A Michigan campground marketing itself to gay men has instituted a ban on transgender men.
Camp Boomerang RV Park and Campground, a yet-to-opened site in Orleans, Mich., announced the ban on its Facebook page through its co-owner, Bryan Quinn.
“Camp Boomerang is a private, membership-only RV park/campground that allows only ‘guys’. A ‘guy,’ in terms of this discussion, is defined as a person with a penis, [who] presents himself as male and has a state-issued ID that says ‘male,’” Quinn wrote in a post.
Quinn clearly anticipated a backlash to the exclusionary policy by arguing for the private campground's right to a "like-minded atmosphere" in a follow-up post. “We understand this statement, unfortunately, may not make everyone happy, but feel it needs to be clarified," he wrote. "It is our hope that everyone who visits Camp Boomerang enjoys a comfortable, safe, non-confrontational environment going forward.
“Being a ‘private membership only’ entity allows us the ability to build a like-minded atmosphere. We don’t mean for this to come off as a ‘like it or leave it’ attitude, but we feel it’s necessary for everyone to know exactly what our vision is for Camp Boomerang."
Members of the group expressed the view that they were not "like-minded" regarding Quinn's policy; one asked if the campground would institute "penis checks" upon entry.
Quinn replied, “We never said anything about ‘penis checks’, but let’s be real here… if we let [trans] 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.”
“Let’s be real here,” Quinn stated in another 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.”
Camp Boomerang reportedly lost several founding members over the "non-confrontational" policy. Following the backlash, the campground's Facebook page has since been taken down, but outlets including Pride Source reported the record of the remarks.
"They are blatantly uneducated and arrogant and assuming of what it means to be a trans person,” said Michael Champagne, who had previously put down a deposit for rental space at Camp Boomerang for his newly purchased RV, told Pride Source. “It is hate speech period. It is discrimination period. It’s all of those things that I don’t want to associate with.”
Santiago Moreno, a transgender Michigander and camper, also shared his thoughts with Pride Source on Camp Boomerang's exclusionary policy.
“I think it’s garbage,” he said. “There’s a huge reason many trans individuals feel they don’t belong within the LGBTQ movement. It’s because sexuality and gender identity are completely different. And still, in 2021, many gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals are transphobic and would never fight for our rights like we have theirs. It’s insane to me to know that even within our own circles we are still ostracized."
The controversy has shone a spotlight on the region's campground LGBTQ+ inclusivity. The Michigan site CreekRidge is open to transgender men on the condition they present a valid ID with a male gender marker. Yet this policy is also viewed as exclusionary due to the reality that not all trans people go through this legal process; it's also exclusionary against nonbinary campers.
However, others saw opportunity in the shaming of Camp Boomerang's bigotry. Another queer campground in Michigan, Saugatuck's Campit Resort, declared itself an inclusive competitor.
"Trans men are men. Trans women are women. All gender expressions are valid. What genitalia you have is none of our business," the campground wrote in a Wednesday Facebook post. "All who believe love is love and all humans are valid and deserving of love no matter where they fall on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum are welcome at Campit. Love you and can't wait to see you there in 2021."