It’s Pride Month and I’m Feeling It
On the first of June, the first day of Pride Month, it was time for our annual dog and pony show about the area’s LGBTQ community with the seasonal park rangers from Cape Henlopen State Park.
CAMP Rehoboth has been doing this gig as part of the rangers’ training for over 20 years now. For almost all of those years, I’ve participated in the training with our late Executive Director, Steve Elkins.And I’ve mentioned before the amazing change we’ve seen in the reception we’ve gotten, and the whole attitude of the young rangers toward the relationship between law enforcement and the area’s LGBTQ residents and visitors.
This June 1 session was spectacular, although I was sad to be the lone dog without my pony (or was it the other way ‘round?). Following my short talk about CAMP Rehoboth, our community here and what we expect from interactions with law enforcement (if we need help, help us; if we are disobeying regulations, cite us), the Q&A session sparkled.
Unlike years ago, where we were met with stony-faced silence, no questions, and grudging attention, there was great interaction this time. These young people were familiar with LGBTQ issues and culture. Their questions showed respect and an eagerness to learn.
Q: “What’s the most respectful way to address transgender men and women?”
A: Address them by “sir” or “ma’am,” matching the way they are dressed and presenting to you.
Q: “How do I tell people complaining about two men holding hands, because they don’t want their grandchild to see, that the men are doing nothing wrong?”
A: Um, exactly that way.
Likewise we discussed what happens if LGBTQ people disobey regulations. We know that occasionally somebody thinks it’s a good idea to hide in the dunes at North Shores for hanky-panky. I remember somebody coming into the CAMP Rehoboth office complaining about the rangers “targeting gays” for this activity.
“Well, that’s illegal,” Steve Elkins told this person. “Gay or straight, they should cite you for that. We have to be good neighbors.” And he and the Park Police commanders made sure the “targeting” was for bad behavior, not sexual orientation.
We know it and these young summer park rangers know it. I enjoyed meeting them. And I take pride in the way these training sessions have morphed over the years. I hope Steve would have been proud of the lone dog on her own (although it was not nearly as much fun), and I know Steve would have been very, very proud of this group of young people.
Not Surprised in The Least
The White House has proclaimed June to be, among other things, National Homeownership Month, National Ocean Month and Great Outdoors Month. Now I appreciate all that, as I own a home, near the ocean, and occasionally experience the great outdoors. But there has been no proclamation of National Pride Month as there was between 2009 and 2016. Who’s surprised?
Since taking office, the president has proposed the transgender military ban, overseen the disappearance of the mention of LGBTQ citizens from several federal web site pages, disbanded the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and picked Mike Pompeo—a man who reiterated his disagreement with marriage equality at his confirmation hearing—to be Secretary of State. Oh, and the president’s choice to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is Dr. Robert Redfield, who has long been affiliated with a group claiming God punished gays with AIDS. Nice.
Now I don’t know about everyone reading this magazine, but I certainly am proud of all the folks working to register voters and speaking out about electing a more gay friendly (not to mention kinder, more sensible) Congress. We want legislators who will not only give us the symbolic boost of proclaiming Pride Month, but more importantly, work for—not against—our LGBTQ community. I won’t stop working or speaking out until the White House is once again lit up with rainbow colors. Now that would make me proud.
I take great pride in being a member of CAMP Rehoboth. This organization is largely responsible for making Rehoboth Beach and environs a hometown (celebrating National Homeowner Month!) or resort (Yay for Great Outdoors Month!) with room for all. Our community and our amazing allies continue to thrive and make waves here, especially now, during National Ocean Month (thank you, current administration).
And Pride Month, whether recognized by the White House or not, also coincides with the ongoing CAMP Rehoboth Membership Campaign. So please join me by becoming a member or renewing your membership at camprehoboth.com. Your small investment will come back to you many times over.
And we will all celebrate PRIDE every day of the year. Hey, White House, we don’t need no stinkin’ Pride Month from you. We proclaim our own! ▼
Fay Jacobs is an author of five published memoirs. Her newest is Fried & Convicted: Rehoboth Beach Uncorked. As a humorist, she’s touring with her show Aging Gracelessly: 50 Shades of Fay. More Fay Jacobs.