|Thank you for an exceptional year of reading. Letters was anxiously awaited and each issue was read cover to cover. I've enjoyed all the columns and articles, and my wife and I will be looking forward to another great year in 2000.
I would like to take this opportunity to single out one of your contributors for a special commendation. Adam, your youth correspondent, is truly a gifted young journalist. His mature insight and positive perspective matches the general theme of your mission. His humor is genuine and glows with a hopefulness for future change that he will undoubtedly be a part of.
I hope he will be able to find support from all communities to fulfill his dreams. We all can only hope that one aspiration will be in journalism as the world needs to hear his voice.
I do have one small bit of advice for him. It pertains to one of his columns, the one about P.D.A. I have written this letter three times and I think I can finally say it correctly; if the opinion of an old straight guy matters, I have just two words, "Do it." Don't hesitate to show affection to someone you care about, there is not enough humanity visible today and I would like to briefly explain my feelings.
Straight men suffer from more restrictions on Public Displays of Affection than Gay men do. In the handbook that straight males receive when we reach eighteen (along with a gun rackI use mine to dry herbs), there are many chapters devoted to how men may show affection to each other. They all begin with," under no circumstances may two heterosexual men..." Fortunately each chapter ends with the footnote: "If the heterosexual men in question are engaged in any sports activity either as spectators or participants, the aforementioned males may embrace, kiss, grab each other's buttocks vigorously, but only under the influence of alcohol."
That is pretty much the extent of our physical contact, unless you are of European descent. Believe me, I truly wish I was.
Please, Adam, continue to be affectionate toward friends, old and new. I believe you mentioned a reluctance even in the security of a gay environment. If you are unsure of a hug or kiss in greeting, your warmest smile and sincere handshake will undoubtedly produce a hug or kiss when departing. A loving glance and brief touch in the most public places may take some getting used to, but it can be done openly and successfully. For any couple straight, gay, or lesbianwho feels the need to grope each other or try to swallow the other's tonsils while waiting for a bus, I have three words: "Rent a Room!"
Maybe if one day a week could be designated for every couplestraight, gay and lesbianto walk hand in hand, there might eventually seem nothing out of the ordinary. Those who would object would become fewer, and who knows, there might be a little less hatred in the world.
You and Adam may think my opinions sort of a straight look at gay life, to paraphrase an earlier feature from an early summer edition, eccentric rambling; however, please accept my sincerest praise for Adam's talent.
There is a reason why I feel so passionately about P.D.A. for straight men. On July 23rd, a young man who had become a close friend and confidant took a job in another state and I probably will not get to see him or talk as we did very often. In the days leading to his departure I tried to think of some way that I could be certain he would know how much his friendship had meant and how dearly I would miss him.
When the day came, a group of coworkers met at a bar near the factory where we both worked. The others trailed off home until it was just he and I and several local, regular patrons (read Red necks). We said the appropriate, meaningless phrases, "take care of the women, heh heh!" and proceeded to shake hands. Right then I knew this was not good enough, so as I shook his hand, I threw my arm around his shoulder and hugged. Do you know what? In that bastion of working class socialization (read Red neck), surrounded by hard drinking, sporadically employed (read Red neck) patrons, he hugged me back. Maybe change can start with one little hug.
A stone is too femme to throw so how about a rock? Never mind I have two floors of glass in my house and the line goes, "people who live in......yada, yada, shouldn't throw ROCKS!"
Seriously, I waited an entire summer, reading Letters cover to cover and actually enjoying it, except something was missing. In an organization dedicated to creating a more positive Rehoboth, little was ever mentioned about the recovering gay & lesbian community (or just the non-drinking). It happens to be a rather large one. Oh yes, in the resource list behind the cover page is the 3 lines giving the dates of weekly AA meetings. Now don't you think that's a bit sparse? You can hardly call that adequate coverage. Week after week, you can read articles about who is doing who, drinking what and partying where.
Well, let me say, the gay and lesbian community in this area is doing more than that. I really believe that too much emphasis is put on the partying and drinking crowd at the exclusion of others. Many in our community, especially those younger, need to know that being gay or lesbian can happen outside the BARS! We are more than sex, drugs and rock n roll. As for Sundance, isn't it a sad commentary on an event to raise money for HIV/AIDS, that instead of talking about the disease, people engage in the behaviors that continue to put our community at greater risk. I want to hear about people who have chosen new ways to live.
Give me and my friends something to hold our Pepsi's up to so we can say CHEERS! How about an alcohol free event, or at least check out one of our parties.
On August 4, 1999 the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously upheld an appellate decision that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) violated that state's anti-discrimination law by excluding gays as Scouts and as leaders. We applaud this finding, being in hearty support of any development that promotes our American ideal of equal access to public institutions.
And the BSA is a public institution; it is sponsored by government-related agencies, recruits in public schools, and receives United Way money. New Jersey thus correctly found that the BSA, being open to the public, may not discriminate against gays any more than it could against, say, African-Americans.
The case arose when James Dale, by all accounts an exemplary Eagle Scout who became an assistant Scout leader, was dismissed by the BSA when it discovered he was gay. In other words Dale's gayness did not prevent his success in the Scouts, but when the BSA discovered his gayness that's all it thenceforth saw. That the BSA's bigotry sent a message is seen in the fact that a Rhode Island Scoutmaster was reportedly found using James Dale's picture for target practice on a Scout camp rifle range. And they say gays are the problem?
Douglas & Corey Marshall-Steele
I wish to congratulate you (Steve) and Murray on your anniversary and also on the wonderful job you guys have done (yet again!) on SUNDANCE 99. Many deserving folks will benefit from your labors.
The article in the "CAMP Memories" column of Letters, dated September 17, 1999 about The Boat House brought back so many fond memories. I remember my first time there; it was in the Fall of 1979. My first night there, I fell instantly in love with the place and made two new friends as well. On my second visit, I met Sid Sennabaum and we became soulmates of sorts discussing our mutual love of boats. When I mentioned to Sid that I was looking for a job in a restaurant in order to get a recommendation letter for acceptance to The Culinary Institute of America, he said he was sorry, but he had all the help he needed for the season. He mentioned that one of his customers was the daughter of restaurateurs in Rehoboth, and perhaps I could get a job there. I applied there, and sure enough, on Sid's recommendation to the owner's daughter, was hired! My first job in a restaurant, and I got it because I was gay!
The Boat House was an almost magical place, not before nor since have I gotten the same feeling when walking into a gay bar. Many friendships were forged there. More than once, customers grabbed a push broom and helped sweep out the receding tide waters from the brick floor so we could dance. Many times we sat at the rectangular bar and listened to Larry "Scotty" Scott who just dropped by and graced us with a few tunes on the piano. I had the good fortune to work as a prep cook there for June and Sid.
When the Boat House met its ultimate demise by fire on April 15, 1982, it took with it a kind of charm that has never been duplicated and probably never will be. We who were fortunate enough to have patronized the place are all better people for the experience.
David Leigey, Resident Manager The Beach House Bed & Breakfast
My heart and thanks go out to each and every one who once again gave of time and support to help make this year's Miss Gay Delaware Regional Pageant 2000 the best yet.
We asked, and you gave again. Thanks for supporting another facet of the Gay Community in Rehoboth as well as Delaware.
So, from Leighanne Richards, the Renegade, Christopher Peterson, my staff, and our newly crowned Miss Gay Delaware, Miss Rebecca Finn, we thank you!
We hope you'll be there again next year, for with your help and support it can only get better. Love ya!
R. Lee Cook aka Leighanne Richards Productions
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 14, Oct. 15, 1999