Murray Archibald was working for a theater company in Birmingham, Ala., back in the ‘70s, when he drove to Washington to visit a college friend. Helping to move a large painting to an office in the White House, he encountered Steve Elkins, who was working in the Carter administration.
“It was love at first sight,” the 61-year-old Rainbow City, Ala., native and son of a Methodist minister, says. “As soon as I could wrap up my work at the theater, I moved into Steve’s apartment in D.C.”
In a few weeks the couple will celebrate their 38th anniversary. After several years in D.C. with stints in a few other cities along the way, the two settled in Rehoboth Beach, Del., in 1990.
It’s a big weekend over Labor Day there as the Sundance 2016 Rainbow XXIX: Sol Groove event offers the annual auction and cocktail buffet (on Saturday, Sept. 3) and a dance party with gay DJ Joe Gauthreaux on Sunday, Sept. 4. It’s an annual benefit for CAMP Rehoboth, the local community center Archibald co-founded.
Archibald and Elkins founded Sundance in 1988 and have co-chaired it ever since.
“This year the event will be held at the Rehoboth Mall because the Rehoboth Convention Center is closed,” he says. “It’s going to be amazing. For all the folks who don’t want to drive to the dance, we will have shuttle service throughout the night.”
Also an artist, he’s a full-time volunteer staff member and president of the board of directors for the organization. Full details at camprehoboth.com.
Archibald enjoys movies, books and cooking in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I told my parents when I was 17 and they basically said, “We know.” I was out in college, but since it was in the theater department, it wasn’t a big deal.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
After 26 years of involvement with an LGBT community center, we’ve witnessed the joys and the pain of LGBT people of all ages and backgrounds. I am astounded by all of them and especially the courage and strength of the young transgender members of our community. They have more courage than I ever had, it seems to me.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
The first night Steve and I met, we went to the Lost and Found.
Describe your dream wedding.
I had my dream wedding. We were married in a Methodist Church in Rehoboth Beach with family and friends around us, by three Methodist ministers (and a retired Methodist Bishop). My father passed away four months before we were married, but my mother gave me his wedding band and he was very much present with all of us.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
A tremendous amount of our passion involves LGBT causes, but equally important to us at are the broader equality issues of race, gender, nationality and religion.
What historical outcome would you change?
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
So many choices, but I love to dance, so I’m going with disco — and eventually the Saint, the legendary New York ‘80s club.
On what do you insist?
Truth, forgiveness, love.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Don’t miss the biggest party of Labor Day weekend! Tickets to Sundance 2016 are available here. Free shuttle service from downtown Rehoboth Beach will be available on the night of the dance.”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Home is Where the Heart Is”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. I am who I am.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
God is love.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
This is an awkward time for us as a community. We have made so much progress, and yet until we are able to make progress within the conservative religious communities of our world, we will continually be struggling to change hearts and minds. It is impossible to change religious beliefs from outside an organization. And it’s impossible to fake faith in order to bring about change. Change comes when we are able to make heart connections with those around us. That requires trust and shared beliefs and experiences.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The tendency to be harshly judgmental. We should be the most accepting people in the world.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Too many to choose from, but today I’m remembering “Philadelphia.” I put my head down and sobbed in the theater.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Steve and I just can’t seem to get into the customs of Valentine’s Day. I suppose because we live and work side by side all day, every day, and we find our romantic moments come at unexpected times.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I don’t really think about prizes, but on the day Steve and I got married, Delaware Gov. Jack Markel awarded us the Order of the First State in recognition of the work we have done with CAMP Rehoboth over the last 26 years.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I didn’t know anything at 18.
We’re not there anymore, of course, but we would never have found our way to Rehoboth Beach without our years in D.C. Even after we moved to New York City, we spent far more time in Rehoboth than we did on Fire Island, though I have many fond memories from there, as well.