Yesterday I received a letter from my frequent flyer loyalty program of American Airlines. The purpose of the letter was to entice me to take a vacation to Miami or the Florida Keys. The second paragraph gave me an unexpected jolt:
“Miami is an international gateway, so it’s no surprise that the area is a melting pot of nationalities from all over the world. If you listen, you’ll notice unique accents and foreign languages everywhere you go. And Key West is proud to be known as a popular gay and lesbian destination. This pride, mixed with the inclusive and welcoming culture, is reflected in the island’s official motto: One Human Family.”
After reading that, I wanted to send them a letter of my own in response:
Dear Maya Leibman*,
Thank you so much for your informative letter concerning the merits of a Miami or Key West vacation. I am particularly appreciative that you shared with me that Key West was proud to be known as a popular gay and lesbian destination. However, as helpful as that is, your message is unclear. Was that a warning or a welcome?
How about sheep herders from Ethiopia? Including their sheep? I don’t mean to sound picky, but if I’m going to make an informed decision about the best place to vacation, I need to know if it’s as truly welcoming as you claim it is.
Okay, then. What about bagpipers? I have nothing against bagpipers, mind you. I even enjoy their music once in awhile. In small doses. I’m sure they are perfectly lovely people, but I’d rather not have “one of them” in the room next to me.
Are children part of the One Human Family campaign, too? We’ve raised our kids already, done our time, so to speak, and feel the little buggers should have their own vacation site, tailor-made for them and preferably far away from us.
In closing, I just want to thank you for giving us a heads-up on places that may or may not be suitable for our situation, wherever you think a 62-year-old white woman from the South may fit in this Human Family.
*President of the AAdvantage Loyalty® Program
I’ve been an American Airlines Advantage member for many years, and this letter was the first one I received where they felt a need to inform me that some vacation sites are good places for homosexuals to go. How sad that we only have pockets of places that make a certain segment of our population feel comfortable. If we are indeed One Human Family, why shouldn’t everyone feel comfortable everywhere?
I can’t fault American Airlines; they’re trying to sell tickets and they’re hoping that by telling people what communities cater to whom, people will feel more comfortable with the decisions they make. But why do they feel it’s necessary? Doesn’t that act in itself say there is a need to acknowledge safe havens because as a nation we aren’t so accepting of people from all ethnic backgrounds, all religions, and all sexual natures in all parts of the country?
This past weekend my husband and I joined some friends for a short vacation to Rehoboth Beach, a place none of us had ever been before. One evening we walked through a neighborhood with lovely homes and upscale restaurants. The night was clear and warm, and the street was filled with families, couples walking hand in hand or pushing a baby carriage. About half-way down the street we happened to take a good look at our fellow walkers and realized that most of them were men. No one had sent me a letter to “prepare” me. I don’t need to be prepared to walk with my One Human Family. That’s the way it should be.