I fell in love with my “x” in Provincetown  on a stone jetty that leads to the ocean. The light in “P-town” is soft and hazy and has a blue glow like Holland. A bell tolls an eerie cry over the bay at sunset and the muddy tidal pools are pungent . This experience lives in me and has shaped  me.

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The Invasion-Cherry Grove, NY

I am writing this blog entry from a La Quinta hotel in Bohemia, NY where I managed to get a room for four nights at a reasonable rate even on a July 4th holiday weekend. I have enjoyed a complimentary homemade waffle breakfast everyday. The hotel has an old fashioned waffle iron and fresh batter to make thick round waffles. It is served up buffet style in comfortable surroundings. I am on vacation from my life of unemployment and neurotic fear of homelessness in Florida. On the night of my arrival I sat in the hotel’s 10 foot long hot tub to soak to let go.

On the first full day of my vacation I went “home again” to Cherry Grove, NY where I owned a three bedroom house with a wood burning stove, a deck in the woods and a business, a summer seasonal glbt themed contemporary Fine Art gallery. Cherry Grove is located on an unspoiled barrier reef , a sliver of sand that runs along the Atlantic coast of the United States. Seagulls, terns, piping plovers , crows and songbirds can be seen and heard at the ocean’s edge and on the ‘boards’ that run along the Great South Bay, Atlantic Ocean and that form a grid through this tiny community of 250 cottages and contemporary houses. There are no roads in Cherry Grove. No cars. The air is clean. For many years Cherry Grove had the feel of a summer camp for glbt adults. Today one can spot baby carriages on the boards and children play in the surf. There are a few heterosexual couples and families from Sayville that own houses and businesses as well. Over time Cherry Grove became the “first gay town” in America. American flags fly next to the gay rainbow flag on the dock where the ferry arrives and on flagpoles in front of many of the houses. Most homeowners are proudly American and gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender. Some community members have volunteered for the U.S. Park Service and continue to keep a watchful eye on the health of the dunes.

Every year Independence Day is wildly celebrated by community members. It is marked by a Mardi Gras like celebration called “The Invasion” headed up by Panzi with megaphone to lead her troops in a playful invasion of a sister community called The Pines. Men and women dress up to careen down the boards in ballgowns, high heels, enormous headdresses, wigs and all manner of playful costume. Each year international or national news is reflected in costume. This year Somalia was represented by one celebrant with high tech drives tucked into camouflaged high heel boots to create a one two punch of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and Twitter cyberwarfare. Indian drag queens joyfully danced Bollywood style to the boat! Indian gay life was decriminalized this month.

Panzi 2
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The traditional procession began in The Ice Palace, a landmark disco from the 70’s to careen down it’s ramp to spill out onto the center of town where onlookers snapped pics of of the celebrities. This year Coney Island’s Mermadia made an appearance with an entourage that included well known nouveau burlesque performers from NYC . Coney Island is in the throws of redevelopment. The troupe’s presence, like emergent art in an artist’s studio, may represent the foreshadowing of an idea in the air that has yet to materialize.

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I traveled to Cherry Grove by boat with friends from my days on the mainland in Sayville where I lived for  7 years before I moved to West Palm Beach in Florida. We docked in The Pines, an affluent glbt community and watched the Invasion from a boat. I danced in the local disco with a crowd of 20 and 30 somethings along with my middle aged friends. We Baby Boomers set their stage, suffered losses to AIDS, invented the “cocktail” that has prevented certain death, danced in this traditonal glbt ritual similar to that by whirling dervishes, role models all, to an improvised and scratched out “Put Your Hands Up”. I became a vision for old friends and gallery goers who passed by the window of the disco by boat to find me pumping to the music, bare midriff swim suited and hands up waving as though candle in hand. A “Thriller” poster could be found pasted on the disco wall behind us to punctuate the end of a tumultuous era. I have been riding an emotional roller coaster this trip that is supported by the natural environment of Fire Island. Love with a big “L” can be found at the oceans edge and in the forest, the elation of spiritual fulfillment, peace, ghosts and the living presence of recently lost friends and associates.

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