Remembrance of Summers Past
Written by Steve Weinstein
In her book on the history of Cherry Grove, Esther Newton refers to a fellow academic’s term for the series of gay resort towns that dot the United States as “the Empire of Queer.” I always thought this was a beautiful description for those special places that we have made our own. The very names give off certain sensory pleasures of remembrances of summers past. Like Proust’s narrator, whose smell of a baking cookie sets off a million-word remembrance, all I have to do is get a whiff of sunscreen or Calamine Lotion or barbecuing meats or salty air, and I’m taken away to Provincetown, Fire Island Pines or South Beach.
The Empire of Queer extends from Ogunquit, on the rugged coast of Maine, down through Ptown, the ancient fishing village and site of a Pilgrim landing that has become synonymous with “gay resort.” Down the stretch off barrier reefs that mark the Atlantic coastline, then, to those two neighboring towns that are perhaps the most famous (or infamous) gay resorts in the world, Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove. From there to the newest outpost, Asbury Park, New Jersey; and on down to South Beach and Continental America’s southernmost point, Key West. There’s Setauket, a charming island in Lake Michigan. Out West, there’s Palm Springs, of course, as well as Russian River.
All of these play an important part in our history. As outposts where we were free from prying, censorious eyes and often the law, they have performed as crucibles were we forged our identity. With the advent of Memorial Day, we once again turn our collective heads toward the beaches and pools that, over the winter, have sustained us in the landscapes of our remembered imaginations.
I have never heard of Setauket Island and when I looked for it on google it only gave me Setauket NY. I think u may have meant Saugatuck, Michigan. It is a cute gay summer spot, however its not an island.
By Tyler S. on 06-26-2010
Sadly with the internet night life in too many cities, already in decline because of destruction of large venues for real estate development like USA, Paladium, The Roxy, or for re-marketing like Limelight in New York and Warsaw in South Beach, not to mention nearly every large venue in Ft. Lauderdale and some in Miami, has meant summers are not what they were before 1997 or 1998 in the States. The Gay Village in Rome, the discos not only on Ibiza, but in Madrid and Barcelona, even the weekend craziness in Berlin and Muenchen draws the smaller and smaller group of circuit people away from the States during the summer months. Why Ft. Lauderdale can only come up with the small Pride Event, not in Ft.Lauderdale but in Wilton Manors, is always a mystery to me.
By Luc Dyrkacz on 07-08-2010