Mel has a B.S. in Sociology and an A.A.S. in Computer Electronics Technology. Additionally, he has taken some small business classes and Small Business Administration courses. Mel currently works as an archivist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
Mel was born in Newport News, Virginia, but grew up in the rural parts of western Virginia. When Mel was five years old, his father, inspired by the movie “The Wilderness Family”, purchased land in Patrick County, Virginia and built a log cabin. His family lived in the log cabin without electricity or running water on a dirt road miles from the main road for three years. After that his family moved back to modern “civilization” in the next county. Mel spent the rest of his childhood and adolescence in a rural town in Virginia. He spent his free time hiking through the woods, climbing trees, running up and down creeks, and being close to nature.
Mel returned to the Hampton Roads area when he started college at Old Dominion University in the late 1980s. Mel came out in his second semester at college and was an active member (and later president of) the Gay and Lesbian Student Union on campus. With the exception of a couple of years living in Roanoke, Virginia in the late 1990s, Mel has lived in Hampton Roads ever since.
In the early 2000s, Mel became involved in Paganism. His Pagan interests include Druidry, Hellenism, and Norse Paganism. Since that time he has been instrumental in coordinating a number of men’s retreats at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. He has also attended other men’s retreats such as Coph Nia: A Spiritual Retreat for Gay and Bi Pagan Men that was held for a couple of years at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in Artemis, PA. Mel also runs a podcast for gay and bi Pagan men, and founded a media site for LGBTQ folks, Pagans, and other alternative communities in Hampton Roads.
Mel has always felt an ambivalence about living in the city. He is very inspired by nature, but being gay has traditionally been easier living in a city where there is an established LGBTQ community.
The idea of establishing a positive LGBTQ affirming community in rural Virginia is not a new idea. It has been Mel’s dream to own and operate some kind of men’s campground since around 1998. Originally Mel looked into the possibility of intentional communities. He also considered the possibility of running a men’s fitness spa should he remain in the city. While taking business classes at Tidewater Community College around 2010, Mel created business and marketing plans with the idea of a men’s campground or men’s fitness spa in mind.
In 2016, Mel decided to take hold of his dream to create a men’s campground resort. He researched other campgrounds and realized such a plan is plausible. The biggest obstacle is the startup funding required to purchase the land and buildings.
For more information on Mel, please visit his podcast site at www.melmystery.com