What I Did Last Summer
BY Mike Albo
April 06 2009 12:00 AM ET
Years ago, when I arrived in Provincetown, Mass., for the summer, I rented a bike (the best way to get around) and rode up Commercial Street, the main thoroughfare. I wheeled past Town Hall (where the dedicated tranny Ellie croons into a mike with her deep Frank Sinatra voice), waved to drag legend Varla Jean Merman and lesbian butch-chanteuse Lea DeLaria as they posted fliers for their latest shows, and stopped into Spiritus Pizza. Sitting amid the gay parents cramming their kids' mouths with slices of pepperoni pizza was an actor friend. He introduced me to his new boyfriend, and we took our slices to their rental house and ate them on an old couch, listening to Melanie C (that's how long ago this was). Come morning, I lay there between them on a bed in a wood-paneled room. I had been there less than 12 hours, and already I was enmeshed (so to speak) in P-Town's social fabric.
I love gay resort towns like Provincetown; Fire Island, N.Y.; and Guerneville, on Northern California's Russian River-places that strike a perfect balance between gay fun, natural beauty, and just the right touch of drag queens and tacky rainbow decor. There may be more remote, exotic vacations out there, but only in these homo meccas are gorgeous landscapes graced with gayness. Provincetown is blessed with beautiful surroundings-undulating dunes, breathtaking sunsets, adorable cottages-but nothing makes me happier after a long day of swimming in the ocean than walking into an old, swill-soaked gay bar decorated with rainbow wind socks and ordering a drink special called "The Sloppy Bottom." Even the bad tinny dance music, which I usually find so repellent, sounds heavenly.
These towns have history, and visiting a place where gay women and men have a strong presence can give you an inner glow to match your tan. Queers of all stripes feel comfortable enough to express sides of themselves they may normally keep hidden. You may see two gals from Arkansas holding hands in public-possibly for the first time. Or see someone in buttless leather chaps joyfully pulling around a poodle, and his boyfriend, in matching pink harnesses.