(Mirror) A well run organization has strictures, they let everyone know acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Whether a sign is posted, a consent is signed or someone reads a list, everyone knows what to expect.
Rules understood make life easier. Choose to comply or not, all the while understanding the consequences. Gay campgrounds are no different.
Some regulations are arcane, forgotten as soon as known. Some are silly enough to garner a second glance, perhaps even a chuckle. Some are serious enough to be pointed out, even reiterated. Posted, communicated and signed for edicts are easy. There is no question what they are and no question if they have been ignored, sidestepped or abused.
Consequences of ignoring guidelines can vary as much as following them. Arcane mandates are posted to fulfill regulatory obligations and ignored until injury or damage occurs. Silly commandments are enforced after those more serious have been breached and the enforcer finds the need to pile on. Posted rules carry consequences as varied as the rules themselves. In gay campgrounds, serious infractions can get you suspended, even banned.
For example, noise in all its forms, mechanical, laughter, or an uncontrolled pet, is most often an infraction of posted guidelines yet even more is a breach of common courtesy in the density of a gay campground. A courteous camper keeps sound, light and entertainment on their own site. Doing otherwise will certainly earn a stern glance, a verbal warning or even an invitation to depart the premises.
Then there are the unspoken dictates, statutes that make up unwritten etiquette and cause the real problems. Traveling to different gay campgrounds will serve to expose a gay camper to varied cultures built on accepted etiquette based on the underlying expectations of those who make up the local demographic.
Here we get into the real canons, the ones no one mentions yet are expected to be innately understood because the locals do. Unposted and unexplained, they are less transparent. The consequences of breaching local expectations can only be known too late. Enforcement is at the whim of the enforcer and that reaction can far exceed the unintended infraction. For the gay traveler, local culture is rarely specifically communicated and acquired only with time.
Stepping on the local etiquette, known or unknown, can garner a long side glance, a recognized stepping away, or an outright verbal or physical assault. A response will be solely dependent on the sensibilities of he who feels affronted and the size of his perceived affront. Or the size of the ego he suddenly feels the need to defend especially when copious quantities of alcohol are involved.
For example, personal contact has its local guidelines. Being a member of the local cadre and touching an exposed butt cheek at a crowded party can earn a laugh. To a visitor that same action could call a reminder to keep hands off. From a stranger that same personal touch can give rise or a viscous and extended assault.
That butt cheek is not open to touch regardless of perceptions at the moment. A crowded party, a bit of punch, lots of friends and laughter does not turn an exposed butt cheek into public property. Though many will disagree with me on that point.
Knowing the rules, written and unwritten, keeps times civil in gay campgrounds and in the world outside also. They are not new or difficult, they are simply the same ones mother taught.
Columnist Ric Reily, is an experienced camping enthusiast.
This story was published in the November issue of SFGN's high glossy magazine, The Mirror – on stands now. Click here to see the online PDF.