Wayne Fluke, By Vivian Francesco and Daniel Brooks
Photo Album Collection >
Strappingly tall, handsome and healthy at 87 years old, making daily gym trips to stay strong, Wayne Fluke is an amazing and active legend in the New Hope area. While he is best remembered for his illustrious and fantastically fun parties held in his N. Main St. and Pt, Pleasant homes, he is also famous as one of New Hope’s kindest and most welcoming residents.
Born and raised on a ranch near Aberdeen, S. Dakota, he graduated from Colorado State University and then served two years in the US Air Force.
Wayne began his working career at a pharmaceutical company in Chicago and transitioned to their research facility in Princeton, NJ. While living there he was thrilled to discover the New Hope of the 1960s and there he remained for the next 60 years!
He explained in an interview, being a gay man during those decades was far from easy. New Hope’s diverse community provided a rare and welcoming environment for an often-misunderstood minority. A hospitable, generous man, Wayne had no problem making friends in the area. “That’s why I like New Hope so much,” he reminisced, “If someone was having a party, they invited you or if you planned something, you invited them!”
Affable, neighborly, and sweet, residents quickly got to know Wayne and because he was known for his creative party throwing, which often had themes, residents hoped for invitations to them. Once established on Main St., he decided to plant even firmer roots in the community by asking his friends to help him find unique property. A couple from Lambertville recommended a property in Pt. Pleasant, Pa. which he purchased. And thus began many tales and memories of countless fun and frolic at Wayne’s woodsy log cabin house, which was complete with a rather “famous” hot tub.
To many New Hopians, the mere mention of his name elicits a large and devilish smile.
These parties were an important part of the area’s gay life, whether it was an impromptu breakfast for 20 by his stream or lavishly planned parties for hundreds. He “held court” to groups of friends having tubing trips down the Delaware which he would “cap off” with drinks and a barbeque in his backyard. “The action and liveliness were endless, and the warmth and closeness of the fellowship were like nothing else.”
In the 1990s there was also weekly location rotating Sunday volleyball games, often followed by a cookout, dinner, and drinks. “It was not just the gay community that attracted me to New Hope as much as the wide range of intelligent, interesting people, “ he reports. “There was a mix of construction workers, bankers, actors, artists, musicians, craftsmen, pharmaceutical managers, and restaurant servers.”
“They came from diverse origins such as New York, Boston, Washington DC, and Philadelphia.”
These were the melting pot of folks in New Hope that became Wayne’s “family” and they traveled together to parties in Provincetown, Ma; Fire Island, NY; and Acapulco, Mx. A frequent traveler, Wayne has been all over the world.
As recalled by all people of those eras, the discovery and destruction of the AIDS virus took many of his friends far too soon. Others have passed on from other diseases and age-related illnesses. During his interview, he spoke quietly and emotionally of those he has lost and remembers fondly.
In addition, because of harsh winters in the Mid-Atlantic, Wayne has recently moved to Palm Springs, Ca. where he is already known by many in the LGBTQ community.
Yet Wayne continues to keep in touch with old friends while amassing new. He visits New Hope frequently and is supportive of the influx of youth, who he finds are often the entrepreneurial, doctors, lawyers, artists, etc that keep the community vibrant. “New Hope is a very unique place as far as developing new friendships and maintaining relationships, “he ebulliently and optimistically stated.
While thrilled to see the progress that allows for more LGBTQ acceptance, he is proud of the part he and his longtime friends have played in pioneering the relentless and steady movement toward empowering the community and their acceptance.
Recently he donated selected photos from 38 of his cherished photo albums to New Hope Celebrates History. These photos, now contained on our Web site, chronicle many of the parties either thrown or attended by Wayne in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and forward.
Though he has traveled far and has seen much in his time, making new friends wherever he goes, Wayne Fluke continues to call New Hope “home.” He will always be our much loved and loving friend. His presence is forever embedded in our collective consciousnesses—filed under “FUN!” And he rocks on.