N IS FOR
NaviGAYtion Gays have been having a camp old time on the high seas for all history. Tales of below-decks hijinks between sailors, confined for months on end in close quarters with other men, are the stuff of folklore, and even the earliest convict ships en route to Australia are said to have followed the rules of rum, buggery and the lash. And is there anything cuter than rows of sailors in their blue and white sailor suits standing on deck as their ships sail by? The sight of Gene Kelly in all those old Hollywood musicals in his butt-hugging sailor suits launched a thousand homoerotic fantasies. And the best daddy-son role model has to have been on TV between the Skipper and Gilligan during the years they were lost on that island after their three-hour cruise. Gays and lesbians are proving these days they love cruises that go on for much longer than three hours, with the success of the Atlantis and Olivia expeditions around the Caribbean and Europe attracting an estimated 15,000 cruisers every year. Local travel company allgaycruises.com.au is now determined to introduce travellers to the fun of hitting the high seas with hundreds of other queer folk on NaviGAYtion, Australia’s first all-gay cruise on the P&O ship Pacific Sun, setting sail out of Sydney Heads on 29 March 2007. It will be a three-day party on the open seas for 1,800, and while it’s unlikely that either Gene Kelly or even a pirated Johnny Depp will be on board, there’s sure to be no shortage of others happy to exclaim ahoy, me hearty or even hello, sailor! as they order another round of vodkas.
New York Are Sydney and New York kindred spirits? We are both the biggest cities of our respective countries and, as with the eldest child of a family, there are certain responsibilities that fact carries with it. Like putting on the welcoming face to visitors, greeting them with a grand iconic landmark as they arrive. New York offers that brilliantly camp statue of a huge woman with a fabulous headdress, holding a flaming torch aloft, while Sydney has a harbourside performing arts centre that looks like a group of white nuns packing down into a rugby scrum. New York also helped changed the gay movement when its Stonewall riot of 1969 marked a turning point in gay politics. In honour of that occasion, Sydney even named one of our favourite drinking spots after that event, but our city too helped change gay life. In 1978, the first Mardi Gras became an act of political and social defiance, the effects of which are still being felt today. Maybe that is why this week, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of that terrible day in September 2001, we can take a moment to dip our hats in respect to a town on the other side of the globe. Once the dust lifted and she raised her head again, New York showed there was still plenty of spark left in the old girl. And there is one thing Sydney truly loves, maybe in some kind of strange throwback to our convict origins, and that is a survivor. New York is a survivor. Now, can someone please cue Liza Minnelli belting out that famous song at full throttle. It’s more of a force of a nature than a performance -“ and so very New York.