If you know me at all, you know how much I love the little town of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
In 1996, when I was 25, newly out to myself and everyone else, the first gay people I told were my friends Fay Jacobs and Bonnie Quesenberry—who are these days better known, even by my own mom, as my “adoptive lesbian mothers.” Upon hearing my revelation (um, they were not shocked), the first idea they had was that I should spend the next weekend with them on their boat on Rehoboth Bay.
They knew that Rehoboth was a place where I could see that gay really COULD mean “happy.” There, I met gay people with fabulous lives, and wide circles of friends. Some had extended partnerships (this was before gay marriage was even a daydream), and some had fabulous homes. What everyone had was a community, and a shared sense of pride. These gay guys and gals had their good days and bad days, but what they didn’t have was the crippling sense of shame that I once believed was synonymous with living an out, gay life.
That community in Rehoboth was built mostly on the backs of two men; one of whom just left us, and the other is now mourning his beloved husband. I owe so much happiness to the courage and wisdom of Steve Elkins and Murray Archibald. I don’t know them as well as some other friends of mine, but the gift they gave to that scared young gay man is no less profound than if I had been family. Because of them, I knew that I was...family.
Eric C. Peterson, Washington, D.C.
My story is just one of so many. A tribute to a friend.
I first heard about Rehoboth Beach DE in the early 90s. Friends at work were talking about this beach because it was where the “gays” were. As a not-out-yet lesbian this peaked my interest. Although I had not met them yet, Steve and Murray had just entered my life.
Steve and Murray were already fighting to Create A More Positive (CAMP) Rehoboth. The town had bumper stickers “Keep Rehoboth a Family Town” and as Steve mentioned time and again, this is what we wanted as well.
After coming out, I went with a group of friends to Rehoboth for the first time in 1997. I picked up a copy of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, subscribed and devoured every column when it arrived in the mail. I felt like I knew Steve, Murray, and Fay, yet, at the time, I had never met them.
I knew this was the place I wanted to live and so after five years and only two other visits to Rehoboth, I purchased my home in this beach town with room for all.
And room for all is Rehoboth Beach. Make no mistake, this town is not perfect. Over the years many issues rise to the surface and the residents rise up to challenge one another. And CAMP Rehoboth has been in the middle, acting as a change agent. What started out as an anniversary party for Steve and Murray grew into an organization with many committed, caring individuals continuing the fight to keep Rehoboth a family town. This is the legacy of Steve Elkins, my friend.