Today is my last day in Provincetown. I fly home tomorrow afternoon. What’s been fantastic about this trip is that I’m here with my friend Ralph, and we can explore the town together. We’ve also gotten together with Wayne and his partner Ken who live in the area. Ralph and I met at a men’s workshop two years ago, and then we met Wayne at a men’s workshop last year. Wayne and I stayed in touch after the workshop and moved out of the home with my wife the week after the Men’s workshop, Wayne would drop me notes throughout the Fall to see how I was doing. I really appreciated his friendship and support.
As I’ve gotten a taste of Provincetown, it feels like the tone of this town is continually shifting. This Sunday (tomorrow) begins Bear Week. As the week has progressed, the town has filled up with bear men, bear couples, and bear groupings. Somehow it makes for a warmer, friendlier place.
By day the town is flooded with tourists from the lower part of Cape Cod. Families with children and straight couples fill Commercial Street. While LGBT people are ever-present on the street, the day time scene is mostly straight tourists out for a day trip.
Early morning as I go to get coffee before the day-trippers show up, the streets seem to be mostly filled with gay men and lesbians. The line for coffee and cake in the coffee shop as I sit and write is one mainly of gay men, some with their dogs, a few lesbian couples, and the occasional straight couple. The men in Ptown are primarily older. By older, I mean 30s+. I don’t know if it’s the high cost of staying here or the shifting interests of younger gay men that skews the town to older gay men and women. And in the evenings, when the day-trippers go home, increasingly the streets become gayer again, except for Saturday night, which has a wild party atmosphere.
One of the more moving moments of this trip was seeing newlywed gay couples driven down Commercial Street on bicycle driven carriages. The first day we saw two gay male couples, dressed elegantly, driven down the street to cheers and applause from people on the sidewalk. The second day two lesbian women, one dressed in a male suit and tie and the other in a lovely dress, were driven in the bicycle driven carriage trailing a string of cans as passerby’s cheered.
I envisioned this trip as a taste of Provincetown. I wanted to do a bit of everything and get a feel for the town, and we have. I’ve climbed the Pilgrim Monument, which has beautiful views of the town.
The first night Ralph and I went out to a few of the bars. We went to the Wave Video Bar, part of The Crown and Anchor building. It had video screens around the room and was playing mostly broadway or film music. When we walked into the Wave Bar they were playing a funny version of the song from the play Grease, Greased Lightning with a bunch of Swedish Marines in Afghanistan doing a great parody of the song, which I later found on YouTube.
We then went to the Atlantic House Dance Club (A-House), one of Ptown’s oldest dance clubs. It was a lot of fun, and Ralph and I danced for a while until I ran out of steam, then went on the back deck area and talked for a while. It was past midnight at this point, and my body was starting to feel very old and tired, and we went back to the Inn and bed.
The second night we went to the Tea Dance at the Boatslip resort with Wayne and Ken. We hung out on this enormous porch for a very long time, but when ‘It’s Raining Men’ began to play Wayne and I both said ‘Let’s dance.’ It’s a small dance floor packed mostly with gay men and few lesbians. Bodies are hot, sweaty, and close together as we moved to the disco beat. After, ‘It’s Raining Men,’ we danced to two or three other great old disco songs. Then The Village People’s ‘YMCA’ came on. I flashed dancing to YMCA at the Ice Palace on Fire Island in 1978 with Ron, and I thought how wild is that, dancing to the same song you did 36 years ago and still loving it.
Somehow the gay world is small enough that you run into people you know. At the Tea Dance, I saw a man I know from GAMMA meetings in Washington, DC, who was here with the man whose home he rents a room. We also ran into a guy that Wayne, Ralph, and I did a workshop with last year, and the man he was with was someone Ralph knew from his work in NYC.
We walked commercial street more times than I want to remember, Rented bikes and rode the National Seashore Bike Trails along a magnificent undeveloped area of dunes, low pine trees, forests, and ocean. Last night we went to a gallery opening at the Berta Walker Gallery and saw some magnificent artwork. Then we walked down Commercial Street and stopped in various galleries and the excellent Provincetown Art Museum. PAAM currently has a show titled The Tradition of the Provincetown Print. I particularly loved the white-line woodblock prints from the artist, Kathryn Lee Smith.
Last night we walked down Commercial street, the moon was full, and the evening seems magical.
Today’s plan was to get massages then head off to the beach. After a fantastic massage, Ralph and I walked through town to Herring Cove Beach. To get to the gay section of the beach, we entered a trail where bikes were parked along a wooden fence. There are no signs. We hiked over dunes and tide pools that led to the beach. I put my sneakers and shorts in plastic bags and walked through pools of water up to my bathing suit. It was probably a mile to reach the beach.
The beach is pristine, narrow, and goes for as far as one can see in both directions. The area we were in was not crowded, and as one looked left and right down the beach, we saw men sitting individually or in small groups. It was lovely. We ate lunch, then took a long walk along the beach and went swimming a few times. We stayed a few hours before heading back to the hotel.
Then a nap, the last dinner, and more wandering on Commercial Street. We stopped at a few Bear events. Danced a bit and got back to the hotel around midnight and quickly crashed.