Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why is NYC Fleet Week 2012 different from all previous ones? (Hint: Just ask a gay, lesbian, or bi sailor)


Crowds watched yesterday as ships sailed into the harbor for New York's first Fleet Week since the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." (photo: DNAinfo/Paul Lomax)

"I mean, we always tried to bag a sailor, but this time they're allowed to want it back. . . . I just want to reward our troops, if you know what I mean."
-- Chelsea resident Jonathan Francis O'Donnell

by Ken

Fleet Week has always been a fun time hereabouts, what with all those ships in the harbor and all those sailors on shore. It hadn't occurred to me, though, until I saw this DNAinfo piece, that for a lot of sailors this Fleet Week is very different from Fleet Weeks past. This week, for the first time, gay, lesbian, and bi sailors can enjoy their time on shore the same way their straight colleagues have always been able to, without looking over their shoulders or worrying who might see-and-snitch. (If I'm understanding this correctly, trans folk are still excluded from this party.)

Primitive-brained homophobes like to make believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender folks are making outrageous demands for some kind of "special privileges." This is, I assume, because the primitive-brained homophobes are too stupid or dishonest to grasp that LGBT folk just want the same rights that everyone else has, including primitive-brained homophobes. If some of the enjoyment they seek ashore should happen to partake of a sexual nature, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that military personnel have ever been endowed with an expectation of chastity.

From time immemorial any port that hosts naval personnel has had a small industry devoted to extending, shall we say, hospitality to those naval personnel -- just as the needs and wishes of military personnel are serviced wherever they're stationed around the world. It's a privilege, though, that has been fraught with peril for military personnel of disapproved sexual orientations.

I admit that this story may have hit me with particular force because it speaks to an old fantasy: providing, er, hospitality to some of those hunky sailor fellows unloosed on the Big Apple. Of course I never had any idea how one mighty actually go about doing it. Now I'm hoping all those young men and women on those ships have themselves one hell of a time.
LGBT Sailors Urged to Come Out for Fleet Week
Updated May 23, 2012 1:55pm
May 23, 2012 1:55pm | By Matthew Katz, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

Active LGBT Servicemembers march in the San Diego Pride Parade in July. The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell has thrilled gay military members for Fleet Week. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

HELL'S KITCHEN -- For the first Fleet Week since Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed, New York's gay nightlife scene is encouraging men and women in uniform to come out.

Bars and hotels have set up Fleet Week-themed specials and planned a host of parties to attract gay servicemembers for their first open Fleet Week in the celebration's 25-year history.

Zeke Stokes, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which represents LGBT troops, said that at previous Fleet Weeks, military attendees at such events would often risk getting discharged.

"If they chose to go, they were always looking over their shoulders, just like they were all the time," he said. "This is a new day for servicemembers because they're now free to serve openly without fear of being fired."

The city's gay venues have taken notice of the sudden influx of soldiers.

The OUT NYC, the city's first gay hotel has kicked off their Served With Pride Package for Fleet Week, but will keep the discount program going indefinitely. Military personnel staying at the hotel at at 512 W. 42nd St. will get 30 percent off their rooms, a complimentary "Served With Pride" T-shirt or tank top, along with free wifi and complimentary continental breakfast.

Inside the hotel, the XL Nightclub will transform into the "USS Rockit" Friday, during a porn-star-hosted Fleet Week party featuring a free-flowing vodka open bar from 10 to 11 p.m., along with "hot sailors and surprise acts."

The party, hosted by porn star Pierre Fitch, has a $10 cover.

The Maritime Hotel at 363 West 16th Street is offering its own discounts to sailors, with rooms for $99 a night for any active-duty seaman or woman in their Navy whites.

The hotel's restaurant, La Bottega, has put together its own line of nautical-themed specialty cocktails, including the Anchor, the Albatross, and the Do Ask, Please Tell.

Sue Fulton, a spokeswoman for Outserve, said that many of her organization's more than 5,500 actively-serving LGBT military members were excited to participate in the events.

"People are getting leave so they can get together with friends," said Fulton, a former Army Captain.

"There's a level of celebration in Fleet Week -- there's always been -- and now LGBT servicemembers can really be a part of that, part of the military family."

The newly-open Fleet Week also has the city's non-military LGBT community abuzz.

"I mean, we always tried to bag a sailor, but this time they're allowed to want it back," said Jonathan Francis O'Donnell, a 32-year-old Chelsea resident who said he plans to attend as many LGBT Fleet Week events as possible.

"I just want to reward our troops, if you know what I mean."


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At 7:54 AM, Anonymous orangelion03 said...

Oh man! What a party!!! So goddamned about time too! ALL of our service personnel can be expected to give up their lives for this country, it's only right that ALL of them should have the freedom to get their bits off any way they want.

GO NAVY!!!!!


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