Gay Camping: A Growing Gay Institution

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(Mirror) Acceptance, rights and inclusion was our gay agenda and as the war subsides to battles and as the dust clears, we begin to see the outcome. We may love our gay culture, yet it is important to understand that achieving our goals carries with it the cost of giving up who we were for who we will become. 

Change is all around us. Many cities no longer have any gay bars. Neighborhoods once considered gay now have a preponderance of perambulators. Gay businesses seldom find it practical to focus solely on gay customers. Mainstream churches reach out to gay parishioners.  

Woods Campground outing.2

Gay camping is perhaps the single growing gay institution. Though not a poor man's sport, most gay campgrounds continue to grow. Gay campers tend to love “their” place much like fans love “their” team. They find haven in a safe and friendly environment and become comfortable with the community and culture. 

Private membership parks harken back to a day when many gay bars required memberships. Members-only campgrounds are the last bastion of a gay culture as we become more and more integrated into society in general. Gay campgrounds continue to provide a space and experience where gays can be the very persons they are. They provide a place to commingle with compatriots in a world separate from our usual and regular reality.  

campingMarchMirror2

There are many passable, good and great gay campgrounds across North America. Most are located east of the Mississippi River and most of those within about a two hour drive of a major metropolitan area. Size and success of individual endeavors appear at first glance to be directly related to the size of the market from which they draw campers. Black Bear Camp in Alabama closed in 2015. Some campgrounds muddle along whilst from the sidelines we wonder how. The Woods in Pennsylvania draws from at least four major metropolitan areas and is one of the most popular.

The Woods in Pennsylvania

New gay campgrounds open each year. Rumblings of new ones opening near Rehoboth Beach in Delaware and near St. Louis in Missouri remain rumors. Between 2017 and 2018 at least ten new, or newly owned, gay campgrounds opened across the U.S. Several including Rainbow RV and The Homestead at 3218 in Texas, and Copper Cactus Ranch in Arizona opened west of the Mississippi River, an area that has had notably few choices.

Fledgling smaller properties like River Ridge in Kentucky and Saddleback Campground in New Hampshire were founded by owners who simply love camping. Smaller new gay campgrounds tend to be built from the bottom up, making use of limited acreage. Major new properties like Creek Ridge Campground in Michigan are usually already campgrounds finding a second life with new owners.

Creek Ridge camp

Beginning a new business of any kind requires a certain dedication and appetite for risk. In addition, opening a new gay campground generally puts the owners in a rural, usually remote and often isolated location surrounded by non-urban neighbors who will individually take whatever reaction to the new business that aligns with their beliefs. 

Mostly, new owners find neighbors friendly and accepting. Local businesses in areas surrounding large gay campgrounds quickly learn to embrace their new gay customers who spend more, and more readily, than less affluent locals. Adroit owners set up a culture of giving, a natural attendant to gay entertainment, directly benefiting local organizations from volunteer fire departments to animal rescues.

Gay culture is not disappearing but changing as families embrace their gay members, gay politicians win office and society recognizes its membervalue. Change embraced is growth. Urban areas have become our homes and gay campgrounds our retreats. 

  

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