Gays coming out of the broom closet in Salem, Massachusetts

April 21, 2006

Robert Murch and husband Gary Halteman - Photo by Toni Carolina
SALEM, Massachusetts — Long known for its Witches, ghosts, vampires, and other things that go bump in the night, is about to become known for another segment of its community – gays and lesbians. Local gay activist Robert Murch, who has helped lead the battle for marriage equality in the Bay State, has launched www.gaysalem.com as a way for gays and lesbians living in Salem to be recognized as a contributing factor to the culture of the city. The theory behind the Web site, says Murch, is that "every city and town in America has its gays and lesbians. This site is a way for us to stand up and be noticed as participants in our local community."

As a wink and a nod to Salem's kitschy Witch identity, the site is inspired by the television show Bewitched, a series that filmed in Salem in the late 1960's that depicted its own non-traditional couple in the form of a Witch married to a mortal man. Salem's association with the show was recently commemorated with a bronze statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens. Bewitched was a favorite among gays and featured a number of gay actors and suggestively gay characters.

Just as important, Salem is becoming a Mecca for upscale dining and shopping, as well as a slew of tawny condominiums just right for the hip gay or lesbian urban commuter. Murch felt that this combination of camp and class, culture and kitsch that makes up the Witch City was just the right potion to attract more gays and lesbians to visit and even move here, as well as encourage those already in Salem to make their presence known.

Murch also hopes that his site inspires other cities and towns to launch web sites exploring their own gay culture. Murch and his husband were the first same-sex couple married in Salem, Massachusetts and had previously launched www.civilmarriagecivilright.com. He notes that a number of local businesses have recognized Salem's appeal with a months-long ad campaign in the Metro-Boston gay and lesbian publication Bay Windows. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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