From Jamaica: Our Go, Daddy writer, gay-dad Paul J. Heney, his partner and kids are on their first-ever family cruise on Carnival Cruise Line. Here’s an update from their first port of call. Our first port of call on this Carnival cruise was Falmouth, Jamaica. I was a little conflicted about this stop.
Jamaica is one of the most stridently anti-gay countries on the planet, and so I felt somewhat opposed to giving any of my tourist dollars to the local economy. In the end, I decided to not make any sort of crusade out of it, and instead tried to use it as a teaching moment for our kids. While I’ve told them in the past about areas of the country or the world where LGBT people aren’t liked or tolerated, this was more real to them. They seemed shocked that such an innocuous looking place–and somewhere that we actually were–was such a “bad” part of the world, at least in one respect.
We devised a back story that Lance was my brother-in-law–married to my fictional sister Maureen. (They do have an Aunt Maureen, so that made it easier for them to remember.) I told them the chances of us getting in trouble for being gay was about zero, but that locals might treat us poorly or give us dirty looks if they found out.
As we had an excursion booked through the cruise line the next day in Grand Cayman, I suggested we try a different route in Jamaica. We merely walked off the ship with no firm plans and wandered into the tiny port town. Locals selling all sorts of brightly colored clothing lined the narrow streets. The kids, Matthew in particular, seemed a little taken aback at the poverty. After walking down a few streets, one of the locals named Dennis approached me with an offer to take us to Montego Bay and back, tell us about the island, take us to a good beach and a city overlook, etc. He described himself as “a family man” like me and a Christian. We listened to his story about charging us $100 instead of the normal $120, but kept walking and showed only minimal interest. Eventually he came down to $80 and I said it was Lance’s decision because he had the wallet. Lance then got him down to $70–a pretty good deal for the 4 of us!
We spent 90 minutes at the Doctors Cave Beach Club beach, a gorgeous crescent of sand with light blue green water. A huge inflatable trampoline about 100 feet offshore was all that Josh needed to make his day. It cost us $21 (cash) to access the beach and $12 for an umbrella and a chair. Matthew quickly made friends with a little Jamaican boy and they had a splendid time playing in the waves. Lance and I enjoyed people watching and goofing in the water a bit. There were some downright amazing bodies walking about, and I could see how Stella could get her groove back on a place like this!
Afterwards, Lance showed the boys his incredible bargaining skills in a few of the local shops in Montego Bay and then Dennis drove us to a lovely overlook before heading back to the ship. He did start up a conversation about where mom was today—Matthew started to answer that she lived at home and I interrupted and said something to the effect that, “The ladies wanted a spa day on the ship.”
Friends will vouch that I’m pretty militant and am usually the first one to fight the good fight. So it was hard to bite my lip even for a few hours, but I suppose I need to pick my battles—while keeping the kids’ eyes wide open about the bigger battles we still have to face.