Lesbian cruise docks in Belize

It is not a frequent occurrence, even though Belize is a top tourism destination. The previous gay cruise that visited the jewel was on February first 1998 when a group of men stepped ashore to enjoy the sights and sounds of Belize. Well that made the news because it sparked protests by a small crowd that gathered at the Memorial Park. Eleven years later, today, the first lesbian cruise docked at our harbor and its passengers were treated differently. There were no protest and the women did not only tour favourite sites, they got involved in voluntary works. Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting

This morning the women who stepped off the Norwegian Spirit were part of a cruise called SWEET. They openly proclaim to be lesbians and the purpose of their visit was two-fold.

Lisa Vidato, Lesbian Volunteer

“We are actually using part of our vacation for being able to volunteer to the communities with which we actually come and visit. We did volunteer work by painting the pediatric ward here at this local hospital.”

Lisa Vidato was one of the volunteers who helped to enhance the aesthetics at the Karl Heusner Memorial’s Pediatric Ward. She says admittance of their sexuality has made it easier for them, regardless of where they go.

Lisa Vidato
“We are out lesbian women that are out enjoying the cruise.”

Marion Ali
“There haven’t been many trips like this to Belize, there’s only been one previous one that came and that was back in the nineties. What kind of reaction have you been getting from the public?”

Lisa Vidato
“The people have been very open, very kind, very receptive, especially here at the hospital.”

The group spent most of the dat painting popular cartoon characters on the walls at the K.H.M.H. Pediatric Ward. It is an undertaking the hospital’s Public Relations Officer, Gary Ayuso says will not go unnoticed as the children there have already shown positive reactions.

Gary Ayuso, PR Officer, K.H.M.H.
“They are really happy to see the animations and it lifts their spirits, so all in all we’re really glad and we’re thankful for what they did.”

Marion Ali
“Is this something the hospital normally allows?”

Gary Ayuso
“Yeah, we’re open to projects such as this. The logistics were planned out by the Lifeline Foundation and we just accommodated them with the area to paint.”

But project aside, we wanted to know if the effort was to tap into the minds of the more reserved Christian folk.

Marion Ali
“A lot of people might say well they don’t approve of the lifestyle of being lesbian or gay. The projects that you engage in, are they in anyway to redeem the lifestyle?”

Natalia Zukerman, Volunteer

“I think we’re just coming and being ourselves and hopefully see that we’re good loving people and if somebody is having trouble in their lives because they’re not able to be out they maybe see a reflection and feel better, feel safer; but to redeem ourselves, no. I don’t feel the need to do that. I am who I am, so.”

Reporting for News Five, I’m Marion Ali.

The cruise departed this evening but the group plans to make future trips to Belize and engage in similar humanitarian projects. The cartoon characters were designed and sketched by Rafael Rodriguez.

Live and let live