Rich Barnett Goes Inside Rehoboth Beach
CAMP Rehoboth is an organization that started in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in order to create a more positive environment for the gay and lesbian community. While serving the community, the magazine provided a platform for one of its writers, Rich Barnett, to launch a string of books.
Barnett exposes readers to Rehoboth in a humorous, gently satiric, and unique beach read – The Discreet Charms of a Bourgeois Beach Town. Barnett has explored his adopted hometown for 16 years, providing insight no other ordinary travel guide and website has ever acknowledged. He uncovers the town’s heart, humor, and curiosity in between the lines, page after page.
“Think about it as if we were walking around town with cocktails in our hand and I’m telling you things about Rehoboth you never knew,” said Barnett.
The Discreet Charms of a Bourgeois Beach Town encompasses 40 vignettes that were his most popular stories deriving from his column. The vignettes concentrate on a variety of topics, ranging from the influence of the du Pont family,to a feisty matron’s war against mosquitoes, to the development of the town’s growth as a gay getaway, to the pursuit of the perfect French fry.
“Usually tour guides tell you where to stay, where to go eat, what to do on a rainy day, a little bit of the history, but they don’t delve into what it’s like to live in a place. They don’t really scratch the veneer of the heart and soul of the town, so that’s what I try and do in the book,” said Barnett.
The tour guides available to visitors in Rehoboth mention very little regarding the gay and lesbian community, and only indicate that it is in fact a gay destination. There are many possible reasons that companies don’t go into detail about this community, for they may not want to, it may not be in their mission, or they may not even take the time to look.
Barnett’s book delves into this unrecognized community; however, it’s not only a gay book.
It took Barnett about six months to take the stories from his column and rework sentencesstructures, stripping the jargon and shorthand. When comparing the stories, patterns within his writing became very prevalent. “The book is 163 pages…which makes the book a perfect book to read on vacation because you can pick it up and put it down when you get distracted by the bodies on the beach. You can stop and start anywhere,” said Barnett.
A 2010 census concluded that the city of Rehoboth had the fourth highest rate of cohabitation by same-sex couples throughout the United States. The beach was founded in 1872, and was known as a Methodist summer retreat; however, today it dances to a very different tune. Now, Rehbooth radiates a delightful and eclectic blend of highbrow and lowbrow, homo and hetero, urban and rural.
“This diversity is what makes Rehoboth such a fun and quirky place, and that’s what the book celebrates,” said Barnett. “It has really been fun to do. I just think it’s a wonderfully quirky beach town, and I’m glad to draw attention to it.”
The Discreet Charms of a Bourgeois Beach Town is available in both soft cover and Kindle edition at Amazon.com. Copies are also being sold in Rehoboth at Browseabout Books, Proud Bookstore, Jeff West Home, and Odysea.
Rachel Williams is a rising senior at Virginia Commonwealth University with a calling to be a voice to the voiceless; and passion is to bring gender equality and ethnic justice to the forefront of RVA.
Out author Mark Brennan Rosenberg visits Richmond this Wednesday with his second book Eating My Feelings He talks about American gay culture and sobering up.March 5, 2012
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