We need meetings for the same reason we need online forums like this. We can meet other people who are comfortable with us and with whom we can feel comfortable. For many of us, there have been many shared experiences (of discrimination or not) that enable us to support and encourage each other in an often hostile world.
For example, in selecting a table for dinner, we have had assistance from others here and onboard that enabled us to find friendly waiters and staff who would help us to have a wonderful, memorable cruise. That contrasts with experiences we've had years before in which we were obligated to sit at dinner with tight-lipped homophobes who could barely manage to be courteous, let alone carry on a warm sympathetic social engagement!
While I can understand where you are coming from I look at it a little differant and think it is a great opportunity to educate those that do not understand homosexuality. Most 'straight' people that do not like gays do so because of mis-information or ignorance. When people realize that the only real differance between straight and gay people is their preferance for who gets to them sexually. I might add that CA is a good friend of mine and while he definately does not hide the fact he is gay, he doesn't shout it out whenever he first meets someone as that is not all there is to him. He is a great guy and intelligent, witty and fun to be around, (God this will go to his head), and he just happenes to be gay, big deal. Yes it is nice to be around people who live and think like you but don't shelter yourself from others as you only hurt yourself. The same advice can also be applied to straight people as well. Heck, substitute race, nationality, religion or whatever and it is still good advice.
We went to meetings for the first time two week ago on the QM2. I thought it was a great way to meet people that you can hang out with or have a drink with before/after dinner. In the past, we never went to meetings and found ourselves trying to find opportunities to walk up to other couples to meet them for a nice conversation. Usually that meant not meeting people until the last day or two.
Most of the people we met at the meeting on the second day became great companions during the rest of the cruise. Even better, it seemed that many couples had different interests between themselves and were able to split up to do what each wanted to do. For instance, I have no desire to sit in the disco until all hours of the night, but my BF does. He was able to hang out with others in the group that we met at the FOD meeting who liked to stay up late. Worked out real well.
It was also nice to talk about cruise experiences at the meetings to get an idea of excursions or future cruises.
paulras, now this I can understand as it does bring people together of like interest and some interests are specific to the gay community. That is why we have this message board. I just think it is a bit silly to have these 'secret codeword' meetings. Nothing at all to be ashamed of or hide from.
Normally, we forego the FOD meetings, opting instead to meet people online first and then meet up on the ship if possible. For us, at least, this is a way to get to know people before the cruise, share some ideas on what to do, etc. For us, too, this takes away the "stranger" feel for people you are actually physically meeting for the first time.
On our Diamond Princess sailing Oct. 30th, we met three gay couples direct from Cruisemates, and another who became friends with one couple during the sailing.
I agree with Paul -- this creates a great way to have friends to meet with when your other half wishes to do something else. On Halloween night, Art was pooped and ready to go back to the cabin. I wanted to take part in the ship party -- and more importantly, see Bob's costume. It was wonderful to be able to go right to Club Fusion, meet Bob and Tim there, and then meet friends of theirs from San Jose, Dan and Bill.
Later, we met up with Ignacio and Marco. Art and I also had a drink with Don and Ray, who were gracious enough to let me have a drink with them late in the evening a couple times when Art was back cozy in the cabin.
Meeting everyone not only added to the cruise, but gave me the chance to do some things on my own without *being* on my own.
I see no problem with a GLBT meeting, mixer or whatever -- and frankly, it perturbs me when it's denied as a listing in the newsletters. This is just how we go about meeting folks on board.
Post Edited (12-16-04 13:47)
__________________ Harry Martin
Moderator - Mexico and G/L message boards
I agree with those positive opinions on FOD meetings, just as I was pleased my dad enjoyed the Service Organization and Mason's meetings he attended! This is not as much about being gay as it is about being social - we chatted with some great folks on this message board before we sailed the QM2 and then met them in the first meeting. By the way, Hi Paul and Gene, Jeff and Ray here - nice to see your message - Happy Holidays!
In my observations, people usually have a natural propensity to be drawn (socially and/or sexually) to other people who share simillar interests. Just as some older women gather to play bridge together, some other people may gather because they like to collect Malaysian butterflies...and some gather because they are butterflies themselves!
In our personal experience, my partner and I had a blast on our cruise to Alaska, and although we thought it may have been fun to attend an FOD event on deck (of which there were none), we still had an amazing and intimate time together without that element.
It is just a little more fun and comfortable when we share company with other people who have common interests.
Now Mikey's Turn:
I asked Anthony to read and comment on this very subject as I could have easily been the poster of this question. Admittedly am on the fence on this. When we went to AK last Aug., and when we go to Mexico this January (Princess 1/15) and if there is an FOD -- yes, I will go. Yet I know myself enough that I will also be a-bit ambivalent. I would prefer to meet with a group of fellow physicians or hikers for example. The idea of meeting based on ones sexual prefrence still does not sit well with me, though I completely understand it. So my interenal debate continues.
While at lunch in AK, I was happily surprized when we sat with two big-haired women from TX and a couple from UT, and ended up having a great time. As an obvious gay couple, I figured the opposite.
Well good questions and great replies from one and all -- thanks for helping me to gain clarity and understaning....
My preference is to have both straight friends and gay friends. I don't like EITHER-OR questions. They almost always force you into a position you don't really want. Once you've chosen sides, other people feel forced to pick a side also. If asked an EITHER-OR question, I will always ask, "Can't I have both?"
I say, wherever you can find joy or enlightenment without significant side effects, go for it! I do know that both gay and straight people have been important role models for me. I think I've needed both!
The one point that may now be overlooked is, the diversity of the gay population. Whenever I have attended an FOD gather and I have the honour of many, I find the diversity of the attendees amazing. Who would have really thought that there could be a gay Republican? But I have met several and although we differ on our outlook on life, we had a good time together in our discussions. So much tabout which to talk. Gay is not the subject of and FOD gathering. Life Is. But one needs to know that the discussion can be open without prejudice from any phobia. Subjects from plumbing, yes you heard correctly, plumbing, to medical treatment and social medicine to recipes. But first you have to meet the crowd
On more than one cruise, I have said to my partner Jon, "I bet that couple is gay". But to intrude into their space was not our thing and probably not theirs either. But when the attendees arrive at an FOD gathering, or a GLBT gathering or whatever we wish to call them, life's diversity blossoms. Life really is a banquet and the proverbial suckers starving to death need not be us.
It is just too bad that some people don't think that the FOD functions are important. They are to many people, and for that reason, the cruise lines should be willing to accommodate those to whom they are relevant. There is a freightening message in their refusal to support them.