Gay Camping News: The Homestead at 7218 in Crawford Texas has closed.
Gay Campground in Texas closes due to bank’s homophobia and ageism, according to owners.
It’s always a sad day when we find out a gay campground has closed their doors.
Just like any small business, running a campground of any type is full of both reward and risk. There are forces both within and outside of the control of the owners that affect the ability to survive. Rising costs, insurance, taxes — and when it comes to LGBTQ+ spaces, institutionalized homophobia — all have an effect on the survival.
Here is what we know about The Homestead at 3218 closing their gate permanently:
According to their Facebook post, the closing took place abruptly and unexpectedly. In fact, the owners stated that they were scrambling to remove their personal belongings and even their cattle in just a weekend.
It seems as though the property was involved in some type of legal battle over possession and zoning due.
We have gone as far as we could on our farm property possession legal issue by elevating it to the Texas Supreme Court.– Matt and Rob, Owners of The Homestead at 3218
We do not know all the specific details, and below is what we have put together based on knowledge from our own time at The Homestead at 3218 as well as other standard and social media sources.
The Homestead at 3218 property is in Crawford, TX. Known most widely as the home of the Bush Compound, where both Presidents Bush lived and worked for many years before, during, and after their respective times in the White House. In fact, the Bush Compound borders The Homestead property, and you can see buildings during the day and the light from security posts at night.
You might think this close proximity to famously conservative politicians might have been the issue, but from what we can tell they existed as neighbors in relative tranquility for many years. As The Homestead has been passed down the family tree since 1883 for many generations, like the Bush Compound, the families were cordial and friendly.
So then what happened?
We stayed at The Homestead at 3218 in early March of 2022 just days before this announcement, which came as a surprise to us. The owner Matt told us stories of the families knowing each other for years, supporting each other’s land and farming operations, and socializing. And some funny anecdotes about mutually teasing old friends when the political motorcades began coming through.
The entire Crawford community knew what type of venue and clientele was now on The Homestead property. While some neighbors probably were against the gay resort morally, it seems as though The Homestead was completely within legal and zoning compliance. According to Rob, out of respect for his family and in line with the “Texan tradition of minding your own fu*king business,” the neighbors let them live and work in peace.
That is, until, local bank TFNB realized how valuable the land is. In addition to the location near Texas political power, the farmland is watered by a spring-fed creek that has never run dry.
According to a recent article in the Dallas Voice, Mattlage’s family trust goes back over 130 years with the bank. Matt’s grandfather even helped finance the bank when it opened. It wasn’t always a perfect relationship, though. The current bank president’s grandfather tried to convince Matt’s grandfather to sell the property, and he believes that this type of decades-old wound motivated the bank’s actions.
The Homestead at 3218 was unique amongst all of the gay campgrounds we have visited.
First, it was not a traditional campground. There was no tent camping, although I am sure the owners may have allowed you to set up a tent if you asked. There was parking for about a dozen RVs, some pull-through for perm campers and back-ins for travelers.
We backed our RV up to the fence overlooking the vast Homestead property. Every morning and evening, we were treated to a parade of friendly cattle right outside our bedroom window. Brutus liked the cows, but was highly dubious of the donkeys.
The Bank Came For The Property
After inheriting the property in 2005, Mattlage took out a mortgage to build out the vision he and his partner, Rob, had for the men’s RV and lodging resort. He went out of his way to do everything by-the-book, and was fully compliant with all laws for operating their hospitality business.
Although Mattlage fully trusted the bank’s current management, old rivalries have a way of resurfacing. According to The Dallas Voice, Mattlage’s grandfather would not sell decades ago, but now the bank had a way to get the property. With such strong financial incentive to do the wrong thing, and escalated by old-fashioned homophobia, the bank decided to make its mission to foreclose on The Homestead at 3218.
After partially financing The Homestead at 3218, the bank used some tricky analysis of the finances to decline the final part of the mortgage which would have allowed Matt and Rob to complete construction of the restaurant. Without the restaurant’s revenue, the payments on the existing mortgage could not be made.
The bank CEO knew the restaurant would have put us over the top, but he wanted the property himself.Matt Mattlage via The Dallas Voice
The bank forced the owners to consider bankruptcy, and the owners fought back. Their case was brought before a judge, who ruled in favor of the bank who described the property as a “homosexual resort” and “homsexual nudist camp”. Matt and Rob are currently still taking the bank through multiple state and federal courts, and perhaps even the federal Supreme Court.
Mattlage also declared that the bank is under investigation by the FBI for falsification of records and that there is fale information in his bank records, along with forged documents. Unfortunately, even with all the pending cases, The Homestead at 3218 won’t ever open again.
A “Fundraisser to End Discrimination and Hate” was held to benefit Rob and Matt at The Cathedral of Hope in Dallas. The owners intend to continue their fight.
The closing of any gay campground is an unfortunate experience, but this is especially heartbreaking with the homophobia, ageism, and other biggoted actions taken by the bank and supported by the State of Texas. We wish Matt and Rob the best, and hope they prevail and can open a new resort eventually.
This was my home away from home, I was there every weekend. Mark and Rob which some called them Papa and Momma are just the greatest folks you ever meet. I miss the place every day. Hopefully it will open back up in the near future.
Some of the detailed information in this article aren’t totally accurate, but the premise of the author is. Not only did the bank [breach] its own agreement, it and its CEO at the time flat out lied in Federal court judge didn’t care about issues of fraudulence. In retrospect, we now know of activity that could be interpreted as conspiratorial, in fact it smirks of it, and all an effort to rid the area of the “gay” element and to enrich the bank through foreclosure on what was built. Reneging on the final drop in the bucket financing, about $38,000, prevented the year-round opening and operation of the restaurant/bar and permanent RV rental space. A loss of, conservatively calculating, monthly net revenue exceeding $12,000; an amount that would have made double payments on the mortgage and an amount not including the additional $8,000 net amount generated by the hospitality accommodations. The bank and CEO knew, by depriving us the nominal final funds to complete the venue, it would cause us to be financially stymied. We had just spent $35,000 on restaurant equipment out-of-pocket; an amount we were encouraged to spend from our reserve funds by the bank because it had promised, “we want to see this through to completion…to see you succeed.” We were fools to believe them. What the bank, under the direction of its then CEO, David M. Littlewood did to us is immoral and with malicious intent to enrich the bank, possibly others, at our sacrifice. My grandparents and parents will haunt this property (and already are). Nothing good will come to those who will BENEFIT from our loss.