We’re Queer, We’re Here, and This Is Probably Why
If you’re like the vast majority of people reading Letters today, you—like me—will have lived somewhere other than Rehoboth Beach before you first visited here, before you heard of CAMP Rehoboth, and before you may have become a member.
But then, if you’re like the “vast majority” of people reading Letters today, a funny thing happened on your way to RB. Maybe you came to the beach, saw a copy of Letters, turned to your significant other, or your partying housemates, and exclaimed, “we need to live here.” Maybe you were house hunting, knowing it was an LGBTQ welcoming place, and realized you were going to need to find a few friends. And your realtor suggested, “here’s a copy of Letters for you to read…and there’s (in my case) a CAMP Rehoboth Follies tonight….”
Either way, CAMP Rehoboth’s community-building presence and Letters are the vectors that probably sealed the deal, whether you recognized it or not.
Why? I’m sure there’s a million studies, but I think it’s pretty simple. I think it truly comes down to one word: community. Moving is hard. Making new friends is hard. Coming out endlessly is hard. Isolation is hard—even for introverts. Not everyone who comes here has a pre-paid, pre-packaged personal life account or life-hack with legible directions.
Lesbian author Emily White’s book, Count Me In: How I Stepped off the Sidelines, Created Connection, and Built a Fuller, Richer, More Lived-in Life, takes her introvert-self out seeking—not friends or lovers—but a larger community to join.
According to White, research into loneliness looks first at our relationship with ourselves, then with other individuals, and then with the "collective self"—where we fit within larger groups. "Increasingly, we're losing that collective self, focusing on ourselves and our private relationships,” she writes.
And that “collective self” is Rehoboth’s secret weapon.
From the early 90s and Founders Steve and Murray’s humble CAMP Rehoboth beginnings, this need for connection was a baked right in. CAMP Rehoboth threw down an anchor on Baltimore Avenue, and founders and volunteers, an enormous number of volunteers, helped build a haven with ropes and nets long enough now to stretch far and wide.
And this is why so many of us moved to Rehoboth Beach and why LGBTQ people and their allies continue to do so. They may not participate in any activities or events, may not even read this publication regularly, but they soak up and are sustained by the energy and culture this organization built.
If you’re raising an eyebrow, let me put it differently. You probably didn’t move here for airport access. You probably, honestly, didn’t move here for the outlet shopping (even if some of us are known to partake on occasion). And you probably didn’t move here for career opportunities.
Nope. I bet you moved here for community. A community nourished by CAMP Rehoboth.
And to keep it mattering requires money. And that Money requires Membership. It’s like giant M&Ms. Or maybe, adding an M with all the Memories past and future., it’s the CAMP Rehoboth Triple Play—it’s CAMPtastic!
Every day, every program keeps this community stable, healthy, and growing. And a volunteer corps composed of dedicated, extraordinary human beings keeps the action in motion. But sadly, electric bills, mortgages, and programmers don’t get paid by volunteer hours. If they did, we’d be powered up for the century.
Pandemics hurt everyone. We knew Sundance wasn’t going to be “the Sundance of old.” But we’re still here, Zooming classes, hosting a craft show outdoors, and gearing up to give flu shots.
Because, well, community.
I wrote a column a little while ago and referenced Anatevka, the town from Fiddler on the Roof. Anatevka is a vibrant community when we meet it, and when the stage show or movie is over we ache for the community being torn apart and strewn out of existence.
We know this pandemic has hurt many people in many ways. We understand some people may not be able to pay their membership dues right now. But for those who can, we need you to Memberize! And for those of you who truly can, perhaps you can help a member who can’t. Make yours a membership for you, and then add a membership for a person in need. Join up or renew at camprehoboth.com.
After all, it’s all about community. It’s why we came.