The “SS Dolphin IV” cruise ship was docked at Port Canaveral in 1996. I was a Ship’s Purser, working in the office where the paperwork was done, passports were made ready for inspection, cabins were allocated and money was counted. This 4-day cruise to Freeport, Bahamas and Key West had been booked by around 1,200 LGBT people, who gaily decked the ship with a rainbow flag.
As the ship set sail, I wondered what it would be like travelling with these people. Would it be any different to any other group of people? Everyone seemed happy and excited.
One evening, I went up to the Cafe Miramar, a bar area on the main deck. I ordered a drink from the waiter and sat down at a table. There was an older woman who looked about 48, together with a young slip of a woman, who looked about 21. I saw that the older woman was extremely bossy towards the other one. The younger one looked scared, nervous and anxious. After some time had passed, the older one got up to use the toilet.
As she walked off, I spoke to the younger one. “Are you OK?”
“Yeah,”, she replied.
“You look kind of worried.”
“I know it’s none of my business and I know that you’re lesbians and all but you don’t have to put up with all that, you know? If you’re not happy or feel worried, you should dump her. There are lots of other lesbians on the ship. Plenty of other fish in the sea, you know?” I smiled.
“I guess,” she answered, relaxing a little. “It’s just that I’m living with her.” It turned out that she had recently come out and had moved in with the older lesbian. I felt strongly that the older one was just using the younger one for her beautiful body and didn’t really care too much about her.
“I mean,” I went on, “maybe there’s this dominant-submissive thing going on and, you know, that’s fine – but I think it’s supposed to be fun, not scary.”
“Yeah,” she said, appearing to agree. “I guess so.”
Just then, the older woman came back, so I left them to it.
On another evening, I went up to the Miramar again and sat in a different place, close to where I had been before. Two different lesbians were sitting on the sofa opposite. They were holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes. They started kissing and making out with each other. They looked at me sometimes and I began to wonder whether they wanted me to go away or stay and watch. I felt nervous, not because they were making out but because I didn’t want to upset them. At the same time, I felt justified sitting where I was and didn’t really want to move just because a couple of women were doing that on the sofa opposite. Hmmm! What should I do?
I decided that I would move but not in a hurry. I sat calmly, watching them but not in a creepy way, like I thought it was hot or something – I decided it would show more love if I just chilled out, relaxed, accepting everything they were doing, so that they would get the message that I was cool with everything and wouldn’t judge, get scared or get upset. Once I felt like I had transmitted that message enough, I then got up and walked around for a while. Sure enough, they increased speed a little once I left. Interesting!
On another night in the Miramar, another lesbian and her girlfriend sat down near me. While her girlfriend went off somewhere, the other one decided to get chatty with me. After a while I asked, “So, are you liking the cruise?”
“Sure – it’s great. I really love the women here, too, haha!”
“Yes, me, too,” I smiled, shyly.
“I guess so – you look straight!”
“I am,” I replied, still smiling. “You look like a lesbian!”
“I like girls,” she replied. “I always have. I don’t know why but it’s just the way I’m wired.”
Something about the way she spoke and the feeling she gave me made me feel safe. This feeling, “lesbian gaydar”, is unmistakable. I loved it because it made me feel comfortable and accepted. “Actually,” I began, “I love women.”
“YES! Me, too!” she laughed.
“Like, I’m not like some guys, who say ‘I love women’ but really don’t – they give women a hard time, make them feel scared, slap them around and only love their bodies. When I say I love them, I really love them – like, I couldn’t imagine not being around them. I love everything about them. I can trust them more than any man. I’m enraptured by her hair, I love the beautiful shape of her body, her long, fabulous legs.”
“Awesome! Me, too! I really like a nice butt.”
“That’s OK but actually legs are my favourite body part for women.”
“I like legs, too!”
I laughed. “Well, huh! It’s fun having ‘Me, too’ conversations with you!”
“Yeah! IT’S FUN! Don’t you think?”
“Yeah, me, too – hahaha!”
This fun conversation continued for several more rounds before finally, she admitted, “but I wish I had a penis like you.”
“Really?” I remarked, surprised. “But that’s a male body part. Why would you be interested?”
“I know but -” she paused. “I really want one.”
“Why? What would you do with it?”
“The same as you – use it to ‘F’ every girl in the room.”
“Wow, I see,” I replied. “Hmmm, well – I guess that explains why gay guys do what they do. I mean, like, he wants to do the other guy but the other guy doesn’t have the right equipment, so he uses something else.”
“Exactly,” she responded. “Gay guys think having a vagina is awesome and wish they had one. Lesbians think penises are awesome and wish they had one of them. Straight guys think lesbian sex is hot. Straight women think gay sex is hot.”
“Yeah – everyone wants to try the sex they can’t have.”
Just then, her girlfriend came back. “Well, see you around,” she smiled. “Nice talking to you.”
“Same here. Bye!”
So those are just some of the things I learned on that LGBT cruise. What I felt most strongly though, was that lesbianism and being a straight guy is basically the same thing. We both like women and both dream of doing exactly the same thing with them. It’s just that I’m male and she’s female. I felt connected to these women, intrigued by this glimpse into their world and accepted by them – and that made me happy.