DIVA TALK AT SEA: Seeing True Colors

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK AT SEA: Seeing True Colors Diva Talk hits the sea this week as the Norwegian Dawn travels from New York City to Nova Scotia and Massachusetts with a host of Broadway performers.

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Day Four: Wednesday, July 13

The cruise that I'm taking with my friend Zeke is run by R Family Vacations, a company formed last year to create a friendly vacation environment for gay and lesbian families and their friends. What's so incredible about the more than 2,000 people aboard the ship is the incredible diversity to be found among them. There are families with two dads, some with two moms, others with just one mom or one dad, and still others with two dads and a mom or two moms and a dad. And, the children, whose ages span from near infants through young adults, come in a variety of beautiful colors and races. I'm thoroughly moved by these intelligent, articulate, adorable and much-loved children and wanted to share with you some of their writing, which is posted throughout the ship.

In several areas of the ship are photos of these kids from what might be labeled non-traditional families as well as their views and thoughts about growing up with gay parents. Two that touched me follow. (The postings were created by COLAGE Youth Leadership and Action Program; for more information visit www.colage.org.)

Breana, age 14, writes, "I have two gay fathers who I live with in San Francisco. I have faced discrimination not only from my peers, but from adults that have met me and my family. I try to keep my head up and be proud, but it is discouraging to feel like I am hated for who my parents love. I wish everyone knew that my family is normal. I am a gay rights activist hands down. I have talked on television shows, walked in the gay pride parade, and I have talked at schools about homophobia to try to open people's minds. The best part of having LGBT parents is that I am loved by two amazing people who want to take care of me and love me." Will, age 16, writes, "What do I wish people knew about LGBT families? They're awesome. I love them. And they have lovely taste in clothes. But people don't think it's cool. They're like, 'Oh, your dad's gay so that makes you gay,' or, 'How is it that your dad's white, but you're black'; in other words, 'That's not your real dad.' It was harder for my parents to adopt me. It was the first openly gay adoption in [my county] and instead of one to two years, it took three cuz they're conservative. But I think LGBT families are more loving than regular families. Having gay dads has made my life fun. I'm telling you, they can make anybody laugh. It's been wonderful."

And, wonderful is certainly a great word to describe the people on board this ship, which docked in Boston this morning at 11 AM. After breakfast and a workout at the gym, Zeke and I decided to venture into the city that was founded by the Puritans in 1630. We took a bus over to the Fanueil Hall Marketplace, which has been an integral part of the Boston experience for 250 years. We had lunch at Durgin Park, which was "established before you were born," and enjoyed the traditional clam chowder and other seafood dishes. We walked over to Boston Commons, which was filled with people eating their lunches under the many beautiful trees. After a bit more sightseeing and a little shopping, we headed back to the Norwegian Dawn.

Back on board the ship, we decided to take in the sun on the ship's top deck. Another cruise ship was pulling into the dock at the same time, and both ships' passengers seemed to enjoy waving back and forth to eachother. I got a good laugh as one our passengers shouted over the railing, "We're all gay here!" After soaking in the rays, we headed down to the indoor pool to swim a few laps. There, Zeke and I met a gay couple who had heard about this year's cruise from the stories on Playbill.com. I have to admit I was quite happy to hear that bit of news!

As for tonight's entertainment, there was one clear choice: Grammy Award winner Cyndi Lauper, who scheduled concerts at 7:30 and 9:30 PM in the Stardust Theatre. By the time we arrived for the first concert, the theatre was nearly filled, but a friend had saved two seats for us, so we had a great view of this phenomenal performer. Before Lauper took to the stage, Rosie O'Donnell welcomed the crowd and had the audience in stitches as she recounted recent stories about her colorful extended family and her group of childhood friends. My favorite story, however, concerned a woman on this year's cruise who chose to attend yesterday's Whale Watch in Halifax. Upset that she had not seen any whales during the tourist attraction, she sent Rosie a note of complaint. O'Donnell, who swore she did nothing to make the whales stay way, explained that she had just filled the woman's room with 267 stuffed animal whales! Hopefully someone will get a picture of the woman's expression as she enters her stateroom!

O'Donnell, who seemed in especially good spirits, awarded several giveaways, which included a "Queer as Folk" gift basket, a bicycle, a chair and ottoman, and a few iPODS. The former talk-show host then introduced Lauper's five-piece band as well as the star of the evening, who was dressed in 3/4-length white pants, a white jacket and a plaid bustier. The audience screamed with excitement as Lauper began her opening number; the cheers grew even louder when, during her first song, the platinum blonde singer removed her shoes and entered the audience to sing atop one of the auditorium's chairs.

I have to admit that I don't know the work of too many pop singers, but Lauper is one who I have always enjoyed. The singer possesses an impressive instrument, and in a high-energy show performed many of her biggest hits. Perhaps the most touching song of the evening was her stirring rendition of "True Colors," which she dedicated to her gay sister Ellen, who happened to be in the theatre (and on the cruise with her partner). The lyrics seemed especially meaningful on this particular cruise, with Lauper crooning, "You with the sad eyes/ don't be discouraged/ oh I realize/ it's hard to take courage/ in a world full of people/ you can lose sight of it all/ and the darkness inside you/ can make you fell so small./ But I see your true colors/ shining through/ I see your true colors/ and that's why I love you/ so don't be afraid to let them show/ your true colors/ true colors are beautiful/ like a rainbow."

Lauper also thrilled with "Shine," "Change of Heart," "All Through the Night" and "Money Changes Everything," the latter featuring some amazingly high belting. Lauper returned for encores of "Time After Time," "The Mermaid Cafe" and her signature tune, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." She was simply sensationsal, and the crowd—on its feet several times throughout the night—was sorry to see her go. Zeke, in fact, is currently watching her show again as I write this column.

Tomorrow we arrive in Provincetown, and the entertainment on the ship includes solo shows by Tony nominees Liz Callaway and John Tartaglia. Should be a great day and night . . . more to come . . .

Happy sailing, and, of course, happy diva watching!

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