“Welcome to Camp OUT!” yelled a neon yellow sign at the end of a Pictou-area driveway below another sign for queer 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 queer issues.
In the basement of the Spring Garden 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 queer 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. Kelly 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 event 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 PEI.
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.
Catch the rest of the fourth annual TimeOUT series at the library daily until Friday. A presentation about healthy transgendered lives will take place tomorrow at noon, or on Thursday you can check out a presentation on the state of diversity and equality in the province’s schools, and on Friday you can watch the political presentation “Sex, Laws and the Bedrooms of the Nation”.