As a white male, I have very little platform to stand upon and make assertions about disenfranchisement, discrimination, or any sort of profound and ongoing impact to my life.
In the terms of a Census, I am:
Caucasian, 36, Male, Not Married
Parents, divorced. Mother, living; father, deceased.
Two siblings, 10-12 years senior, female.
As the xenophobic character Muriel says in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as she looks with disgust towards the black doctor she rejected because of his color, “no amount of scrubbing is going to wash that color off.”
The things listed above are inalienable parts of who I am. And though this may create sensitivity or even incite some debate, for me, being gay is just as permanent a part of who I am as one would describe the color of their skin (as an example).
I cannot scrub it off, even while some may feel this possible – and honestly, even if I could change who I was, I never would.
This “un-scrub-ability” is where I find comradery, understanding, compassion and empathy for and with other minorities who have struggled against perception, assumption, and judgment. Our situations and circumstances are not necessarily similar, but the feeling and heartbreak of a life wondering if you are equal is.
Some of us get lucky and find ourselves surrounded with love; some of us don’t and are persecuted, born in the wrong place at the wrong time.
These are the breaks. And we have a choice how to deal with those breaks – succumb to them, or try to meander through the minefield and hope we find equal footing.
I sat down thinking I’d right a jovial recap of a gay cruise – for everyone that has a concept of it, it’s that and more. We have fun, we connect, we make friends, we dissolve many boundaries that even for LGBT people still exist when at home and a connection that is personal, spiritual, chemical, and so so so real comes where you’re least likely to expect it.
We may all be gay but we are not the same. But just as with AIDS/LifeCycle, on a gay cruise, there’s a bit of a “love bubble” that forms around us having a shared, common, inalienable part of ourselves that only we understand and that is unique.
We are gay.
I don’t understand what some do on these ships. 20-somethings who prance about snapping fans with blow-pops in their mouths are not my thing, but I don’t begrudge them a bit for exploring every bit of the possibility of who they could be.
I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. And this year, unlike any other, I went it alone, single, and braved dining alone, not having plans with others, and just being okay with being me.
I had plenty of friends I could have called on, but this seemed like the time to call on myself.
And it was great.
Countless times on this trip I found myself sitting outside the excitement of the events and observing, watching people connect who wouldn’t otherwise, feeling the warmth of hugs exchanged among people I wouldn’t expect, watching unlikely friendships rekindle across more miles than the internet could ever offset… and for the most amazing of weeks, I find myself in awe of community, connection, and the profound but completely relate-able way this happens, based only on the thing that makes us unique but which also makes us the same as everyone else.
Kathy Griffin said it right on the cruise – the “young gays” just don’t understand when it wasn’t this easy. I’m proud to be a small part – standing upon the shoulders of so many others – of what made this a bit easier.
And it reminds me just how much I want that feeling for everyone else, too. Everyone should feel loved, welcomed, connected, and at home. Hopefully for at least 8 days a year…
You can find my first recap video of the cruise here: