Monday, March 26, 2012

Couple Returns From Gay Cruise To Address Public Sex Allegations

Originally posted by:

It's a vacation a Palm Springs couple will always remember, but not for the reasons they planned.

Dennis Mayer and John Hart tell KESQ their problems started when their cruise ship pulled into a port-of-call they'll never return to. 

"We went to a couple different islands, and when we arrived in Dominica, we walked out onto our balcony naked," John Hart said.

That's when he said their vacation ended. "We actually got a phone call and asked if we could come down to guest relations, that the captain would like to speak with us," Hart said. 

"I immediately asked them is this an investigation. Is there any reason we should believe we should need counsel or contact someone from the U.S. Embassy? The assistant captain told me he did not believe so," Dennis Mayer said.

Dominica officials told them if convicted of "buggery" -- a law similar to U.S. sodomy laws -- they could spend 14 years in prison.

"When we were getting ready to go into the cell, Dennis told me 'be prepared to fight and protect yourself.' It was scary. These people were calling us nasty names," Hart said."

We sat on the cardboard because there were cockroaches and bugs and ants in there, and I don't know why but we thought maybe if we sat on those, the bugs wouldn't crawl on us, but eventually they did and we got bit by the bugs," Mayer said. "We plead to that indecent exposure charge, we apologized to the court, we paid our fine."

With their nightmare over, one question remains. Should a gay cruise ship dock at an island that considers gay activities illegal?

"I don't think so. I was never informed that any of my activities that I do as a gay man were illegal there," Mayer said. 

"We also trust that Atlantis Events, which is a gay cruise company, would not take a ship of 2000 gay people to a port where we are hated," Hart added.

The couple returned to the states, thankful they only suffered emotional scars.

"It just goes to show that in this world, hatred and bigotry exist," Mayer added.

Now, back in the desert, Hart and Mayer have some advice for anyone thinking about a tropical vacation.

"The big message here is: do your research before you travel to foreign countries," Hart said.

The couple of seventeen years say they'll move forward, having learned what doesn't kill them makes them stronger. 

Separately, The Advocate posted the following:

Hart and Mayer paid a $4,000 fine before heading to Puerto Rico, where they spoke by telephone on Saturday. Rich Campbell, the president of Atlantis Events, which operated the cruise with nearly 2,000 gay men on the Celebrity Summit ship, said that they were not arrested because of their sexual orientation or the anti-gay law. He argued on Facebook that they “were seen engaging in a sexual act outdoors on their balcony in full public view of the port and town,” resulting in complaints to police.

In subsequent comments to KTLA, Campbell called what happened to Mayer and Hart “minor” and “unfortunate,” and he compared their experience to getting a “speeding ticket.” He said that his company has taken over 50,000 gay men on cruises to the Caribbean without incident in the past 15 years.


  1. when you do dumb things you have to pay the price, sometimes it is a learning experience, sometimes it will haunt you - dumb is as dumb does

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