Gay is OK on plenty of Caribbean islands, so why do gay cruises choose the homophobes?

Ships in Dominica dock at the end of a long pier

With the arrest of two men on an Atlantis cruise in the harbor in Dominica, the question isn’t whether they were having sex, as police claim, or just sunbathing nude, as the couple claims. The question is why a gay cruise is visiting islands where homosexuality is illegal, rewarding these places with tens of thousands of dollars of purchases on each visit when there are more places in the Caribbean where homosexuality is legal and places that even recognize same-sex marriage.

And whether or not they were engaging in sexual activity, the couple was told, “You are being arrested for being gay,” according to the Washington Post. As far as the police on Dominica were concerned, every person on that ship was guilty of crime. Why didn’t they arrest them all? Because they wanted them to come ashore and spend a lot of gay dollars.

While the Caribbean has an anti-gay reputation, the laws vary from island to island. Actually, homosexuality is perfectly legal in more places than not. The differences range from recognizing same-sex marriage to life in prison. Most perplexing, perhaps is that on some islands, lesbians are legal and gays get 10 years in prison.

French and Dutch territories have the longest history of nondiscrimination. Puerto Rico’s laws were struck down along with Texas’ sodomy law in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision.

One other thing — in Dominica, the ship does not dock at the shore, but down a long pier. Someone on shore was looking for trouble with binoculars to catch this couple. See which islands welcome the LGBT community after the jump:

—  David Taffet

Lesbian athlete attempting to swim from Havana to the Florida Keys — again

At 61, former NPR reporter Diana Nyad is swimming for the record books.

In Greek mythology, the naiads were, basically, water nymphs, presiding over fountains, wells, springs, streams and brooks.

Lesbian athlete and former NPR reporter Diana Nyad, 61, hopes to conquer a somewhat bigger body of water as she attempts to swim from Havana, Cuba, to the Florida Keys in 60 hours, without a wetsuit or a shark cage. She left Havana Sunday and intends to complete the 103-mile distance sometime Wednesday, according to this report by ChicagoPride.com.

CNN, the only news media outlet that will have reporters in the boats accompanying Nyad, talked with the swimmer before she left Sunday. She told CNN she believes she is in the prime of her life. She said: “When I walk up on those shores of Florida, I want to prove to the AARP crowd that it’s not too late to go back and write that book or adopt that child. … The joke is the 60s are the new 40s, and it’s true. … I want to be there to say we have many, many years of vitality and strength and service left in us.”

Like anybody who has listened regularly to NPR, I had heard of Diana Nyad. But I never knew that she was a world-record-holding swimmer. In 1970 at age 20, in her first distance swim, she set a women’s world record by swimming 10 miles across Lake Ontario in four hours, 22 minutes. In 1974, she set another world record by finishing the 22-mile Bay of Naples race in Italy in eight hours, 11 minutes. The next year, at age 26, Nyard swam around the island of Manhattan — 28 miles total — in seven hours, 57 minutes.

—  admin

Cuba marks IDAHO with drag pageant, parade

When I think of countries that are enlightened and progressive when it comes to LGBT rights, Cuba has never ranked very high on the list. But it looks like I need to rethink my attitudes.

Miss Trasvesti 2011 contestant

Today is International Day Against Homophobia, but Cuba got a jump on the celebration with the second annual Miss Trasvesti pageant, featuring a line-up of truly stunning drag queens, if the photos posted here on Huffington Post are any indication.

You can watch video from Cuba’s 2010 Miss Travesti pageant below.

The article also says that Cubanos celebrated IDAHO with “a colorful parade and other events throughout Havana,” and notes that Mariela Castro, niece of longtime president Fidel Castro (and daughter of current president Raul Castro), is head of Cuba’s National Sexual Education Center and a longtime advocate on LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS issues.

Although IDAHO has been around for seven years, this is the first time that Dallas will have an IDAHO event. Everyone is invited to gather at the JFK Memorial in downtown Dallas at 8 p.m. for a candlelight march followed by presentations by speakers.

—  admin

Glee Heads to Cuba

KURT HUMMEL GLEE X390 (PROVIDED) | ADVOCATE.COMA state-sponsored Cuban television channel is reportedly showing episodes from the first seasons of Glee and Six Feet Under.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

State footing the bill for sex change operations in Cuba

While the U.S. Congress continues to be mired in a swamp of partisan bickering over health care reform, and the American Psychiatric Association refuses to remove “Gender Identity Disorder” from its Diagnostic and Statiscal Manual (watch the Friday, March 12 issue of Dallas Voice for Renee Baker’s story on that topic), Cuba’s communist government has begun paying for sex change operations for some of its transgender citizens.

The program began in 1988 but was suspended for two decades amid complaints that the government had better things to spend its money on, according to this Associated Press story. But the program has started back up now under Mariela Castro, President Raul Castro’s daughter and the woman known as the country’s biggest LGBT rights activist.

Eight trans people were involved in the initial program, and now that it has restarted, 22 more trans people are waiting to get the surgery.

Read the whole story here.

—  admin