Tahiti: Honeymoon Capital of The World Welcomes Gay Newlyweds
By Clark Harding
See, French Polynesia has not grown in to being a gay friendly place… it always has been a gay friendly place. Not only do the Tahitians have a more evolved tourism model, but they also carry more inclusive ideas of sexuality and gender identity, as well. Gays (Mahu) and transgender people (Rae Rae) have been a celebrated part of the indigenous, native culture long before Captain Cook’s deckhands said “Fuck you dude, this place is awesome!”
When getting off the water taxi in Bora Bora I spotted a group of Rae Rae. They were some BIG chicks (think Samoan outboard canoers in skirts), with long hair, and native tattoos. I marched right up and was all “hey gurl!” which I obnoxiously assumed was the universal LGBT phrase for “Hello friends!” but once again, I was completely wrong.
The Rae Rae didn’t even notice me. Two of them were sharing ear buds, while another was juggling a soccer ball. If anything, they thought, Who is this American and why is he jumping up and down like an excited school girl? While watching a native dance performance (not to be confused with the Hula), I saw a Rae Rae dancing with all the other straw-skirted ladies. I was like
“Check it out! A Rae Rae!” and everyone around me was like “big deal.” It was this nonchalance that made me get a glimpse of what true equality felt like. Queer people on Tahiti are just people.
While the French Polynesia website reiterates that although the islands are gay-friendly, it is not a solely gay destination. There aren’t any gay bars and the nightlife is quiet, consisting of “drinking wine and watching the sunset,” as Jason and Scott preferred, or stargazing.
“We enjoy weekend getaways with friends to gay places like Key West and Fort Lauderdale. But when we plan a trip together that is just for the two of us, we will typically select a destination where we can connect and see new and exciting things,” Jason later explains. “There is so much in the world to see, you can find destinations that matter to you.”
CLARK HARDING is a Los Angeles-based writer and traveler. Read more of Clark's adventures here.