Today’s Opinion: “Gay marketing”

POSTED: 03/9/11 11:52 AM

St. Maarten hangs on to the idea that its economy will grow by 1.3 percent this year, while a solid projection by the respected Central Bank does not get past 0.3 percent. That explains the hole in the budget.
Yesterday the parliamentary committee for tourism gave an audience to the United Ministerial Foundation. The church leaders have an eternal problem with the arrival of gay cruises. We don’t get a lot of them in 2007 the fuss was about the Aquafest gay Halloween cruise. Now it is about Royal Caribbean’s gay cruise that will bring 2,500 vacationers to our island.
The members of the committee made at least clear that St. Maarten’s State Regulation, or the Kingdom Constitution for that matter, does not leave any maneuvering space to keep the ship at bay, so to speak. The legislation that regulates basic citizens’ rights simply prohibits discrimination – a detail that does not seem to bother the churches.
So now the foundation will take the next step and turn to the cruise industry with a request to tone down the marketing for gay cruises.
OMG! We wonder how the gay marketing executive of Royal Caribbean will react to such a request. (Actually we do not know that this man is gay – for all we know the executive in question could be a woman, and a lesbian – but the possibility that he is gay exists).
And what will our minister of tourism have to say about this. Tone down the marketing so that less cruise passengers come to St. Maarten?
It all seems to be very much ado about nothing. The churches ought to take some time off for a healthy dose of introspection about their role and their position in our community. If church leaders want to call homosexuality a sin, fine. That’s why we have freedom of expression.
But why make all the fuss about the occasional gay cruise? Why not welcome these people? Who are the church leaders to decide what kind of life others have to live?
Come on, everybody knows the religious position on homosexuality, and on other moral issues like abortion, sex before marriage, same sex marriage, marriage, gambling, drinking, prostitution, and so on.
All these issues have one thing in common. They occur, whether the church approves or not. Human nature will always prevail over moral crusaders. That has been the case for thousands of years.
Curacao is now advertised on the internet as gay-friendly. St. Maarten wants to tone down the marketing as a destination that embraces gay and lesbian vacationers.
Why? To play the game of keeping up appearances? To pretend – like Iran’s president Ahmadinejad who said to hilarious laughter in the United Nations that there are no homosexuals in his country – that all people in St. Maarten are straight?
Researchers have found that between2 and 13 percent of a population is gay. Projected on, say, 50,000 citizens in St. Maarten, we’re talking about a happy community of between 1,000 and 6,500 gay citizens. Of the fifteen members of parliament, between 0.3 and 1.95 politicians are gay. So why fuss about the arrival of a cruise liner that carries just 2,500 of them?
Five years ago, the global purchasing power of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people was estimated at a conservative $641 million. Next year that number will hit an astonishing $2 trillion.
Money does not have right of way in the discussion about moral issues. But since the gay community is, well protected against discrimination by the constitution, and rightly so, does it not make more sense to increase gay marketing rather than to tone it down?

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Comments (7)


  1. Jeremy Scott says:

    We have been coming to your island from the East Coast on and off for over 10 years and have never had a bad or hateful experience. This story has gotten a lot of attention in the Gay News & Travel blogs. There are no shortages of opinions on whether to continue to come here or boycott. However, we come here because of the wonderful residents, beautiful beaches, ease of getting here and the two distinct cultures. Between the airfares, rentals (car and house), 80% of all meal spent at restaurants, various activities, my partner and I spend about $7000+ for the 7 days or so we are there. I have introduced many friends and family members to your island. However, I can assure you that any whiff of being targeted because we are gay and we will have no qualms about taking our hard earned vacation dollars somewhere else. However, I sense this is just bump on the road for I find it hard to believe that this group represents even a tiny fraction of those that live and work on your great island. Frankly, this group needs to address more important issues instead of focusing on the fake argument of hating the sin but loving the sinner. This is just cover for hatred and bigotry based out of fear.

  2. Michael R. says:

    Thank you for your insightful editorial. I am a gay citizen of the USA, who recently enjoyed the privilege of my second weeklong visit to your beautiful island country — this time with my partner, my father, and my two teenage nieces. As a citizen of the USA, I fully support the right of these ministers, and all people, to hold and express their religious beliefs. This includes their democratic right to petition their government for whatever relief they may care to seek. However, as a two-time visitor to your country, and hopefully as a future visitor, I am confident the right-minded governments and citizenry of St. Maarten / St. Martin will reject the misguided prejudice that underlies the requests of these ministers. My family and I were honored to be treated warmly and with respect by all of the people we came into contact with on our visit to your country. One cannot ask for more. As for public displays of affection, what in Christ’s name is wrong with them? We need more affection in this world, not less. In my recent visit, during Mardis Gras in Marigot and Grand Case, I saw many beautiful public displays of affection, some by straight people, undoubtedly some gay, some with persons of the same gender and some with those of a different gender. The context was one of fun, celebration and love. If expressions of affection between people — hugging, kissing, walking down the street arm in arm — cannot be had in such contexts, and in such places of natural interior and exterior beauty as St. Maarten / St. Martin, then what have we come to as a species? Religious freedom, morality, and public order are not threatened by such simple and beautiful things. I wish people who consider themselves religious leaders in both of our nations would try to return to truly Christian missions of hope, love, humility, and compassion for the least of their brothers and sisters, and stop this obsessive focus on imposing unnatural neo-Victorian restrictions of human sexual nature.

  3. Bobo says:

    Hmmm….So if the church were to discover that R. Corso and R. Sutton, the new owners of Pelican were really gay lovers as well as business partners would they try to shut down the resort? If the effort to make it a gay friendly resort were done secretly would it matter? Or is the money too the island more important? When does the island economy and financial success become more important than the moralilty of the citizens? Or is it all just a private matter between two men in their bedroom?

  4. Wade Bailey says:

    While you are entitled to your opinion. Why are you so vigorously supporting the marketing of “Gay Tourism” on Sint Maarten? They have the right to be whatever they want to be. They are not a niche market by any stretch of the imagination on the island. Exposure for these people and their lifestyle on Sint Maarten, simply clouds more relevant issues. They are simply tourits that we do not need here in large numbers. They can spend their monet elsewhere.

  5. What the what says:

    Am i really reading this st maarten wants to tone done “gayness” yet another step backwards. Mr wade bailey money that can be spent else where? really while sxm is financially suckling the bust of the Netherlands. get your priorities together morality can not buy new roads morality cannot provide better books and learning equipment.
    I guess we rather be suckling bust than standing on our own two feet. like we see in the homes of sxm children living with there parents until they are 30 it directly reflect us as a island nation suckling on our momma’s nipple our momma’s being the netherlands.

  6. Webster says:

    What the what, so true. I don’t understand the mentality of some people especially Bailey . Small mind is small mind and one can argue with that.

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