LGBT FAMILY CRUISE UPDATE: PORT (AND LIFE) LESSONS IN JAMAICA

31 12 2015
Gay blended family in Jamaica and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Gay blended family in Jamaica

From Jamaica: Our Go, Daddy writer, gay-dad Paul J. Heney, his partner and kids are on their first-ever family cruise on Carnival Cruise Line. Here’s an update from their first port of call. Our first port of call on this Carnival cruise was Falmouth, Jamaica. I was a little conflicted about this stop.

Jamaica is one of the most stridently anti-gay countries on the planet, and so I felt somewhat opposed to giving any of my tourist dollars to the local economy. In the end, I decided to not make any sort of crusade out of it, and instead tried to use it as a teaching moment for our kids. While I’ve told them in the past about areas of the country or the world where LGBT people aren’t liked or tolerated, this was more real to them. They seemed shocked that such an innocuous looking place–and somewhere that we actually were–was such a “bad” part of the world, at least in one respect. 

We devised a back story that Lance was my brother-in-law–married to my fictional sister Maureen. (They do have an Aunt Maureen, so that made it easier for them to remember.) I told them the chances of us getting in trouble for being gay was about zero, but that locals might treat us poorly or give us dirty looks if they found out. 

As we had an excursion booked through the cruise line the next day in Grand Cayman, I suggested we try a different route in Jamaica. We merely walked off the ship with no firm plans and wandered into the tiny port town. Locals selling all sorts of brightly colored clothing lined the narrow streets. The kids, Matthew in particular, seemed a little taken aback at the poverty. After walking down a few streets, one of the locals named Dennis approached me with an offer to take us to Montego Bay and back, tell us about the island, take us to a good beach and a city overlook, etc. He described himself as “a family man” like me and a Christian. We listened to his story about charging us $100 instead of the normal $120, but kept walking and showed only minimal interest. Eventually he came down to $80 and I said it was Lance’s decision because he had the wallet. Lance then got him down to $70–a pretty good deal for the 4 of us!

We spent 90 minutes at the Doctors Cave Beach Club beach, a gorgeous crescent of sand with light blue green water. A huge inflatable trampoline about 100 feet offshore was all that Josh needed to make his day. It cost us $21 (cash) to access the beach and $12 for an umbrella and a chair. Matthew quickly made friends with a little Jamaican boy and they had a splendid time playing in the waves. Lance and I enjoyed people watching and goofing in the water a bit. There were some downright amazing bodies walking about, and I could see how Stella could get her groove back on a place like this!

Afterwards, Lance showed the boys his incredible bargaining skills in a few of the local shops in Montego Bay and then Dennis drove us to a lovely overlook before heading back to the ship. He did start up a conversation about where mom was today—Matthew started to answer that she lived at home and I interrupted and said something to the effect that, “The ladies wanted a spa day on the ship.”

Friends will vouch that I’m pretty militant and am usually the first one to fight the good fight. So it was hard to bite my lip even for a few hours, but I suppose I need to pick my battles—while keeping the kids’ eyes wide open about the bigger battles we still have to face.

 





Gay Family Fun in Baltimore

30 09 2015

Gay families in Baltimore, in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

ManAboutWorld correspondent Paul J. Heney, his partner and their two growing boys brought back this report from Baltimore after a recent visit. No kids? No worries! You don’t need progeny to enjoy this article or learn practical and important trip-planning information about Baltimore, like the use of Old Bay. You don’t know what that is? Read on!

WHERE

Baltimore has always seemed to me to be a bit misplaced — it has that “big city with a small town feel” that so many Midwestern cities tout. But this metropolitan area of 2.7 million people is strategically placed on the East Coast, about 45 minutes north of our nation’s capital. It’s easily accessible from New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. And its modern airport has always gotten our family through efficiently. It’s not much more than an hours flight from places like Chicago or Atlanta, so it’s a nice option for a long family weekend.

WHY GO TO BALTIMORE

Baltimore’s famed Inner Harbor is the center of its attractions, and the density of things to do in such a small area makes it Gay family fun in Baltimore, in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazinean ideal vacation spot for families of all shapes and sizes. The collection of museums, variety of restaurants, and waterfront activities can quickly fill up a weekend, making you wish you’d planned a few more days in this aptly named “Charm City.”

Weather is generally pleasant from spring through fall, although humidity can occasionally be overbearing in the middle of summer, so be forewarned. Baltimore has a great variety of festivals (including gay celebrations) throughout the year, so you may wish to check out the calendar at VisitBaltimore.com before planning your visit.

GAY FACTOR

While neighboring Washington, D.C. may get more media attention for its gay life, Baltimore holds its own with its queer vibe. The “gayborhood,” if you will, is the lovely Mount Vernon neighborhood, just north of the city center, and its environs are quite LGBT popular and friendly. There are numerous theaters, art museums and gay establishments dotting this area. And who can forget that Baltimore is the beloved home of iconic director John Walters? Fellow Hollywood writers Barry Levinson and David Simon also grew up in the city. Annual LGBT-oriented events in the city include:

PLANNING RESOURCES

According to Tom Noonan, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore, his organization has an LGBT Tourism Advisory Committee that includes many of the city’s family-focused attractions, including the National Aquarium, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and the American Visionary Art Museum. Noonan noted that there is a Baltimore LGBT Visitors Guidehttp://issuu.com/baltimoregaylife/docs/baltimorelgbtguide2014?e=1223151/7404635 that is produced by GayLife, the local gay monthly. The Visitors Guide offers a wealth of knowledge, with sections on accommodations, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, congregations, neighborhoods, and even a wedding guide.

For more about where to stay, eat, and what to do, download ManAboutWorld on the iTunes App Store or Google Play. We support iPads, iPhones and Android devices. There are a few FREE publications in all of the apps, and you can click here to register for a FREE three-month subscription.





R Family Vacations Celebrates 11 years of Gay Family Travel

19 10 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.20.31 PMThe latest gay travel column from Global Correspondent Jeff Guaracino celebrates 11 years of gay family travel.

R Family Vacations was founded eleven years ago by travel entrepreneur Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli Carpenter and since then 19,000 people have traveled the world with Gregg and Kelli on trips designed just for our community.

R Family Vacations is unique in the travel space. The R Family experience is for everyone. Families don’t just mean children. It can be adults with their adult gay or lesbian child or childless LGBT couples who are looking for a different experience than that of Atlantis Events, RSVP Vacations or Olivia.

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Traveling Gay Dads: Winter Wonderland Vacation in the Colorado Rockies

11 02 2014

DSC_0013Haven Caylor is a ManAboutWorld Global Correspondent, father to two incredibly cute kids and one of our “Gay Traveling Dads.” He and his husband recently took Ammon and Carter to the Colorado Rockies for a family ski vacation.

I almost fell (it would have been worth it) as I looked over my shoulder at Carter and Ammon skiing down behind me on Fairway Run at Copper Mountain on February 7, 2014.  I skied ahead another 20 yards, slowed way down, started a wide turn so they could hear me and yelled up, “Great job, Carter! Great job, Ammon!” I then turned down the hill and couldn’t stop smiling. When we all stopped at the Kokomo Ski Lift, we celebrated with high fives and a group hug. We were so proud! We had another sporting activity we could enjoy as a family.

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Gay Dad Travel Advice: Back (and Forward) To School

16 08 2013

paul's kids

Call this mashing in vegetables with the foods your kids want to eat. But our Global Correspondent Paul J. Heney, a gay father of two, devised a strategy to blend fun travel and useful scouting. In his words:

I’m all about having fun on family vacations, but, as most parents do, I also like to throw in some educational things when I can. All the better if the kids don’t quite realize they’re learning something. Whether it’s a somber visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial or a lighthearted stop at a science museum, my kids generally go along with it, and we all get a lot out of the experience.

My older son, Josh, is now 12, and while college is still quite a few years off for him, I’ve begun to key him in to the idea that you can’t ever begin too early with looking at campuses and considering options. And what better way than by visiting some unexpected universities while on vacation?

I was very much of the mindset that I wanted to go away to college and experience a different part of the country for four (ahem, five!) years. I loved where I grew up, but I wanted to try something different. Think about it–college is a sort of unique opportunity in your life where you can choose an all-new and relatively temporary place to live. So I traded the cold Midwest winters for the fun of Atlanta and the very different cultural issues of the South–and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

I’ve long appreciated and been intrigued by college campuses, and so I have gone to visit assorted universities when I’ve had extra time on a business trip. I love to walk the quad, visit the bookstore and student center, get the vibe for the place. My closet has sweatshirts from Colorado, Ohio University, Berkeley, and other places that I have no connection to–other than at I’ve been there to experience it.

On our summer vacation to Montana, Idaho and Washington this year, I made sure we stopped by two universities we were near: The University of Montana in Missoula, and Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington. While I don’t imagine that either will be on Josh’s short list, who’s to say? And some day when he’s looking seriously at Ohio State or Georgetown (or wherever), he’ll have a better sense than most kids what a campus is, what it should feel like, what amenities there are, how far the dorms are from the classrooms, what the conditions of the buildings are, etc.

At Gonzaga, he connected with the fact that the school mascot is a bulldog–the same as in our city school system. I bought Josh and his younger brother Gonzaga shirts with bulldogs as mementos of our trip and our visit. Plus, as the boys get into watching sports on TV more and more, I can now point out, say, how Gonzaga is doing in the March Madness tournament and remind the boys of the small connection they now have with the school.

And I figure, heck, if I can convince either of them to attend the University of Hawaii one day, what a side bonus for parental campus visits that will be!





Traveling Gay Dads: Montana, Part 3

18 07 2013

kidsBy ManAboutWorld Global Correspondent and Traveling Gay Dad Paul J. Heney

Our trip through Glacier National Park ended on a challenging note, as we took a last hike to Avalanche Lake–a ranger told us it was an easy 2 mile (each way) hike with a beautiful view at the end of a lake with waterfalls cascading into it. Both our guidebooks listed it is an “easy” hike. But it was anything but. The 500-ft elevation gain felt more like 2,000 ft. Our feet were exhausted by the end; the view was stunning, but we slugged back to the car and decided we were done, to the hotel it was.

I’d originally planned to have us stay in Kalispell, Montana that evening, the main town at the western end of the park. But the best lodging option seemed to be the Pine Lodge in nearby Whitefish. I didn’t know anything about Whitefish and I guess I assumed it was sort of a crummy suburb of Kalispell, 15 min north. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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Traveling Gay Dads: Weekend in Montana

13 07 2013

montana boy

By ManAboutWorld Global Correspondent and Traveling Gay Dad Paul J. Heney

Glacier National Park has been a hit with the boys so far. We’re staying at a simple place in National Park property called the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. It’s really an amazing location, about 10 miles inside the park, at the confluence of several hiking trails. Mountains seem to sprout up in every direction and the skies are an unreal shade of blue. The complex, a few miles west of the Many Glacier area, includes campgrounds, small cabins to rent, and a very old school but serviceable series of motel rooms. There’s also a very nice Italian restaurant and a gift shop that sells camping and hiking gear, along with a good selection of food and drinks.

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