The Gay Cruise Experience: Dave

By: Rick Andreoli

I am a bear. A proud, big-bellied, enjoy-a-good-buffet kind of bear. I like guys with normal bodies and find them much sexier than gym junkies. Sure, I'll check out a hot guy in a Speedo, but I don't buy into that gay BS about needing a six pack. I'm very happy with my keg, thank you very much.

So the last place I wanted to go was on a gay cruise. I'd always seen them as places where the Chelsea queens thrived, drugs were a necessity and the thump-thump-thumping of dance music would keep me awake all night. 

But my best friend was turning 40, it was important to him that I be there, so I signed up for a Caribbean cruise last year—and readied myself to be fed to the sharks.

Yogi_Atlantis None of that happened. In fact, the moment I arrived I found myself faced with gay men of every kind: bears, older guys, couples and, yes, guys I'd label "circuit queens." But everyone was incredibly friendly. It was as if they'd dropped all attitude the moment they left their various gay ghettos .

Everyone, except me.

True story: We were in the elevator headed to the bar when a couple young guys walked in and started talking to us, excitedly asking where we were from, how things were, etc. I was instantly cold, keeping my shields up and waiting for the bitchiness to begin.

But it didn't, and when the elevator opened one of them nodded to me and said to my friends, "Get this one a drink. She needs some help."

I instantly felt like crap—not because they were mean but because I'd approached them with a What the f--k do you want? kind of attitude. I was so "positive" the cruise wouldn't be fun that I was keeping myself from even having a conversation with nice people. I was safe with friends, had an opportunity to meet tons of new people, and needed to just be a part of this experience and allow myself to have fun.

So I did. I allowed myself to enjoy the food (there's a lot to choose from around gays who are watching their waistline), hang out by the pool, and help my best friend enjoy his trip as well. I even got lucky after the leather party because, well, leather dudes like a big side of beef now and then.

I don't know that I could do a gay cruise alone, but with friends and a good attitude the week became a perfect vacation. Hell, I turn 40 in a year so maybe that's where I'll spend it. At least I'm now open to the possibility.