CAMP Rehoboth original logo (1991).
“Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!”
Throughout 2015 we’re celebrating CAMP Rehoboth’s 25th Anniversary. It’s a big deal for us! It’s also a good time for us to remember our past and to envision our future.
The cult favorite Rocky Horror Picture Show has many memorable songs, and one of them, of course, is “Time Warp.” Just for fun—and to get in the right mood—here’s a reminder:
(Guests) Let’s do the Time Warp again.
Let’s do the Time Warp again.
(Narrator) It’s just a jump to the left.
(Guests) And then a step to the right.
(Narrator) With your hand on your hips.
(Guests) You bring your knees in tight.
But it’s the pelvic thrust.
They really drive you insane.
Let’s do the Time Warp again.
Let’s do the Time Warp again.
Remember what life was like in 1991: Operation Desert Storm bombed Iraqi Forces in Kuwait; a cyclone in Bangladesh killed 200,000 people; in the US, 206,563 cases of AIDS were reported to date, with 156,143 deaths (including Freddie Mercury of Queen); Tim Berners-Lee introduced the web browser; average annual income was $29,430; Microsoft released MS Dos 5.0; the World Trade Towers still dominated the New York skyline; “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” by Bryan Adams was number one on the U.S. Billboard magazine Hot 100 for seven weeks—and so was “Black or White” by Michael Jackson (though it spilled over into 1992 for its last three weeks); and in the clubs, we danced to Nomad’s “I Wanna Give You Devotion,” CeCe Peniston’s “Finally,” and Madonna’s “Justify My Love.”
Interestingly, Wikipedia has an LGBT Timeline that runs from 9660 BCE (phallic Mesolithic rock art in Sicily depicts male figures in pairs), to (at least when I saw it) May 22, 2015, (Michael Sam signed a two-year contract with the Montreal Alouettes making him the first openly gay player in that league’s history).
For 1991, the Timeline lists: the decriminalization of homosexuality in Bahamas, Hong Kong, and Ukraine; the first use of the red ribbon as a symbol of the campaign to fight HIV/AIDS; the election of Sherry Harris to the City Council of Seattle, Washington, making her the first openly lesbian African-American elected official; and the first lesbian television kiss on L.A. Law.
For most gay people, 1991 was still a desperate time. Though much progress had been made in the fight against AIDS, the “cocktail” drugs that would begin to save lives in the mid ‘90s were not yet available. Across the country, gay people learned how to organize and make a difference within their local communities. That was the environment that gave birth to CAMP Rehoboth. Though AIDS work has always been a part of its mission, it was never created to be only that—and I don’t believe we would have been able to start CAMP Rehoboth without the lessons we learned from organizing, fundraising, and protesting around the devastation that HIV/AIDS was creating in our lives at that time.
Sundance, our big Labor Day weekend event, started as an AIDS fundraiser three years before we organized CAMP Rehoboth. With friends and loved ones dying at an increasing rate around us, the need to be open and free about who we were and who we loved was more important than ever. It was the right time for us to stand up to the “keep Rehoboth a family town” attitude and declare loudly and firmly that we, too, were part of the family—that we deserved a place at the table.
Did we know in 1991 that we were creating something that would still be around 25 years later? I doubt it. We were living in the moment, and that moment was filled with life and death passion—and a powerful belief that we needed to change the world around us.
Beginnings are delicate times, and looking back on the early years of CAMP Rehoboth, I sometimes laugh at how innocent we were about the whole process, and how much we had to learn by trial and error. Yes, we had a clear mission and a name that challenged us to create a more positive world, but there were certainly no guidelines on how to do that. Nowadays, it seems like I get an email a day about how to run a nonprofit organization—and countless more from a wide variety of LGBT organizations involved in all aspects of life. Back then we barely had internet and email, and certainly no Facebook or Twitter—or even an inkling that something like that could exist.
Yes, times have changed—drastically! Technology has changed our communication with and understanding of the whole world. Attitudes about LGBT people are radically different. I would not have believed in 1991 that Steve and I would one day get married and receive the same benefits that our straight siblings enjoy. (Though we can’t, as yet, pick up and move to some states without losing those benefits; we hope the Supreme Court is going to change that in the very near future!)
We can “time warp” in the other direction, of course, but beyond the very near future when we at least have some idea of what we will be doing on a daily basis, it’s impossible to know what CAMP Rehoboth will be in another 25 years. Right now, the year 2040 seems as futuristic as 2015 would have seemed to us way back in 1991.
We can’t know what the future will be, but we can still envision what we would like it to be! I’m convinced that we have, over the last 25 years, grown into the vision we created in 1991. The idea was there in the beginning; bringing the idea to life has taken years of hard work.
If I had a crystal ball what would I hope to see in 2040?
First: that same-sex marriage is taken for granted as a constitutional right throughout the US. Second: that the young people of 2015 grew up to teach their own children that “gay is good.” Third: that churches all over the world have opened their doors to LGBT people because they finally understood that the hypocrisy of preaching “love your neighbor” unless he’s gay, was driving people away from organized religion.
With regard to CAMP Rehoboth, I would hope my crystal ball would show me a new generation leading the organization—and discovering in their own way what it means to create a more positive world. I would hope that our mission to “promote cooperation and understanding among all people,” and to “build safe, inclusive communities with room for all” was still relevant even though it was no longer an LGBT issue, but simply a human one.
Most of all I would hope that we are still the “heart of the community,” whatever that happens to mean in 25 years.
It’s just a jump to the left.
And then a step to the right…
Let’s do the Time Warp again!
Murray Archibald, CAMP Co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.