Last weekend I did the gay trifecta of late summer/early fall travel: Philadelphia, New Hope and Rehoboth Beach. Three great pockets of gay, each connected by vast swaths of Trump country.
Friday I sat off for Philadelphia. Doing the touristy things that afternoon, meeting up with my friend Jesse later. Aside from connecting out of their train station or airport, I have never really been to Philadelphia. Embarrassing, I know. So I was eager to check out the famed Gayborhood. Before hitting the bars, he took me to an utterly charming Italian restaurant, Giorgio on Pine. I didn’t know this, but many of Philadelphia’s restaurants are BYOB, which somehow adds to the adventure of dining out. More striking, we had no reservation. The place was packed and no table options for a few hours. I mentioned to the hostess that I was in from out of town, and suddenly she was having a table assembled for us on the sidewalk for some alfresco dining. I have to say, that sort of service would never happen in Washington, D.C..
After dinner, Jesse was my sherpa through various gay establishments. I did a solo turn through the famed Woody’s. Before entering a got a pat down from the bouncer. That was my first sign that Woody’s might be on a down swing. I walked right through the front entrance and immediately sought the back exit. The bar’s exterior was adorned with several rainbow flags, but that was the only gay thing about it nowadays. Sadly, it was full of straights. Other establishments though like the Tavern on Camac proved to be a great gay time.
Saturday I drove the short distance to New Hope, Pa., a gay town that has taken quaintness to level 11. Stone bridges, historic homes, and a population of just over 2,000, all of them seemingly owning either an antique store or ice cream shop. I was there for a wedding, a straight wedding, where the only thing gay was the officiant, a groomsman, and my polkadot pocket square. Nevertheless, weddings, straight or others, are pretty gay affairs anyway. Who would have thought of putting lanterns in oak trees but a gay man anyway? Bottomline, check out New Hope.
On Sunday morning, after helping get some lanterns out of trees, and bidding farewell to the still beaming, newly married Nell and Pat, I sat off for Rehoboth Beach. On the way, I stopped by Royal Farms, a gas station where fried chicken is now rated by Food and Wine magazine. I had no choice but to stop and get some, twice. Arriving in Rehoboth that afternoon, I immediately dropped off my bags and headed to the ocean for a quiet sit and refreshing swim. Later, I sat off for town. And the minute I walked into the Blue Moon to hear Pamala Stanley, which by the way, is one of my favorite things to do, ever, I was immediately surrounded by a mini mob of angry town Realtors. They were not at all pleased with my article from earlier in the summer detailing my Memorial Day Weekend at the beach. They thought I portrayed their town in a less-than-flattering light. I tried to reason with them, but Realtors can be a rather unforgiving group. I love Rehoboth. I think we’re so fortunate to have it so close to our city. The town’s restaurant scene has improved dramatically while still having great mainstays like the Moon, and a recent coup in the city government suggests we might be done with silly pool rules and the like. Rehoboth Beach, in short, is still a great little gay town. But, I’ve been venturing out there for over decade now, so I think I can make fun of it a little. I think of Rehoboth like my first time, in the shower after a Dave Matthew’s concert. A little messy, some repositioning here and there, some redefining of roles at times — something I smile when I think about and something I’m not particularly unproud of. I guess the lesson here, try not to piss off the Realtors.
All in all, we’ve got some gayer-than-gay gay destinations all within a car ride of Washington. And with two long weekends coming up this fall, do the gay trifecta of Philadelphia, New Hope and Rehoboth Beach. And pick up some fried chicken for the road.
Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer who contributes regularly to the Blade.