Everyone’s welcome here. For more than twenty-five years, the LGBTQ scene in the Sullivan Catskills has been growing strong. From full-time residents and business owners to visitors from all over the United States and beyond; gay men and woman of all ages and races have been finding respite in our slice of Catskills’ heaven.
To celebrate Gay Pride month, we asked some of our LGBTQ owned businesses to share insight on gay pride in the Sullivan Catskills…
“We have been second home owners in Sullivan County for over 30 years and business owners for 15 years. We have found the local organizations such as The Chambers of Commerce, The Visitors Association, County & Local Government and Catskills Pride to be extraordinarily supportive of our endeavors. The community is not discriminatory in any way and in fact, welcomes LGBTQ businesses with open arms.” – Kurt Kreider & Alan Rosenblatt, Owners, ECCE Bed & Breakfast
“The Sullivan Catskills are a welcoming and fun getaway for LGBT visitors. Thanks to resources like Catskills Pride, it’s easy to find LGBT owned businesses and attractions. There are some wonderful B&Bs, shops and entertainment venues with LGBT owners. Throughout Summer, LGBT events are hosted by Catskills Pride – tea dances, river trips, dinner outings, and more! There’s a large population of LGBT residents that live here full time or are second homeowners – and they’ve created a robust social network.” – Franklin Trapp, Producer, Forestburgh Playhouse
“The Sullivan Catskills is one of the most beautiful areas of NY State, namely the Scenic Delaware River. There are new businesses and attractions opening up all the time and a large number of LGBT residents are making this area their home, second home or retreat – the people of Sullivan County are very welcoming. We have very inclusive LGBT groups that meet up and plan various activities in the area – which is unpretentious. People literally walk up and introduce themselves to each other all the time. Our businesses, The Stickett Inn and the Bang Bang Bar at Stickett Inn host LGBT themed nights and weekends as do other businesses like The Heron, The Laundrette, The Dancing Cat, One Grand Books, and more.” – Johnny Pizzolato, Co-Owner, Stickett Inn
“We chose to buy a home and open a business here in the Sullivan Catskills because it felt like a very accepting and diverse community. No matter where you go in the county, it’s easy to find like-minded businesses and communities that support diversity. Plus, our proximity to NYC also brings many gay and gay-friendly visitors to the area – adding to the sense of community and gay pride.”
– Jodie Dawson, Co-Founder, Java Love Coffee Roasting Co.
“My husband RJ and I own Cabernet Frank’s (June 9th marks our 2nd year anniversary). Any trepidation we had about being an out couple in a tiny rural community were put to rest. We are honored by the incredibly supportive community that is our clientele – folks so diverse, politically divergent and of all ages. LGBT and straight, all coming together at Cab’s because they love who we are, not in spite of it. We encourage our LGBTQ family to come and experience the places and the people of our county. You might wind up finding your perfect home in the Catskills and never look back – it happens every gay. I mean day.” – Wade St. Germain, Co-Owner, Cabernet Frank’s
“The Sullivan Catskills is a great place for the LGBTQ because of the people and community. When we moved to the county, we were a little nervous about being gay in a rural area. On our first night in the house, we went to a local restaurant and were welcomed by a lovely waitress that asked if we were the young boys who bought the historic house in Hortonville. She was right and introduced us to the chef, gave us a glass of wine on the house and said she was so happy we were fixing up that old house. At that moment we knew the community was welcoming and supportive. Since then, we’ve been welcomed by many locals to participate in community events and partake in helping make Sullivan County a place for everyone.” – Shawn Lang, Co-Founder, The Farmhouse Project
“There’s a wide and diverse range of things do. The area boasts great farmers’ markets, lots of eateries, and many small towns with a welcoming open climate. We also have a lot of affordable property which makes moving here much less expensive than other areas. And, most have a very welcoming attitude toward the LGBT community.” – Randy Klocko, Owner, The Clair Inn
“This is a place of exquisite natural beauty. We have a vibrant arts scene, but the area has kept its rural appeal with outdoor activities on and around its many lakes and rivers. There is a network of friends and other artists, some are gay, others are not – the most important aspect is that nobody cares and that people generally welcome newcomers. There has been a steady influx of LGBT people from New York who came to live full time or as weekenders.
So both on a personal and economic level, the groundwork has already been established. The area has been infused with a distinct sense of style. And those who come bring their friends. I love this area since I was introduced to it in the mid-seventies. In 1999, I bought my house and moved here full time in 2004 and opened my fine jewelry store in an old bank building, complete with an antique walk-in safe, on Main Street in Narrowsburg in 2011. I continue to sell through other stores nationwide, but my heart is here. What has changed is that I do sell quite a number of wedding bands to gay couples.
Most landscapes and cityscapes lose part of their appeal after a while – unless you only visit for a few hours or days now and then. To me, Sullivan County does not. It continues to evolve. It’s the people who make an area truly interesting and exciting and Narrowsburg amazes me with captivating personalities from all over the world – whether they settle here, start businesses or only come to visit the store.” – Pedro Boregaard, Owner, Boregaard Jeweler
“The Sullivan Catskills is a very special place. People feel welcome regardless of sex, gender, age or race. We’ve met some of our dearest friends at LGBT mixers and are fortunate to live in a place of acceptance. There is no feeling of “other”. Gay or straight, we’re all here for the same reasons – clean country air, access to the outdoors, laid-back living and a sense of community. I’ve lived here just about my whole life and can honestly say the Sullivan Catskills is not only beautiful but inclusive to all. I have never felt out of place or unsafe. Community is abundant and those who have lived here for generations welcome the LGBTQ diversity, businesses, and travelers. We’ve become a hotspot for same-sex weddings and couples/families looking for a bit of respite. Just pack your bags and visit us – you will not be disappointed.” – Danielle Gaebel, Co-Founder, True Food Collective
“The main reason for relocating to the Sullivan Catskills was not to find a “gay ghetto” you’d find in the bigger cities – it was because of the natural beauty, open space, and the satisfaction of improving our own houses. However, through occasional special events, gatherings over the dinner table, and the “network,” we have discovered there is indeed a community of gay people and supportive friends. If you’re not yet retired, you might ask, “Is it possible to make a living up there?” The answer is “yes” if you’re willing to be creative. While telecommuting is one increasingly popular option if you stay in touch with clients and stick to your deadlines, it is also possible to configure rooms in our houses for a production-based business. I now operate Mountain Bear Crafts out of my basement, doing screen printing and machine embroidery for customers near and far. I love working from home, tailoring my workshop to exactly what I need… at a fraction of the prohibitive cost of renting production space in a big city.” – Van Morrow, Owner, Mountain Bear Crafts