Hmmmmm ... FOD always struck me as being rather "Fifties" and a little "over dramatic" ... But that description actually fits a lot of my gay friends! Personally I far prefer something else and find many ships are using more up-to-date signage. Posting on the community bulletin board suits me just fine since, as we have read, more and more organizations want to be listed and the daily newsletter is only so big. My main complaint about the daily gatherings is that there is just one ... It almost always falls during the same time as the comp. cocktail hour offered to frequent travellers. I would like to see a gathering advertised for before dinner and one for around 11:00 PM when guys are looking to hook up. Any thoughts?
Yes the name should be changed but that is not the only thing. For 8 of my last 9 cruises the posting of FOD meetings has gone nowhere. But that has been largely do to the people themselves, not the cruise lines. Almost every cruise you could see and pick out the gay couples in the area of the meeting, but no one seemed to be interested in actually meeting. They would come in look around and leave. Even after the nods and exchanging hellos, they would just leave. Being among the "older" generation, my partner & I have numerous times been literally snubbed and/or rejected but the younger men. And we have seen obvious effeminate men being snubbed by "straight acting" couples, who we could see by those "apparent-to-another-gay" actions, are together. What they fail to realize is that this is not a hook-up session, but a meet & greet. We do not go out looking for sex, just companionship, esp when we cruise alone (we usually book groups, some straight & some gay, and lead them).
The one time we had a good connection, it was fantastic. That was on the Allure of the Seas and the first night the time posted was not really good because it was 6 PM & conflicted with early dinner seating. So we changed it to 7:30 and within 2 days we had over 40 people (and a few not even gay). We actually took over the champagne bar and the bartender and waitstaff looked forward to our coming. And we would acknowledge each other every time we met aboard the ship or in port. But this was looked upon as a gathering not a cruise (the other definition) party. With the increase of gay couples cruising we need to learn it isn't all about sex and who turns you on or who do you want to be seen with.
I'm now 29 but finding Friends of Dorothy at 16/17 on my early cruises was really liberating. Helped me feel part of SOMETHING on board especially when there was no one to relate to in the teen and adult youth programs over the years. Although it gave me PLENTY of time to make "better friends" with the entertainment team
I just got off an MSC Cruise (don't ask) and was pretty shocked to see "LGBT Meeting" so blatantly scheduled between Bill W and Dr. Bob. Why do they get their anonymity and we don't? OK by virtue of Alcoholics ANONYMOUS yes but ... I don't know. I'm out and proud and wearing white short shorts to the White Party on board but I still had a twinge of,
"What happens when the self-loathing homophobic Italian guy stalks the meeting and finds out who he can harrass onboard?"
I know it should be silly to consider but we've seen worse. Especially with the mentalities of what's going on in Russia, the melting pot could be dangerous. I feel like it would prevent some from those backgrounds from putting themselves out there. These feelings are why Grindr has thrived combining the roots of gay cruising with modern technology.
It was really nice seeing a 16 year old kid get brought to the meeting by his (very young and clearly a Dorothy herself) mother this trip. You could tell how relaxed he was and though it wasn't constant interaction, he was noticeably comfortable on board seeing all of us around on occasion. Would hate to see someone like that feel excluded or afraid because his parents (or early 20's closeted person onboard with friends) would know where he was going
Granted not everyone KNOWS what it means but ... it still has an air of a little something secret society'esque that should remain eternal.
I find it interesting that RCCL hasn't a clue what "Friends of Dorothy" or "LGBT" refers to. I was on The Freedom of the Seas in May and asked a Staff Member at Guest Services if they could arrange to have a notice placed in their daily news paper announcing an "LGBT Gathering" at 5pm daily in one of their lounges. The woman had no idea what I was talking about and sent an e-mail to the Director of Guest Relations who books in-cabin parties for passengers where they would bring a bar set-up and finger foods to your cabin and you invite whom you want. I explained the purpose of the LGBT Gathering and HE HAD NO CLUE!!! The next day, another staff member advised me there was a "Community Bulletin Board" in front of Guest Services and I could put an announcement there about an LGBT Gather along side of the other announcements for the Quilting Club, Friends of Bill W, and the Book of the Cruise Club!!! I placed my announcement card on the board and my partner and I proceeded to go the designated lounge faithfully every evening at 5pm. Not a single person showed up!! My theory is that if an LGBT passenger didn't know to check out the Bulletin Board they would never have known about any attempt that was made to put and LGBT group together during the cruise!!!
Princess Cruises on the other hand has ALWAYS has a "Friends of Dorothy" notice in their Princess Patter daily newspaper!! We first cruised with them 16 years ago and they were hosting "FOD" gatherings way back then. They even paid for the Champagne at Happy Hour and 2 free drinks on their out island day!!!
Having recently returned from two consecutive South Pacific cruises from Sydney (18 days on Explorer of the Seas), I feel that although RCL is not overtly homophobic, they could do a lot more to enhance LGBT cruisers' experiences. It was through a Meet Me On Board forum that I knew to look for information about the "Friends of Dorothy" get together on a card on the board by the Guest Services desk. Nothing was listed in the daily Cruise Compass. The location and time mentioned on that card (the R Lounge at 4 pm) is in a very heavily populated area adjacent to the Royal Promenade. On the first cruise, there were 6 of us at the get together, several of whom were traveling together. On the second cruise, I was the only one at the meeting. It didn't help that there was no sign indicating in what part of the lounge we would meet; is it assumed our 'gaydar' would allow us to identify each other?
I feel that younger LGBT travelers as well as those not from North America, might not recognize the term, "Friends of Dorothy". I really feel a more appropriate term at the very least should be: "LGBT/Friends of Dorothy". In addition, this meeting should be held in a more quiet area of the ship, like one of the piano bars, with a sign indicating the exact location and preferably with a facilitator from the Cruise Director's staff, at least for the first day or so. I understand that RCL holds this get together in a bar (to encourage those who wish to socialize while having a drink), but there are several other bars that are a little less congested at 4 pm, like the Schooner Bar.
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