Plans dropped for Tennessee gay retreat

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 12 2002 12:00 AM ET

A North Carolina businessman has dropped plans to open a gay retreat in Grundy County, Tenn., because the site was vandalized this week. "This is a place I'm asking friends and guests to come to, and there's no way I would do that without knowing they would be 100% safe," Allan Winkler said. "I've already received 10 death threats by E-mail." Winkler said he had been planning the retreat for four years and expected it to open in the spring. He said only members were supposed to know the location, but someone somehow found the site. The security gate system was stolen, and the office building was demolished Sunday on the 75-acre site, he said.

Winkler said he thought Grundy County would be a good location for his Blue Fox Retreat because of its outdoor beauty, adding that he had never before had problems with the local residents. Winkler said he called the American Civil Liberties Union and the Washington, D.C.-based gay rights group Human Rights Campaign about the vandalism. Dyana Mason, southern field organizer for HRC, said she called the sheriff's department about the investigation. "If it does turn out to be a hate crime, we want to make sure justice is done," she said.