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Gay PDA and Discipline: A Double Standard?

By Mathew Rodriguez

Cruise ship
© Bryan Mullennix/Getty
We all love cruises and the sense of uninhibited pleasures that await life at sea. We eat more than is socially acceptable, we lie around enough to be labeled as "unhealthily lazy" and we spend enough time in the water that we expect gills to sprout up naturally. We leave societal morays behind and begin what can be a week-long dive into unhealthy behaviors. What one gay couple learned two weeks ago on an Atlantis-chartered cruise to the Caribbean island of Dominica is that you can leave as many inhibitions behind as you want—as long as they aren’t carnal.

While in port in Dominica, John Hart and Dennis Meyer were having some port-of-entry activities, themselves. However, instead of playing horizontally, they decided to try some vertical action, and were spotted having standing-up sex on the deck of their cabin by people on the ground. Local authorities came on board the cruise ship and arrested the couple. The two men were brought up on charges of indecent exposure and "buggery"—a real offense in Dominica—and face up to a $370 fine and six months in jail. Dominica News Online reported:

Some eyewitnesses claim to have seen what they described as sexual activity taking place on the ship said to be carrying only male cruise passengers. One hair braider told DNO that she was "mentally disturbed, [this is the] first time I am seeing that in my life."

"It’s wrong, it’s dirty. They can’t do that so publicly. They need to respect us and our land," another angry onlooker said.

Atlantis Events President Rich Campbell, who was on board that day, said, "Many countries and municipalities that gay men visit have very antiquated laws on their books," and said he would happily continue Atlantis’s relationship with the port of Dominica without hesitation. He added, "These statutes don’t pose a concern to us in planning a tourist visit."

The couple were eventually released, and buggery charges dropped—leaving only indecent exposure. The episode divided the gay community—many were outraged by the cruise’s defense of Dominican policy, while others were embarrassed by the behavior of Meyer and Hart. Queerty got some exclusive reactions from other people on the cruise, none of whom were very judgmental of the couple or the cruise ship. Rather, many pointed the event as a piece of gossip and something that increased the experience of their vacation, rather than marred it. Queerty also received an exclusive NSFW iPhone grab of the incident. Many have now fallen on the side that says, though the couple did something stupid, they did not deserve to be taunted and humiliated by island residents, and perhaps they should just have sex facing the ocean next time.

Though they did technically break a law by having sex in public, one can’t help but recall other recent incidents of double-standard same sex affection.

Many remember that late last year, "L-Word" actress Leisha Hailey was kicked off of a Southwest Airlines flight, even though Southwest Airlines is the official airlines of GLAAD and features an entire section of their website dedicated to LGBT travel. She was kicked off after several passengers complained of her sharing too many kisses with her girlfriend. When the crew cited a rule that such open affection is banned on flights, the actress and her girlfriend were asked to leave the plane. Though they were "breaking a rule," it is still discrimination if that rule is only applied in cases of LGBT folks. Meyer and Hart may have been committing indecent exposure, just like Hailey and her girlfriend may have been breaking a Southwest statute, but the unequal applications of rules and laws is a major injustice, even if people really are breaking laws or statutes at any given time. When it comes to LGBT affection, people shouldn’t be paying attention to those breaking the law, but those who apply the law unevenly and in a way that promotes discrimination.
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