“Welcome to Camp OUT!” yelled a neon yellow sign for gay campsite The Mermaid and The Cow.
Some hopeful campers drove straight by last Friday before turning around, but eventually, a large group gathered around the campfire to discuss gay issues.
In the basement of Halifax’s Spring Garden Road Memorial Library yesterday, as part of the TimeOUT lunchtime lecture series (July 21 to 24), organizers Kelly Baker and Sonia Edworthy presented a slide show of the Camp Out excursion to a group of about 20 people.
Some of those in the audience spent the weekend at the campsite making zines and audio recordings focused around the history and activism of the province’s gay community.
“Queer history doesn’t start with this slideshow or start with the first Pride march; it starts way before Europeans came to Nova Scotia and before it was Nova Scotia,” Edworthy said, paraphrasing a weekend history lesson.
Some discussions at the camp “safe space” included homophobia within rural communities. Baker, who studied anthropology, said the prevalent idea is that rural communities are less accepting of homosexuality, but the opposite is true in Nova Scotia.
“(The campers) had been joking that they wanted to hit up a gay bar in Pictou, and they were laughing, and Catherine (a local) was like, ‘Well actually, there’s a queer event at this hall.’ ”
The camp attracted all colours of the community, from as far away as South Korea along with others from Halifax and Pictou. One girl even hitchhiked to the event from P.E.I.
After packing up their tents on the final morning, the campers didn’t want to leave the new safe ground they had created over the weekend.
“Saying goodbye, so sad,” Edworthy said, laughing fondly at a picture of the group on the deck of The Mermaid and The Cow.