Resources for Gay RVing with Paul and James – RVE #333

Learn what it’s like RVing as a gay couple and discover LGBTQ campgounds and other gay RVing resources with Paul and James from

Can’t we all just get along? Apparently we can! Paul Zapala and James Meyer are a gay couple that has enjoyed RVing for 8+ years. While they’ve never personally encountered the hatred that often occurs online, they understand the need for LGBTQ RVers to feel safe when traveling. That’s why they’ve grown their Youtube channel and the resources at

Tune in to discover, what exactly are LGBTQ campgrounds and where do you find them? Learn about the content and resources Paul and James have developed, and why. Get a better understanding of what it’s like traveling as a same sex couple, and how that’s not much different than the same challenges faced by RVers of color, senior couples, and families. Most importantly, hear how it is community that matters most to feel welcome, wherever you go.

Connect with Paul and James:



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Resources for Gay RVing

with Paul and James

Your Host: Jim Nelson



LGBTQ Campground Map

Huff Po Article

Workampers Facebook Group

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The RV Entrepreneur #333 Full Episode Transcript:

Resources for Gay RVing with Paul and James

PAUL: I think a lot of LGBTQ people are afraid to travel. Even personal friends that we know think that we’re crazy for doing it. And so we really just evolved into wanting to encourage people to go out there and see the country and explore the world and not be afraid.

RV LIFE: Welcome to the RV Entrepreneur Podcast, the weekly show for nomads, work campers, RV ers and entrepreneurs looking to earn a living or build a business while enjoying the RV lifestyle. This week’s host is Jim Nelson. Let’s settle in and enjoy the RV entrepreneur podcast brought to you by RV life.

JIM: Hello. Hey there Jim, here again at RV life with another exciting episode of the RV entrepreneur. I’m excited to share this discussion with Paul Zappala and James Meyer, because gay travelers and nomads are an underrepresented community in the RV industry, the vast majority of our viewers are heterosexual couples or families. So how does a gay couple fit in at a campground where your neighbors may or may not agree with your quote unquote lifestyle? Well, as you’ll hear, this has nothing to do with sexual preference. It’s all about feeling safe and having a sense of community wherever you go, whatever your beliefs may be. You know, as a cisgender, hetero privileged white male, I have absolutely no idea what it might be like to feel unsafe or unwelcome at certain campgrounds, except way back when we were traveling in the South and still had California plates. Paul and James have a similar story about that, but I don’t know how I’d cope with any hatred I might encounter because of the way I looked, or who I held hands with in the Work campers group I manage. I often see same sex couples specifically looking for LGBTQ friendly campgrounds, and all too frequently I see negative comments from haters and trolls, which I enjoy deleting and banning immediately. But what is an LGBTQ campground? And is the world really full of haters? Spoiler alert I’m happy to discover there’s apparently much more of that online than there is at any campground. But what queer resources exist, and how can viewers feel safe wherever they go? That’s why Paul and James have been sharing their videos while RV ING every summer for the past eight years, and it’s why they’re documenting their adventures with their YouTube channel and a map of LGBTQ friendly campgrounds all over the country at Gay. Com so hang on for this fun discussion right after this short message.

RV LIFE: RVing is more than just a hobby, it’s a community. When you join RV life, you’re not just gaining access to a suite of tools, you’re becoming part of a vibrant community of fellow RV enthusiasts. Share your experiences, learn from others, and make your RV journey even more memorable. Visit RV to become a part of our community and start making connections that last a lifetime.

JIM: Paul James, thank you so much for joining me. I’m really excited to have this talk. Welcome. Thank you.

PAUL: I’m excited to be here.

JAMES: Nice to have the invitation. Thanks.

JIM: Oh, you’re more than welcome. I want to dive into everything you’re doing there with Garyvee. Com and the YouTube channel. But first, technically this is the RV Life Entrepreneur podcast. So I ask all my guests two questions. First, just to kind of get to know you, when were you two first introduced to the RV life, and how does that look now?

PAUL: Random story of how he got into RV life. We live in California. James’s family is from Minnesota, and back in 2016 there were like three, three family events.

JAMES: Yeah, kind of spread out throughout the summer.

PAUL: And instead of sitting there thinking, we’re going to have to fly back and forth between California, Minnesota three times, we’re like, hey, let’s get an RV and make a road trip out of it. So it really kind of began by accident.

JAMES: Yeah. And I, you know, RV is really exponentially increased in the last six, eight years. And I think this was maybe sort of the beginning. And I think we just had that idea and we went and bought a used second hand from a, you know, a rental agency, an RV rental agency. And we didn’t want to invest a lot of money because this was just sort of a way to hit all these events, travel around a little bit in the upper Midwest and, and just see what it was. And so we didn’t want to spend too much and got a great deal on a tiny little 19 footer.

PAUL: We really didn’t know what the hell we were doing. We had a general idea, but we would just look at a map and go, where are we going next? We know we have to be back in Minnesota by this date. So that’s kind of how it began.

JAMES: And we’re really kind of road trippers by car at heart. So we’re used to state parks and national parks and we like venturing off. So this just meant we had something to sleep in basically.

JIM: And now like eight years later, you’re traveling pretty regularly every summer. And what are you traveling in?

PAUL: We usually take summers and leave the desert, because it’s not a good time to be in the desert and just meander through the country during the winter. We do a lot of local things, so we do a lot of trips in California, Arizona. We try to stay in the southwest. We do have a home base, so we do use Palm Springs as our home base, but we’re on the road probably at least once a month in the winter and then all summer, like last summer. What was it about four months?

JAMES: Last summer was four months in like ten days, and it was our longest summer by probably about a month, actually.

JIM: Okay, so I want to get into whether or not you’re retired. We’ll talk about that in just a second. But what does being an entrepreneur mean to you?

PAUL: Oh, wow. Well, you know, this is funny. Funny question. I think we’re serial entrepreneurs. I mean, way back when you had your own design business.

JAMES: Yeah, I started a design business, painting, home renovation, that kind of thing. And that the thing is, you get to run your own show and you get to use your own ideas and your own crazy marketing and all that kind of stuff.

PAUL: And then later we started a real estate company and basically did real estate for like 18 years. As an entrepreneur, we didn’t want we just didn’t want to work for anybody. We wanted to work for ourselves and do our own thing and have the freedom. And that kind of meshed really well. With our first time on the road in an RV. We were able to do that all remotely. We were able to do a lot of our real estate remotely, and they’re like, wait, these two really go together very well.

JAMES: So kind of entrepreneurialism is sort of just in our blood. And so it’s like, oh, let’s create something. And this sort of, you know, you’re going to get into this probably at how it became what it is. But this RV thing is just sort of created itself. And we’re along for the ride too.

JIM: Fantastic. I can definitely relate to some of the business side of that stuff, and we’re going to get into that. But what were some of the biggest challenges when you started carving as a gay couple, and how did you overcome them?

PAUL: I you know, I don’t know if there are any different than anyone else just jumping into carving. I mean, we really didn’t know a lot. We watched a lot of YouTube. Whenever we’d go to campgrounds, we would meet people, and everyone always wants to tell you their solutions to their problems. And so we learned a lot on that. I don’t think there was anything that unique as being a gay couple. You know, we were very concerned the first time we went out, like, you know, how we were going to be accepted in campgrounds and things like that. But that probably wasn’t our primary focus. Not knowing what the heck we were doing was a bigger focus.

JAMES: I think everyone who camps has their challenges. I mean, if you’re camping as a family and you’ve got a bunch of kids, that’s a challenge. If you’re camping as a, you know, a senior couple, you’ve got challenges because things are slower and harder if you’re camping as a same sex couple. I don’t know everyone, just sort of you enter the process with knowing you know that you’re different from others. And this is something we talked about all the time. When you’re camping, campers are a specific breed of people. You leave other people alone. You don’t march through someone’s campground. There’s a certain level of privacy and respect and mutual, I guess, admiration for the beast. People who aren’t campers aren’t camping, you know what I mean?

JIM: So true, so true. And you kind of talked about how you didn’t have any like, quote unquote, gay specific challenges and that maybe that’s because you’ve been a couple for 29 plus years. But I, as a cisgender, heterosexual, privileged white male, can’t necessarily relate with the hate or disapproval of others. I’m sure you’ve encountered it. Is it any different on the road?

PAUL: Um, you know, not really. Luckily, we’ve never had anything really in our face, either in real life or, you know, on the road.

JAMES: We’ve maybe heard some stories and yeah, we’ve.

PAUL: Heard stories and we’re definitely aware. I think when we travel, we’re just aware that we’re guests in someone else’s community. So we’re not out and about flaunting things. We we travel as if we’re guests, so we’re polite. You know, we kind of do our own thing.

JAMES: I think anyone actually, we were big travelers, even outside of RVs. And our mantra when we travel is you’re a guest in someone else’s environment, whether you’re in France or, you know, Tennessee, you’re in someone else’s. You’re the outsider. And if you look at yourself as the guest, you just tone yourself down a little bit every day until you get the vibe around you, until you get the scene around you and this level of safety. I mean, if you go marching around Manhattan at three in the morning, you better be smart about how you’re doing it or don’t do it. You know what I mean? So just a general sense of not having some arrogance about yourself in other people’s environments until you not not even until I just don’t think you should ever. But you know what I’m saying? If you go marching in into a state park and you’re, you know, waving your gay flag and you’re playing disco music and you’re, you know, starting to pump up the volume, it’s like, that’s just not how anyone should behave, period. You know? So we just dial it back. And haters, I think, is a kind of strong word. You know, you might get disapproval of something, but it’s funny. You’d be surprised how many cis hetero straight guys, especially if they’re traveling with the wife and kids, come over and talk to us and want to hang out. They want a break from whatever their chaos is. And, um, so it’s funny, we’re kind of the anomaly. Oh, there’s a gay couple over there with a little dog, you know, like they want to come over and discover why we’re on the road.

PAUL: I think we’ve been lucky in that, you know, all over the country, I think there’s been more unique interest in us versus, oh, my God, who are these people in our in our campground?

JAMES: And another piece of it, Jim, would be, I mean, when we show up, we have California plates, as you probably know, when you pull into a campground, everyone’s looking at your plates. Where are they from? Well, when we’re in the East, we’ve driven a long way to get there, and we’re already weird. We’re already, like, curious about us. Why are they here from California? And, oh, look, it’s a gay couple. So, yeah, thankfully we haven’t run into nasty hater type things. And if you kind of get a vibe from it, you avoid it, steer around it.

PAUL: Two guys coming out of an RV with California plates and a little black dog. I mean, you don’t have to wave the pride flag. It’s pretty obvious they know what’s going on.

JIM: Well, it’s good to hear what you’re saying, because I’m kind of coming from a different place from what I see online, and people hide behind their avatars, and I see more disparaging comments and judgmental talk along that lines. Why did you guys decide to share your travel experiences rather than keep James and Paul’s RV adventures to yourself?

JAMES: Good question.

PAUL: That’s a really good question. Well, you know what? It didn’t start out that way in 2016.

JAMES: Like we said, we had some several family events. And so I think we told you we’re road trippers. So we’ve always sort of realized. So like if you think back eight years, YouTube was sort of becoming so easy to upload videos and whatnot versus like Facebook, which used to be your sort of personal website. Right? So we were analyzing the travels mostly just for ourselves and for our friends at home who were like, you’re going off cross country this summer, you know, or even for our family. So it was more for our personal records and then just some close friends who wanted to see what in the world we were doing all summer.

PAUL: And then what was weird was other people started watching them and commenting on them, and we’re like, why are they looking at our travel videos? To us? They were almost like our, you know, home movies or something. But I think especially once we started hitting some of the LGBTQ campgrounds, people started commenting and sending us messages. And I remember one time I randomly went on YouTube and I’m like, this video has a thousand hits, and it’s the stupidest video of us in a campground. So I think the audience found us. So once they started watching our videos and sending us, we’re like, hey, there’s kind of a need here for people to, you know, know what’s out there. I think a lot of LGBTQ people are afraid to travel. Even personal friends that we know, you know, are think that we’re crazy for doing it. And so we really just evolved into wanting to encourage people to go out there and see the country and explore the world and not be afraid. I also think.

JAMES: It was kind of just a fluke of timing because YouTube, like I mentioned in the last few years, has become something else you used to Google an answer for everything. Now people go to YouTube for the answer because they want to watch it also. So we kind of came to the market, I guess, if you will, about the time that YouTube was starting to become a different beast. And so it just sort of started taking legs of its own as people started finding us and commenting, and then we thought, hey, there’s a kind of a need out here for information or some guidance or whatever, just like we did, you know, we would do the same sort of thing. So it started as a personal thing, and then it just sort of has grown and we’ve.

PAUL: We didn’t see it coming. It just.

JAMES: Happened. And it’s been fun and we’re very happy to do it.

JIM: So which came first, the YouTube channel or the website?

PAUL: The YouTube channel. Uh, you know, as we said back in 16, it was really our home movies. And as that channel kind of evolved, then we decided to create the website to try to be a resource and put all the information and stuff we’ve collected and answer questions that people had all on the website.

JAMES: And the website is really only about a year and a half old. Okay, Paul’s put a lot of work into it. We have a drop down menu of our 2016 trip, our 2017 trip, 2018 trip. It’s the entire trip that we took every year, not 2020. No one went really well. We didn’t go anywhere but anyway. And every park, whether it was gay or State campground or Army Corps of Engineers or whatever, is a dot there. And when you hover over the dot, it links you to the YouTube video of the review of that site. So it’s very organized. And we also have a merchandise sort of section where people ask us where you buy things like the inverter and solar panels or even chairs for the campfire, or tablecloths or dish drainer or whatever. And so we have an Amazon kind of a shopping section that links you to the Amazon, where we bought the things that have been tried and true for us.

PAUL: And one of the biggest things we wanted to do on the website was we have a whole map of the US, and we put a pin of everywhere we’ve been and we’ve made it a little pride flag. If it was an LGBTQ campground, because we wanted a resource where people could go and even if they wanted to go by category, by, uh, boondocking, they could go by boondocking and find out where we’ve boondocked and see reviews of places we’ve boondocked. So we really want to make it like a one stop resource for places we’ve been so we could share our experiences with them.

JAMES: And there’s something kind of fun that we added this year. Yeah, I drink martinis and I have a little plastic martini glass, and I sit at a picnic table in the woods with a martini glass and people kind of, what, are you having a martini? So I had this slogan thing that we would always say, well, we’re campers, not Neanderthals. And it’s sort of a joke that I always said. So we basically did a little line of clothing and canvas bags and whatever. It’s just great, but you can buy that on the website if you kind of like our slogans and colors. And we have Camping Daddy and, you know, kind of mama kind of more gay oriented campground things and tried things, camping pride and stuff. So, you know, it’s fun and it’s creative and it’s just a goofy thing.

JIM: So speaking of that type of stuff, we didn’t discuss whether or not you guys are. Retired yet, but is this purely a passion project or how else do you monetize what you’re doing there?

PAUL: Well, it’s it’s been evolving. It really started as a passion project. Well, first it started as, you know, like we said, home movies, and it became a passion project. We really wanted to share what we were experiencing with other people, and especially people who don’t do it. We wanted to encourage people to it. As time has gone by, we’ve moved into monetizing it, but we’re very careful on how we monetize it because we don’t want it to be so corporate driven, corporate driven that it turns people away. So, you know, we we monetize on YouTube. We have our store, we have some referral links from some businesses, like where we buy our batteries and stuff like that. So we do stuff like that that will get us monetized. But it’s really slowly growing. We’re getting into it.

JAMES: And primarily we want it to be like a grassroots resource. We don’t want it to be some, you know, advertising campaign where you’re just bludgeoned with products and whatever. That’s that’s a sideline because people have honestly asked us, what chair do you buy, what cookware did you buy? So we just put the products up there so you can link and buy that through, you know, the Amazon link we have, but it’s more like we just really wanted it to be more user friendly and grassroots. And we also want contribution from people like we’re almost always saying in our videos, hey, when you’re camping on the California coast, tell us some favorite spots where you can’t, you know, that kind of thing. We want it to be a little bit more like, let’s all get in this together, you know?

PAUL: So I guess to answer your question, we are retired from our last entrepreneurial business, which was real estate, and we’re growing this one. And if this just helps pay for us to do what we want to do in our RVs, we’re happy with that. I don’t think we’ll we’re going to be, you know, competing with Oprah on YouTube anytime soon, making lots of money. But if it helps and it gets us to support what we’re doing, then we’re happy.

JAMES: Ironically, it’s it was never our goal to become what we are today. Not that we’re some huge mega thing, but it was never our goal to become this. But it just sort of happened and we just went with it. And so it’s all just see where it goes, spread the word, spread the good word. That’s how we are very positive about that.

JIM: There’s just so many RV content creators out there. But what you were explaining to me is kind of developing more of a community. You mentioned the map on the site. I’d really love to dive into that because I manage a community online of work campers and you know, where people go and work in exchange for camping and that sort of thing. And many times I get gay people joining and wanting to know, you know, they come out right and say, I need a gay friendly place or I need to work at an LGBTQ campground. And there are haters out there, there are trolls, and I get a kick out of deleting and banning these people who say, why do you wear that on your sleeve? Why are you forcing your agenda on me? And they get deleted and banned right away? But what exactly are LGBTQ campgrounds and how do you discover them?

JAMES: You know what we learned and it was a surprise to us. There aren’t many in the West at all. There are becoming more and more, and I think a lot of it has to do with weather. And, you know, it’s really hot in the deserts and the mountains and that kind of thing, or, you know, like whatever. They’re really popular, prominent in the East. And some of these have been around. The oldest one we know of is 1980, and the next one was 1985. And they’re outside of New York. And they became communities for people who didn’t have, like a San Francisco, you know, where you had like a gay central city or Minneapolis or a Manhattan, you know, and they’re rural. So you have anywhere within a two hour radius of these gay campgrounds. That’s kind of your home. That’s kind of your safe space. Yeah.

PAUL: We call them almost safe spaces.

JIM: Sure.

PAUL: Primarily these LGBTQ campgrounds serve their local communities, so you’ll find them in rural areas where people don’t have the option of driving to a big city and maybe meeting other LGBTQ or have.

JAMES: A gay bar or a dance club or, you know, the things that are provided at the campgrounds, entertainment, you know, and.

PAUL: They’re very different on what they focus on. They’ve evolved to. And in the last God, three summers, they have just grown exponentially, like we’re going to this summer we’re going to go hit a couple new ones that are it’ll be their first year. And last year we went to about 3 or 4 that were brand new. Last year they’ve become not only safe spaces but real social areas. And I like to say they’re kind of like adult summer camps. Some of them are just silly. That’s true. Every weekend they’ll have a theme and sometimes it’s Christmas in July, the Olympics or the Olympics. It’s kind of like going back to summer camp as a kid, one of them last year we had a great time with. They actually went out in the woods. These guys spent, I don’t know how much time making a dance floor in the middle of the woods with a DJ booth and laser lights, and everybody came that weekend so they could dance in the woods. So it’s, you know, there’s there’s kind of that creativity and adults acting like kids at some of these campgrounds.

JAMES: And to kind of let you know to a little bit more what the community where you’re talking about, and you’ll see this in, in commercial or other campgrounds, not state parks and national parks, certainly, but commercial campgrounds, there are permanent people, there are summer people. They rent and they have a permanent RV there all summer long. So they’re the perms or. Or the seasonals. They say we’re the travelers. And so, you know, maybe half or more of these campgrounds are permanent people who are there all summer with their little crowd of friends. So when we come through as a traveler or any traveler who’s there for 4 or 5, six days, they’re excited to see you and meet you because you’re like new, fresh face. I know all these other people I spend the summer with, you know what I mean? And it’s the permanent people who generally throw the weekend theme party, which even creates more of a community vibe because as gays, I don’t know if, you know, we like to outdo one another. So last week’s party hours is going to be better because we’re the hosts kind of thing. All right? And so it even creates more fun and more community, because it’s not the camp owners who are doing all the work. So there’s you know, they couldn’t possibly. Yeah.

PAUL: Little communities that serve their local area. Really.

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JIM: Speaking of the owners, is there any sort of like national organization or official designation for gay owned or LGBTQ friendly campgrounds?

JAMES: Not that we’re aware of.

PAUL: I even told James, I go, should we start one of these organizations? Because and I.

JAMES: Said, no.

PAUL: He said, no.

JAMES: We don’t own one. We don’t.

PAUL: I’m always thinking of where I could go into business. But no, there isn’t. I think a lot of it is because they’re focused on serving their local community. We have, though, introduced some owners to other owners. By this time. A lot of the owners know us now and we’ll say, oh, we’re going to go to this campground. And the guy is like, oh, I want to go check that out. And I’m like, oh, well, I’ll introduce you to the owner. So there’s kind of some unofficial networking, but I think that’s one of the reasons we put together the website Gay com because there was no one place to go to find these places and no one area to kind of consolidate them.

JAMES: And I don’t think they really compete with each other because they’re not near enough to be competitive with one another. So if I live in Pittsburgh, I’ve got 2 or 3 within the Pittsburgh area that I’m going to go to, period, or I’m going on a road trip. So that’s different than going for the weekend or going for a week’s vacation. Like we met these guys in Madison, Wisconsin, and they took a week off and we met them at a camp we love in Michigan. So that’s a drive for them. But they were going for seven, eight days, so they’re like, oh, let’s we’ll meet you away on the other state, you know, on the other side of the lake kind of thing. So the camp owners and they’re so different from one another, I know they’re very different. I don’t think they I don’t know how much they would benefit by having a network. Again, we’re not owning a campground, but from what we see, that’s probably why there isn’t one. You know, it’s not like hotel, you know, where you’ve got the Holiday Inn network.

JIM: Or the Good Sam’s sticker. You’re not going to find the campground with the pride flag on the front. Oh, we’ll go there. It sounds like you’re discovering them, not researching them, not looking up some directory. You’re actually identifying them, correct?

JAMES: Correct, correct.

PAUL: And there’s there is no real directory. We’re trying to create one. But even now, like I just found out a new one that’s being built in Indiana and I found it on Facebook, somebody messaged me and said, hey, did you know there’s this new one in Indiana? I’m like, no, and how is anyone going to know?

JIM: That’s fantastic. I go down this rabbit hole because I see more Trump flags and Brandon shirts at most campgrounds than I do see pride flags and rainbows for other carriers out there. You kind of addressed it. But how might one fit in or make friends with a neighbor for the next week? If those people might not necessarily agree with the lifestyle, or they’re wearing it on their sleeve like that?

JAMES: We are not shy and we’re proud and we’re happy, but we’re not going to be annoying to you in a stereotypical way that you’re going to trigger anything that you might already be marginalized about yourself. You know what I mean? So we have a little, uh, rainbow unicorn that we put on our little door handle outside our RV, and any gay person who walks by is going to see that in a heartbeat. And that you might meet some gays in that state park in Wyoming. As far as the other people in the haters or whatever, to be honest. And I guess maybe you’re seeing these political banners and things that commercial campgrounds. But I don’t really we don’t see them.


JAMES: National, at state or national or army corps of engineer type things. And as a matter of fact, to talk about the gay campgrounds. They are not allowed political messaging and religious messaging, no matter what is not allowed. They don’t want the discussion around the campfire about it, and that’s almost consistent through every gay campground. They don’t want conflict. They want you to just embrace your community and have a good time and.

PAUL: Be a safe space. Really.

JAMES: So having said that, if we see, you know, certain t shirts with certain political logos marching around, you know, some state park where we’re spending a night on our road trip, we just avoid those people. We’re not going to go have a casual conversation with those people. They. Want to have a conversation because they want to argue. And that’s not what camping is all about.

JIM: Ah so true. We have an unwritten rule. It’s like I was mentioning Fountain of Youth down near you guys in Palm Springs. And there’s the hot tub there, there’s the gossip pool. And there’s a rule. No politics, no religion, no sex. You can talk about anything else?

PAUL: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

JAMES: We will tell you one thing that was interesting. Away from politics and religion, we were I can’t remember what state we were in. What state? Colorado. The lady who this was after. Oh.

PAUL: Oh. In Tennessee.

JAMES: Yeah, it was after we.

PAUL: Were driving, I remember this. We were driving out near, uh, I don’t know, Pigeon Fork or somewhere.

JAMES: And this tourist area, a very tourist area.

PAUL: This is probably the most in our face. Hate we got, but it wasn’t because we were gay. We’re pulling out of a parking lot, and this woman is pointing at our license plate and putting our fingers on her nose like you Californians stink.

JAMES: We hate California.

PAUL: And she just would not let go that we were from California in her state and we just all stunk.

JAMES: So I gotta say, honestly, that is probably the most direct negative thing we’ve ever gotten camping. It was not gay. It was. We were from California and we were in Tennessee. I don’t know.

PAUL: However, I will tell you, we’ve also had the opposite happen. We were at a campground outside of Pittsburgh and, you know, commercial campground. We show up, you know, we’re keeping our head down. And obviously, you know, we walk out of our RV, two guys with our little black dog, California, obviously, that we’re gay. Uh, an older couple is camping next to us. They’re watching us set up. And, you know, we’re just kind of doing our own thing.

JAMES: Kind of a post generation hippie couple. You could sort of tell, you know, the camper hippie type, you know?

PAUL: Well, as soon as we were set up, they were right in our face talking to us because they were swingers. And they wanted to make sure that that we knew that and that they were interested in us.

JAMES: I think the lady wanted to offer husband on us. I mean, so we were a little slightly.

PAUL: Taken aback by that. We’re like, oh, okay, well, just because we’re gay doesn’t mean we’re open to everything in the world.

JIM: Takes all types, all types.

JAMES: But we didn’t shame them away. We just avoided them.

PAUL: Yeah.

JIM: So you mentioned Tennessee, and I’ve been to the South and I’ve seen Dixie flags. Are there regions of the country where you feel safer or more welcome?

PAUL: Um, I don’t.

PAUL: You know, I don’t think so.


JAMES: Here’s something we talk about, like haters. You’re using that word. Those people just want to stay home anyway because they don’t want to mix with anyone not like them, and they don’t want to talk to anyone. They don’t want to be around things that bug them. And I don’t think real true, like haters like that are campers because campers are all across the board. And I don’t think they’re the kind of people who want to mix with the general population. I will say one thing, and I’m not going to say which specific campground, but it’s in the East and it’s it’s in, you know, one of those states, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia type states. I hate to be stereotypical, but and big pieces of land. It’s a very big campground. And right next door is it’s a lot of big properties and kind of little ranches, basically, and a very hateful Trump flag on the road that you absolutely have to pass when you’re going to this campground. And so that neighbor clearly wants to make it known that he’s not he or she or they are not thrilled that there is this very long terme, very successful, very popular gay campground in their neighborhood. And so I asked some permanent people there, the permanence, the people who come every weekend. And I’m like, what’s it like driving by that sign every time, you know, and they’re like, ah, you know, they live in this environment.

JAMES: So they’re a little bit more dismissive of it. And it’s kind of like, yeah, you know, whatever. The guy will never come to the end of the driveway and talk to you because he just wants to have his sign and his flag and, you know, and that’s what I mean. Those people just sort of stay to themselves. Now I run when I go to campgrounds, I’m running out of the camp gates and I’m running up and down rural roads. We have a couple that we know at this particular campground, and they’re a mixed race couple. And the black guy runs and I said, hey, you want to go running with me? He said, I’m not going to run outside these gates. And I understand why, because you’ve read enough news stories and heard of enough things that go awry of a person of color, then it makes me think that, you know, my position as a white person, gay. So I’ve got a little notch against me in that environment, but I’m not of color, you know what I mean? It just, I do. It makes you realize that you just have to have a lot of self-awareness no matter what. Like we’ve said before, be a guest in these environments. You don’t want to draw trouble. That’s not what the world is about or it should be about.

JIM: I agree, and that’s really, really poignant. Back to the website. And this may lead into it, you know, what’s your underlying purpose with what you’re doing at caregiving? You’re obviously sharing some really good insight here, but if it’s not strictly a business venture, do you have a specific purpose or goal that’s driving what you’re doing?

PAUL: Oh yeah. Yeah. Advice. We’ve we’ve met so many people via our YouTube channel or the website that I don’t want to say we’ve helped, but we’ve encouraged to go out and do things and that kind of really helps us. We have a great story of we were at a campground in.


PAUL: Uh, in one of the Virginias, West Virginia.

PAUL: Yeah.

PAUL: And we were sitting at the pool one day, and this older gentleman.

PAUL: Had recently retired. So like late.

JAMES: Mid, late 60s, recently.

PAUL: Retired, and.

PAUL: He came to the pool and he goes, oh my God, James and Paul, I’ve watched all your videos. You’re the reason I’m at this campground. He had lived on the family farm his entire life. He had taken care of his mother, who had recently passed. You’ve been in the.

PAUL: Closet his whole.

PAUL: He’d been in the closet. He’s basically his, um. His mother just died, and he’s. He realized I’m a gay man, and I don’t know what that means. He went on YouTube, um, found us, found us, found the campground, and was just shocked that we would actually be there at that campground. We spent the entire weekend with him, and it was so great to know that, you know, we had we were able to help him. Then the next summer, he went out of his way to find out where we were going to camp because he wanted to meet up with us again and let us know how much his life had changed in a year. Wow.

PAUL: And he brought a.

JAMES: New gay friend along with him who also is a camper. And it was wild for us to see the kind of full circle of that. And we do get people that. We get a lot of coming out later in life, life.

PAUL: Sort of stories.

JAMES: And people approach us. It’s really fun when people approach us at a.

PAUL: Campground, and we.

PAUL: Also get a lot of private messages, you know, people who won’t directly communicate with us. And we had one a couple months ago. The guy was like, I live on the family farm. I get one weekend a year to leave when my brother takes over. I want to meet other LGBTQ people. Here’s where I live. Where do you think I should go? So it’s it’s stories like that that motivate us because it’s like we realize how lucky we are to be able to do what we do, and we want other people who aren’t as lucky to feel safe, to go out and be comfortable with who they are and meet people who might be like them.

JIM: That’s an excellent purpose and a wonderful goal. And you’re clearly doing it at And you may have just answered the question, but do you have any other examples of how the social media presence has helped others have helped?

JAMES: I well, another little angle, which is kind of new and a lot of vernacular these days, because a lot of these campgrounds are either gay men or women or families, or they have a women’s weekend or so. These categories within our gay community, you know, we’ve got a lot of problems within our own gay community. And I’m not, you know, not to be funny, but oftentimes gays and lesbians don’t get along. Oftentimes gays and lesbians don’t like kids around. Some are very family oriented. So we have our own challenges within our community. And about two years ago, a 25 year old guy who’d been following us, he came up and he said, you know, one thing you guys don’t talk about in your videos is queer friendliness or trans friendliness. And we thought, wow, that’s interesting. I mean, we’re not we’re not the campsite owner or campground owner. So we’re not deciding if it’s a men’s only or women’s only, or a family weekend or a women’s weekend or whatever the, you know, but it made us realize and we were seeing camp grounds gay. I guess mostly we go to gay men’s campgrounds, are having to figure out what that means, as people are walking a line between what gay and lesbian is or what male and female is, and coming out of the closets of their own. So he said, you know, can you add when it’s a trans friendly place or something? And so we’re slowly starting to add that when we can. That was new for us.

PAUL: Yeah.

PAUL: We didn’t even think about it.

JAMES: He came to us sort of because he knows that we sort of, I guess you could say, have a voice or a following and there was a need. So we’re brought to a challenge that we’re going to try and incorporate that as much as when we can.

PAUL: And so.

PAUL: Yeah, we had never even thought about trans friendly campgrounds, which, you know, so now we’re, we’re we’re aware of that now and try to include that.

PAUL: Or even ally.

JAMES: Friendly. You know, we’re sure straight people come but you know aren’t going to upset the apple cart. I’ll meet you there. They’re trying to create. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

JIM: So you mentioned kind of family. And I got to know in a previous life I was in theater and dance behind the curtain kind of thing. And my gay friends often referred to family. We’re family. We are family. Is family still a buzzword and how do you confuse how do you confuse that with family friendly campground? Those have the fancy houses for the kids.

PAUL: Those who.

JAMES: Have children.

PAUL: Basically. Yeah, I.

PAUL: Think I mean, we’re probably of the same generation. I think family is probably a terms that we use in our generation bio.

JAMES: Family.

PAUL: And bio family.

PAUL: And.

JAMES: Logic. Armistead Maupin had this great thing called I have my logical family and my bio family and your logical family, or, you know, your friends, basically the people who support you on a daily basis. And you don’t have to be straight or gay to have different circles of family. Certainly. You know.

JIM: So I recently read a HuffPo article, and it was about a lesbian couple sharing their experience, Rv’ing. And they described, quote, how queer people are still in danger in this country. Do you have any tips or how do you stay safe? Or what tips do you have for other gay viewers who read that or identify with that?

PAUL: Well, I think and I want to go back also to something you said about haters. You know, a lot of what you. You read or see online. People are way more angry and hateful online than they are in person, and we’re very lucky that in our experience, we haven’t been in a place where we felt so very threatened. I mean.

PAUL: Not to say that.

JAMES: Danger is not.

PAUL: Out there. Yeah, danger is out there.

JAMES: Hateful attitudes aren’t out there. That’s we can all agree that’s.

PAUL: True, but.

PAUL: We haven’t been in a situation luckily that we’ve had we’ve actually had to leave because we didn’t feel safe. But there are I mean, there are people. In fact, a good example is one of the videos I posted on LGBTQ campground. Somebody posted a comment, a hateful comment on it, and I responded. I thought about the comment and I responded, and I tried to be a little more open about my response. They said, I can’t believe there’s campgrounds for the way people have sex. And I said.

PAUL: Well, that’s so generic.

PAUL: And I said.

PAUL: Well.

PAUL: Actually, it’s not about having sex. It’s about creating a safe space and being around like people. And just as there are church camps that people want to be around, religious people and maybe.

PAUL: Music, music.

PAUL: Camp, I said, it’s the same thing. So and I said, maybe some people just aren’t open enough to understand this, giving her the benefit of the doubt. And she posted again saying, well, I’m not that open and I don’t think anyone should have a campground by the way. They have sex. And I thought, okay, this is an online hater.

PAUL: And she’s she.

JAMES: Was coming from a religious standpoint. She’s very holy.

PAUL: And I and.

PAUL: I debated long and hard. I’m like, should I just delete this whole string? And I left it up there. I thought, you know what, I think this comment says more about her than it does about us. I made my point. She made her point. We could agree to disagree. And I’ve left it up there and I. And so that that’s probably the extent of, you know, hate stuff we get online. But we have luckily we haven’t had any hate stuff in person besides the person who didn’t like California.

JAMES: And again, Jim, like we mentioned, I think the rule of thumb, no matter who you are, when you’re traveling to a strange place, reminder that you’re the guest and don’t come in with your attitude or your energy or your agenda or you know, whatever you want to accomplish, if you do that, then you do run the risk for confrontation or someone who’s like, hey, you can’t come around here and do that. Keep your bullshit to yourself, you know what I mean? And and just, you know, anyone who’s beginning to travel, I would say use that as your rule of thumb. Remind yourself that you are the oddball, not them. And you might think, oh, I don’t want to go back there because I don’t fit in. That’s fine. But if you want to be safe about it, yeah, don’t bring your attitude and barrel in and think you’re going to change the world, because that’s not how you do it.

JIM: Regardless of what that agenda may be.

PAUL: Period. Exactly. Regardless, religious.

JAMES: Political, you know, sexuality, you know, I don’t know. I mean, it’s just a wise way to be. I just think, you know, you can ask for trouble if you want to. And if you do, then, you know, you kind of know these women in this article, maybe they experience something that came at them they weren’t even really asking for. And certainly you can’t you can’t really predict that kind of stuff. But important to not engage volatility. If you engage and start arguing or you just say, you know, why don’t you be you and I’ll be me, okay, enjoy your camping experience and just walk away politely.

JIM: That’s just an excellent place to kind of wrap this up. So I want to know what’s next for Paul and James, both in your travel plans and the content you’re creating?

JAMES: Um, well, we’ve got a really fun experience that some guys who own a campground in Michigan that we just really, really love. Of course, their campground closes in the winter. And so they got in their rig, and they’ve been in Florida, and they’re coming across the South, and they’ll be in Palm Springs for about three weeks. And some of the people from that campground to our permanence winter here in Palm Springs. So we’re going to have a backyard party for all the Michigan.

PAUL: Campground.

JAMES: Guys from Camp Boomerang. Fantastic. Also, we’re going to meet them. They wanted to know where we go. And so there’s some great state parks in Arizona that we’re going to meet the gang at. We’re going to call them the gang now and then.

PAUL: Uh, for us, uh, personally, though, we’re already planning our summer travels. We want to explore more of the West Coast. And, you know, we talked a lot about LGBTQ campgrounds. We really love boondocking. And we’re trying to post more boondocking things and find things. So we’re going to spend more time trying to find boondocking sites. We’ll be posting those. We’re going to go back into the Midwest and the East and do some more LGBTQ campgrounds in August.

PAUL: That’ll be later online, though.

PAUL: We really want to build not only gay Vinnicombe, but our Facebook page into more of a community and not just us putting information out there, but having other people who might be encouraged to go camping, go out there and then post what they’ve learned. So we could kind of evolve it into a resource that not just we contribute to, but is more like a community resource for LGBTQ campers or people who just want to know about boondocking sites or things like that. I think I want to categorize it more so that, you know, LGBTQ is just part of that. But there’s boondocking and national parks and state parks.

JAMES: Last summer on our way back, we met someone who turned us on to Hot Springs, and there’s a lot of boondocking hot springs, like lots more than you think. And so that’s kind of an angle that we’re trying to. Discover more. It sounds like you boondock when you travel, and boondocking is a whole other beast and it’s a lot of fun. And so maybe expanding a little bit more on, you know, the different kinds of ways to camp and what you can have out there.

JIM: Awesome. And it kind of comes back full circle to the community and creating a safe space for everyone, regardless of what you’re wearing on your sleeve or not.

PAUL: Yep. Correct.

JAMES: Yep. Campers are there for each other no matter how you’re mixing up.

JIM: Really awesome guys, thank you so much for joining me.

JAMES: Thank you. We had a great time.

PAUL: Great time to share the news.

JIM: That was fun. I am so happy for Paul and James not having encountered so much of the hatred I’ve read about other gay RVers experiencing. Maybe that’s because they don’t flaunt their colors like many others at the other end of the spectrum, with their political flags and such, wouldn’t it be great if we could all just get along and make friends with everyone we meet, regardless of any acronyms, skin color, party affiliation, or religious beliefs? I know that’s my goal. Whenever sitting in a hot tub or around the campfire with strangers, what do you think? Did this subject stir up any certain emotions? Are there other RV ING subjects you’d like to hear us address on the podcast? Let us know in the RV Entrepreneur Community Group on Facebook or give us a shout at the RV Together, we can all feel safe on the road and support each other in our adventures as one big, happy family, we are family. I got all my sisters with me. We are family. Get up everybody and sing.

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Jim Nelson