Last December my generous, queer-positive Dad offered to take my girlfriend and me on a tropical holiday for spring break. Of course we said yes–we’d had a crappy, rainy fall and we couldn’t afford to pay for a trip like that ourselves.
Dad wanted to go to the Sandals resort in Cuba. He didn’t know that Sandals is famous for its hets-only policy. (He also apparently didn’t know that it’s “exclusively for couples in love”–not for couples plus Dad.) And he didn’t consider Cuba’s poor record on gay and lesbian rights. I realized once again that straight people can take a lot for granted.
My girlfriend and I have travelled together to northern BC, the Maritimes, and a couple of times to Mexico. We’ve met great people, had adventures, seen crazy-beautiful sights. We’re lucky. But when Dad suggested going to Cuba, we realized we’d barely ever been able to be affectionate in public on vacation.
This trip with Dad wouldn’t be super-romantic (duh), but we wanted to at least hold hands. It sucks when you’re in some amazing new place but you feel too unsafe to lean over and kiss the person you love, or even squeeze her hand.
We decided to try Kihei on Maui, and it turned out to be our best vacation ever. My girlfriend and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why we often felt comfortable holding hands or kissing in public, even though we saw few other identifiable queers.
Maybe it was the very mixed crowd on the beach in Kihei (the “budget coast”): old people in small bikinis and snorkel masks, long-haired tattooed bikers, pale men in shorts and black knee socks. We didn’t stand out so much.
Or maybe it was the playful atmosphere. Maybe homophobia doesn’t thrive in a place where adults are splashing in the waves and running around the beach like big dorks. And people of all shapes and sizes are confidently wearing revealing bathing suits. Maybe the more you accept your own body, the more you can accept queer-looking queer folks.
Our speculations were supported by a trip up the coast to Ka’anapali, where you have to sneak past luxury hotels to get to the beach. The crowd was all large-breasted blond women in bikinis, their grey-haired husbands on cell phones and their children wrapped head to toe in protective clothing; not much playing, absolutely no body hair. We stuck out like sore thumbs.
I know I can’t expect to be out everywhere I go. But can I just say that it was a sweet feeling to watch the sun set over the ocean with my arm around my girlfriend?
It’s a small thing, but so perfect.