I explained that cruise ships began using the term decades ago when homosexuality remained illegal to signify that passengers who wanted to meet other gay men or lesbians that they could at a designated spot, usually one of the smaller ship bars.
The term “Friends of Dorothy” gained widespread use after World War II, and investigators for the U.S. Military began to suspect that the mysterious organization might be a spy ring, according to the gay historians. Given that many gay activists prior to the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969 belonged to the U.S. Communist Party, it’s easy to see how the organization became somewhat notorious, even though it really never officially existed.
Then my friend asked me another curious question. “What is LGBT?” she said.
I looked at the schedule, and I told her that the ship apparently had dropped the “Friends of Dorothy” ruse and was outright publicizing a gay and lesbian party.
After I reported my observations in the Dallas Voice, travel agent Doug Thompson confirmed them.
"As a travel agent I sat on the LGBT Task Force for the Cruise Line Industry Association. In 2013 we began to petition each of the cruise lines to stop the use of the term "Friends of Dorothy." Our reasoning was simple. We no longer wanted to be treated like we were in the closet as some secret society."
Thompson added that younger LGBT travelers and even older travelers not accustomed to traveling might not understand the terminology.
Cruise lines now leave the decisions of onboard programing up to individual cruise directors, but all are enthusiastic about the recommendations that "LGBT Gatherings" be included in the schedules, according to Thompson.
Passengers who do not see the information listed on the schedules can contact the front desk for information where a community board also lists information.
So there we have it. The LGBT equality movement has reached yet another height. There are plenty of LGBT-only cruises available, but they are often more expensive than mainstream cruises and not what everyone wants to experience.
As Thompson points out, you can now call your travel agent or the cruise line directly and tell them what you want a LGBT-friendly cruise.
"Any of your local travel agents will be happy to help you plan for your cruise vacation," Thompson said.