While the LGBT community can be ultra welcoming, it can sometimes have a reputation for being, shall we say, “divisive” at times, sometimes making it a tad harder for the bears, the lesbians and the circuit queens to all play nicely within the same ultra colorful sandbox. The one place that has managed to bring them all together almost seamlessly is Asbury Park NJ. This vibrant shore town went from what Bruce Springsteen so eloquently called “My City Of Ruins” in his 2000 hit song, to one of the most talked about and visited summer destinations for the LGBT community.
I remember Asbury Park during the lean years. The darkness that overtook Cookman Avenue. The ominous clown faces of the Palace Amusements that overlooked you when you walked into Down the Street, the gay club that brought many of us to Asbury Park. Mostly, I remember the bright spots of the community, that so desperately wanted this town to come back to the glory that once was here. I recalled stories of my childhood when my grandmother would bring my mother here on the bus to shop at Steinbach’s. My parents got married in this town. My love affair with this town was almost predetermined.