America’s struggle for independence was a long, hard slog, but finally our nation was born. As I wrote last week in “Provincetown Shows its Independence,” I celebrated with a visit to my favorite gay beach resort.
What struck me was how many straight people were also in town. While it’s always been popular with heterosexuals and homosexuals, in my memory straight visitors were usually day-trippers who arrived by car or by ferry for a short visit in the daylight hours, while the nights belonged firmly to the gays — primarily gay boys during high season but also to gay girls during shoulder seasons and big lesbian events.
Now, more and more, I met straight visitors who were staying overnight, often at the same guesthouses as gay and lesbian visitors. I think this is terrific news. I think that it’s only by meeting and interacting with others that we start to gain an understanding of them. I also think it shows that these straight visitors have really good taste! They see how fabulous we’ve made Provincetown and they want to get in on the act.
But this increased hetero presence made me think a little about the struggles of LGBT folks to carve out comfortable zones for themselves in a world often hostile to them. Are gays still the dominant group in Provincetown?Yes. Could we someday become a minority there?Well, considering how we’re outnumbered 10, 20 or even more to 1, sure, I think it could happen.
I’ve experienced it before in Boston’s South End which, seemingly in the blink of an eye, turned from a gayborhood of LGBT folk to hetero-baby-stroller land.(Then again, it might be argued that gay men ‘stole’ the South End from locals — mainly African and Hispanic Americans — in their quest to gentrify an undeveloped urban area.) And Key West, once a sleepy, magical land of artists and gays at the end of the earth became a popular stop on the straight cruise circuit, which disgorges thousands of t-shirt buying straight passengers onto Duval Street every year.
I don’t think there’s anyway to halt the ‘progress’ of straight people wanted to enjoy the fruits of our labor (i.e., all the wonderful guesthouses, restaurants, entertainment, and parties) that make Provincetown so wonderful to visit. In fact, they’re excellent for business. Maybe we can at least prohibit huge straight cruises from arriving in Provincetown. The struggle continues!