Campground Flap Raises Rights' Issues
A lesbian couple attempting to create a gay-friendly camping space named Camp Lickalotta in rural North Carolina claim they were booted from the campground where they lived because of anti-gay discrimination.
Nancy Leedy and Joan Beasley were evicted from Golden Valley Campgrounds in Rutherford County, about 200 miles from Atlanta, on March 12. The owners of the campground, Joe and Lynn Hoyle, said the couple inappropriately used the Golden Valley Campgrounds name on Camp Lickalotta materials to promote the camp’s Bushstock ’08 music festival, slated for May 16-18. The festival will now be held at a private campground in Lincolnton, N.C., Leedy said last week, according to Sovo.com, Atlanta.
Camp Lickalotta stands for “Lickalotta prejudice, lickalotta pollutants and lickalotta pessissm,” Leedy said.
"Our name is catchy. We wanted to get people’s attention,” she said. “We do get flack from the gay community (over the name), but we wanted to grab the attention of a lot of people and so they can see it stands for a lot of things.”
Controversy over Camp Lickalotta apparently began after a Feb. 26 article ran in the Shelby Star newspaper with the headline, “Camp what? New campground offers unusual name and unique purpose” and included this disclaimer at the start of the story: “Reader warning: Some readers might find the contents of this story objectionable.”
A follow-up story in the newspaper quoted Lynn Hoyle saying news of a gay campsite on their campground led to it being vandalized and was hurting business.
“It’s killed us,” Hoyle said.
Camp Lickalotta member Paige Laing of Gainesville, Ga., said the couple was definitely the target of anti-gay bigotry.
“This is all about hate, bigotry and fear,” said Laing, who is a lesbian. “We have a whole slew of friends in Atlanta and Georgia.”
Laing acknowledged a lot of the controversy from the rural community, including many Southern Baptists, came about because of the name “Camp Lickalotta.”
“They took (the name) out of context,” Laing said. “They made it sound like we were going to be having lesbian orgies … it just shows their ignorance.”
The owners of Golden Valley Campgrounds denied the anti-gay accusations in a statement from their attorney, Max Gardner of Shelby, N.C.
In the statement, Gardner said that while his clients don’t agree with the “sexual preferences” of partners Beasley and Leedy, the couple was evicted March 12 for violating campground rules, including unauthorized use of the Golden Valley Campground label on Camp Lickalotta materials. Leedy and Beasley had been leasing a space at the campground month-to-month since June 2007.
Gardner also said the couple misrepresented their intentions for the Bushstock music fest that the Hoyles originally supported.
Golden Valley Campground did in fact agree to co-sponsor a family oriented concert with Joan and Nancy to be held in May of this year. Golden Valley Campground allowed Joan and Nancy to clear some land near the First Broad river at their own expense in order to create a venue for this event.
“However, as soon as Golden Valley Campground learned that the concert would exclude children and would be focused on what can be described as adult type entertainment, Golden Valley Campground withdrew any consent to use the campgrounds for this type of event,” Gardner said.
In a statement to Camp Lickalotta members, Beasley expressed anger at the treatment she and Leedy received from the community and Golden Valley Campground owners.
“After all of the gay bashing, all the hate, and all of the rumors, you can see that prejudice runs rampant in our society,” Beasley said in the statement.
“So just a question on that which I have given much thought to. I really wonder if it were two straight people opening a campground named Camp Lickalotta, would it have stirred up such a reaction?”
She also defended the camp’s name.
“As for changing the name of Camp Lickalotta, some have said, ‘If you would just change the name, it would be OK.’ That can never happen now, for Camp Lickalotta is more than a name, it has become a movement to expose all hate, prejudice, lies and deceit in people's lives,” Beasley said.