Gay clothing-optional resort draws ire in North Carolina
August 21 2003 12:00 AM ET
A clothing-optional men's resort planned in Chatham County, N.C., has drawn criticism from some of its neighbors. So far, Twin Oaks Campground, owned by gay couple Neil Stovall, 43, and Harry Irby, 35, consists of 15 tent sites. Parking for recreational vehicles should be ready in a week. The pool has been installed, but decking and landscaping are incomplete, and construction has only begun on an enclosed bathhouse. "This is the kind of thing you'd expect in California, not here in a rural area like Bonlee," said Don Daniels, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, who delivered a sermon about Twin Oaks on a recent Sunday night. "But here it is, right close to home." One woman called on the men's private telephone line and demanded to know whether they were Satanists. She didn't give a name. A neighbor has expressed fears that children might inadvertently see something sinful behind the campground's six-foot privacy fence.
Stovall and Irby say they have never tried to conceal the nature of the business. On the contrary, they created a Web site for it and planned to advertise in newspapers as soon as they had more amenities in place. The campground opened two years ago, shortly after Stovall and Irby bought the circa-1860 farmhouse and nearly 27 acres of land about three miles from the main intersection in Bonlee. A year ago, Stovall's 68-year-old mother, Betty Summers, became the third partner and is now the only woman on the property. Company policy, which prohibits any openly sexual behavior, also keeps Summers outside the fence. Inside, guests 21 and older can feel free to swim, sun, or walk the grounds in the altogether. "They don't have to worry," Summers said of the patrons. "I know where I'm supposed to go."
In town, Twin Oaks has been the subject of much discussion, not all of it harsh. "It don't bother me one bit in the world," said Joe Stutts, who has lived in Bonlee for 20 years. "I'm not going over there, so what should I care? I'm kind of glad we're getting a little excitement." Even the preacher wants Stovall, Irby, and their guests to feel welcome. "They can come to our church anytime," he said. "They can drive up in an RV and park it in the parking lot if they want to and come in and share the word of God. But it's not clothing-optional."
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