“For the single male traveler, homosexual come-ons are, like delays at JFK and overpriced hotel food, a part of the process to which one grows accustomed. I’ve been pick-up quarry in the United States, Japan, Palau, and several other ports of call. In Lecois, Brazil, a chatty American tourist sitting next to me at a hotel bar broached the subject by saying, ‘Well, I guess you know why I’ve taken such an interest in talking with you.’ I told him I didn’t, he explained, I said there had been some sort of misunderstanding, he apologized, bought me a beer, and we ended up talking for another hour.”
Chuck Thompson gives us this paragraph after a few pages recounting an experience he had in the Philippines. He is riding in a bus deep into the countryside. Night. The bus stops. The busdriver says, You have to get off here. You transfer to another bus. Chuck squints out at the unlit roadside. Reluctantly he steps out into the middle of nowhere and watches the bus disappear down the highway.
Standing there, not sure where he is or when or if another bus will come, Chuck hears a rustling in the roadside bushes. Young men emerge, a couple of them carrying machetes. Machetes, Chuck assures us, are standard equipment for Filipino farmers. But, not similarly equipped and with no option but to wait and find out what happens next, Chuck is, needless to say, a mite nervous.
They surround him. “’You shouldn’t travel alone at night,’ [the one Thompson calls] Rivera told me. ‘Foreigners are often kidnapped in these mountains.’”
Not the sort of statement that would put one at ease, Chuck thinks.
Rivera invites Chuck back to his place. “’I don’t think the bus will be come soon.’ Rivera brushed my forearm with his fingertips.”
Indeed, the bus seems in no hurry to get there.
“’Chuck, tell me something,’ he said. ‘Have you ever had sex with a gay man?’”
Oh. That’s what it is. This is an atmosphere charged with eros, not … uh … fear.
Chuck handles his brush with “gay machete sex” about as well as can be expected, I guess. Not interested! Thanks anyway! Great country you got here! That bus will be along any minute! Any minute, yessir!
Chuck Thompson’s perspective reminds me of that of the single female traveler. The come-on is “part of the process.” The single male’s experience as “pick-up quarry” for men is going to be a tenth that of a single female’s, yet, though he doesn’t explicitly compare the two perspectives, Thompson seems to have picked up a skill essential to the single female traveler: how to say no. Gracefully even?
source: Smile When You’re Lying: confessions of a rogue travel writer, by Chuck Thompson