The Torch Is Passing (and that’s a great thing!)
Many, many years ago, when I was only a few years out of the American University Theatre Department, my friend Kathy and I went back there to see a show. Kathy had been a starring character actress her entire four years at school and was one of the most recognizable and beloved figures on campus.
She was a big girl, with a delightfully rubbery face she could contort into any expression imaginable. Her booming voice and impeccable comic timing were unmatched.
When we went back, of course, we saw all these new young faces and nobody knew us. Not only was it sobering, but after the show when we went to “our” backstage to congratulate the actors, we were perceived as nobodies and interlopers.
At one point, someone addressed Kathy, saying “Excuse me, do I know you?”
She stood tall, threw her shoulders back and in a booming, classic Bea Arthur (or Tallulah Bankhead) voice barked, “Do…You…Know…Who…I…Used…To…Be?”
I was reminded of that moment recently on the patio at Blue Coast restaurant, where we went to hear the duo Bettenroo entertain. As the music rocked, the place filled up with dozens of women, many appearing to be years or even decades younger than me. Yes, I knew a smattering of the women there, maybe 15 percent, but the rest were new, happy faces.
Some were weekend visitors from DC or Philly, staying with friends; I spoke with gals who’d recently purchased second homes here, just as we had done 25 years ago. Some women had just retired and were moving here full time.
Let’s face it, many of us remember when we’d gather at the old Cloud 9 or the Renegade and know absolutely every lesbian in the room. Clearly, for me, those days are long gone—and that’s a positively joyous thing.
It’s fabulous to see a new wave of women (and men) populating the Rehoboth area, partying like crazy as we did, and picking up the torch to continue Rehoboth’s hard-fought reputation as a place with room for all.
And for many readers, my next sentence is predictable. Along with my hearty welcome to the newcomers (and those I’m just meeting who have been here a while), I’m making the ask: please join CAMP Rehoboth.
Just a basic membership will do. But, whether you feel you need CAMP Rehoboth’s programs or not, whether you ever visit the community center or not, whether you have no idea what CAMP Rehoboth really does or not, I urge you to become a member. It’s well established that CAMP Rehoboth made this town the haven it is for the queer community (and yes, I am getting comfortable with the word queer to describe us), and you probably would not even be here without the work CAMP Rehoboth did and continues to do.
And as we all know, despite the fantastic Pride month we experienced in June, the work is not over.
So, I urge folks who are not now members of CAMP Rehoboth to go online to camprehoboth.com and join up. You can even do it in recognition of “Fay Being Old.”
Yes, I’m embracing the fact that I’m over the hill. In fact, there used to be a Letters column called “Gay and Gray.” Well, I can’t turn “CAMPout” into that one, as I have just dyed my hair blond and I’d rather put a fork in my eye than ever see my natural hair color.
But even as I encourage CAMP Rehoboth membership in the name of my being old, headed for ancient, I have to let you know that things haven’t changed all that much.
On that July 4th weekend night at Bluecoast, my wife and I started with Watermelon Crush Cocktails and Bettenroo; moved on to Diego’s, with more cocktails, to listen to a fantastic singer Darryl and Joe brought in from Puerto Vallarta; then dined at Confucius at 8:30; stuck our heads into the Parrot Biergarten; walked around a bustling downtown; ran into lots of folks we did know; and got back home very close to Cinderella’s curfew.
I ain’t down yet. But I am thrilled to be welcoming the new wave, and have confidence that when I finally have to utter “Do you know who I used to be?” our gay community will be alive, well, and thriving like always.
Anybody have a recipe for a chocolate martini made with Boost? ▼
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.