I haven’t been lesbian-identified since 2005. Yet most of the eight Olivia cruises I’ve been on embarked after I transitioned. Being one of the handful of men on a queer women’s cruise has never been uncomfortable for me. Instead, each trip renewed my belief in the life-changing impact of queer cruises. I haven’t been on a gay men’s cruise (yet), so I can’t compare, but I’m sure there are some elements there that are equally empowering.
Still it’s a man’s world.
The world most of us live in is one built for men. White cisgender heterosexual men, to be sure, but men. Most Americans will never experience what it’s like to be in a woman’s world; to be in an environment where women outnumber men by 100 to 1, let alone one where the majority of those women are LGBTQ+, as on an Olivia cruise. It is eye opening. As a feminist, even a trans male one, it has been invigorating and empowering.
Anyone who leaves a cruise has to rediscover their land legs, but for queer travelers disembarking from an LGBTQ+ cruise, the culture shock can be depressing, like waking from a great dream. Oh right, this is the “real” world.
It’s not surprising that so many queer travelers will do what it takes to go on another cruise. After one visit you can’t wait to get back to Neverland. This is what gives queer cruises a special place in many travelers’ hearts.
That isn’t to say that LGBTQ+ travelers don’t also go on, and absolutely love, mainstream cruises too. Cruises offer great vacations, a mobile resort that carries you out to sea and far off beaches. (And right now one of the cheapest vacations available, with some lines offering 5-day itineraries with rooms as little as $25/night, according to the Washington Post).
For many of us it was heartbreaking to see the cruise industry decimated by the pandemic, and we’re thrilled to see it steaming back now. In this special Out Traveler issue we examine the role queer cruises like R Family Vacations' have played in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, celebrate LGTBQ+ companies, share cruise adventures from our Out Travelers, and even consider that other kind of gay cruising and its connection to travel.
Paul J. Heney takes us along for a family cruise to Mykonos, and we get tours of Virgin Voyages’ new ship, Scarlet Lady, and Celebrity Cruises’ Edge (did you know queer travel companies VACAYA and Atlantis Events both have chartered Celebrity ships for their cruises?).
This issue’s cover star, Braunwyn Windham-Burke, the first Real Housewife to come out while on the show, talks to us about how travel is one of the most thrilling aspects of her new life as an out lesbian.
Also in this issue you’ll find guides to visiting Oakland, going RVing, climbing the walls, day tripping in Chicago, being pampered in Scottsdale, viewing Miami’s lifeguard towers, staying in luxury, and frequenting new LGBTQ-owned drinking establishments.
Earlier this year I enjoyed my first cruise since the pandemic started (on the aforementioned Scarlet Lady), and I’m already looking forward to my next outing. I’m planning to party with thousands of women celebrating Olivia’s 50th anniversary and expecting it to be as memorable and empowering as my last one.
Read more of our cruise coverage here.
Hope to see you on the high seas,
Editor in Chief