A Question From A Stranger
I was at dinner one evening and sitting next to me were two newlyweds, probably mid to late 20’s, from Ohio who were enjoying their honeymoon on the ship. Throughout the course of our meal we started talking. I shared with them that I was a performer on the ship and they had not seen our show with the husband admitting that after seeing the movie version of “Rock of Ages”, he had no interest in seeing a staged production because he was worried it would be the same as the movie and he didn’t like the movie at all. After dinner the three of us and another cast member went to one of the onboard bars for drinks and to meet up with other performers from the ship. By this point I had been in the company of the newlyweds for close to an hour and at one point the husband asked if he could ask me a question. Before he asked the question, the wife was noticeably embarrassed so I can only assume that he had ran the question by her before he shared it with me. What he wanted to know was if the men that were performers were gay or not. I could tell that he was asking out of genuine curiosity and also because he didn’t know. For all he knew, all men that are performers are gay. He had admitted to not knowing more than where he grew up in Ohio and I can only imagine that very little of his life experiences had put him in the company of many performers, let alone gay men, so how could he know? I assured him that I take very little offense to anything and that I’m not going to be mad at someone that is asking a question because they want to know more. My answer to his question was that it varies from cast to cast.
I’ve been in shows where I was the only gay man in the cast and others where there were one or two men that weren’t gay. There is no exact science to it. I commend that passenger for asking that question because he could have hidden behind the fear that I would be offended by his question, that he would sound ignorant, or even that his wife would be embarrassed by him asking it. Instead, he took the opportunity and spoke his mind and I appreciated it. Not long after we had that conversation he asked if I was in a relationship myself and I shared with him that I was. That evening of conversation with this couple is one of the things that I most enjoyed when I worked on ships years ago. It’s the opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life. I may not enjoy it all the time, but it’s there. I had an opportunity to share myself with two people that see the world much differently than I do and were open enough to see beyond their view long enough to make a connection with someone else. I see that as a gift, one that is readily available to any one of us, and also one that not everyone would welcome.