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Atlantis cruisers arrested in Dominica: Our Thoughts

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Some of us are old enough to remember the “Point/Counterpoint” segment on “60 MINUTES” where opposing viewpoints were presented on current issues. Of course later there was Siskel and Ebert, but now here are Mark and Dale!

We each reached different conclusions concerning the gay male couple who were recently arrested on an Atlantis Events cruise while docked in Dominica due to having sex on their balcony while being visible to people on shore.

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DALE:  My thought is that a good traveler needs to conform as much as possible to the culture in which he is a guest.  “Guest” is a key word here.

MARK:  I totally agree with that and I have seen the ‘Ugly American’ on most of my international trips. I believe what the two men did was highly inappropriate.  Atlantis isn’t to blame, only the individuals involved.

Their actions would have been looked upon negatively in every part of the world. This was an example of where cruisers didn’t behave with the respect that a guest should display.

DALE:  So do you think LGBT people should avoid Dominica because of this incident?

MARK:  I don’t want to spend my hard-earned dollars in a country which is blatantly anti-gay. Likewise, I also choose not to support certain corporations due to their discrimination or employment policies. I frankly don’t see the difference.

DALE:  But LGBT travelers visiting these less-than-gay-friendly cultures can be a positive thing. We can show by example that we as gay people are not a threat.  America’s tolerance has increased due to the fact that so many gays are now out. With so many people knowing a gay family member, friend, or co-worker, we have made allies of many who were once intolerant. This would not have happened if we remained ‘invisible’.

MARK:  So would you go to Dominica?

DALE:  Yes. I believe we could make a difference by being there and acting appropriately for that region of the world.  Would you go there Mark?

MARK:  No. With all of the options out there, I would choose not to visit a place that I view as extremely homophobic. You’re right, we can make this world a better place by showing a good example. However, I can’t condone supporting anti-gay countries or institutions.

We’d love to know your feeling on this. Please add your comments. Here’s a list of countries where it’s illegal to be gay.

 


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  • http://www.arena69.com Dave Cantrall

    Hi Mark and Dale,

    Thanks for posting this on the Meet Me On Board Website. I first heard about it on KTVU in San Francisco.

    Here is what I think:
    a) I will not travel to countries who are expressively against gay people and who have laws which make it a crime just to be gay.
    b) HOWEVER, I personally think the gay male couple who had sex on their balcony in view of others is outrageous and grossly inappropriate.
    I also believe heterosexual couples having sex in plain view is also grossly inappropriate – which does occur on cruise ships as well, but we just don’t hear or read about it.

    Dave

  • http://www.meetmeonboard.com Randall

    I love this point/counterpoint. See more information on countries where being gay is, in some form, illegal, by clicking here.

  • Joseph

    The reports stating they were having sex on their balcony are incorrect. They were arrested for “buggery” but charged with indecent exposure – going on their balcony nude. You can read the Atlantis fan page on Facebook and see some statements by the guys who were arrested. The way the entire case was handled exposes some pretty entrenched anti-gay bigotry on the part of the Dominican establishment. I am less inclined to travel on a cruise that goes through Dominica now, but I think this also is a reminder that gay guys who travel to foreign countries outside of Western Europe or North America need to be very careful about attention they attract and local attitudes about gay people.

    • Robert

      I fully agree with you Joseph. I hope we in the gay community start boycotting these places that are so blatantly anti-gay. My question would be…if 2,000 gay men stop at this island that is so bigoted, why the $$%%$# wouldn’t Atlantis or Celebrity warn them. Beyond that…why would you go there in the first place?

    • Roger

      Joseph, these two men were having sex on their balcony. I have seen the pictures of them and would be happy to forward them to you. They were fortunate that they were not charged with buggery because it would have been a felony. Dominica reduced it to indecent exposure to appease Atlantis and Celebrity. If you have ever been on an Atlantis cruise you would know that they tell you repeatedly to use discretion when in a foreign port. These two cruisers were arrested for having sex in public, not because they were gay. They could just as easily been arrested in Miami. In most of the world it is illegal to have sex in public. For them to blame Dominica is ridiculous.
      Second question is should a gay cruise to to anti-gay ports. That is a more difficult question for me. It certainly would knock out a large portion of the cruise destinations if they eliminate all gay unfriendly ports.

  • Robert

    Rich’s initial response to this incident was that these guys were having sex on the balcony with all to view. Obviously, this would of been inappropriate in any country and was beyond the control of Atlantis. I am now reading more and more articles where this was NOT the truth. The men simply exited their balcony for a short period and were arrested for indecent exposure. After being put in the police officers car, mobs of people surrounded the car and it became very intense and frightful. The more I read about this, it is apparent that this event took place purely due to hatred of gays. I would NEVER go to Dominica and woud hope that we as gays boycott any country that is so down right hateful. Be careful Atlantis cruisers…things are going in a dangerous direction now in St. Petersburg Russia where you’ll be sailing this summer.

  • Angel

    I was in the cruise and Atlantis did not tell us it was a crime t o be gay in Dominica im up set they put us in that risk. I think is stupid to take 2000 gay guys to a homophobic destination. honestly when you are in a gay environment such a gay cruise yo can easily forget that you are not living in a gay world. There were other passengers who told during a game they had sex in the balcony while in the sea.

  • Jason

    I wasn’t on this cruise so obviously, I don’t know all the facts and don’t know if we ever will. Having said that, I do agree with Angel and wonder why Atlantis would send 2,000 gay men in a party atmosphere to such a homophobic country. With the recent anti-gay laws that are threatening St. Petersburg Russia, this is another destination that is no longer safe to travel to. Will Atlantis be traveling there in July?

    • Ron

      Good points Jason, I host travel for professional gay men in my city and def take the time to explain why I don’t go to certain countries. I established long ago that I never travel or recommend Jamaica. Simply because to be gay there is to be dead. More gay men and travel industry providers need to re-evaluate there itineraries. Maybe even educating the clients and providing an alternative on-board activity and not spend dollars in the guilty ports of call.

  • Peter

    How truly “tolerant” is the US? As a Canadian gay man, married equally and legally on Canadian soil, who chooses to also live in beautiful South Florida (15 minutes from the cruise port I might add), I have witnessed my fair share of bigotry. Ever try walking hand-in-hand with your husband on the streets, malls and other public venues of Florida? Other than within the safe confines of a gay bar or strolling South Beach, we are stared upon, commented on by fellow citizens. Ever notice exactly how many gay couples are even comfortable holding hands – period. Gay friends have actually said to us, “It’s okay for you guys, because you’re big men; we’d be asking for trouble for flaunting who we are of we did the same”. Hearing “faggots!” yelled from passing cars while walking your own neighborhood, will not discourage us from continuing the same PDAs our hetero compatriots enjoy so freely. There’s the real irony: The “land of the free” is not so free for everyone. Public sex belongs in the proper place, and I think we have yet to hear the entire story… somewhere between what’s been said and what happened lies the truth. Another country may certainly be more repressive than the US, but let’s not kid ourselves if we think America is not without its bias. And would this have even occurred if the couple in question was straight? Perhaps… but I am more inclined to believe there would admiring crowds of onlookers, cheering for more while the iphone snaps away. I feel sorry for how this couple – and the many others who have been unjustly treated before them. Live freely as you are… proudly hold your lover’s hand… and know one day they will all be desensitized to our actions and it will be the normal non-issue of days gone.

    • Michael Schmidt

      Rob, Thank you very much for your comments! That is exactly how it is. We do live as Second Class Citizens in this country. I also guarantee that had it been a STRAIGHT couple, they would have snickered and laughed. I did 3 Atlantis Cruises and its a floating WHITE PARTY. I had a great time and never had to worry about getting hit on, hands going everywhere.

      You pay DOUBLE for Atlantis and I think they pick the ports, they know the passenger types and quite honestly some of those Islands have quirky laws. Grand Caymon if you take your shirt off they arrest you for indecent exposure.

      I am not going sit here and listen to ATLANTIS Cruisers act like the cruise is a CHUCH CAMP! LOL

  • Rob

    The story these men are telling anyone who will listen seems less than credible and is evolving over time. When they were interviewed by the AP in Puerto Rico after they got out of jail, they refused to say whether they were having sex or not, which seems a de facto admission they were. They have also variously claimed to have been nude or semi-nude. On the Atlantis FB page, some Atlantis pax claim to have seen the couple having sex on their balcony and they say the couple did not stop when they realised they had been seen. The owner of Atlantis also made this claim initially.

    I really regret that the impression the world has of gay cruisers is the image of the Atlantis party cruiser, which seems to hit the media as often as Atlantis hits the seas these days. Atlantis fans will tell you “it happens on all the lines” but really, when is the last time you heard of a suicide on an R Family cruise or a drug overdose on an Olivia cruise or a Pied Piper Cruise to a homophobic country. That these inappropriate and unwise people have become the most visible face of gay cruising brings me shame. When straight friends hear we are going on a cruise and ask if we’re going with “that” company, we are quick to say no and they are quick to appear obviously relieved.

  • Jack & Dan

    We are in our 60’s and love to travel. We have been together for more then 19 years. When traveling all people, gay or straight, need to use common sense. There is a time and place for enjoying sex and publicly on a balcony is not one of them. Should the gay couple been arrested – YES(as well as any other straight couple). There are so many beautiful islands in the Caribbean and Dominica is certainly not one of our top picks. Yes, Atlantis should pick their ports more wisely. But, us gay or straight men and women should be held responsible for our actions and should always remember we are guests in these ports – this is not our private back yard to do as we please.

    Jack & Dan

  • Daryl Seamark

    I think we all agree that we perfer to spend our money where we are welcome, i.e. gay establishments, gay friendly islands or cities. Maybe it is my way of thinking but I find it hard to believe that you can put upwards of 2,000 gay men together and NOT get a few, that think “to hell with the rules and how it looks, lets just do it. If they don’t like it, that is their problem”. Thre is plenty of opportunity on an all gay cruise to get together with other guys. Why is it necessary to flaunt being gay. Why is it necessary to hold hands, embrace except in certain circumstances, if this is not considered proper in certain countries, or states for that matter. . I’ve been married for 30 years (even before it was legal here in Canada) and have wanted on occasion to show my affection for my spouse in public but have not due to local customs and It doesn’t matter if we are gay, straight, bi, or transgendered. If the two guys involved plan on having sex or even play nude on the front lawn at home, regardless of where they live, they are going to be arrested, guaranteed.. What makes them think it is okay in Dominica.

  • Damon

    As a local LGBT activist in the Caribbean and a fellow Atlantis cruiser, I was insulted by this irresponsible behaviour. 2000+ of us on the Atlantis cruise have now been tarnished with the same dirty brush. Also spare a thought of the fall out this will cause for me and my fellow gay people throughout the islands moving forwards, whilst those individuals are now ensconced in the safety of their ‘free world’ crying victim of homophobia, rather than having been dealt with for an act of indecency. That is what the final charges were. The initial charge of buggery was dropped. In my opinion, that was sent to them as a warning shot – because it is a heavily punishable offense in most of the islands. Buggery is the act of anal sex – not just male on male, I might add! I am incandescent with rage at the hypocrisy of all banging the drum of protest without knowing the facts, or better yet, speaking to the local gay community to know what we really face day to day, and the fight for progress that has now been pushed back years as a result of this stupidity. This issue is about lewd behaviour and gross indecency in public. It has been sensationalised by the fact that it happened in a country still with anti gay legislation. Atlantis or not, gay people CHOOSE to visit many of the islands independently and of own free will. They don’t get their kit off and get busy in public. When visiting they are generally met with curiosity (sometimes in the guise of a verbal taunt), if not met with a welcome. Believe it or not, it’s a small minority who are vehement, aggressive and/or violent in their opposition towards gay people. That is the same world wide – I have experienced it in the US and the UK, and Europe. Africa even worse with the death sentence trying to be imposed in some countries. We need to keep a perspective on this incident. We are struggling to have our laws changed in the islands, but ironically no one has been arrested for being gay, and even now, I still say so. The arrests made were not because these two were gay. They were arrested for being idiots making a public display of what should have been private. You can help us by being role models in society which the vast majority of the guys I met demonstrated. Social responsibility rests with each and every one of us, wherever in the world you may be. Surely if I went cruising in a park somewhere in the US, got caught with my pants down, I’d be arrested in your free gay friendly world, deported and have my US visa revoked and unable to return due to a misdemeanour or felony or whatever level is dealt. Let’s stop the hypocrisy and sitting in our ivory towers thinking that all is well in our gardens!

    • Michael Schmidt

      Oh Sister get off the soap box. I have been on 3 Atlantis Cruises and its all a big drink, drug, screw for 7 days. To act like its not anything else is just not being truthful. That why we went on the darn things because our neighbors went every years and we heard all the wild tells and up in the Toplesss bathing area at night you could see the book store action. Rich Cambell knew better. Stop booking Homophobe Islands and stick with those that are friendly.

  • Tom

    I was on this cruise. I blame Atlantis for booking this port because of past problems (protests, rocks being thrown at the ship, etc.). I blame Atlantis for not being up front with their guests about the severity of homophobia in Dominica. The Atlantis cruise director was advising that “Dominica isn’t all that for strolling, shopping and eating, so if you’re going to get off the boat, you really should book an excursion” – in other words, don’t mix with the locals who are so homophopic they will insult you to your face, just get on a tour led by someone who can deal with it because they know they are making money from you. Only the Atlantiis cruise director didn’t put it that way. They were purposefully evasive about the environment and safety of their passengers. Fortunately, we heard from others about the past experiences, and we didn’t get off the ship. Unfortunately, we heard many stories from those that did go ashore. Taxis refused to take a gay couple as passengers. Local radio was appealing to residents to protest. Merchants told perspective customers that they were sickening and perverted. That Atlantis took us there after the previous trip shows very poor judgement on their part.

    Frankly, the arrest of the two men doesn’t have much impact on my opinion of Dominica since I don’t really know what happened. Per their story after the fact, it all sounds very suspicious and one must conclude that their situation could have been handled better by all involved (including the two men). But this isn’t why I won’t go back to Dominica and why I’m so upset with Atlantis. My reasons are for the many events that occurred while in port last week and a few years ago. Atlantis needs to be more responsible with their planning of ports and their educating of passengers. For example, they made a big deal about telling us not to wear camoflage on Grenada or Barbados. Why didn’t they also tell us what happened before in Dominica as a warning regarding the prevalent mindset of the island’s inhabitants?

  • Jerry

    I am sorry, but just being gay does not give us the option to act any way we want. If the ship is docked in Port and you are in full view of everyone, you have an obligation to act in a correct manner. That applies to anywhere you are, even in the states. Public sex is public sex even on a balcony. The moment was so heated that they coulcn’t retire to the privacy of their own cabin. If this were a straight couple doing the same thing, I think authorities would have acted similarly.

    It hasn’t been that long ago that we were persucuted and jailed for just being gay, remember Stonewall. It has only been a short while ago that the sodomy laws were overturned and you could have been arrested in the US. Those of you that have such strong opinions about travel to less tolerant countries, should stay home and look at your neighbors who depending on where you live are equally as less tolerant. I have been cruising for over 19 years and have never had a problem. I was respectful of the culture and people of where ever I traveled. That is the key word to traveling… RESPECTFUL. Too often we as Americans forget that and act as if it is no big deal that others do not think the same way we do so our actions do not have to conform.
    I agree with others who have stated, it is up to us as gay Americans to continue traveling and demonstrate how good it is to have gay visitors.

  • http://hardtoport.blogspot.com Jim Kelly-Evans

    My husband and I had a great time on this cruise, notwithstanding the homophobia some of us encountered in Dominica. We knew that these islands, with the exception of St.; Barth’s, have an anti-gay track record. We booked the cruise nevertheless because we enjoy Atlantis, the Caribbean, and St. Barth’s. While we would have preferred that Atlantis not go to anti-gay destinations, we were hoping that the presence of gay people could perhaps do some good, as long as Atlantis was determined to go there… a mistake. I understand that Rich Campbell is a businessman and that his goal is to run a profitable business. However, I do not think that means that he can’t be more responsible when it comes to the overall welfare of his clientele and that of the gay community as a whole. I found Campbell’s statements about the Dominica incident disingenuous and frankly, extremely disappointing. It is as if he expects us to return to the closet (Malcolm’s advice that “the best way to see Dominica is on an excursion,” which is code for no walking around Roseau hand in hand) so that he (Campbell) need not make any changes to his itineraries. Rich needs to fess up to his responsibility as a businessman who caters to gay men. This means avoiding itineraries with ports that have anti-gay laws on the books, and ports where the local gay community has called for a boycott, e.g. St. Petersburg.

    • Tom

      To be fair (and to agree with Jim), the cruise was an AWESOME experience. The selection of Dominica as one of our stops (and how poorly the staff prepared us for it) was the only disappointment of any merit.

    • Michael Schmidt

      Absolutely WELL said! Rich Cambell has gotten wealthy off of his cruises and he picked a cheap port dock to increase his profits. I like Atlantis Cruises did 3, but your not being 100% honest if you don’t accept that its 99% Men and Men do what Men do. If I had Children, they would not be on an ATLANTIS Cruise, we would book a Disney Cruise or go on one of OUR Family Cruises. I think Atlantis should have coached the passengers as to local law. If your on your Balcony, most people don’t think of being in a jurisdiction. I have seen Gay and Straight People on Cruises having sex on their Balconies. We just don’t book destinations that we think are just TRASH! The Bahamas is on our list of no stops too.

  • Michael Feldman

    Proper behavior is proper behavior, no matter where. That said: we are not second class citizens nor second class human beings and, therefore, do not need to prove to anyone our worthiness, especially by denying that worthiness while enhancing their economy. We certainly don’t need to go to a homophobic, ignorant country to prove anything. The idea that Atlantic would visit any country where homophobia reigns and problems have occurred in the past is unfathomable.

  • Matthew

    When I first saw and heard this, it was said they were found having sex on a beach while they were visiting and later arrested when back on the ship. So really, what is correct as now I see here it was on their balcony. This now conflicts with what I heard and how handled. If they were arrested cause of having male sex with male in their room, then we really have a problem, but if they were out in public, doesn’t matter who it was, that is indecent exposure, but, if they on their own balcany, is that part of the room sort of? lol. But there was also a report that they were originally arrested for having male/male sex which is illegal there, and then changed to the sex in public exposure.

  • Richard

    It’s not a gay issue.. being nude in public is not allowed. Stop being victims and show some class, and wear a swimsuit while you’re docked and on your balcony

  • Greg Meredith

    Funny that Dominica is so anti-gay and so lax when it comes to drugs. I was approached by at least four locals offering to sell drugs as we strolled the town. This is a third world country with a very uneducated population – most of whom live in poverty. I have a hard time understanding why the cruise ships even stop there other than out of some social obligation to help the economy. As far as the arrests-I have a real belief that if they were straight and merely stepped onto their balcony for a brief time they would be arrested. I am sure that this ship was being closely watched by lots of folks on shore. Too bad Atlantis didn’t anticipate this and caution accordingly.

  • http://bear411.com jim

    Why is everybody trying to blame Dominica or Atlantis for stopping in Dominica. What those 2 did was wrong and they got caught. It is not the countries fault or the travel company. Gay guys got to wise up and learn you can not have sex where ever you want. They were docked in port and walked on their balcony and had sex of course people were going to see. So the authorities did what they should have arrested. Those two need to learn morals and quit crying because they got caught.

  • Rob

    Qwerty has a first-hand account from other passengers that clarifies a lot. They were seen by female pier workers and they were, indeed, having sex.

    http://www.queerty.com/exclusive-very-very-obvious-that-atlantis-cruise-duo-in-dominica-were-having-sex-says-witness-20120327/

  • Tom Schaefer

    It continually amazes me how people wont take responsibility for their own actions. In no way is Atlantis responsible for what happens to passengers. The LGBT community has the intelligence to research ports of call and find out what the “current attitude” is towards homosexuality. If they are concerned, then dont book that itinerary. We want respect but it goes both ways….respect local customs. Being on a gay cruise does not mean morales are left at the pier upon sailing. If the passengers were having sex in view of others……give me a break…. Isnt the privacy of a stateroom enough?Whats next, sex in the dinningroom…. I am no prude, but common sense needs to kick in at some point. The world is becoming very scary these days, and protecting oneself while traveling is ones own responsibility and not the cruise line or charter company. Freedom is a precious thing, something many people can only dream about…dont take it for granted, dont think anything goes just because you think you can…there maybe a price. As for not going to ports of call because of “attitudes”……thats a personal choice especially with spending ones hard earned dollars. But if its because you cant do your thing in public because you are on a gay cruise….well remember the cruise is on the ship, not on the pier. Sex out in the open…..straight or gay……why? I can tell you if I had an adopted child onboard and my child was exposed to behavior like that…..id be in their face. Sex between two people is a very personal thing….keep it that way. To everyone, travel and enjoy the experience……and remember how lucky you are to be able to do so…something many people on these islands cant imagine.

  • Jimmi

    My partner and I visited the island of Dominica, the day after this incident, on Celebrity Equinox. Our experience (and previous visits to this island) have been nothing but wonderful. In fact I even said to my partner that the people there were one of the most friendly of the islands we have visited. Now that being said, we were not on a gay cruise. But regardless if it was a gay cruise or not, like in any country (including the U.S.) you have to conduct appropriate to your surroundings. I wouldn’t imagine this would be tolerated if it was a straight couple either. I think it wouldn’t matter where this was, if this happened in the US, it would have still been an issue. I just think we as a community should be a little more responsible and respectful of others who don’t necessarily want to see this. If the tables were turned, would you want to see a straight couple doing this? Being gay doesn’t give you the Carte Blanche to act inappropriate. Imagine your parents where on that pier looking at the ship, would you still be acting like this?

    • Michael Schmidt

      If it had been a STRAIGHT Couple banging, they would have hooped and hollered and joined in! Think there nice, hold hands and you will be arrested and if you take your t-shirt off they arrest for indecent exposure.

  • Michael Schmidt

    Here is my comment: #1 I am FURIOUS at Atlantis. They charter the entire ship, THEY BRAG that their ITINERARIES are custom designed by THEM, so if that were true they chose to take a CHEAP DOCK FEE. 8 years ago we went on a Bear Cruise to the Dominican Repubic, the ship shopping consultant didn’t even encourage anyone to get off the ship.

    We did and they wanted us to see a fancy HIGH WALLED development for Rich Americans and of course we wanted a bargain so I bribed the cab driver to take us down town. Filthy, is an understatement.

    If you have never been on an ATLANTIS Cruise, then you have no idea, it is one party after another and the entire ship is FREE! IF you don’t know what I mean, I mean, the guys are doing it every where!

    When you pay 4600.00 to go on a 7 day cruise, you get the impression that ATLANTIS has all under control. I think any one calling someone who is GAY having sex in a public place is either in denial or a PRUDE. We have camper and go to Gay Camprounds all the time. Men folk do it everywhere.

    I have seen many a straight couple screw on their balcony and I bet if that had been the case, whoever complained would have been calling for a crowd for a cheap thrill.

    My fury is directed at Atlantis! They sailed off leaving 2 tourist in their charge in a RAT HOLE Jail. Both exposed by name and where they live. Now I don’t book cruises that go to Domincan Republic, Jamaica or COZUMEL! Our greatest experiences of both friendly islanders have been to St. Thomas, St. Marten, Caraseau and St. Kitts. In fact we were so overwhelmed with the PRIDE FLAGS THAT draped the old fort wall of Caraseau we have went back and vacationed there and plan to retire there. A true European style Island.

    If you want to do drugs, drink and party all night and hook up like a WHITE PARTY, Atlantis is for you. I had just been thinking about booking one next spring but after this, there off my GAYDAR!

  • Annemarie

    My husband and I had sex on our balcony one late night when we were at sea. There were big partitions on each side of our deck, so no one could see. It’s all about having fun, while maintaining some kind of boundaries. We would NEVER have done that while docked. What if there were kids looking on, much less adults.

    Point is…gay or straight, expect to be arrested (or at least in some kind of trouble) if you have sex in plain view.

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