to have sex in open view on a cruise ship in a foreign country. But the point of the editorial, was not then, and is not now, about their grossly careless acts.

I stand behind my editorial on the principle that the LGBT community has no business supporting a cruise ship cartel that carries its gay passengers to homophobic ports of call. We don’t see Jewish tour groups heading to Iran to read the Koran. So get over the fact that these two guys had sex in a wrong place. The story is not about them or what they did.

The editorial is about the American gay community, enriched with political power and economic force. The story is about us mattering, as people, and counting as citizens of the world. The story is about us being equal and an important part of our country, not apart from it.  If you are a freedom fighter, the love you fight for, should be as equal and acceptable in Kentucky as in Kenya.

Sadly, the love you live and the life you lead is prosecuted and persecuted in Dominican islands and ports of call where these cruise ships make money; empowered to do so by gay men and women giving them our money. To boot, we not only enhance the stature of the cruise ships financially, we enrich the homophobic communities with our LGBT dollars. Looking to lynch me? Here, let me help find a rope and show you how to tie a knot.

The Nazis had really good bakeries in Germany 70 years ago. But I am guessing homosexuals in drag did not openly patronize their cafes. How you spend your money is your choice, but it is not sensible to give it to countries and communities where the people hate who you are and what you do.

In 2011, this newspaper gave its ‘Person of the Year’ Award to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Amongst other things, it was because she went to an international human rights convention in Geneva, and devoted her entire talk to advocating equal rights for LGBT communities around the world. She called for acceptance and equality everywhere from Uganda to Mississippi.

If we embrace our freedom, it should be more than with a Lake Worth city ordinance protecting domestic partners. It should not only be in our own community, but also on every continent. The world is now but a tweet away. Refuse to isolate yourself. Partner with friends across the pond and gay prisoners in Jamaica. Lend your voice to freedom for LGBT people everywhere. If your Secretary of State can, so can you.

The next time you think of going on a cruise, review its itinerary and course. Let the cartels running the ships know that you will not secure a reservation for a business enterprise that is willing to enhance the financial wherewithal of countries that discriminate against homosexuals.

In the workplace, the gay community in America has helped further a world where our corporations embrace diversity, cultivate a social conscience, and offer benefits commensurate to gay men and women that are already offered to straight employees.

At play, on cruise ships sailing around the world, we can correspondingly demand that the ports of call we visit are not harbingers of hate, and that has nothing at all to do with two guys getting it on aboard a ship. It has to do with whether we want to hold our heads up with pride, or shame ourselves buying cheap trinkets and getting a good tan in a land that hates who we are and what we do.

Keep your pride, and stay off those boats. Let the world know that the LGBT community is about pride and professionalism, passion and caring, humanity and worldwide concern- and that we will not use our dollars to enrich those lands and countries that don’t accept us. It’s their loss, not ours.

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