This diary contains diverse views and opinions on what goes on in Cherry Grove, the nation and the world. Racism and bigotry have no place here. Please do not engage in personal attacks on other users. The cardinal rule here is to respect others. The opinions published here are those of individual writers and may or may not represent those of our publisher/editor or any other members of our volunteer staff.

To paraphrase a piece of writing that caught my eye on the Internet: "The ability to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper and put them where people can read and respond to them has been marvelous, even if most people who have read my writings haven't agreed with them. If there is any hope for the long term success of democracy, it will be if people agree to listen to and try to understand their  opponents rather than simply seek to crush them." -- RLF

In Memorium -- "My primary purpose in writing these articles is to help provide gays with a sense of their history outside of Stonewall. I feel we have to grab it wherever we are living it and get it down for the generations that will follow in our footsteps."--Mary Kapsalis.

Jan and Edrie Tie The Knot in San Francisco

June 25, 2008 -- After forty-nine years of domestic partnership, Jan and Edrie of Surf Walk, flew to San Francisco last week to be legally married (see "Of Interest" below). Best wish to you both!

They cut the celebration short so Edrie could get back to Cherry Grove in time to attend Saturday rehearsal for her role in Island Rep's upcoming production of "Sordid Lives." She's hilarious as Sissy, the nicotine-addicted aunt. (Photo right: Edrie (left) and Denise Harbin (right) at a recent "Sordid Lives" rehearsal.) Denise is cast as Noleta, originally played by Delta Burke.

On July 2, Island Rep's summer  theatre season opens with writer/performer Steven Fales in his blockbuster international hit play "Confessions of  Mormon Boy." If you support our efforts here at ATGT to keep you informed about what's going on, I hope you'll return the favor by attending Island Rep's exciting summer lineup. Besides, you'll have fun! Please note that "Confessions of a Mormon Boy" will give weekday performances, too.

Might as well get all of the self-promotion out of the way all at once. On July 12, between 11 a.m and 1 p.m, the Top of the Bay Bistro will host a Jazz Brunch for the benefit of The Island Repertory Theatre Company. Dine on sumptuous dishes to the tune of live jazz music. You will get the chance to meet special guests of honor NY State Assemblywoman Ginny Fields and Steven Fales, star of "Confessions of a Mormon Boy." Seating is limited to seventy people. Suggested minimum contribution $50 per person. You can buy tickets at Top of the Bay Bistro, Island Rep's box office on the ground floor of the Top of the Bay Building or by phone at 631 597-9439.

We're happy to welcome Alan & Carlos to our ATGT family. In their new column As The Pines Turns they'll give us the real lowdown on what's happening in our sister community to the east.

In this edition, I look at the current success of go-go boy nights and underwear parties in local clubs and reflect back on the fuss caused by the original one at Tides in 2005. Our next edition will review the porn star nights at Cherry's that almost tore our community apart in 2002-03. You will not believe it!)

Speaking of porn stars, a film company was here last week recruiting local talent to appear in a skin flick that they were shooting at The Belvedere. Gee, maybe it'll premiere at next year's Fire Island Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Oink!


 2008 Go-go boy at Cherry's

This summer, local clubs are increasingly feeling the pinch of the recession and vigorously competing for the patronage of an increasingly more jaded younger generation, who want something extra to go with their ten-dollar (including tip) drinks, by offering go-go boy nights and underwear parties with lots of skin on display.

Their major competition is the Internet, where you can cruise website after website for potential sex partners in your area, what they look like, the size of their private parts and what they're into -- with graphic photos to prove it. Some guys come to Cherry Grove and spend most of their time in front of their PC's trying to get laid. (It's the ol' raging hormones thing . . . ah, yes, I almost remember them well!!) Why go to a bar and take a chance on picking up somebody who might or might not be your ideal when you can see the real goods in every detail on the Internet and not pay a cent?

Cherry's, The Ice Palace and Tides all planned to lure men who love to dance in their scanties by hosting underwear parties on the same night -- great skivvy overload!)  I am told by one of the party hosts that a representative of  "certain community members" urged them not to hold the event. As of this writing, Tides is the only business to follow through.  

The Island Breeze is staying in the race (sort of) by offering: "Stud Wednesdays -- with HOT Dancers," "Freeballin' Fridays -- The ANTI-Underwear Party with Go-Go Boys" (Freeballin' means that you don't wear underwear) and "Pajama Party Saturdays with Go-Go Boys."

Reliable sources tell me that when it was still a four-way race, things got nasty when one member of club management made libelous remarks to the police about one of the other competitors.

2002 Go-Go Boys have a "just working my way through college" look.

Cherry's offers "the hottest go-go boys" on Thursday nights and planned an underwear party called Menergy (optional clothes check) on Fridays, but their June 13 event convinced them that their space isn't conducive to a night of men dancing in their scanties and they're rethinking it. Owners Jacque and Donna have managed the very difficult task of attracting a mixed crowd of gay, lesbian, straight, transgender clients and feel that holding too many specialized events will alienate segments of their sizeable following. At the moment, Cherry's is the most popular watering hole in the Grove; if it works, why change it? Besides, their Thursday night Go-Go Boy parties are a huge success and hosting a similar themed event the following night seems excessive.

Through the years, Go-Go Boys take on an edgier image.

Those with an urge to dance in their skivvies still have Tides, home of Fire Island's original Underwear Party, to go to. They held their first event on June 20.

I went out last Thursday night to catch the go-go boys at Cherry's and take some photos of the party, but, unlike the ones that I'd covered in the past, the boys (except for one -- see "2008 Go-Go Boy at Cherry's above") would only allow me to take body shots, no faces. I was told that today's go-go boys are accountants, teachers, lawyers, cops, straight family men etc. doing double duty trying to make ends meet and would lose their jobs (for a start) if anybody found out. (So, I took some faceless body shots (boring) and left.)

Ah, for the good ol' days when go-go dancers and strippers were exhibitionists who truly loved their jobs. A previous club owner in the Grove always insisted that his dancers reach a climax on stage and passed out lobster bibs to people in the front row in case there was any overspill (is that a word?).

Grove go-go boys are more inhibited and camera shy than in the past.

On Friday night, I checked out the "Freeballin' Anti-Underwear Party" at Island Breeze, but it was not yet underway. I was told that it gets a late crowd.

The Original Underwear Party at Tides was not underway either. When I got there some people were fully dressed and the ones who were stripped down to their skivvies wouldn't let me take a photo. I understand that by 2 a.m. the place rocked.

These present day parties do not have the sense of fun and camaraderie that they had a few years ago when I covered them in depth. (See below.) Four years later, there seems to be a jaded cloud hanging over the festivities. To so many guys who've posted x-rated photos of themselves all over the Internet, standing around in public in your undies is no big deal.

In 2002, the introduction of this type of event into our community pitted neighbor against neighbor and encouraged organized boycotting the host clubs.

The whole underwear party thing began in August, 2004 when Daniel Nardicio and drag star Sweetie planned to open Fire Island's first underwear party at Tides, the new kid on the block looking for a gimmick to draw customers in.

The party drew big crowds from both Cherry Grove, Fire Island Pines and beyond and was an instant success. Although clothes check was offered, lots of guys simply left home in their undies to save themselves a tip. One could get a free show by gorging al fresco on the "best kickass pizza" at Grove Pizza, while watching all the hunks in the latest designer bikinis, thongs, jockeys and boxer shorts working the boards on their way to Tides, which was nearby.

Initially, I was among the naysayers who didn't think that an undies party was a good idea. When I challenged entrepreneur Danny Nardicio to an ATGT interview, he accepted, but only after I agreed to attend the underwear party that was going to be held the night before agreed to meet and talk. Here's what I reported at the time:


In the August 11 2004 edition of ATGT, I wrote:

August, 2004 -- "I went to the Underwear Party at Tides in Cherry Grove to do research for my standoff with promoter Daniel Nardicio on Saturday. Initially, I planned to defy dress code and wear knee-length shorts and tank top, but thought it would betray my spy status. Then, I decided to let it all hang out by wearing a jock strap and harness, but didn't want to be responsible for insighting a stampede toward the exits. Finally, I compromised on paisley boxers with a long tank top that covered my crotch and ass, yet satisfied my inner desire to be au courant.

Underwear Party: Sweetie at the door (above l.); Bottoms at the top (above r.)

I approached the Tides entrance very gingerly, as twinks in their scanties eagerly passed me by. When I got closer, I was comforted by the reassuring appearance of Sweetie, who was selling tickets at the door. Inside the entrance, anybody who was wearing more than underwear was handed a plastic bag in which to deposit their clothes for checking.  (Fortunately, I live nearby and had scurried down the walk in my party outfit and had nothing to declare.) Although some wore fetish styles that did not strictly conform to the dress code, they were still allowed entrance. After working so hard on their outfits, I guess it would have violated the Thirteenth Commandment to ask them to take them off.

Beyond the clothes check area was a staircase that led to a second floor party room. I cautiously climbed the steps -- my heart beating ever faster as I approached the landing -- wanting and not wanting to lay my baby blue contacts on what I hoped I wouldn't -- and yet secretly hoped I would --- witness.  Aghhhhhh!

Yep . . . In that smoke-filled, dimly lit cabaret room, Cherry Grove's worst fears were realized. I tried to shield my eyes in vain from the sight of at least a couple of hundred people of various age, shape and size, laughing, drinking and, yes, dancing in their underwear!

Host Daniel, in a pair of classic Jockey shorts, welcomed me warmly, confirmed our interview the following day and cautioned me to ask permission before I took photos.

The overall mood was cordial and there were more older people in attendance than I'd imagined. I did recognize some Cherry Grovers, but think the majority of the revelers were from The Pines or had been bused in from Manhattan.

At first, I felt uncomfortable asking people if I could photograph them in their delicates, but all were willing . . . except for a tall, elderly man in a jockstrap, who absolutely refused to allow me to photograph his rear end.

Did I see anything going on that one wouldn't see going on in other public places in Cherry Grove? Nope . . .

After fifteen minutes, or so, I decided I'd taken enough photographs for two coffee table books and rushed home to the comforting sight of Big Nacho Man in his long, loose, blue nightshirt.

Well, that's the whole story of my descent into the decadent nightlife of Cherry Grove. Would I do it again? Let's just say that if I did, I'd wear something a bit more opaque, perhaps edged with just a hint of lace . . .


August, 2004 -- Although he must have been tired, Daniel Nardicio (photo left) was exactly on time for our interview. I like that.

He was born in Hainesville, Ohio and spent his formative years in foster homes. He came to New York ten years ago, via Los Angeles, San Francisco and Berlin, Germany, where made his living as an actor.

"I lived in Berlin for five years and found myself letting go of my American roots. I really love the States and decided to move to New York City, where I worked as an actor. After five years, I came to the conclusion that performing wasn't the path that was meant for me."

He got a job with a firm that did corporate parties, found his niche and founded Daniel Nardicio Productions creating nightclub events, concerts and theatrical productions. One of his most successful parties was an underwear party on Thursday nights in Manhattan.

"I do parties that are very liberating. My employees are good people. Everybody has fun," he said.

He continued, "After spending several summers in Fire Island Pines, I decided to move west to Cherry Grove. I liked it, but the bars weren't speaking to me . . . weren't my scene."

RLF: "But, Daniel, why bring something into a community that it doesn't want.?

DANIEL: "But, it does want it. Tides was packed last night."

RLF: "Yes. But there were a lot of people there who were not from the community."

DANIEL: "The community needs the money. This place is dying, to some degree." The bars are fighting for fifty dollars."

RLF: "But the community isn't just bars."

DANIEL: "But that's what I do. If I was a realtor, I'd have an office. If I was a restaurateur, I'd open a restaurant. People walk up to me and thank me for my party. They tell me that I've brought back the 70s to Cherry Grove."

RLF: "You can't bring back the past. In the 70s, we were very passionate about finding out who we were. The temperament of the people was different. Your party last night was not the 1970s, it was the 2000s."

DANIEL: "I just want people to have a good time."

RLF: "The core of Cherry Grove are the homeowners, who have invested money in Cherry Grove and don't feel they have a say in any of this."

DANIEL: "The people I bring out here spend money."

RLF: "That doesn't interest the people who live here." (Photo right: 2005 Ad.)

DANIEL: "But isn't that how property values go up?"

RLF: "I think that the values would go up if it was more diverse. Cherry Grove has always promoted itself as a sleazy place to go. As we've gotten more liberated, there's a large section of gays -- in committed relationships and raising children, for instance -- who don't want to come here. If Cherry Grove enticed them here, I think the property values would really go up. Party people are not necessarily homeowners."

DANIEL: "People who are coming over here to party will be next year's homeowners. In fact, I'm looking for property here, myself."

RLF: "People go for the quick buck here. There's no balance. Cherry Grove does not reflect the gay world as it exists today. I couldn't even find a place for my theatre company. They fought it here.

"We live in a historic place. If it weren't for Cherry Grove, gay liberation would not be where it is today. This was the first gay community ever. No one ever bothered to found a historic association that would archive the past in any organized way. History is already being reported in a distorted manner. Our history should have been preserved. We should have a museum here, where people could come to study gay history. It would draw people from all over the world."

DANIEL: "Yes. Accommodations are wildly overpriced. My friends would love to come out here, but they can't afford it. It's a resort town fueled by sex and alcohol."

RLF: "Yes. To some degree, I think it keeps people down. Gay life has experienced a complete transformation since the fifties. We are couples, educators, politicians, writers, artists, doctors, lawyers, etc. We don't attract many of those people here because we don't offer anything they're interested in. I find that a pity. There should be some cultural balance here."

DANIEL: "I agree with you on that."

RLF: "You and I are the same. We're just interested in different things."

DANIEL: "That's why I like Robyn and Ron. They want to give Cherry Grove something different."

RLF: You know Daniel, some people here would say that it's you who are out of date."

DANIEL: "Yes, but it's beautiful. . ."

It was at this point in our conversation that I decided that I liked this man. He's a visionary and probably not going to go away. To his credit, he agrees that the answer is cultural diversity and that's he's just a part of the solution. If you don't like what he does, don't go.

(Editor: Not everybody in the Grove thought this was a good idea, and many tried to boycott the party and the club itself (Even today, some of them still refuse to go into the place.)

NOTE: Daniel Nardicio has no connections with current underwear parties in Cherry Grove.)


An incident happened last week that brought me back to life in 1950's Manhattan, where there was more tolerance for gays than in most other places. However, one still had to be alert and not venture into unfriendly neighborhoods, where there was always the potential for whistles, catcalls, being called 'FAGGOT' and chased until you thought that your heart was going to burst. The possibility was always there. That's why Cherry Grove was such a safe haven from all that discrimination. Of course, there were beatings in the meat rack and Sayville townies would come to The Island to "beat up the queers," but gays and lesbians beat the intruders back to where they belonged. (Photo above left: Rose bushes at "Nacho Men.")

Last week, those years came up for me again when three children (two girls and one boy in their very early teens) followed me down the boardwalk, doing a lot of sniggering and copying the way I walk. I was so pissed (and hurt?) that I told them to go live some place where they belonged . . . that this was an adult community. They hung their heads in silence, as only hateful kids can when caught being mean, and turned up Main Walk. Know anybody on Main Walk, who urge their offspring to make fun of people here?

I had not been the victim of that kind of discrimination in a long time and it caught me off guard. Of all places to experience that brand of deja vu! Not in Cherry Grove! Yup!

Previous to this incident, I did not have an opinion on the changing landscape in Cherry Grove. I do now . . . 


Steve Parks, Newsday theatre critic says that The Island Repertory Theatre Company’s presentation of Confessions of a Mormon Boy at The Tides Playhouse in Cherry Grove is one of “SEVEN SHOWS TO SEE” this summer! (Newsday, Sunday, May 25, 2008)

On July 2-17, The Island Repertory Theatre Company will present writer and performer Steven Fales (photo left) in his blockbuster international hit play “Confessions of a Mormon Boy” for a two-week run at The Tides Playhouse in Cherry Grove, Fire Island. It has been brilliantly directed by Tony Award winner Jack Hofsiss.

The show moves to Cherry Grove directly from a sold-out engagement at the Dublin International Fringe Festival and will play a six-week run in London after its Fire Island engagement.

Please note that “Confessions of a Mormon Boy” will play weekday, as well as weekend performances.

Your attendance will represent your vote to see more high-caliber theatrical entertainment like The Island Repertory Theatre Company has offered Fire Islanders since the year 2000.

“Confessions of a Mormon Boy” will be presented on July 2-17 on Wednesdays, Sundays and Mondays at 7 pm; Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm. Box office is open at the Top of the Bay Bistro Building in downtown Cherry Grove on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm and also on performance days. You can also charge tickets to your Visa or Master Card by calling 631 597-9439 or on the Internet at

Season subscribers will also see "Sordid Lives" and attend a staged reading of a new play in Island Rep's New Plays and Playwrights Series set for August 22-24. Already booked for the event is, direct from its NYC off-Broadway run, "The Rarest of Birds," a one-man play based on the life of one of America’s greatest actors and most tortured souls Montgomery Clift by John Lisbon Wood and starring Omar Prince. The series is a free event for subscribers only. (Photo left: Montgomery Clift.)

People, Places & Things: Before writer/performer Steven Fales (photo right) opens in "Confessions of  Mormon Boy" for The Island Repertory Theatre Company at The Tides Playhouse on July 2, he will make his Manhattan cabaret debut at Joe's Pub. Entitled Mormon American Princess, Fales will play the intimate cabaret June 27 at 9:30 PM and June 28 at 11:30 PM. G. Scott Lacy is musical director. Steven Fales trained at the Boston Conservatory before completing his two-year mission for the Mormon Church in Portugal, and going on to a BFA and MFA in acting and musical theatre. Joe's Pub is located within the Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street. There is a $20 cover charge. For reservations visit or call (212) 967-7555.

Reverend Eleni O. Marudis will be doing Private Pet Blessings in your home until June 26th. Please call Valerie at 631 597-6140 for an appointment.

Cherry Grove will celebrate a decade of pride with its Tenth Annual GLBT Pride Parade twice around downtown Cherry Grove on Saturday, June 28. Meet in front of the Community House & Firehouse at 2 pm -- kick off 2:30 sharp.  Decorate your float, paint your wagon, grab a banner and be there!! Start from Firehouse/Community House and go west on Bayview, turn south on Surf Walk, turn east on Lewis Walk, north on Ocean Walk, east on Bayview, south on Doctor's Walk, west on Lewis, north on Main Walk, west on Bayview and then an encore. Disperse at the dock. . . .

Two weeks ago, the annual House Blessing took in a nice amount of money that was divided among Cherry Grove's not-for-profits. Checks made out to specific causes amounted to $3,580 and general cash contributions amounted to $1060. The distribution was as follows: APCG $225.00; CGOAI $212.50; Doctor's Fund $1,202.50; Dunes Fund  $1,132.50; Fire Dept $732.50; Island Repertory Theatre Company $352.50; Memorial Fund $132.50 and PAWS $657.50. Next year, make sure that your favorite org receives monies intended for them by dropping checks in the basket that are specifically made out to them.... Cherry Grove Pizza is asking whoever stole their wagon to return it. I wouldn't get Frank pissed off, if I were you. . . .

I can't vouch for the authenticity of the following notice that was recently posted on various bulletin boards and business establishments, but here it is word for word:

"STOP THE SEX POLICE! Federal SEX POLICE (U.S. Park Rangers) have invaded the meat rack, looking to arrest gay men having sex. Don't let this happen! Getting the police out of the meat rack was one of the most successful campaigns of the Mattachine Society in the 1960, before Stonewall.

"Raise holy hell. Tell the sex police to get out of our backyard. Sex police arresting men in the meatrack is the desecration of a sacred land. Protest Saturday at the Grove Gay Pride March. Call The Fire Island National Seashore: Sean McGuiness, Acting Superintendent or Paula S. Valentine, Public Affairs 631 587-4759."

When I got in touch with Mr. Johnson, I got the following reply:

"I saw a raid Saturday...yelling at boys who went running out of the bushes. I spoke to two Park rangers yesterday. Officer Swindle and a female partner. He said he was there to enforce federal law and anyone having sex would be arrested for a federal crime. Thanks, David"

A Suffolk County Police Officer told me that the Meatrack is under the jurisdiction of the Fire Island National Seashore Park Rangers. He mentioned that two trespassers were recently arrested  in the Carrington House (owned by the  FINS) for lewd conduct and cocaine possession. If this is true, perhaps there is a crackdown going on or maybe the Rangers are just doing their job. If this story has any legs, I'm sure we'll hear more about it. It's just the kind of situation that people love to adopt as their summer cause. Makes 'em feel more like they belong.

Whenever something like this happens, people have a grand old time gossiping and whispering about it, but when it's time to take action everybody gets quiet, doesn't want to be involved and hangs the messenger from the nearest tree.

Best to get to the bottom of this before the mainland press gets hold of the story and has a field day. Talk to the police and rangers. Insist that one of our organizations holds a town meeting where everybody, including David Johnson, Officer Swindle, the police, etc. gets their say. But that won't happen. It's too much fun speculating on what did and didn't happen to find out the truth. If the real facts came out, people would have to find another cause to carry on about. Better to giggle and fret awhile.

If you'd like your event mentioned here on ATGT, just e-mail info to and you'll no doubt see it in our next edition.

As The Grove Turns was founded on May 15, 2000. So far, we have received over a million visits to our site from over fifty countries. Next edition of As The Grove Turns: July 9, 2008. 'Til then, God bless.



"Because a great community deserves great theatre."


Richard LaFrance, Artistic Director

Adminstrative Directors: Lorie Bradshaw and Wendy Lewis

E-mail:  Website:pan:






July 2-13


 written and performed by STEPHEN FALES

directed by JACK HOFSISS

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8;  Wednesdays, Sundays and Mondays at 7

August 1-3, 8-10, 15-17


a black comedy about white trash

written by DEL SHORES

directed by RICHARD LaFRANCE

Fridays and Saturdays at 8; Sundays and Mondays at 7

August 22-24

NEW PLAYS AND PLAYWRIGHTS SERIES: Three Staged Readings of exciting new works.

Fridays and Saturdays at 8; Sundays at 7
*Free Event — Subscribers Only.

Subscribers will be invited to a staged reading of an exciting new play and participate in a discussion with the director and actors after the show.

 For more information visit



 Buy your reserved seat subscriptions early and get the best seats available for the show dates of your choice. Three-event subscriptions cost a total of sixty dollars each.

The Island Rep Box Office is located on the ground floor of the Top of the Bay Building on the dock. Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m-3 p.m or

Tickets: Call Island Rep Credit Card Hotline: 631 597-9439,

Single-Show Tickets:

"Mormon Boy": Theatremania/Mormon Boy

"Sordid Lives": Theatremania/Sordid Lives





Dear Friends:

For all the hours of free informative fun you spend reading our webzine, we hope you'll consider making your 2008 tax-deductible donation to The Island Repertory Theatre Company, our sister organization that is asking for your assistance in helping raise the money to produce their ninth fabulous season of presenting gay-themed comedies and dramas that chronicle the GLBT experience at The Tides Playhouse in Cherry Grove.

Please add your name to the following list of contributors:


The following people have made tax-deductible contributions to The Island Repertory Theatre Company in 2008 in the following categories. Please contribute what you can afford.

Founder $1,000+:

Richard Fenn

Richard LaFrance

Producer $500*:

Tony Finstrom & Jack Dezak Ron King & Justin Jones

Director $250+:

Jan Felshin & Edrie Ferdun Michael Kobos & Donald Egan
Walter B. Quetsch Charles Whipple

Dr. Anna Tirado & Ms. Henriette Von Woerkom

Patron $100+

Edwin & Neil Juan Punchin
Anonymous Jeffrey Zirpolo
Karen Durka Steven Tepper
Anonymous John Langan
James P. Hughes The House of Mae Bush
Tom Holden Roy and Barbara Flood
Bill Ottignon Virginia McInerney
Dan Nafziger John Philip
Rita & Jack Lichtenstein Bill & Tony Tholtsiniathis 
Jim Kapsalis The Cubby Hole (Fort Lauderdale)
Paul E. Elsener Ralph M. Hays & Harold Fried

Supporter $50+:

Mark Donatelli Anonymous
David J. Garfinkel Al Wolff
Lorenzo F. Pugliese Harold Seeley
Thomas McKenna Robert Michel
Ken Fabbrini Carl & Linda Eisenberg
Al Wolff James Keys
William Marino Anonymous
Tom Cunningham JKTWO LLC
Richard Daddario Gay Nathan and Julie Paradise
Edward Mallon Dan Daly
Jim Kelly Kim Guzalak & Anita Grosso

*Let us know if you prefer that your name not be listed as a contributor.

For your convenience, you can charge your tax-deductible donation in increments of $100 at PAYPAL or send a check payable to The Island Repertory Theatre Company in any amount you can afford to:

Richard Fenn, Treasurer,

Island Rep,

150 East 69th Street, #20M,

New York, NY 10021.

Island Rep is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Be sure to mark your check “tax deductible contribution.” 

You can also charge your donation to a major credit card by calling us at: 631 597-9439.

Unless you advise us otherwise, your name will be added to the list of 2008 donors that is published in every edition of ATGT as well as on the Rep website.

Does your place of employment have a matching-grant program? Donations made in this manner are also completely tax-deductible.

Our 2008 Fundraising Goal is $18,000. Please Help!

"A Fire Island Gem" – Dan Evans, F.I Tide

"The Miracle of Legitimate Theatre" – Jeanne Lieberman, Fire Island Sun


For further information, visit our website: 

Thank you,
Richard LaFrance, Artistic Director
The Island Repertory Theatre Company

OUR MISSION: The Island Repertory Theatre Company is a Cherry Grove-based not-for-profit 501(c(3) arts organization dedicated to promoting cultural exchange, social interaction and goodwill between Fire Island communities by presenting time-honored and new plays that chronicle the GLBT experience.

Board of Directors: Richard Fenn, President; Lorie Bradshaw, Peter Downes, Pierre Galarneau, Justin Jones, Ron King, Richard LaFrance, Wendy Lewis, Nicole Pressly-Wolf, Juan Punchin, Frank Santoro, Bill Todt.


All Donations Are Tax-Deductible!


 Fort Lauderdale's Butch Bar For Men


To visit our website on the net click here.



Dear residents and guests of Cherry Grove and the Pines:
As you may have heard, the SEX POLICE (US Park Rangers) recently began roaming through the bushes and paths we know as the meat rack. They arrested a few and frightened away many more.
I passionately urge all of us to protest this outrage.
I do not expect the gay men, lesbians and straight people of our shared communities to unite to protect our "right" to have sex in the woods. The issue is far larger than that.
We have fought for decades to carve out a place for ourselves where we can thrive with autonomy and self determination. The liberation of the meat rack represents one of the earliest victories for the gay rights movement. As William L Leap wrote in "Public Sex/Gay Space":
"The meat rack was free of police raids from the end of the sixties on...getting the police out of the meat rack was one of the most successful campaigns of the Mattachine Society. Even before Stonewall, lesbians and gay men had enough clout in the area to free themselves of police surveillance and arrest."
Forget about sex in the woods. The question is: Do we still have enough clout in this area to free ourselves of police surveillance and arrest?
Do you want your tax dollars spent on Sex Police arresting your neighbors?
In terms of Gay history, the meat rack is sacred land. No matter how offensive the idea of boys fiddling each other in the woods may be, the reality of sex police spying on and arresting gay men in our backyard is vastly more offensive. It is, honestly, the desecration of a sacred land.
In order to fight the federal government, we need to be resolutely united on the issue of sex police. We need to overcome our personal distaste for the issue and stand together for self determination and autonomy. If behavior in the meat rack is ever to change, let it come from within our own community and not imposed by an external authority.

We need to speak directly with the agency involved, and, as a community, decide what action is to be taken.

David Johnson
box 4096, Cherry Grove, NY 11782


Hello Richard,

I was wondering if you can give some insight to the following as you always seem to know what is going on in the Grove before anyone else :).  I had a few phone calls this morning from friends that are reading on other websites that either the Suffolk County Police or National Park Rangers have been doing raids on the meat rack on the weekends and have made at the very least 2 different arrests.  I can send you the link to this site if you would like to see it.
I would just like to have any information regarding this, such as who is actually doing the arrests and at what times the prior arrests were made.  I find it hard to believe that if this was actually the case that the police or whoever would be in the meatrack at 3am.  I would appreciate any information you have regarding this matter.
I did check your site thinking maybe you would have a blerb or blog but did not see any.
Thank you,
Kenneth Dreher

(Ken, There are many stories. Both complainant and accused should be heard. An open town meeting hosted by one of our civic organizations could get to the bottom of this and put out a press release as to its findings before mainland press have a field day. Sooner than later! That's what small towns do!)


Dear Richard/Editor

My name is Greg Kowalczuk. I used to live and work in the Grove with my partner Tom Benner. When Tom died of cancer in 1999,  I decided to sell up and return to England. 

I was most distressed when I heard of the problems you have been having with certain people and their threats to you and your newsletter, As The Grove Turns.

I am so happy you have decided to carry on with the newsletter and not let these bullies scare you off. Your newsletter provides people, (such as myself) with news and gossip about the Grove which otherwise we would not have access to.

I miss the Grove and the fantastic people I met over the years very much. It is great to get on the net and see how the Grove is evolving. One day, hopefully in the near future, I will come over for a vacation.

Keep up the good work!!

Greg Kowalczuk


Hi Richard,
I was in the Grove this afternoon and ran into several people who recognized me. I learned from one of them that you have resurrected the ATGT web site. I'm so happy for you, and more so for your readers. The site encapsulates the wonderful close knit love the GC family generates for its own. It is still IMHO the best community on the island. 
Lunch at Jumping Jacks was an experience you can find no where else. A view of the ocean, great seafood, and friendly service. I annoyed my companions by stopping to chat with Shandy and Marty the couple who host and he shucks clams and oysters and offers heart warming philosophy with a smile that can cure anything that ails you. As we took the walk back east, I realized that everyone we had spoken with was friendly, warm, and just plain happy. The homes, instead of looking as though they were striving for an icy architectural award, were personal representations of their occupants and owners. It is an approachable place, one with imagination, character and style. There were beautiful doorways, with leaded glass, and fragrant roses where I could reach up and spell them, instead of being hidden behind an opaque wall. There was sunny open sky, and every house spoke of its having pride in itself. I kept making comparisons with my home community to the east, and this one. Too late for me to move; I owned this home for three decades, love it, and couldn't bear to leave the Pantry for what they call a food store in the Grove. But that's the only reason. The rest of it - the wonderful, Grove spirit, draws me.
Once I was there when Miss Fire Island was happening at the Ice Palace. There were mobs of day tripping gawkers, cops and goons who were guarding the doors to the hotel. It was a mega turn off. I ought to have realized it was just one afternoon, and that I was wrong to have judged so quickly.
Also, today I was treated to the finest display of Drague wear I ever saw. It was to benefit the Imperial Court. I had to resist the overwhelming temptation to buy, buy, buy. There's a thing about drag. It means a different thing to every individual. To me it has a way of getting to a part of me that wants to feel liberated. I mean it's not about what I look like, or what anybody says about me, it's about me, feeling free to be as I like as long as no one is hurt.
I tried on one or a few pieces, and began to laugh. That laugh meant a release was happening. It made me THAT happy to be just experiencing the color, vibrancy, drama I felt. It didn't turn me into a woman, but it brought out that side of me who loves to wear these flamboyant rags. One thing I looked for and could not find was a kaftan. Years ago they were the mode. You never went to dinner at The Monster without proper dress, which almost always was a kaftan. They were graceful, comfortable, warm on cool island evenings, and concealed the bumps and lumps caused by living too well. Those were the years I was first becoming an Islander, where I was the fly on the wall, watching the gracious and famous enjoying their island lives. What ever happened to them?

Let me wish you a wonderful summer, and a great theater season.
Break a leg,


Dear Richard,

I was shocked ,yes, shocked to read in Rose's column that 500 pets were rescued by PAWS. I had no idea that this level of abandonment  was going on under our very noses. It implies that a very large percentage of pet owners walk away from their dogs and cats. I think that perhaps this is a Pines problem for, other than an occasional lost cat, I have not seen, even late in the season, any abandoned dogs in the Grove. I also am unaware of the" hard working volunteers who must be kept awfully busy. With this horrendous level of cruelty to animals, perhaps we should enlist the help of the mainland ASPCA. We cannot expect PAWS to cope with this dreadful epidemic.



June 21, 2008

To The Cherry Grove Community:

     To those residents who have anonymously questioned the integrity of our volunteers and our organization, feel free to contact me anytime at 597-PAWS.  In the 24 years since PAWS was established, our phone number has not changed and I can personally answer any questions you might have at any time.

    To the residents, pet lovers and volunteers who have always appreciated our rescue efforts in the Grove, we wish to sincerely thank you for your continued support over the years.

     As a founding member and treasurer of the Pines Animal Welfare Society, Inc., I hope to rectify any issues regarding our finances and the continued need to bea positive force in the community.

Thank you!


Lee C. Frey, Treasurer


Dear Friends,

Finally, after 25 years together as a couple, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to legally marry in California. We are considering making the trip to California to get married in the near future. However, the anti-gay ballot initiative that will be voted on in California in November could jeopardize our plans and the hopes and dreams of many other gay and lesbian couples\ who are married or plan to marry.

Therefore, we invite you to make a contribution to the Equality for All campaign to defend the fundamental freedom to marry in California, in lieu of sending us a wedding gift.

Please click here to visit our Wedding Registry:

Thank you,

Jim Kelly & Dan Evans


Hi Everybody,

Just a note to say hello. I am on The Azamara Quest until August 16th. I just launched my 1960's show to go with my 1950's show. My CD is done and will be available online very soon!

Dan Daly


Dear Richard,

On July 12, from Noon to 4 pm, six Cherry Grove business establishments will participate in the TRANNY 500 competition as a fundraiser for The Cherry Grove Doctor's Fund.

Ivanna Cocktail will lead the race from bar to bar and run the show. The race starts at the noon bell in front of the Pizzeria “The Piazza.”

We would like to make this an annual event and hopefully it will get bigger and better with every year. Oliver from Jumping Jacks has volunteered to film the event  and we will try to get get it on U-Tube for world wide broadcast. 

We are glad all the businesses are working together on this.  We are not trying to bring Cherry Grove back to what it use to be, but to make it better than it ever was.  Our hope is that every business tries to establish an annual event in the Grove that attracts the attention of people all over the world.

Jacque & Donna (Cherry’s on the Bay)


THE PETER PRINCIPLE   by Peter Ellison


Our president, regardless of how you feel about him, has rarely seized on opportunities throughout his life. These various and exclusive opportunities range from taking on an ivy league education (academic performance aside) to inheriting the riches and responsibilities associated with being an oil-man and all-around capitalist. The most challenging of all his opportunities was becoming the most powerful man in the free world. Like it or not, even the son of a president doesn't simply walk into the oval office and start barking orders. One must be a shrewd and careful politician, a convincing speaker and most importantly, have the ability to exercise leadership, decision-making and fortitude.
    It isn't an easy job, juggling the command of the world's most formidable military, taking responsibility for the world's largest (for now) economy and acting as the most senior representative for the citizens of the freest nation on earth. After seizing his opportunity and being elected president, George W. Bush, not surprisingly, missed the biggest opportunity of his life. Far more important than riches, power and prestige, our president had the chance to be a great leader, a great president. He had the opportunity to galvanize American citizens via sacrifice, thus moving us forward as a more confident, more united nation. Unfortunately for him, and for our country, he took the road historically less traveled and lost his way.
    Ask any historian, war usually translates to sacrifice. A common example in economics is the "Guns and Butter" analogy. Producing more guns and weapons means less resources for regular, run-of-the-mill consumer goods. After the Confederacy seceded from the Union, iron was in short supply, families were torn apart and forced to choose sides and cotton prices skyrocketed. After Pearl Harbor was attacked, Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Americans to buy war bonds, cut down on food shopping and to take up odd jobs in retro-fitted factories to produce war goods. After the most deadly attack by foreigners on American soil, President George Bush asked Americans to trust him, his colleagues and the power of spending money. Somehow, these strategies seem to differ.
    In general, people readily realize the power of sacrifice. When sacrificing time from, say, playing basketball, one then has more time for hockey. Saving my dollar today means an extra dollar tomorrow. The point is, sacrificing something seems to enhance our appreciation for that thing. When I sacrifice my usual, after-dinner dessert of candy-riddled ice cream for a month, then eating that ice cream in the future will be a special, almost euphoric experience. I will now appreciate the ice cream more intensely because of its imposed scarcity.
    To sacrifice something takes willpower, selflessness and courage. All three characteristics were abundant throughout America after 9/11. It was apparent in the footage of colorless rescue workers laboring at Ground Zero. It was apparent in the outpouring of national support for families affected by the tragedy. Blue and red states didn't seem to matter any more. South and north didn't factor into the minds of Americans crying for the souls of individuals they had never known or seen.
    That morning, I remember feeling nauseous. I couldn't speak, cry or react. I remember being more void than person. Then, anger set in. I felt as if something had to be done. I felt ready to give anything in order to help those who lost somebody. I wanted to dig in my heels and move rock and steel to find even a single person still alive under all that building. In my school more than a few teens were crying. They were grief-stricken, walking on legs of rubber because parents, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters worked in downtown Manhattan, or worse, inside the towers.
    Lately, I've considered history, weighed the recent past and compared the two side-by-side. One glaring question has since become clear to me: What have Americans really sacrificed for this costly, long and uncertain "war on terror"?
    In the months and years after 9/11, Americans were told to shop more, to shore up the economy. We were told to trust the administration and their decades of political experience. We were told to unite and remember the fallen, those who had made the ultimate sacrifice. But mostly we were told that if we sidelined our habits, if we ceased consuming, then the terrorists were the victors. Our fear, we were told, would manifest itself by avoiding airline flights, going straight home instead of taking a trip to the mall and avoiding crowded epicenters of cultural significance, such as Times Square, museums or major events. By allowing this fear into our lives we'd convey weakness, and weakness, we were told, is a losing strategy.
    Hindsight being what it is, we were clearly led to believe that not sacrificing anything at all would lead us to a brighter, safer and more rewarding tomorrow. In fact, the opposite of sacrificing was the way to be. Our leaders told us that by refusing to compromise or change our daily living standards and habits, we would overcome our enemies. We'd show them what little harm they'd done to us.
    Shame on us for believing such garbage, such nearsighted advice.
    President Bush had to do something. He had to strike at this newly engaged enemy. After such a tragedy it would have been a crime for him to stand by while thousands mourned innocents killed. While taking definitive, courageous action, striking in the heart of the middle east, Bush failed to couple his "crusade" with an important and necessary policy of sacrifice. By asking Americans to sacrifice nothing more than a portion of their tax dollars and some pocket change to buy "Support the Troops" ribbons, magnets and the like, President Bush doomed the war effort from the start.
    Without imposing a sacrifice of time, energy or material goods, Bush let Americans wander aimlessly through vast stretches of boiling nationalism. With unbridled patriotic sentiment and no clear directions from leaders on where to channel it, people languished in nationalistic fervor. We created banners, activists and hoopla, but no real power, soldiers or victories. If not changing our daily lives meant the terrorists would inevitably lose, then why were they still out there? Why was Osama bin Laden still the most wanted man in the world? Why had anti-American sentiment only become more widespread? What happened to our victim-status and international sympathy?
    Like all fervor, the patriotism eventually died. Without sacrificing anything at all, the citizenry of our country didn't have their heads in the game, so to speak. They were no longer directly connected to the conflicts thousands upon thousands of miles away. Although 9/11 was fresh in the national psyche, questions began emerging. All that energetic get-up-and-go patriotism was slowing traded in for curious what-are-we-doing-here introspection. That's when people realized they'd been duped. That's when people realized they'd followed an ineffective and incompetent administration. That's when people became pissed.
    Since Americans weren't asked to sacrifice anything, we didn't and continue not to. Because of this lack of sacrifice, people today can have their cake and eat it too. In a single breath we can criticize the wars overseas as ineffectual, poorly managed or unjustified and then criticize the failing economy and hard times, both of which are inextricably linked. The oversimplification of these complex issues happens when people are allowed to forgo feeling the ramifications of their country's actions.
    A decision to go to war should mean sacrifice. Money spent on something in the government will now have to be spent on war. This should have been made clear, this should have translated into real, palpable consequences. These consequences should have influenced our (not to mention our leader's) thinking and decision-making. If you were forced to forgo using your car for every single trip you make throughout the day because of hiked-up gasoline tariffs, then you might have realized that these wars should have been won quickly, effectively and with overwhelming force. You might have cared enough to write your representatives. If our fates and comfort levels had been tied to those of our troops and our enemies, we might have had more tolerance and empathy for these wars. We might have less to complain about. We might have even had definitive victories.




Photos by Justine La Hagela



As The Pines Turns

by Alan and Carlos (The Freedom Guys)

Boats and Yachts of all sizes

The Pines. It's everything and anything.  It's over the top but serene and peaceful.  It can be nonstop parties or a peaceful evening alone. Regardless of your choice, it does have the most pristine beaches, fine dining, fun filled night life and the most unique and diverse people in the world.  While the Grove is no doubt looking better than ever with major improvements, the Pines is also looking outstanding with an all new renovated harbor packed with seasonal and transients boats and yachts of all sizes.

The packed ferries continue to deliver fresh "crops" of men of all kinds.  The veteran
Blue Whale, home to the original Tea Dance, still packs in tons of shiftless boys for their Low Tea Dance.  Nothing like a Planters Punch to cool you down when your all heated up!

High Tea in the newly rebuilt Pavilion follows low tea while
DJ Lina holds court in Sip N Twirl for sweaty dancing and drink specials.  The new Glo lounge offers something different to do each night with an intimate setting of shows, movies and an underwear party on Friday's.  If underwear parties are not your thing and go-go boys are, Sip N Twirl is a must as their sexy renovations make it the place for hot dancing and partying.  If your body is still standing and looking for even more, the Pavilion will keep you charged until the first ferry arrives!  (Photo above right: When you're all heated up.)

The Pines dining scene also brings many options. 
PJ & Patrick's Pines Bistro & Martini Bar continues to deliver the very best of fine dining.  Their intimate space offers outstanding cuisine and professional service and is served nightly while the Blue Whale Restaurant offers Al fresco dining overlooking the harbor for a romantic evening.  If you're looking for a quick bite (in between tricks) you can hit the Pines Pizza, Bay Bar Cafe, the Fresh Market or some of Annie's awesome food at the Marina Meat Market inside The Pantry

Some dates that you should mark on your calendar:  June 27th:
Candis Cayne in the Blue Whale, June 28th: (our) Porsche at Glo, June29th: awesome Max Rodriguez at low tea and every weekend: DJ Lina at Sip N Twirl!  Many of us will be heading to the Grove for the opening of the Island Repertory Theatre Company starting on July 2nd.  Please support the Island Rep's 2008 summer season in their 9th year!  This season is looking to be their best year ever!  The Pines Party Circus 2008 Under the Big Top is set for July 26th and Ascension is on for August 17th.  It's going to be a VERY hot summer!!

Lastly, don't forget to mark your calendars for the annual
Invasion of the Pines on July 4th.  Hundreds of Drag Queens, thousands of day trippers and a packed harbor of decorated boats are expected to deliver one of the seasons highlights. (Photo above left.)

See everyone around!
Alan & Carlos (the Freedom Guys)



Hunky Rob


The Monster website


Fire Island Follies



Sex and the Island


About the author: Lloyd is 25 years old and has a BA degree in Psychology from Stony Brook University. He is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Social Work at Fordham University. He currently works for a printing/graphics design company as a production coordinator. He loves volleyball, badminton, bowling, movies, books, writing, biking, hiking, the beach, and hanging out with his friends. He is currently single. He currently resides in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY. Prior to that, he lived in Huntington, Long Island for 6 years.

For comments or questions, please email him at


For more information click here



Packed with 13 breathtaking natural scenes of Fire Island Men on pristine beaches and forests of Fire Island. The images are from Emmy award winning film maker Tom Castle's upcoming photography book licensed exclusively for this project. All models are Pines/Grove residents or visitors over 18 years old who volunteered to be photographed ‘as is’ in clothing optional areas of the beach and forest.






Jan Felshin, left, and Edrie Ferdun, retired professors who live on Fire Island in New York, have been together 49 years. They plan a wedding in Los Angeles. Photo: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO, June 14, 2008 — The groom was shopping for the perfect diamond for his betrothed — the other groom. As Rey Almeida, a 47-year-old elementary school principal, perused the Equality Forever rings (a same-sex wedding special at 40 percent off if purchased from June 16 to June 26), he couldn’t help reflecting on the symbolism.  

“We’ve been waiting for the right moment,” Mr. Almeida, 47, said of marrying his partner, Alan Pex, a 46-year-old accountant who was initially as standoffish as Mr. Big on “Sex in the City.” “Now there’s the possibility of a ring, a ring that says, I want to marry you and spend the rest of my life with you.’ ”

California is gearing up for the “new summer of love,” as it is being dubbed here: the legalization of same-sex marriage beginning at 5:01 p.m. Monday.

Unlike in Massachusetts, California’s new law does not limit marriages to residents of the state, thus resurrecting old postcard images of California as the promised land. But instead of Edenic orange groves, the new arrivals will be greeted with organic framboise ganaches, Russian River honeymoon canoe trips and Gay Palm Springs hotel packages with rose petals, Champagne, two souvenir pillows embroidered with the couples’ first names and aromatherapy candles at room check-in.

Faced with a wilted economy, water shortages and sticker shock at the gasoline pump, many California businesses are welcoming “the dinks” (double income, no kids) with open arms. “It’s basically a godsend,” said Daniel Doiron, the general manager of the Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs, which is offering honeymoon specials from $479 bargain basement (boutonnieres, 15-minute wedding, 20 guests) to the “Elizabeth Taylor” at $29,999 (poolside villas, wedding cake and reception, ice sculptures, flowers, sit-down dinner for 200 and three nights in the honeymoon suite). “We’re just blessed to help.” Ten couples from New York, Las Vegas and Phoenix have signed up for the options.

According to Community Marketing Inc., a gay and lesbian market research firm here, four of the top 10 gay travel destinations are in California, with gay men and lesbians spending $64 billion a year on domestic leisure travel. The potential windfall of same-sex marriage was underscored this week in a study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, which estimated that over three years, same-sex nuptials would contribute $684 million to the state’s wedding industry and $64 million to the state budget.

The study also predicted that half of California’s 102,639 gay couples would marry over the next three years, as would 68,000 from out of state (including 12,000 from New York).

Among them are Jeffrey Dreiblatt, 47, a Web designer, and Willie Walker, 44, a legal assistant, from Brooklyn, who fell in love in the Borough Hall subway station 15 years ago while standing in line to buy tokens. They plan to honeymoon at an inn in Sonoma County after marrying in San Francisco on Aug. 8.

“When I was younger, I didn’t understand the point of getting married and replicating heterosexual life,” said Mr. Dreiblatt. “But over the years, my thinking has changed. The law in California and the implications for New York spoke to us and said, ‘now is the time.’ ”

Many gay men and lesbians are taking a wait-and-see attitude, said the Rev. Blane Ellsworth, an independent nondenominational minister in Napa who also has a Web site, Enchanting Elopements, listing equality-sensitive businesses. There is still the memory of the euphoria, and letdown, in 2004, when nearly 4,000 same-sex couples stood in line to marry in San Francisco, only to have the marriages nullified by the state five months later.

Mr. Ellsworth said those he has dealt with “are pretty smart business people.”

“They’re saying if they’re going to invest in a nice service and wedding, ‘I’m going to wait until it’s a sure thing,’ ” he said.

“We’re hoping our rights don’t get taken away again,” said Megan Marteny, 23, who was sipping Champagne one recent night with her partner at a wedding expo held by the Golden Gate Business Association, a gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender chamber of commerce.

In contrast to the experience in 2004, which had a spontaneous, storm-the-castle, free-tickets-to-the-Grateful-Dead quality, with hundreds of couples standing in line in the rain overnight, there is a palpable sense of impending permanence this time.

Ed Schultz, a social worker who became domestic partner to Steve Berlin last year, plans to go to City Hall on July 10. “Marriage has a certain dignity,” Mr. Schultz said. “When I go to work and say, ‘I’m domestically partnered,’ that’s something different than saying, ‘I’m married.’ ”

James H. Bainton, left, Jeffrey Rueda, right, with the Rev. Blane Ellsworth during a recent wedding planning session.

Charlotte Fiorito, a wedding photographer who specializes in same-sex unions, says she did “the 2004 crush in our rain ponchos. Now, a lot of people are planning the kind of weddings they have been waiting their whole lives for.”

Among them are James H. Bainton and Jeffrey Rueda, both 40 and doctors, who were about to send out letterpress invitations to their commitment ceremony at a Napa Valley vineyard when the Supreme Court ruled last month that gay men and lesbians had a constitutional right to marry. The invitation to their “commitment ceremony” was quickly changed to “wedding.”

“We’re still in the shaping mode,” Mr. Bainton said of the nuptials, with 100 guests, to take place beside a pond in fields of sage and lavender at the height of August tomato season. “This increases the meaning of it. It feels like we’re sitting here making history.”

While not quite a gold rush, businesses like Enchanted Elopements and are popping up.

And across the state, there is a sense of the birth of new rituals. Steve Pougnet, the openly gay mayor of Palm Springs, plans to hold a citywide “marriage festival” on June 21, having been deputized two weeks ago by the county clerk. He has two dozen weddings lined up and is planning his own in the fall. Jan Felshin, 76, and Edrie Ferdun, 71, retired professors who live on Fire Island in New York, have been together 49 years. At their wedding in Mandeville Canyon, in Los Angeles, they will be joined by four other lesbian couples.

Not surprising, along with new rituals have come new etiquette questions. Couples whose marriages were nullified in 2004, like Joyce Feltham and Dorian Leslie Duren of Palo Alto, are wondering how to handle their “encore” wedding, a new breed here as couples embark on their second or third public pledge to the same person. “How do we tell people who brought gifts the first time not to feel obligated to bring another one?” Ms. Duren asked.

Peggy Post, the etiquette expert and author, who is based in Vermont, said the legalization of same-sex weddings, if it held, was bound to bring about changes in the ritual, the same way, she said, that brides now walk down the aisle with stepfathers, not just their fathers, and that a white dress has come to signify “the color of joy,” not just virginity.

So it will be too, when same-sex couples are pronounced “spouses for life.”

Armistead Maupin, one of the city’s most famous authors, became married in Vancouver, British Columbia, last year to his partner, Christopher Turner, and will probably marry him again in California, he said.

“Straight people have grown up thinking they’re entitled to a fairy-tale wedding,” Mr. Maupin said. “One of our great advantages as gay people is that we’ve been forced to forge relationships without that fantasy. In doing so, we’ve figured out what’s at the core.”

He continued, “Our relationships supported us during the AIDS epidemic. We know what it means to have another person stand by you.”


By PAM BELLUCK, The New York

"I can't say that anything has changed for us personally," said David Eppley, who married Chad Garner in 2004. What has changed for gay couples is that marriage is part of the dating landscape, adding tension or romance, pressure or excitement.

"It makes me completely think differently about the relationship," said Lance Collins, 38, a colorist at a Boston hair salon. He envisions his perfect wedding (grooms in jeans and T-shirts), but his partner does not want to marry. "I know he cares about me quite a bit," Mr. Collins said. "I just think he doesn't want to."

Mr. Collins believes his partner is his ideal match because he "gets as excited about seeing me as I get about seeing him," because "sometimes he'll do my laundry and fold it the way I like it," and because "he makes my coffee really well — one Equal with just a tablespoon of fat-free half-and-half."

But their marriage chasm worries him. "Maybe I should move out and maybe that will make him appreciate me," Mr. Collins said. "I've gone so far as looking for an apartment."

While many couples want conventional marriages, some are drawing on a creative definition of family forged while living "outside mainstream society," said Joyce Kauffman, a family lawyer and gay activist. "They've incorporated whatever's outside the box into their marriage."

Eric Erbelding and his husband, Michael Peck, both 44, see each other only every other weekend because Mr. Peck works in Pittsburgh. So, Mr. Erbelding said, "Our rule is you can play around because, you know, you have to be practical."

Mr. Erbelding, a decorative painter in Boston, said: "I think men view sex very differently than women. Men are pigs, they know that each other are pigs, so they can operate accordingly. It doesn't mean anything."

Still, Mr. Erbelding said, most married gay couples he knows are "for the most part monogamous, but for maybe a casual three-way."

Some same-sex spouses have split up, including Julie and Hillary Goodridge, the lead plaintiffs in the case that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the state.

"Lesbian and gay couples get divorced for the same reasons that heterosexual couples do," Ms. Kauffman said. "Honestly the only thing that is different is that some people rushed to get married without thinking it through just because they could. It was an incredibly heady historical moment, and some people probably made the decision hastily."

Rick Bettencourt, 41, married his partner of 12 years in July 2005, but by September they had broken up, and his partner is now married to another man, he said.

"I knew there was an issue with us prior to the marriage," Mr. Bettencourt said, "but we thought maybe this is the thing that will help us stay together. Stupid, obviously. It was almost like I needed the marriage in order to consummate the relationship in order to break it up."

Amy Bullock married in 2004 after her partner of nine years said "we've got to quick do it because maybe they'll reverse" the law, Ms. Bullock recalled. They had a child and were considering having another. But five months after the wedding, "she decides she is straight," Ms. Bullock said.

"Maybe being married triggered those feelings," she said. "I didn't see it coming."

Chris Burgess, pregnant when she wed her partner in June 2004, severed the marriage in 2006 when past problems resurfaced, she said. Divorce was more complicated than "in most of our relationships, where you say. 'O.K., you get these CDs,' " Ms. Burgess said. Her partner needed to adopt their son before divorcing to retain parental rights.

Now, Ms. Burgess lives with another woman and they wear rings and want children, but she says she will not marry unless federal recognition makes it economically irresistible.

"I'm kind of fine with the 'Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie, all right we're committed, we don't need to get married,' " she said.

Ms. Bullock, who is dating another woman, is buying a duplex with her former wife so both can see their son daily. She is wary of remarrying in general, though she says marriage may have made separation more equitable.

Mr. Bettencourt and his current partner, Chris Weaver, just bought a house, but he played down a ring he gave Mr. Weaver for Valentine's Day, telling him, he says, "I don't want you to get concerned that I'm pushing marriage or anything."

Some couples, including longtime partners and those with children, have rejected marriage for economic, philosophical or cultural reasons.

"I just don't really see the point in it," said Michelle Smith, 51, of Truro, who has two children with Terri Humes, 51, her partner of 27 years. "I don't need that paper for any type of validation. I know what her and I have."

Ms. Kauffman considers marriage a "patriarchal institution" that "politically, kind of makes me queasy."

To Clint Wolbert, 28, marriage is too "assimilative." Being gay is like belonging to an "exclusive club," Mr. Wolbert said. "I just worry that the drive to marry will end up kind of chipping away at the culture."

Some couples are advised not to marry for financial reasons or if they want to adopt children from foreign countries, most of which would not place children with a same-sex married couple.

Bill Brandon, a doctor who will soon marry Tedd Elison, waited several years because Mr. Elison's job as a disc jockey seemed too unstable until he also began running a hair salon. "I wasn't going to go through this unless he was — I don't want to say having a real job, but more of a profession," Dr. Brandon said.

Same-sex married couples report widespread acceptance in Massachusetts, but not necessarily out of state. At a Disney World hotel, "I got the third degree — who is Heather, is she your sister?" Adrienne Walker said.

An Atlanta pharmacy argued when Mr. Boney, filling a prescription, said that as a husband, he was covered by Mr. Venter's insurance.

The Bailey-Davieses are so nervous about being separated if one gets sick that they rejected spending the winter in Florida. "I don't feel safe," Linda said. "I'd rather freeze my butt off and be with my honey."

Jodi Sperber, who moved with her wife, Pippa Shulman, to New Hampshire, said a handyman there "could not bring himself to talk about Pippa as anything other than my associate." But over all, Ms. Sperber said, their religion probably draws "stranger questions: 'Why don't you have a Christmas tree? Is it the Jewish thing?' "

Many couples said marriage had made relatives more comfortable with their relationships. Mr. Boney, who is black, was surprised that his "very conservative, very Bible Belt" family in North Carolina welcomed Mr. Venter, a white South African, so warmly. And when his nieces and nephews say "Uncle Jacob," he said, it "almost brings a tear to my eye; and honey, it takes a lot to bring a tear to my eye."

Mr. Boney and Mr. Venter remain committed to marriage despite their conflicts.

"It's a hard commitment to make," Mr. Venter said. But they try to settle their disagreements. "I'm more willing to figure it out," he said. "In the past I might have just ended the relationship."


June 11 -- The face of the gay community worldwide may be changing, according to a University researcher's recently released study.

Epidemiology professor Simon Rosser said he learned that "while the gay population is stable or increasing," in all but the world's largest cities, "the size of the physical gay community appears to be contracting."

This means the number of gay bars, clubs and bookstores appears to be thinning or becoming more mainstream.

Rosser credits it to a changing culture.

"What we think is happening is that, in the '60s, '70s, '80s, gay men came together out of a sense of oppression, a desire to meet similar others," he said. "Now, some of the reasons that brought them together are very different."

Rosser cited the Internet as a possible reason for the change in the community.

"There comes an economic tipping point where the bars and clubs are all reporting they're somewhat quieter than before the rise of the Internet," he said.

The study, released June 9, looked at 17 cities worldwide. The effects can be seen in the Twin Cites as well.

After 38 years, Amazon Bookstore , an independent Minneapolis bookstore with a collection of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual books, will be closing its doors at the end of June.

Deb Patchell , an employee at Amazon, said the younger generation hasn't bought into the nature of the bookstore as much as older generations.

"Their lifestyle is different than my generation," she said. "They're not as used to going to a bookstore. They're more online."

Still, the loss of the book store will hurt the GLBT community, she said.

"We're more than just a bookstore," she said. "We've been a community support for the whole gamut of the GLBT community."

Rosser said losing GLBT locales will affect activism, like AIDS prevention groups.

"In the past, to reach the gay community, AIDS organizations and researchers would go into the bars," he said. "Now, if most of the community isn't meeting in those bars, we're going to have to discover a way of connecting with the community and raising awareness."

Nico Cruz , a co-chair for the Queer Student Cultural Center , said bars aren't as appealing as other areas, such as school, to interact within the GLBT community.

Still, Cruz said the GLBT community isn't diminishing.

"I don't think (group members) really think they're diminishing," Cruz said. "Maybe it changes over time."

Meanwhile, a study announced in late May by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has found that reported violence against the GLBT community increased 135 percent in Minnesota in 2007.

Rebecca Waggoner Kloek , anti-violence program manager of OutFront Minnesota, a GLBT activism group, said this could be credited to the greater presence of GLBT individuals in the mainstream community, even as niche communities diminish.

"The GLBT community is no longer regulated to, forgive the pun, 'the closet,' " she said. "I think that the violence is going to happen no matter where the GLBT community is."

Rosser said while his research shows a more mainstream GLBT community, "social homophobia is like any other prejudice."



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