The caycompass.com website crashed Monday afternoon because of the high amount of web traffic following links to the article about the police detaining a gay man for kissing his boyfriend in public here.
Cayman Free Press Web Development Manager Bronwyn Robbins said statistics showed 662,991 hits Monday.
‘However, our engineers note that this is a huge under-estimate of the amount of traffic due to server overload and eventual outage due to the inability to cope with so much traffic,’ she said. ‘The engineer’s estimation of unrecorded traffic due to the server meltdown was well over 1 million hits, possibly two.’
Although the article was linked to several gay or homosexual-themed websites, none had more effect than the one at PerezHilton.com. The celebrity gossip blog reportedly gets 3 million unique hits per day.
Perez posted a blog entry under the title ‘Warning’ on Monday at 11.47 Cayman time. The entry read: Do not go on vacation to the Cayman Islands. They do stupid [stuff] like THIS there. The word ‘THIS’ was an active link to the caycompass.com article.
The caycompass.com website went down shortly after noon.
That article told the story of 23-year-old Aaron Chandler from Massachusetts who was detained by the Royal Cayman Island Police for kissing his boyfriend on the dance floor at Royal Palms last week. Mr. Chandler had been warned by an off-duty police officer no to continue kissing the other man prior to his detention.
Letters to the editor of the Caymanian Compass started arriving from Monday morning, and Internet blogs and forums, both local and abroad, were abuzz with comments about the story.
The offices of the Caymanian Compass also had a visit from an agitated woman who insisted the newspaper should not have run the story because it wasn’t newsworthy.
The interest in the story continued Tuesday morning.
‘The web traffic today is substantially greater than normal,’ said Ms Robbins. ‘The [DoT apologises to gay kisser] story has received over 500 views already and it’s only 10.20am,’ she said.
While the majority of letters to the editor were in support of the RCIP officer and against the DoT’s apology to Mr. Chandler, the blog and forums had more balanced debate.
The marlroad.com forum about the Cayman Islands had a thread called ‘Gay kiss’ that had 1,293 views and 45 replies in 22 hours. Posters argued both sides of the debate. The Cayblogger.com site had more than 4,000 hits in just a few hours after posting an entry based on the Compass story.
Perhaps most interesting was the debate among the gay community on websites that ran the story. Some of the posters were asking for a tourism boycott of the Cayman Islands, but others were less harsh, suggesting discretion instead.
‘Ok, I am a queen myself, but come on,’ said one poster responding on the Perez Hilton website. ‘If you are outside the US and you are warned about something like this twice and you still do it, you deserve it!’
Another poster wrote: ‘If one cannot watch two men… share a kiss, then one should just look elsewhere. Staring is rude anyways.’
‘When in Rome…,’ wrote someone else on perezhilton.com. ‘I don’t give two hoots what one’s stance is on homosexuality. If you are in a place, not owned by you, that asks you to stop doing something, you either stop, or leave. The place he was in was privately owned. If I own a bar, I can by most any means necessary remove someone that I deem is trouble making.’
At another site, queerty.com, the debate was also extensive.
‘I’m surprised anyone would go to the Caymans, the Bahamas, or Jamaica,’ said one poster. ‘The homophobia in these places is well documented and I thought widely known. It was just a few years ago that a gay cruise was not allowed to stop in the Caymans. I think the Bahamas also turned away the ship. Let these places rot. I hear the beaches in Belize are better anyway.’
Another person wrote:
‘If no people, gay or straight, are allowed to kiss in the Cayman Islands, then I would agree that Aaron Chandler behaved inappropriately for that culture – though I would have some serious questions about the culture. But if straights are allowed to kiss, and gays aren’t, then gays are being treated as second-class citizens.’
On topix.com, one person wrote:
‘Our dear Mr. Chandler may be right, but he is young and impatient. When travelling in a foreign land, it is wise to obey local custom. He doesn’t realize how far most of the US has come in 20 years. As for myself, I’ve read enough about the Cayman Islands to avoid them.’
A Cayman Islands supporter from Virginia on the topix.com site asked: ‘Is it so hard to believe that there are other people and cultures where the majority doesn’t necessarily agree with the adopted US norm on issues such as homosexuality?’
A poster said in response: ‘My view is you can have your bigotry and anachronistic laws and customs all you want, but you don’t get my money or business. You shouldn’t expect to be lauded with praise by people you would discriminate against. Alerting other gay people that the islands are discriminatory and the administration is bigoted and unwelcoming is a service that is highly appropriate.
Enjoy your islands without gay people; we’ll take our business someplace else where we’re more welcomed.’