On December 2, the Carnival Glory will depart from the Port of Miami carrying about two dozen drag queens from Logo's RuPaul's Drag Race (including local favorite Latrice Royale), but Carnival Cruises has managed to spark a bit of controversy a week before the ship even sails by banning drag costumes. Yes, they've banned drag costumes from a drag queen-themed cruise.
Like most themed cruise packages, not everyone aboard the Glory will be there for the drag queens. While revelers will enjoy private Drag Race themed events with queens including Sharon Needles, Manila Luzon and the incomparable Stacy Layne Matthews, they'll also be traveling on the ship alongside regular ol' cruise ship passengers.
While the performers will obviously be able to dress in drag, Miami-based Carnival Cruises sent out a letter to passengers informing them that they will not be able to do the same.
Here's an except of the letter from AmericaBlog:
Carnival attracts a number of families with children and for this reason; we strive to present a family friendly atmosphere. It is important to us that all guests are comfortable with every aspect of the cruise. Although we realize this group consists solely of adults, we nonetheless expect all guests to recognize that minors are onboard and, refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas.
Arrangements have been made for drag performances in the main theater featuring stars from LOGO TV. These functions will be private and only the performers are permitted to dress in drag while in the theater. Guests are not allowed to dress in drag for the performances or in public areas at any time during the cruise.
We're sorry to say that any guest who violates our policies and/or whose behavior affects the comfort and enjoyment of other guests, will be disembarked at their own expense and no refund will be given.
Sure sounds like Carnival is trying to protect children from the sight of men in sequins, because you know innocent children never see cross dressing. Except for maybe like Mrs. Doubtfire, Glee, Big Momma's House, She's The Man, every other Eddie Murphy movie, Mulan, Jack and Jill, the team Rocket dude from Pokemon, or old Bugs Bunny cartoons.
But then, Al and Chuck Travel, the gay-owned company promoting the cruise, clarified on their Facebook page that despite how the letter came off, Carnival isn't banning drag to protect children from gender bending, but actually for a few more serious reason: 9/11:
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.
The Facebook posting also added, "let's use this opportunity to set an example so that all the world can see that the GLBT community can follow rules and regulations just like everyone else" ...which, uh what? Is this really a problem? Do homophobes sit around thinking, "Well, you know, my main problem with the gays is that they don't follow cruise ship rules and regulations?"
The posting did clarify that transgendered cruise passengers should not be worried that the rules would apply to them.
Sounds to us like Mickey Arison's Carnival Cruises could have handled the situation better by informing all passengers that no ornate costumes of any kind were permitted instead of signaling out a LGBT group and telling them not to wear drag.
Though, interestingly, Carnival has hosted Halloween-themed cruises that specifically featured costume parties.
Several commenters on the Al and Chuck Travel Facebook posting are not pleased.
"I will demand a refund from Al and Chuck Travel, and I will gladly partake in a class action lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines," wrote one. "If we want discrimination to cease, we must be the voice. Someone, and everyone involved, needs to be held accountable for this outrage. Who defines, 'uncomfortable?' I have been excited about this trip for months and months, and here I am, a few days from sailing, and I am already uncomfortable."
"As someone who watched the WTC fall from my window I don't remember drag queens having anything to do with that," wrote another. "When in doubt, blame 9/11...spare me! I hope your agency and Carnival get hit with a class-action discrimination suit."
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This letter was sent to all of the vacationers who are embarking on the Drag Stars at Sea Cruise, and it is COMPLETELY against my values...and hopefully everyone else's as well...before drag race, nothing was more exciting to me than dressing up and watching my idols perform. I love that my fans dress up at my shows, FREAKS STAND UP! YOU ARE BORN NAKED AND THE REST IS DRAG!!
Carnival Cruises is said to be releasing an official statement on the matter shortly.