Photo: Boardwalk Peace Sign by Murray Archibald
Summer of Love Revival
The Summer of Love took place in 1967 when thousands of young people gathered in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and other major cities around the world, causing an unprecedented political and cultural shift in society. It was a revolutionary and pivotal moment for not just the Baby Boomer generation, but for all of America.
Out of that hippie revolution has blossomed civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and more.
Here in Delaware, and the other 12 states (plus DC) where gay marriage is now a reality, we owe much to that revolution. Now with the recent Supreme Court ruling on DOMA, many of us who were teenagers during the Summer of Love, are experiencing it all over again as we celebrate our long years of love with marriage ceremonies that will come with all the benefits given to straight couples.
This is an amazing time for LGBT people in Delaware, and each time I witness the marriage of friends, I’m moved to tears. For us this is another Summer of Love, and though most of us hippies have traded in our beads and long hair for AARP discounts, it’s still satisfying to see the progress we’ve made in our lifetimes.
Sadly, that progress is not being reflected all around the world. Recently, The Huffington Post reported that “gay marriage has led to a ‘perverse’ worsening of LGBT freedoms in the developing world.” Alistair Stewart, the assistant director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, states in the same article, that “Western opponents of gay rights are moving their resources into developing countries.”
We forget that 76 countries still criminalize gay people, and the death penalty still applies in five of them.
The latest incident being reported is the killing of Cameroonian gay rights activist Eric Lembembe, whose death comes in the wake of other attacks on those working for equal rights. Officials there were so incensed by the press coverage of Lembembe’s death that they have warned that any future “provocative commentary” on the matter would be illegal. Then there’s Putin’s Russia, which seems to become more draconian by the day. Putin recently signed into law bills punishing people: for homosexual “propaganda;” jail time and fines for those who offend religious believers; and bans on the adoption of children by same-sex couples in Russia and abroad.
Once again, I must say, I’m grateful, for the freedoms we have in this country—and that I live in a place like Rehoboth Beach. But even here in our charming little haven, the road has not always been as smooth as it is today. We started CAMP Rehoboth more than two decades ago to create a better relationship between the gay and the straight community in the area.
Thinking back over all the time that has passed since 1967, makes me realize that I still possess some of the hippie spirit that defined our generation. I still believe in the power of love to change the world. It is no accident that the logo for CAMP Rehoboth is a house with a heart in its center, or that the vision for the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center is to be the “heart of the community.”
At the core of who we are as an organization, is a call to community service that transcends gender, race, and sexual orientation. Certainly, our mission and goals call us to focus on matters involving LGBT equality and care, but they also challenge us to create cooperation and understanding among all people—and to build safe, inclusive, communities with room for all.
Every single day, I’m amazed by the level of service people in this community are willing to give to the projects and programs of CAMP Rehoboth and the organizations we partner with and support, but the work is never really done.
Devastating illness can strike at any time, and our program CAMP-Mautner Cares provides assistance to those in need of a helping hand by: providing transportation to medical appointments, shopping for groceries, or doing light housework. Our Volunteers on Vacation reach out to those in need of yard work, painting, and other chores and projects. From counseling and support groups, to the camaraderie that accompanies singing with the CAMP Rehoboth Chorus, our volunteers put the heart in the “house and heart” that is CAMP Rehoboth.
Our CAMPsafe HIV/AIDS program has been around for more than 15 years, and we provide close to 20,000 free condoms to this community every year. HIV prevention and education are the focus of CAMPsafe, but we live in a world where it has become increasing hard to reach young gay men who have no memory of the devastation AIDS caused to another generation. The shocking news recently that HIV is once again becoming a gay disease in this country—even as funding is being slashed—means that we must constantly work to find creative ways of reaching a youthful population already inundated with too much information—and possessing a laissez-faire attitude about the whole issue.
I have two gay nephews and a lesbian niece, and I want them all to live long lives free of HIV, prejudice, and bullying. I want them to be happy and safe; to love as they want to love; and to live out loud without fear of discrimination or persecution. Later this year, they will be in Rehoboth, along with their brothers and sisters, to witness their uncles wedding ceremony. They have all grown up knowing that Steve and Murray “were gay together” as my nephew Drew put it when he was seven. I know we are leaving them a better world than we found it, but at the same time there is work still to be done.
The truth is that cultural battle lines on a number of issues are an ongoing struggle. From gender and racial equality to gay rights issues, battles we thought were settled and done continue to require nurture and care. No matter what we do, these young people we love so much will still have to find their own causes and fight their own battles. I think we have set them a good example, and that each one will find we have helped to prepare a place for them in the world.
As this Summer of Love revival continues to unfold here in Delaware, I am oddly happy to remember my hippie roots. Maybe we are not the wild revolutionaries we thought we would be in our youth, but we have persevered. Step by step we are creating a more positive world for all.
Peace and Love.
Murray Archibald, CAMP Co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.