Jun 26, 2014

8 Gay Reasons to Visit New Guinea (and 5 Reasons Not To)

New Guinea is a large island north of Australia, with a population of 7 million divided between two countries: the Papuan province of Indonesia to the west, and the independent country of Papua New Guinea to the east.

Here are 8 Gay Reasons to visit:

1. It's the most linguistically diverse place on Earth, with 850 languages in many different families. Most people communicate in Tok Pisin, the only pidgin language to attain official status.  It is based on a trade form of English.  The Tok Pisin word for penis is kok, or kandare ("uncle").

2. In spite of official homophobia same-sex behavior has been documented in many tribes.  Most common is a rite of passage for adolescent boys requiring them to have sex with an older man of the village.  Usually the relationships end in a year or two, but, as Gilbert Herdt notes, in about 5% of cases they remain intact.

3. Anthropologists are most likely to document age-gradiated same-sex activity, so they can write that the men aren't really gay.  But some have been brave enough to note tribes where the adult men favor same-sex relations as noble and invigorating, and think of heterosexual relations as a necessary evil.

4. Gay men have often found a safe place there.  Tobias Schneebaum lived for several years among the Asmat, and married a man (although both were free to find other partners).

5. Michael Rockefeller, the "secretly" gay son of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, also found a safe haven in New Guinea.  Until he was killed and eaten.

6. Melanesian men tend to be extremely muscular.

7. They wear koteki, or penis sheaths, both to protect their sex organs and to make them look bigger. If that's possible.

8. Tribal art does not follow the Western custom of making the sex organs as small as possible.

On the other hand:

1. It's very dangerous, with a sky-high crime rate.  Port Moresby has a homicide rate of 54 per 100,000, the same as Detroit and New Orleans.

2. It's one of the most homophobic countries in the world.  Not quite Saudi Arabia, but close.  male same-sex acts are criminalized, with the penalty of 14 years in prison.

3. Officially, the population is "horrified" by the Western concept of gay people.

4. There are no gay bars, clubs, or organizations.  Everything is strictly underground.

5. Flights to Port Moresby from the U.S. cost about $4,000, and you have to change planes in Sydney.  Why not just stay there, and have a nice holiday in one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world instead?

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