Out Of Paradise
A big hello to my weekly readers around the globe. I hope you have gained some knowledge about the Caribbean Islands, which ones are gay friendly and which ones aren’t.
If you’ve been following my blog you would by now, have gained a better understanding about these islands, especially since most people have little or absolutely no knowledge about them, especially the island of Trinidad, where I come from.
This week I will be giving you details about the last group of official gay friendly islands in the Caribbean. So, by the end of this article you would have enough information, if you feel the need to enjoy a true vacation on heaven on earth.
Week #3 - Heaven On Earth
The U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands
consist of the main Caribbean islands of Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas, along with the much smaller but historically distinct Water Island, and many other surrounding minor islands.
Only 60 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, yet worlds away, sits another U.S. possession, the U.S. Virgin Islands. Purchased from Denmark in 1917 as a defensive move against the threat of German encroachment, the U.S. is just the latest in a long string of governors. Arriving in 1493, Columbus claimed the islands for Spain and named them "The Virgins" after the legendary St. Ursula and her 11,000 virginal companions who, averse to submitting to the brutish Huns, opted for martyrdom.
Since then the islands have passed between Holland, France, England, the Knights of Malta, and Denmark, with various pirates and buccaneers seizing what they could. Today these very individual, extraordinarily handsome islands add an unusual, American element to the Caribbean. Not exactly exotic, they successfully combine U.S. wealth, ideals, expatriates, and tourism with Caribbean culture and a fascinating history.
Sand Castle on the Beach Resort
The mecca for gay travelers, many of whom wind up at the welcoming Gay-owned Sand Castle on the Beach Resort in Fredericksted and gay-friendly Villa Greenleaf in Christiansted. Gay travelers can expect a friendly and tolerant attitude throughout the U.S.V.I., and if public displays of affection are not exactly embraced, the reaction is not likely to be more than a second glance. Although a blend of the two other islands, has a very distinct personality of its own. While enjoying the islands' gorgeous beaches, discounted electronics, and savory sustenance, be aware of an important cultural trait: Locals always greet one another. Proper etiquette requires acknowledging those you come across with an observation of the time of day: good mornin', good afta'noon, good night. This simple greeting will win instant smiles; without it you'll miss half the beauty of these islands.
The most familiar and built-up of the Virgins, St. Thomas boasts one of the prettiest cities in the Caribbean. As I walk down the tiny alleyways of Charlotte Amalie, houses of yellow, white, blue, and pink spill up the hill from the harbor. While only about 20,000 people live here, there’s a real city bustle. One-time Danish warehouses (Charlotte Amalie was named for a queen of Denmark) stretch along quaint little alleyways, now filled with an enviable array of dining, drinking, and (of course) shopping. Though busy, it remains clean and cinematic, as does the rest of this island of hills, spectacular vistas, and duty-free shopping. MEGAN'S BAY BEACH, ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS. Away from the bustle of cruise ships and duty-free shops that crowd St. Thomas' commercial hub, Charlotte Amalie, Megan's Bay Beach is a lovely stretch of sand with sea grape trees; the calm bay is perfect for a soak.
A gorgeous ferry ride carries us from St. Thomas to tiny Cruz Bay, which passes for St. John’s “city.” What a difference from bustling Charlotte Amalie! It’s basically just a street or two, but it’s packed with art galleries, seafood joints, beachwear, and rum drinks: everything you’d imagine from a funky little seaside town.
The main thrill of St. John, however, is not urban, there are glories everywhere, so just hop in the car and go where your fancy takes you on this island called “Love City” by locals. You might visit one of the amazing beaches on the island. The most famous is Trunk Bay, and while its pure white stretch of sand rivals any in the world, it’s also very populated. In addition to the sun-worshippers, it attracts a healthy amount of snorkelers, as there’s an underwater trail just off shore that explains the sea life as you swim past. Want more seclusion? Try romantically-named Honeymoon Beach.
All of these are within the national park that occupies 60 percent of St. John’s area. This isn’t the type of national park with entrance fees and gates. Rather, you’ll just pass a sign on the road proclaiming that you’ve now entered the park. As you drive around or hit one of the beaches for a day of blessed indolence, it’s very unlikely you’ll be doing so at a place that ISN’T in the park.
The actual word "gay," is virtually unheard. Rather, it is said a man has "sweetness." To be inflammatory, he can be called an "anti-man." The word lesbian is never used; "bulla man," is the local term, something akin to dyke. Bulla is the softer name, than the word "Zami" that is used on other islands, but has been so totally appropriated by females in general that the meaning has blurred. Relations between the LGBT community and the rest of the island population is laid back, live and let live.
Virtually all gays and lesbians resident in the Virgin Islands know each other. Most are snowbirds who fly down from the frost belt to escape the worst of winter. There are only about seven couples who live full time on St. John, the least populous of the three major islands. As for gay life, while there are few structured outlets for meeting, there seem to be a disproportionate number of sisters and brothers inhabiting these islands. Accompanying that comes a sophisticated dining scene and an acceptance of different lifestyles not all that common in the rest of the Caribbean.
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