Soon-to-Open Gay Camping Site Excludes Trans Men, Then Backpedals

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday February 21, 2021
Originally published on February 20, 2021

Soon-to-open Camp Boomerang is in hot water over having announced a ban on trans men from their male-only park, Pride Source reports. An administrator of the campground's private Facebook group followed up retracting the statement.

The RV park and campground set to open this Spring in Orleans, Michigan, about 50 miles northwest of the state's capital Lansing, received backlash on a Facebook posting by Boomerang's Bryan Quinn, which said, "Camp Boomerang is a private, membership-only RV park/campground that allows only 'guys.' A 'guy,' in terms of this discussion, is defined as a person with a penis, [who] presents himself as male and has a state-issued ID that says 'male.'

We understand this statement, unfortunately, may not make everyone happy, but feel it needs to be clarified. It is our hope that everyone who visits Camp Boomerang enjoys a comfortable, safe, non-confrontational environment going forward. Being a 'private membership only' entity allows us the ability to build a like-minded atmosphere. We don't mean for this to come off as a 'like it or leave it' attitude, but we feel it's necessary for everyone to know exactly what our vision is for Camp Boomerang."

Have A Gay Day posted screenshots of the posts to Camp Boomerang RV Park & Campground's Facebook page, which is currently unavailable due to page moderators who "shared it with a small group of people or changed who can see it, or it's been deleted."

Reportedly, Quinn continued to respond to the backlash, writing at one point, "Let's be real here. If we let women that act like men in, and they go naked at the pool, that's when it's obvious that there's no penis. Sorry to put it bluntly. But if you don't like the rules, quietly leave."

Some potential patrons, such as Michael Champagne and his boyfriend, have already decided against purchasing seasonal memberships in support of the new business. Champagne told Pride Source that Camp Boomerang's rules needlessly exclude trans men. For Champagne, Quinn's reference to trans men as "women who act like men" was, as he says, "really the nail in the coffin for me. They are blatantly uneducated and arrogant and assuming of what it means to be a trans person. It is hate speech, period. It is discrimination, period."

Camp Boomerang will become the fourth LGBTQ campground in Michigan along with CreekRidge, Campit Resort, and The Windover Women's Resort. Questions arise as to who exactly is welcome at both CreekRidge and Windover.

According to Ron Jamison, co-owner of CreekRidge, the campground aims to provide "a warm and welcome atmosphere for all men to enjoy, which includes those who identify as a transgender man" while requiring identification that specifies patrons as male. The policies at Windover state "women only" without any specific information regarding transgender women.

Brayden Misiolek, co-founder and executive director at Transcend the Binary, said of ID requirement policies, "any type of policy that would require someone to prove their gender identity is counterproductive to advancing LGBTQ rights and divides our community. As someone who lives with dysphoria, this news is very dehumanizing. Any kind of discriminatory policies like this erase us as a community. It invalidates our lived experiences and perpetuates narratives of illegitimacy, which can and does lead to harm for trans and non-binary people."

Bryan Quinn, administrator of Camp Boomerang's Facebook group, posted the following after the backlash, then blocked comments:

"A few days ago, we replied to a question regarding membership at Camp Boomerang. It is obvious to us that the words and statement have hurt some of those in the LBGTQ community. That was never the intension, and for that we offer our sincerest apologies.

"We'd like to take a moment to talk about our vision for the park.

"Camp Boomerang is a private all-male clothing optional business. The mission is to provide a safe, comfortable, social camping experience for men. The membership guidelines welcome any person that identifies as a male, presents a government-issued id displaying "M", and accepts our code of conduct and mission.

"This type of business is not new, nor is it for everyone. Camp Boomerang's members expect to be in the company men. That is what we designed, and that is what the members expect and pay for.

"By clearly stating the mission and membership requirements we hope that those who visit Camp Boomerang RV Park & Campground will respect our vision of becoming Michigan's premier male-only clothing optional campground."

Campit, however, does not require ID and prides itself on creating policies and an overall culture that stands "180 degrees from Camp Boomerang," according to Michael O'Connor, Campit's owner and webmaster for the Gay Camp Association. While O'Connor isn't happy with Camp Boomerang's choice in policy, he says, "they can do what they want to do. But we don't support policies like that at all at Campit. We are very trans-welcoming. As for the Gay Camp Association, we don't have any policies or bylaws for members. It's essentially a cross-marketing organization. Boomerang is a member, but we don't have policies [related to membership]."

O'Connor adds, "we hope that the gay community, in general, will stop discriminating against other members of our community. I'd really like to see that everyone is welcome."

Santiago Moreno, a transgender man from Redford who has stayed at both Campit and CreekRidge without problem, said of Camp Boomerang's policy, "I think it's garbage. There's a huge reason many trans individuals feel they don't belong within the LGBTQ movement. It's because sexuality and gender identity are completely different. And still, in 2021, many gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals are transphobic and would never fight for our rights like we have theirs. It's insane to me to know that even within our own circles we are still ostracized."

An EDGE feature last year highlighted several LGBTQ campgrounds throughout the U.S., which appear to be inclusive in their policies.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.