Last week the owner of the private gay Michigan campsite Camp Boomerang, Bryan Quinn, said on social media that the camp required men to have a penis in order to purchase a membership. Boomerang has since been removed from the Gay Camp Association website and marketing group after tremendous backlash to this anti-trans policy. The Association allegedly received a significant number of emails and that prompted the decision. Though Boomerang’s Facebook group page appears to have been taken down in the days since it prompted controversy, the messages previously posted there continue to reverberate throughout the community.
“Let’s be real here,” Quinn said in one comment. “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.”
Michael Champagne and his boyfriend, who had just bought a seasonal membership to Boomerang and a new RV to park there, are doing just that.
“We are not going to be seasonals at Boomerang,” Champagne said. “My boyfriend is contacting them today to tell them and to ask for our deposit back. It is non-refundable, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. We are in communication with CreekRidge Campground to see options moving forward.”
Vincent Nieves was supposed to be Camp Boomerang’s events director and resident DJ when it opened. After learning of the campground’s policies, Nieves resigned.
“I took some time to make the decision based on my moral standpoint and views along with self-care reasons,” Nieves said. “I feel that this decision is a right decision based on my beliefs. I was super excited when this opportunity arose. I’ve been working day and night to create the family experience through this upcoming year’s events.”
Nieves has previously camped at CreekRidge, which welcomes trans men with the gender marker M on their state-issued ID, and now plans to return there this summer. Campit Resort Saugatuck, meanwhile, has no gender requirements and is open to all. In response to the Boomerang controversy, Mr. Campit Bear 2020 and trans man Nikk Cochran Selik is organizing a Trans Week at Campit from June 21 through 24.
“We had been discussing this since last year, doing a trans week,” Selik said. “I brought it up to [Campit owner] Michael [O’Connor] last August. We were waiting to see what the pandemic situation was going to look like but in light of this, it sort of lit the fire so to speak.”
Trans Week, despite its name, will be open to everyone regardless of gender identity.
“But the point is it’s really supposed to about welcoming trans folk to Campit,” said Selik. “I’m sure maybe a lot of trans folks have never been to Campit before, so it may be a lot of people’s first time. It’s about blending the community together and showing people inside and outside the trans community that CampIt is welcoming and it’s a place for the entire LGBTQ community. We want to put that out there for everyone to see.”
Selik said he believes the controversy with Boomerang has actually been good for the community.
“As horrible as all of the initial policies were at Camp Boomerang, I think the outcry from everybody, even the gay cisgender community, in support of trans men and trans folks, has been overwhelmingly positive and really sort of a silver lining to everything,” Selik said. “I was telling my husband, five years ago people would have said these things and it would have been no big deal. I think it shows how far our community has progressed as a whole.”
Bryan Quinn from Camp Boomerang did not respond to requests to comment for this story.