Tahiti: Honeymoon Capital of The World Welcomes Gay Newlyweds
By Clark Harding
“Oh yeah, you should see Moorea, it’s crawling with gays,” Jason Boeckman tells me of the nearby island, after I caught up with him and his boyfriend, Scott Hansen, down the beach. Yup, the couple in speedos were totally gay. Hailing from Fort Meyers, Fla., Jason and Scott are not married, but highly recommend Tahiti as a honeymoon destination.
“We felt very welcome during every part of our trip to French Polynesia,” Scott says, “Resort staff and locals we met, treated us with the same exceptional service as any couple.”
Unlike, say, Russia, Tahiti has a more evolved PR model (big shocker) when it comes to LGBT travelers. They actually want more gays to visit and think it would be beneficial to their economy and culture. “It’s definitely a niche market,” says Jeffrey Crochet, Marketing Manager for Tahiti Tourism North America, “but it is definitely on our radar.”
And with 17 states in the U.S. with marriage equality, French Polynesia would like to proudly welcome same-sex honeymooners. The tourism bureau has even set up a website specifically designed for the gay and lesbian traveler, cheering Tahiti as “such a gay friendly destination.” The website also reiterates that the country is under French law, in which marriage equality is legal. “There is no legal discrimination against homosexual activity,” the site reassures, and “homophobia in French Polynesia is uncommon.”
“Oh yes! Please come! We are a very open people!” Hinano Teavai-Murphy says at Gump Station, a research and cultural center on Moorea. A native Tahitian, Hinano’s father actually helped design the original Overwater Bungalow. Fifty years later, the designer’s daughter wants everyone to share in the Tahitian Dream.
“No one goes hungry in Tahiti, because you can walk along the road and pick food off the trees,” Hinano continues. “It’s because our islands are so abundant that we have a culture of sharing.”
While bouncing on the trampoline of a catamaran, sailing from the island of Raiatea to Taha, the crew of Tahiti Charter Cruises had the same reaction. “Well, obviously we’d want honeymooners to visit, gay or straight, it’s the same thing” they all agreed.
“Anyone is welcome here.” Jean Guillaumot concurs, “Gay people, will be treated at the Hilton just like everybody else because they are just like everybody else.” In fact, Jean continues “You’ll notice a lot of Mahu and Rae Rae work here in harmony with all the other staff.”
Mahu? Rae Rae?