Sunday, April 25, 2010
As we were leaving Club Med Cancun yesterday, we found out that an organization called Atlantis Gay Vacations had booked the entire resort for the next week. We had to leave our room by 11AM, so I hung out for the next hour and a half in the reception area, the only area with wifi internet access.
By this point the gay men were coming in by the busload. You certainly can't blame them for wanting their own exclusively gay vacation destinations, where they can frolic to their hearts' content away from the disapproving glances of straight people, many of whom regard them as freaks.
What struck me yesterday was how freakish many of them actually are. I believe in most of the tenets of the gay liberation movement, first and foremost their right to marry each other. But I also will not shy away from describing them honestly.
The gay men seemed to come in four main flavors. The first was faux macho: many of these guys were obviously on steroids and spent a lot of their spare time in the weight room. But they were often disproportionate, with huge upper bodies perched on scrawny little legs. You could tell they'd never really been athletes; they were just guys with pumped up muscles. Many of these guys sported tattoos and crew cuts or even shaved heads. If you looked closely you'd never mistake any of them for Navy Seals, though that seemed to be the look they were striving for.
Or perhaps they saw themselves as pirates -- who might be captured by the Seals, who would then hold them captive and subject them to unspeakable indignities.
A few of the men were sad sack Nathan Lane-types, with depressed but clownish eyes. These guys, often referred to as "bears" within the community, would never be featured in an ad such as the one above.
The third flavor might be described as "extremely helpful." It's impossible not to find these guys pleasant to be around. They're always cheerful, always polite, always friendly, and always understanding. While they tend to be a little effeminate, they're not drama queens or weird like transvestites. They're just....nice. They remind me of the vivacious hostess at a suburban party who's always making sure everyone is comfortable and has a fresh drink: a little phony maybe, but hard not to like.
The fourth flavor was the type who originally inspired the word "queer" as a description of gay men: they looked as if they had just sucked on a lemon, and had found it far too sour for their finicky palates.
But a lot of the men also seemed to show why homosexuals adopted the preferred term "gay" around forty years ago: there was an air of festive excitement in the reception room that day which definitely outdid the atmosphere surrounding the arrival of the straight newcomers to the club the previous week. Watching them greet each other giddily, one couldn't help but get the impression that being gay is basically a nonstop party.
Many of the men seemed to have a similar fashion sense. (Note to self: throw away all v-neck t-shirts and diamond stud earrings.)
There were a few men who didn't fit into any of the above categories. One guy had very thick and well-kept blond hair all the way down to his lower back. He was actually extraordinarily good-looking, if you could get past the ridiculous hairdo. (Was he an off-duty drag queen?)
Another guy had a bushy blond beard and strong features. He wore a white t-shirt and Bermuda shorts, and was more straight-looking than most straight guys. (If he and I were standing together, somebody might be tempted to ask him, "What are you doing with that faggot?") He resembled a healthy Viking looking for a Scottish village to sack (and Scottish maidens to rape), which made it all the more cringe-inducing when he greeted all his friends by kissing them full on the lips.
It was surprising how many of them came as couples. You'd think they'd have had more of the original (1970's) Club Med spirit, the attitude that they were coming to the tropics for a week of nonstop semi-anonymous debauchery. (I must confess to a sense of relief that we stayed there the week before them, and not the week after.)
After spending an hour in the reception room, I went with my son to lunch. (My wife and daughter had gone for one last ocean swim and were going to join us in a bit.) The Club Med maitre'd put us in the large dining room. The room slowly filled, and all of the other diners seemed to be gay. It seemed that we were one of the last families there. My son shook his head and said, in a low voice, "After we leave God really should rain hellfire and brimstone down on this place."
He was kidding. Sorta.
But then when I went to get seconds at the buffet, and saw all the families in another room, I realized what had happened: the maitre'd had mistaken my son and me for a gay couple.
I guess I look more like Johnny's "uncle" than his father.
I found this funny. But when I got back to the table and explained this to my son, he didn't seem to see the humor.
There is really no word in the dictionary to describe his reaction. "Revulsion" doesn't quite do it justice.