New exhibit offers visual journey through decades of gay pride in Bucks County

La Camp (now the Raven) back in the day

A new exhibit by New Hope Celebrates History (NHCH) debuting Jan. 13 at Visit Bucks County in Bensalem honors the historic contributions made by gay individuals to Bucks County’s diverse community over the past five decades.

Dubbed “Equality – Pride in Our History,” the exhibit showcases a collection of stories, photos and memorabilia gathered from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning individuals and their allies (LGBTQA).

Monica Ray, aka Randy Bowman, 1957–1998

An opening brunch will be presented at Visit Bucks County by the team from New Hope’s Raven Resort on Jan. 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The exhibit commemorates the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City that led to annual gay pride parades and marches around the world. These activities eventually contributed to the enactment of equal rights legislation and the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S., notes NHCH.

The Equality Exhibit spotlights the gay experience of New Hope juxtaposed against these national events that occurred in gay culture during the late 1960s through present day.

“It’s a colorful glimpse into the past, featuring images, artifacts, and information, highlighted by the stories of local individuals who have made meaningful contributions to New Hope and Bucks County’s LGBTQ+ community,” according to NHCH.

Star Redding, Robert Ebert, Betina Murdock at Odette’s in 1971

The group has offered the images, along with editorial and artifacts, as a pop-up exhibit for the last five years in locations like the New Hope Arts A-Space, the New Hope Visitors Center, the Free Library of New Hope-Solebury, and a variety of art galleries in New Hope and Lambertville.

“Equality – Pride in Our History” will be hosted  until March 23 at Visit Bucks County, 3207 Street Road, in Bensalem, and will be open to the public seven days a week from 9 to 5.

House party, 1998 (Collection of Wayne Fluke)

Those wishing to contribute their photographs and stories are invited to visit the NHCH website.

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  • So sad to see how the Raven has gone downhill.
    1- Music awful. Supposedly to attract 21-year-old group notwithstanding the facts that average age still supporting Raven are 50 plus. No 21-year-old even at pool (even Cross dressers, Drags and well whatever are all above 45.) Please fire the guy in charge of Music. No class and no taste.
    2- Leaks in roof actually hitting customers at bar.
    3- Rooms especially Cordials are a mess. Dirty, cold and well not worth the price.
    4- Where have all the people gone? I feel sorry for waitstaff and bartenders since some think a pact bar is 12 people that includes the staff.
    5- Upper Management never seems to listen to staff complaints.

    • So much as gone wrong with the Raven, it’s hard to pinpoint.

      A few things:
      1) A large group of regulars decamped for Bowman’s Tavern and (later) Square One and never came back. Some of this was sparked by the free friday appetizers at the Raven being discontinued and unwelcome changes in personnel (Tony the bartender, who had a large following, was fired for no apparent good reason).
      2) For all its touting of itself as a “destination” and a “resort”, the Raven never offered drink specials or Happy Hours. I could never understand this. Occasionally, there’d be some attempt at promotion but very sporadic and no follow through. When you visit bars in popular gay destinations like Fort Lauderdale, you really see the difference.
      3) Regular patrons aging, moving away, and dying. And they were never replaced by a younger demographic. Some of this is beyond the Raven’s control. A large number of gay men who would now be in their 50’s -early 60s died in the AIDS epidemic. But I’ve never felt there was any effort to truly attract younger people. Not to be ageist, but how about hiring some younger staff?
      4) Changing and conflicting management ideas (take the pool table out! No, put it back!) and lack of investment in an aging establishment (those leaking roofs! That parking lot that is frankly an unsightly mess).
      5) I can’t really speak to the music, except that it’s mostly bad and unmemorable. I was saddened when the Raven become, by default, a dance club. It was better when the dance club was elsewhere and people could come and go from the Raven for a quieter alternative.
      6) The restaurant. Back in the day, there was far less competition in the area, and fewer places where gay people could feel at home. Those days are past. Pershaps reimagine the restaurant as something more casual and modern?

      I’m not sure what the answers are except 1) new ownership with 2) deep pockets and 3) new ideas. The Raven as it stands is untenable and one day, sooner rather than later, the doors will close.

  • Wonderful memories of New Hope from the late ‘70’s! Miss those days! Lots of fun with some bittersweet tears! I look forward to seeing the exhibit! Thank you all for what you do to save and share all this! XOXO

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