June 2, 2017 at 12:00 pm EDT | by Brock Thompson
Memorial Day: Dispatches from Rehoboth Beach
Rehoboth Beach, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)

Boys jamming onto Poodle Beach, beloved national treasure Pamala Stanley belting out ballads at the Blue Moon, the seemingly unending line for Aqua; oh Memorial Day in Rehoboth, you never disappoint. Gays describe Rehoboth in various ways. And if you’ve never been, I tell people to imagine, say, Provincetown, Mass., with taffy, an Arby’s, and way more straight people.

The combination of cheap beer, beef n’ cheddar sandwiches, and loads of straight people can make for some interesting encounters for gays at the beach. For instance, a few years back a truck load drove past us as we were walking to a party and threw a beer can at my friend Brian’s head, screaming “get a job, Elton John!” I still to this day have no idea what that meant.

Friday my little gay darts team, Game of Throws, and I checked into our charming cottage on Sussex Street. For me, gone are the days of 14-person houses. I require a bed these days, and I happily got one when another gay couple couldn’t make it last minute because their dog had a seizure. Plus, Sussex Street puts me Royal Farm fried chicken adjacent, as well as closer to Starbucks. For this early riser, a new tradition is sipping coffee early on Saturday morning, watching as gays file down the street on their way home from the night before. Their eyes say a combination of “OK, which way is the ocean” and “no, this is my brunch outfit, what are you talking about?”

The next morning we headed to Poodle Beach, the gay section of the beach that begins at the end of the boardwalk. Where it got the name Poodle Beach, no one really knows. Why we all flock there is probably a combination of self-segregation and self-determination. I’ve been told that since it is just outside of the town limits, certain things like public drinking go from outlawed to “technically legal.” All in all, Saturday on the sand featured more boys, Speedos, and questionable decisions. Though it was certainly a lot calmer than a couple of years back, when some gays were equating peeing in public to a civil rights issue.

Sunday on the beach featured Rehoboth’s newest tradition, Wig Day at the Beach, which is getting higher and more elaborate. My friend Tyler had an updo commemorating the sinking of the Titanic. But there was of course meaning behind that weave; Tyler mentioned the inspiration was the “the shipwreck that our country has become.” Leave it to gays, sometimes our politics are held together with bobby pins and sweat-resistant spirit gum. Last year the weather proved too hot for wigs on the sand. Most were discarded by the end of the afternoon, making the beach look like a hurricane had just hit some sort of southern-women-in-real-estate convention. This year, the weather cooperated for most of the afternoon. But the clouds rolled in and rain began to fall by late afternoon, making most of the gays scramble as if they were suddenly made of sugar.

Sunday, on the ride home, as we waited our turn to get across the Bay Bridge, I wondered why I still venture out to the shores of Delaware every Memorial Day to kick off summer. Many of my friends have started to venture down to Pensacola, Fla., a place favored by gays south of the Mason Dixon. So why do D.C. gays sit in traffic to go to the same bars just to see the same people? I guess because it’s ours. And many of us wouldn’t have it any other way.

Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer who contributes regularly to the Blade.

1 Comment
  • Hello, I got the same take on this piece. Maybe the author is stuck back in the bad old days of Rehoboth in the eighties….and even that wasn’t so bad.

    I always remember eating well and enjoying the beauty of that cozy beach town.

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