Welcome to Eureka Springs

The gayest small town in America you’ve never heard of.

BY Chadwick Moore

April 24 2014 2:14 PM ET


Alternative-minded can go either way. Thirty minutes down the road, in neighboring Boone County, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan maintain its national headquarters in Zinc, Ark., just outside Harrison, where a highway billboard proclaims anti-racist is a code word for anti-white. That went up in 2013 after controversy arose when news spread that the Klan had sponsored a portion of the Rosa Parks Highway for years in the Adopt-a-Highway program, complete with their own sign.
 
“Once you get outside Eureka, you’re still in Arkansas,” a local man wearing a Star of David around his neck tells me. “I’ve never had any problems, but I don’t go to Harrison unless it’s in a speeding car.” There are still some places in Arkansas that have sundown laws on the books — though most likely not enforced — that forbid black people from staying the night.
 
The antigay American Family Association noticed what’s going on here. They’re Coming to Your Town is a 28-minute instructional DVD for sale on the AFA's website (for $14.99) that explains how to organize your own community so that it doesn’t go the way of Eureka. Eureka Springs, they say, will be the new normal should the homosexual agenda be allowed to prevail.
 
If Eureka is the new normal in any way since the Stonewall Riots 45 years ago, it’s because this community is booming, running counter to the idea that in order to have a fulfilling life, gays have to run to the coasts and be competitive, wealthy, superficial, and sometimes nasty to one another.
 
Here you won’t find chiseled pecs, high fashion, Fire Island timeshares, or people classifying themselves based on facial hair or body type. In Eureka, a sense of pride is a Southern thing, and it’s much older than any contemporary conventions.
 
What you will find here are good country people.

Photos by Scott Munster

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