The St. George Beach Hotel & Spa Resort, where I went for my all-inclusive Press Trip courtesy of Jet2, is an adult-only resort. This means its clientele tend to be that bit older – my age and upwards, really. Married couples whose children had grown up and left home, a few retirees, that kind of vibe. While I might be the same generation, I’m not quite the same demographic. As you know, I don’t exactly fit into a standard box, and older generations especially have traditionally been less easy to casually accept people like me.
I define myself as non-binary, or Enby for short. This means despite my body type, I don’t consider myself strictly either male nor female. At the time of my visit, I was very much deep into these explorations of gender and presentation, and I used my time there to test how I felt in a much more social environment, how it felt to be non-binary at an all-inclusive resort. On the one hand, it was quite scary to put myself into an enclosed space surrounded by so many people who I feared might be disapproving. On the other though, it’s a well-regulated and ‘protected’ place where I didn’t feel anything ‘bad’ would actually happen, precisely because it’s an enclosed space.
For the record, I definitely feel comfortable in my presentation around Laura. Her only observation is she wished I’d be more aware of colour and pattern matching. I’d love to know I don’t know what she means, but, I mean, you’ve seen or heard my pictures.
I think this all looks absolutely fine There are no rules. Pic by Laura.
Now, by ‘presentation’ I mean of course that I … understand the concept of gendered clothing, but generally ignore it as being ‘irrelevant’. I wouldn’t call myself Trans, but we’ll come onto that next. Certainly though I very much give the impression I’m not the middle-aged male-bodied person I would normally appear to be. People of my demographic do not generally go out in public in dungarees, a crop-top, or a long skirt. I very much ‘stand out’, especially in an environment surrounded by my peers, who are more rigid in their presentations.
If I’m wearing sunglasses, and drinking a cocktail, I’m on holiday and nothing else counts, right?
Note that even though it’s a beach resort, beachwear also tends to be gendered. Cisgender middle-aged men generally do not wear crop-tops.
How do people react to someone non-binary in an all-inclusive resort?
So how did people react when they saw me? For the most part, I don’t know because I wasn’t paying attention or noticing them. We did have a couple of people come up to us and talk to us though, specifically because they were curious about my presentation. One of them did a drive-by: we were standing at one of the bars waiting to be served when someone came over, said ‘I think you’re very brave’, and then wandered off. I don’t know what to make of that.
Someone else sat with us for a few moments at another of the bars while we were waiting for our booking at one of the restaurants. She may not have been entirely sober, but she was very chatty. Amongst other things she said was ‘I’m not one to talk about people behind their backs so I thought I’d come over and speak to you directly’. This implies people were indeed talking about me but didn’t want to say anything, but since they never said anything, it didn’t directly affect me. Sometimes knowledge is not power.
I do know a couple of people weren’t sure how to refer to me, based on my presentation. Because it came up in conversation with a couple of the bar staff, I should have worn my pronoun badge.
There’s a word for this look. I am at least on-brand with my daisy vibe, though.
The impression I got from the conversations I had was that people were assuming I was Trans, rather than non-binary. This is understandable given the majority of society still thinks in terms of a gender binary. If I’m clearly not masculine, even in a male body, I must therefore be a Trans Woman. I did not correct them. It just felt easier not to.
How did it feel going all-inclusive with a friend rather than a partner?
It was interesting to gauge how people ‘interpreted’ me and Laura when they saw us together. In that environment, your first thought would probably be ‘they’re a couple’. But it’s clear we’re very different people in many respects, both attitudinally and also visually. We would make a particularly odd couple, especially compared with the average ‘couple’ at the resort. She is a fairly typical cis-het-allo Millennial woman. I … am none of those things.
We’re so alike, we could be brother and sister. In at least one of the infinite parallel universes, at least. Pic by Laura.
So what else? It’s clear we’re not siblings; we don’t look alike for one thing, and then it’s clear from our speech that we certainly weren’t brought up together. Cousins, maybe, but not many cousins are close enough to go travelling together so it wouldn’t be people’s first thought. One person suggested Laura might be my daughter, but bless him he was only a wee nipper himself, relatively speaking. Though it reflects well on Laura, given I’m not yet looking pensionable.
You’ll notice, dear reader, I don’t mention the obvious: the truth. While it’s really disappointing to note, the people who we had brief chats with were all genuinely confused by us. None of them even thought we might be ‘just friends’. Evidently in their minds, the only people who go on holiday together are those related by blood or, uhm, other bodily fluids. As an Aromantic Asexual Enby, I find this problematic. As The Barefoot Backpacker, I find it amusing.
This confusion was limited to the clientele. We had absolutely no problems or issues with either the hotel staff nor with Jet2 Holidays. When I was originally arranging the trip with them, it was perfectly clear from the get-go what my situation was. The resorts have plenty of twin-bedded rooms, not just double-bedded ones, so it’s clear they’re not just a place for couples.
Friends who drink together stay together. Or something.
We had a couple of conversations about it all, both at the time and afterwards. We were genuinely surprised we hadn’t encountered more ‘friend couples’, because in a sense it’s the perfect holiday for two friends to take together. You don’t need to do everything together; there’s enough to keep you entertained even solo, but equally you’re never too far from each other so it’s easy to meet up for lunch, a drink, whatever, and have some downtime together before doing your own thing again.
Would you recommend all-inclusive resorts for non-binary people?
My knowledge of all-inclusive holidays and resorts is very limited; I have been to one. That said, I didn’t feel in any way ‘in danger’. People seemed to be curious, for sure, but not scarily so. Partly I think because it’s quite a secure environment, but also because people are there simply to enjoy themselves and to relax. My presence didn’t affect anyone, not even in the spa areas.
So yes, I’d happily go back, and present the same way while there. I didn’t feel uncomfortable being ‘me’, which was really nice to feel.
I don’t know how things would have felt differently in a different kind of resort. Say, a family one, or one more dominated by the drink-and-sex culture of twenty-somethings like in Ayia Napa. I guess there’s only one way to find out.