Retro-Scope.com, “Reflections of LGBT Life in New Hope,” is New Hope Celebrates (NHC) newest creation, fulfilling the organization’s mission to build lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGBT) community pride, history and preserve New Hope’s “spot.”
It was named this year by the Huffington Post, as “one of the USA’s 10 best small town LGBT travel destinations.”
The new Web site is a crowd-sourced, online archive dedicated to the preservation, celebration, and sharing of New Hope’s LGBT history and living community. It is the first phase in a five-year plan to establish a physical space – an LGBT community center/museum – in New Hope. It’s a protected place direly needed by this population in change.
For decades, New Hope has attracted and maintained a diverse and artistic populace, drawing both a strong base of LGBT tourists as well as maintaining a position as the Pennsylvania’s by-far highest LGBT density-per-household, according to the last US census.
LGBT clubs, restaurants and community events have been central to sustaining New Hope’s mixed and textured community, places also known for welcoming straight, questioning or curious patrons. However, like other towns and cities with dense LGBT populations where Pride movements have made strides, many LGBT residents have integrated into the mainstream community as citizens, church-goers, workers and parents.
Simultaneously, their special clubs are being sold out or torn down.
“While most gays are likely advocates of equal rights and push into mainstream, many reminisce about life and times gone by,” said Daniel Brooks, founder and president of New Hope Celebrates, the town’s LGBT all volunteer marketing organization.
“Of the stories most told, many are of hard-fought victories or defeats in human rights but some are sweeter tales – of exclusive parties and clubs; sun-drenched days of camaraderie; frivolous, fun nights among ‘the flock.’”
And upon hearing these stories, Brooks foresees more impending losses, as the population that remembers by-gone days is aging.
“As they pass, with their demise will go decades of photos, event records and important objects that had exemplified the memories of New Hope’s gay collective experiences.”
“For many elderly gays who are single, childless, or once banished by family, the threat of their past vanishing adds to their concerns about aging and disappearing,” commented Brooks.
To address these issues, Brooks dreamed up Retro-Scope. Retro-Scope.com literally restores the many missing parts of New Hope’s LGBT legacy, namely the now lost places, written words and images that magnetized the gay community starting in the late 1960’s onward.
It offers more than just the chance to hop in the way-back machine and spend hours pouring over vintage film clips or photos. The site allows visitors to add their own items to the collection, to comment on others and to share what they see on other sites like Twitter and Facebook. Many of the contributions are images or artifacts from New Hope’s many venues.
“There was no way we could showcase these long-gone, beloved places without the community.” said Sara Scully, founder of Scullyone Productions, whose company produced and designed the site, and with the help of an assistant gathered and scanned the initial wealth of photos donated by individuals.
There are also directories of noteworthy artists, changemakers, and for those who have passed way – a tab named “Remember Me.” These directories will be completed in the next year.
There is a clickable map with an exhaustive overview of all places, both existing and those burned down or bulldozed. Visitors can click a spot on the map, read about the place and see all items in the collection related to that place.
The Timeline page on Retro-Scope offers a linear view of noteworthy events in New Hope’s LGBT past giving the viewer a chance to see all items in the collection related to an event on The Timeline.
“The LGBT community has been an important part of what has made the New Hope area special: from its creative arts community, to its thriving businesses, to its spirit of openness, and inclusion,” concluded Brooks.
“But the community is quickly changing, as many of the landmark places that established New Hope as an LGBT town like The New Prelude, The Cartwheel, or Odette’s have been demolished, converted, or as flood victims are awaiting restoration. Retro-Scope gives the LGBT community – and all of their many friends and allies – an opportunity to live on into eternity.”