Carnival ban on “drag” during “drag cruise” is not anti-gay, it’s cuz of 9/11

If Men Dress Like Women, the Terrorists Win

We reported earlier this evening that Carnival Cruise lines allegedly sent an email to passengers on its upcoming “Drag Stars at Sea” cruise, notifying them that drag would be banned on the drag cruise.  That email has since been confirmed by the operator of the drag cruise segment of the larger Carnival cruise.

For the sake of the children, Carnival explained earlier, it just had to ban passengers from dressing up in drag during the “drag cruise.” The drag cruise was a sub-section of a larger “family” cruise that will include children.  But of course. if drag is such a threat to children, then why book the cruises simultaneously at all?

Well, it seems Carnival wasn’t giving us the whole explanation for why they were banning drag on a drag cruise.

You see, it wasn’t about the kids, Carnival is now saying.  Carnival was simply enforcing it’s super-duper-double-secret post September 11 anti-terrorism policy against drag.


From a Facebook posting from the organizer of the drag-cruise-within-a-cruise Al and Chuck Travel:

[P]lease take note, Carnival’s regulation is NOT an example of discrimination. Carnival is an ally of the GLBT community. Please understand that this cruise could not even be happening on the GLORY if Carnival was not an ally of our segment of society. When they say they are a “family friendly” cruise line they mean it in both the traditional and metaphorical sense of the phrase.

Carnival’s “no costumes rule” is NOT meant to be an insult to the gay community. As a gay business, we would not have organized this cruise if they were prejudiced against gay people. This rule goes for both GAY and STRAIGHT passengers that travel on all Carnival cruises. It is in response to the post-911 world we live in. It is meant to protect passengers and guests – NOT to marginalize a few.

Additionally, we know that transgendered members of our community will be aboard with us during this event. Please do not worry, Carnivals rule is not meant towards you. Your right to live your identity is always supported.

Finally, Drag Stars At Sea is a cruise venue for you to meet the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL. Just as you would not go in costume (other than on Halloween) to a club to see them perform, neither should you on the GLORY.

Yeah, I mean who would go in costume to a show on a Carnival Cruise.  I mean, besides these guys:

Well, and besides these guys:

Okay, I’ll bite. Carnival has a policy of not letting people dress in costume, because of 9/11, when none of the hijackers dressed in costume. In fact, as I recall, the terrorists shaved and put on nice clothes. Even polished their shoes. So where does this whole “Osama bin Cross-Dressing” fear come from?

The only place I could even find a mention of Al Qaeda in drag was on a loony people Web site, FrontPageMag. In it we discover an article from last year about Taliban terrorists dressed as women in burqas.

Hmm… I’m gonna go on a limb here and suggest that Al Qaeda, or the Taliban, can find lots of other ways to attack a cruise than dressing like Divine.

And there’s another problem.  How is Carnival supposedly okay with trans people going on the cruise, how will they “support” a transgender person’s “right to live your identity,” if men can’t dress as women and vice versa?  One man’s transgender is another man’s drag – what’s to stop Carnival’s straight cruise employes from kicking some trans person off the ship for “being in drag”?  So it’s okay to be trans, but don’t be too “fun” about it, you know wearing fun clothes or, god-forbid a wig (so trans people on chemo are out), lest some Carnival employee mistake you for a gay man in a dress and kick you off the ship?  Can’t get more welcoming than that.

Carnival’s Web Site Says Only Costume Restriction is “No Weapons”

But hey, what do you know – when some asked, just two months ago, if Carnival had any policy on wearing Halloween costumes on their ships, they got this not-very-September-11 response on Carnival’s own Web site:

Well, color me confused, but the good ole gays didn’t get any warnings about weapons. Unless fierce hair is a weapon (and you know it is, girl).

And here are even more reports of Carnival cruise customers, and Carnival’s own employees, dressing in costume all over the ship:

The responses from cruise members to the latest 9-11 news was withering:

JT: When were we to be told this? We’ve spent hundreds of dollars on new outfits, and we learn NOW? This is disgusting. Don’t even tell us that we should be grateful. And furthermore, clearly you haven’t been to a club in a while many ppl do drag to see their idols. I booked this cruise last APRIL and no where was this specified. What are we setting an example for? That we should hide from children and deny them the respect to show them that they can be who they want to be. Shame on you.

MT: The timing and tone of Carnival’s e-mail could have been much better worded. Especially since it came as an Urgent Alert! Did they really just figure out that people would have wanted to be in drag? I personally hadn’t planned on being in drag. I’m sure that all of my fellow passengers that have spent money on looking fabulous while mingling with the Drag Stars girls would have liked to have known about this regulation months ago. The timing of this is terrible and additionally insulting. Please admit, on this aspect of the cruise, Carnival and you guys dropped the ball.

AE: Statements like: “…we nonetheless expect all guests to recognize that minors are onboard and, refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas.” sound a lot like “Refrain from acting gay because there are children present.” The above statement does not appear in *any* relation to costumes or masks. But it does seem to underline some sort of general prejudice towards gay men that we are somehow uniquely predisposed to uncontrollable outbursts of inappropriate and ‘non-family friendly’ behaviour (whatever that is).

RDLG: Did Carnival send a threatening yet vague letter about “appropriate behavior” and being forced off the boat at passengers own expense to all passengers on the Glory or just the GLBTQ Al & Chuck travelers. This is offensive and discriminatory. It’s fueled with disgusting assumptions on the part of Carnival. I am my friends are no threat to children or families. I am disgusted that I have spent money to support this horrible company.

VP: First of all I would like to express my utter disappointment with how disgustingly homophobic your email is. You must be really ashamed of yourself. Now I was not going to be in drag or walking around naked or whatever your twisted fantasy of what gay people are, but let me ask you one questions. Why on earth would you even consider organizing this event in affiliation with RuPaul and his stars and then prohibit people to express themselves freely. I wonder if there is a transgender person or a drag queen present on the cruise, would it still be considered offensive for them to dress in whatever they choose to? It’s worse than the Soviet Union.

CS: Can you cite Carnival’s rule against costumes. Carnival’s website has several customer posts about costume contests, etc. for Halloween. I understand the rule against masks (from your prior communications) but specifically about costumes? And if there are passengers (female) wearing trashy Forever 21 overly skimpy cocktail dresses or passengers wearing ugly Christmas sweaters will they also be ejected at the next port for violating the costume rule?? Also, can you please let us know (in terms of donations to marriage equality, etc., please be specific) how Carnival has supported LGBT rights?

EP: Do I smell a boycott?

RD: Six days before the cruise you tell us? You don’t understand that the idea of a drag cruise would lead people to believe they could dress in drag? This was going to be our first trip together in the 22 years of our relationship. Thanks so much for ruining it.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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