Hillside Ethnographic Film Project
In 1986, David Braman was a forty-one year old welder from rural northeast Pennsylvania. By all accounts, Braman was unusually handy – an amateur pilot, gun enthusiast, marksman -- and newly-divorced father of four who was also freshly out of the closet and suddenly, irrevocably, a gay man. He bought 385 wooded acres in the “Endless Mountains” of Susquehanna County, and felled trees, cleared roads, and built Hillside, one of the first gay campgrounds in the country. His ambition was to construct a safe haven for others like him, men who faced persecution in their small towns but didn’t want to leave them, who resisted the urban migration of most gay men in the 19th, 20th (and 21st) century and their fundamental alienation from rural values and the natural world.
As a rural space, Hillside – forested, with its boundaries indeterminate, and resolutely off the grid – creates an opportunity for gay men to emerge from the urban frames that order and shape their identities and the technology that now manages all interactions.
Austin Bunn (PMA)'s ethnographic research on the Hillside community culminated in a documentary, titled Campfire.
Attend a free screening of the film (alongside three other short films on Rural LGBT life) on April 26, 2023 at Cinemapolis.