Memorial Day Weekend found us attending our first Aluminum Under the Rainbow rally at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park in West Memphis. Sponsored by the Friends of Dorothy camping group, it’s the only official rally of GLBT Airstreamers in the nation.
A couple of cultural references may be helpful here: “Friend of Dorothy” is a slang term for a gay person that has been in use since World War II, when homosexual acts were illegal and gay people had to live in secrecy, fear and shame. Asking if someone was a “friend of Dorothy” was a euphemism for discussing sexual orientation without others knowing its meaning. The term refers to the character of Dorothy in the film The Wizard of Oz, who is accepting of those who are different. For example, the cowardly lion is embraced by Dorothy, even though he is living a lie: “I’m afraid there’s no denyin,’ I’m just a dandy lion,” the character sings.
The rainbow reference dates to 1978, when Gilbert Baker designed the original rainbow flag to symbolize gay pride. The colors are meant to reflect the diversity of the GLBT community.
We arrived thinking we would be surrounded by other gay Airstreamers, but we were surprised to find quite a few heterosexual couples in the group. They called themselves Friends of Friends of Dorothy, and enjoyed the association because they thought the group was fun-loving and free-spirited.
And so it was. Almost from the time of our arrival on Friday afternoon, we were greeted by friendly people who were eager to share their camping tip and stories of the road. As we pulled into camp, we were forced into “involuntary boondocking,” because power was out at the park. A storm blew through the previous day, and the crew that was dispatched to repair a downed power line failed to complete the task. Fortunately, we were able to enjoy cool breezes until a passing shower necessitated closing the windows.
After receiving word that the rally’s first official event was rained out, Chef Cliff fired up the stove and cooked up a romantic Date Night supper. Without shore power, and without a generator, we tried to conserve our battery power, not knowing how long the outage would last. So we ate by the light of a single candle, listening to our favorite music streaming on our iPhone. In the background, we occasionally heard the sounds of passing tugboats pushing their barge loads up and down the Mighty Mississippi.
Some folks in our group invited us to an impromptu cocktail party, so we crossed the waterlogged field separating the two main campgrounds for some late night fun and friendship. Power was finally restored around 10:30, so we headed back to Cloud 9 and called it a night.