Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (2022)

Fire Island is only about 60 miles away from New York City, but it feels much, much farther. Maybe it’s the cumulative effect of the various modes of transportation I have to take to reach the (mostly) car-free island, including three subway stops, two different Long Island Railroad trains, one shuttle bus, and finally, a ferry. But I think it’s more than physical distance at play here—in fact, when I step onto the dock into Cherry Grove, a small community located in the center of the 31-mile-long island, I am most surprised by what I don’t feel: out of place.

Door-to-dock, my trip to Fire Island takes less than three hours, but in some ways my journey feels much longer. It took about 20 years from the time I realized that I preferred women to this Sunday afternoon in late August, when my first-ever serious girlfriend meets me at the ferry, grabs my heavy bags, and welcomes me to paradise.

Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (1)

Since at least the 1940s, two Fire Island hamlets—Cherry Grove and The Pines—have been known as safe havens for the LGBTQ community. Visitors are welcomed to the island by two enormous flags flapping fiercely in the breeze: a rainbow pride flag, and the U.S. flag, both of equal importance here. The island is also home to New York state’s only federally-managed stretch of wilderness, which includes protected beaches, dunes, and maritime forests.

Island refuge

Fire Island is a barrier island, both physically and metaphorically. The landmass, which is an average of 3.9 miles off the south shore of Long Island, protects the coastline from storms; its inhabitants come seeking refuge from a world that is at best tolerant, and at worst downright dangerous.

Even in New York City—home to the Stonewall National Monument and host of this year’s World Pride Celebration—identifying as part of the LGBTQ community comes with real risk. Despite a decrease in crime overall, hate crimes based on sexual orientation increased by 45 percent in 2019, according to the NYPD.

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  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (2)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (3)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (4)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (5)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (6)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (7)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (8)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (9)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (10)

The first house was built in Cherry Grove in 1795, but it wasn’t until a hurricane wiped out most of the island in 1938 that it was reborn as a queer destination. Still reeling from the Great Depression and desperate to fill their rental properties, landlords couldn’t afford to discriminate.

“By the nature of its isolation and beauty, it became a safe haven for gay people, where they could not be afraid of repercussions from work, or anger from their families about being gay,” Thom “Panzi” Hansen, president of the Cherry Grove Arts Project, told the Huffington Post.

While there have been great strides in acceptance and notable legal victories for the LGBTQ rights movement, Cherry Grove still feels utopian. People of all genders, races, sizes, and ages pass each other with waves and friendly greetings; they come to the island to slow down, lower their guards, and relax by the shore or the pool. Every body is a beach body here and something as simple as holding my girlfriend’s hand no longer feels revolutionary. No place is perfect, but on a hazy, late summer day, Cherry Grove gets pretty close.

Beaches and boardwalks

Tame, white-tailed deer far outnumber the year-round residents (about 15), but in the summer the population of Cherry Grove swells to 2,000. The town has 250 homes, connected by a series of narrow pedestrian boardwalks, and two miles of beaches along its Atlantic Coast (the Great South Bay separates Fire Island from the mainland).

Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (13)

The houses have cheeky names—”Beau-He-Men Rhapsody,” “A Whole New World,” “Boys in the Attic,” to name a few—and 26 of the properties are on the waterfront. Most of the buildings are small, cedar-shingle cottages, but there are a few larger hotels and restaurants; the Belvedere Guest House for Men is a gleaming white Venetian-style palace, whose elaborate towers, domes, and fountains are visible for miles.

In New York City I rely on public transportation, but I never realized how intrusive and isolating car traffic can be until I set foot on the car-free island (the western tip, including Robert Moses State Park, is the only part of the island accessible to cars by a bridge). The boardwalks—edged in white paint to help with visibility—are impeccably maintained and wide enough only for the occasional golf cart.

  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (14)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (15)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (16)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (17)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (18)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (19)

The Sunken Forest, a maritime holly forest located just west of Cherry Grove, is “ranked as ‘globally rare,’ meaning there are few remaining occurrences of this assemblage of plants throughout the world,” according to the National Park Service (NPS). Although we nearly get stripped to the bone by mosquitoes and biting flies, the walk through the dunes and into the deeply shaded forest—so close to the ocean you can hear the waves— is serene and otherworldly.

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The Meat Rack

Despite its reputation as a queer haven—or perhaps because of it—police raids of the island were once common. Just after midnight on August 25, 1968, plainclothes officers from the Suffolk County Police Department descended upon a desolate stretch of dunes between Cherry Grove and The Pines, a popular hook-up spot known as the “Meat Rack.” Twenty-seven men were arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of consensual sodomy.

The men were all advised to plead not guilty by defense attorney Benny Vuturo. All of the cases went to trial and one by one, the men were acquitted. It wasn’t until 1981 that consensual gay sex was decriminalized in New York state—and it remained illegal in some states until 2003—but the Fire Island cases were landmark victories in the gay rights movement almost a full year before the famous Stonewall Inn riots.

  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (20)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (21)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (22)
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  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (24)
  • Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (25)

Changing attitudes and technology have made the Meat Rack more of a novelty than a necessity today; we have the dunes completely to ourselves when we walk between the two communities on a Tuesday afternoon. Many of the people who frequented the area in their youth have requested to have their ashes scattered among the dunes, and it’s not hard to see why. According to the NPS, “salt spray-tolerant, sandy-soil grasses and succulents thrive nearest the edge of the sea.”

Stay as long as you want

If Cherry Grove is scrappy, The Pines is sparkling—full of ultra-sleek, modern houses separated from one another by water features and impenetrable gates. In 1976, a man in drag was refused service at a bar in The Pines; every year since, on July 4, a ferry filled with drag queens makes the same journey in what has become known as the Invasion of the Pines.

Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (26)
Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (27)
(Video) The Hurricane of 1938

The sky looks ominous as Drag Bingo begins one night on the deck of the Ice Palace, a Fire Island nightclub since the ‘50s. “We sing our O’s here,” host Ariel Sinclair says (O-69 is a crowd favorite). When rain finally begins to fall, the crowd is calm in the face of adversity. We gather our boards, chairs, tables, and drinks, seeking shelter beneath the club’s vaulted wooden ceiling.

The next morning, as we’re admiring his outdoor installation “Things You Sit On,” the artist, Martin Michael Fitzgerald III, walks past us. He’s shirtless, deeply tanned, and his sneakers are as paint-splattered as his creations—which include kitchen chairs and armchairs alongside a toilet and various sex toys. “Take all the photos you want,” he says, shaking my hand. “Stay as long as you want.”

Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s (28)

I came to stay with a handful of friends, but by the time I leave four days later I feel as if I could walk into most of the houses within the 41 acres of Cherry Grove and be welcomed with open arms (and most likely offered a drink). It’s easy to see why scores of people have taken Fitzgerald’s advice literally; when the time comes to take the ferry back to the real world filled with responsibilities, car exhaust, and fear of discrimination, I hesitate, if only for a moment. My life is back in New York City, but I leave a piece of my heart in Cherry Grove.

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If you go

There are several ferries that connect Long Island with Fire Island. Ferries from Sayville, New York go directly to Cherry Grove or The Pines and run most frequently in the summer and on weekends.

FAQs

What is Fire Island known for? ›

Fire Island: The Car-Free Paradise

The 32-mile long island is known for its pristine beaches and relaxing beachside ambiance.

What is the history of Fire Island? ›

Fire Island Beach appeared on charts in the 1850s, and folklore suggests the name arose from land-based pirates, or “wreckers,” who built beach fires at night to lure cargo ships onto shore. Some say poison ivy gave Fire Island its name, either for its red leaves in autumn or its fiery itch.

What is Cherry Grove famous for? ›

Cherry Grove, along with nearby Fire Island Pines, is considered one of the most popular lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)-accepting resort communities in the United States.

Is there really a Fire Island? ›

Fire Island is the large center island of the outer barrier islands parallel to the South Shore of Long Island, in the U.S. state of New York.

Does anyone live on Fire Island? ›

Yes. While the vast majority of homeowners are summer residents only, there is a growing year round community on Fire Island.

Can you sleep on the beach in Fire Island? ›

First up, here's the rule for going to Fire Island without a place to stay: if you're comfortable sleeping on the beach as a last resort, then everything will be OK, but you shouldn't have to.

Is Fire Island The Hamptons? ›

Fire Island may be just a half-hour by ferry from Long Island – but it's oceans away from the Hamptons in spirit.

Are there cars on Fire Island? ›

Is it true that there are no cars allowed on the island? There are no paved roads on Fire Island, and only service and emergency vehicles are allowed on the island. Free of cars, traffic, pollution, and noise, Fire Island offers a peaceful getaway, unlike any other vacation destination.

What happened to the Cherry Grove Pier? ›

CHERRY GROVE, SC (WBTW) – A section of Sea Cabin Pier was destroyed as Isaias moved along the South Carolina coast on Monday. According to Pat Dowling, a spokesperson for North Myrtle Beach, a portion of the middle section of the pier is missing after the storm moved through.

Why is Cherry Grove called Cherry Grove? ›

The popular Cherry Grove neighborhood of North Myrtle Beach was developed in the 1950s and named for Cherry Grove Plantation, which occupied this area as early as 1735. The plantation was named for the native cherry trees (Prunus serotina) that proliferated the area.

Is Cherry Grove a nice beach? ›

Not only was Cherry Grove named Best Beach in South Carolina for the second year in a row, but now is also recognized as being one of the best beaches in the United States.

What do gays do on Fire Island? ›

Fire Island Gay Scene

There are two main areas for the gay scene on Fire Island. The first is Fire Island Pines, which is extremely popular with the boys. Fire Island Pines' gay scene is about 90% gay professionals. Many have timeshares during the summer and a few select own beautiful homes that dot the coastline.

Why is Fire Island Rated R? ›

Fire Island Age Rating is R for strong sexual content, language throughout, drug use, and some nudity).

How do you get around Fire Island? ›

There are no paved public roads within Fire Island National Seashore. Upon arrival, you may explore the park on foot or transfer to other park sites via water taxis. Fire Island Water Taxi is authorized to provide lateral ferry service between the Fire Island communities and other destination points on Fire Island.

How much does it cost to build a house on Fire Island? ›

Ma Modular Fire Island Cost

The all-in cost for Ma Modular's Fire Island starts at $632,500, which includes all construction, site work, and delivery costs in Texas.

Is a Fire Island house a good investment? ›

Given the potentially high rental income and comparatively low purchasing cost, Fire Island holds strong investment potential. After all, many island owners are able to cover their annual mortgage and tax payments by renting out their homes for just part of the summer.

Can you bring alcohol to Fire Island? ›

The National Park Service does not prohibit the use or possession of alcoholic beverages in public areas within Fire Island National Seashore. However, where the Seashore boundaries overlap with town boundaries, town ordinances may be enforced by other agencies.

Does Fire Island have bathrooms? ›

In addition to the state parks at either end of the island, public bathrooms and snack bars are in the National Seashore facilities at Atlantique, Sailor's Haven, and Watch Hill.

Can you stay overnight on Fire Island? ›

Accommodations fill quickly on Fire Island and only a few towns offer hotel and inn options. The accommodations are charming but don't expect a plethora of planned activities or five-star ratings. This secluded island is all about defining your own fun at the beach.

Is Fire Island Cash only? ›

The only downside is that the bar is cash only (like most things on Fire Island). So, be sure to bring plenty of cash if you plan on getting drinks at the bar.

Is the party over on Fire Island? ›

Indeed, the party on this barrier island, with its fabled history as a hotbed of desire and dissipation, looks to be over this summer. The restaurants are closed for dining. The Pavilion dance club, where throngs of shirtless men would gyrate till dawn every weekend, is on hiatus.

Do families go to Fire Island? ›

With over 32 miles of gorgeous white sand beaches, very few cars, friendly locals, a national forest, and stunning sunsets, Fire Island has all the makings for a fantastic family getaway from the hustle of the city.

Can you rent golf carts on Fire Island? ›

An easier way to get to the island's best bits is to walk, though it can be fun to take the water taxi too. These call at most of the Fire Island towns about once hourly on weekends for much of the year, switching to a daily service between June and September. Golf cart rentals are available in larger communities.

Can you walk around Fire Island? ›

You can walk to the areas of fire island where you can't drive. If you park at Field 5, the one closest to the lighthouse, you can actually walk past the lighthouse to Kismet, Soltaire and other Fire Island beaches/villages. Keep in mind though, it's a long walk and it's also an interesting view along the way.

Can you walk all of Fire Island? ›

Discover this 21.1-mile out-and-back trail near Bay Shore, New York. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 6 h 11 min to complete. This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and running, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day.

How much does it cost to go to Fire Island? ›

If you're staying on Fire Island, a one-way ticket is $11 for adults, $6 for kids, and $10 for seniors and active or veteran military. If you're only spending the day there then you'll want a round-trip ticket, which is $21 for adults and $11 for kids.

Does it cost to walk on Cherry Grove Pier? ›

Cherry Grove Beach Pier, 3500 N. Ocean Blvd., North Myrtle Beach. Daily. Prices: $1.00 a person to walk.

Is Cherry Grove Beach crowded? ›

With 7,600 cities being compared, coming in at seven is impressive. In the TripAdvisor.com survey, Cherry Grove Beach was ranked as “most likely to not be crowded, best chances of free parking, more shells, lots of beach showers, toilet access, and the same great ocean as Myrtle Beach.” You can read more here.

Who owns the Cherry Grove Pier? ›

The Cherry Grove Pier was built early in the 1950's and has been owned by the Prince family since 1965. It has weathered many a hurricane, and was remodeled and lengthened in 1999 after a visit from hurricane Floyd.

Which is nicer Myrtle Beach or North Myrtle Beach? ›

A few blocks up is North Myrtle Beach, which is quieter and less commercial. With oceanfront homes and peaceful, clean beaches, this area is ideal for a relaxing, intimate retreat. North Myrtle Beach offers similar attractions, including water sports, golf, and mini golf.

Is North Myrtle Beach a good place to retire? ›

Ranked #11 by US News on The Best Places to Retire, Myrtle Beach is in an ideal coastal location. Additionally, the low cost of living, tax benefits, small city charm, agreeable weather and abundance of activities, including championship golf courses are a major draw for those looking to settle here in retirement.

Where are shark teeth in North Myrtle Beach? ›

Where is the best place in North Myrtle Beach to hunt for shark's teeth? The entire Grand Strand is well-known for hunting and finding shark's teeth. In North Myrtle Beach specifically, we recommend the Cherry Grove Beach area near the Inlet Pointe Villas.

Does Cherry Grove have a boardwalk? ›

Guests can walk right out into the Atlantic Ocean or look out from their balconies at the activities on the boardwalk.

Is North Myrtle Beach busy? ›

Overall, Myrtle Beach is more crowded and louder than North Myrtle Beach, though you might not notice it during the busy summer season when roads are crowded with vacationers from around the world. About 10 miles north of the Grand Strand is North Myrtle Beach, a separate city in itself.

Can you drive on the beach at Cherry Grove? ›

Only driven on secondary roadways – smaller beach roads, Ocean Drive are allowed. Do not drive your golf cart on Highway 17 or Highway 9. You may cross or pass through the following roads/highways: Highway 9, Highway 17 & Sea Mountain Highway.

Can straight people go to Fire Island Pines? ›

Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines are well known for their predominately gay population and sometimes outrageous nightlife. But, if you're straight, these communities are still well worth visiting for their beautiful architecture, well kept homes and excellent restaurants.

Are there a lot of gays in Fire Island? ›

Fire Island Pines and the adjoining Cherry Grove are the areas most strongly associated with the gay community on Fire Island.

Is Fire Island Pride and Prejudice? ›

In the Andrew Ahn-directed Fire Island, odes abound to Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. Not just in the dialogue or characters, who are modern queer spins on the Regency-era ensemble, but in entire scenes that serve as direct callbacks or references to the original book or its various screen adaptations.

Can you drive on Fire Island? ›

You can drive to the Fire Island Lighthouse (see parking arrangements below) or to the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness on either end of Fire Island National Seashore, but you can't drive the length of the island.

Where is Fire Island filmed? ›

The Ice Palace Resort. The Ice Palace Resort is a staple for Fire Island.

Is Fire Island worth visiting? ›

Fire Island is known for its beautiful, clean beaches that are great for both families and couples. There's a laid-back atmosphere that lends itself well to getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You'll find 18 distinct communities as you explore.

Does Fire Island have a boardwalk? ›

6-mile boardwalk that runs between the Field 5 parking lot at Robert Moses State Park and the Fire Island Lighthouse. There is no parking within the National Seashore, so visitors must use this parking lot (there is a fee). A boardwalk also connects the lighthouse to the Ranger Station a tenth of a mile away.

Are there Ubers on Fire Island? ›

Leave The Car Behind

With the increased traffic to Fire Island during the summer season, parking is extremely limited. If possible, it is highly recommended to take public transportation or an Uber. With our latest Uber integration, you can purchase your ferry tickets within the Uber app.

Is Fire Island based on Pride and Prejudice? ›

Fire Island is the latest modern film to adapt Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and certainly the first Austen adaptation to embrace a very gay summer vacation as its setting.

Which is known as Fire Island? ›

Fire Island, also called Great South Beach, elongated sandspit, 32 miles (51 km) long and 0.5 mile (1 km) across (at its widest point), Suffolk county, New York, U.S. It lies off the southern shore of Long Island and shelters Great South Bay and part of Moriches Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

Is Fire Island The Hamptons? ›

Fire Island may be just a half-hour by ferry from Long Island – but it's oceans away from the Hamptons in spirit.

Is Fire Island Cash only? ›

The only downside is that the bar is cash only (like most things on Fire Island). So, be sure to bring plenty of cash if you plan on getting drinks at the bar.

Is Bridget Jones based on Pride and Prejudice? ›

Released in 2001, and helmed by Sharon Maguire, Bridget Jones's Diary also featured British heartthrobs Colin Firth and Hugh Grant in pivotal parts. Inspired from Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones's Diary was declared a smash hit upon its release.

Does the rain scene happen in Pride and Prejudice book? ›

Thus, the analysis of the rain scene is essential for understanding the book as well. The dramatic entourage of the scene creates tension. That is the moment when Mr. Darcy, a very confident man, accepts refusal to his proposal.

What is the storyline of Pride and Prejudice? ›

What is the plot of Pride and Prejudice? Pride and Prejudice follows the turbulent relationship between Elizabeth Bennet, the daughter of a country gentleman, and Fitzwilliam Darcy, a rich aristocratic landowner. They must overcome the titular sins of pride and prejudice in order to fall in love and marry.

Do families go to Fire Island? ›

With over 32 miles of gorgeous white sand beaches, very few cars, friendly locals, a national forest, and stunning sunsets, Fire Island has all the makings for a fantastic family getaway from the hustle of the city.

Can you rent a golf cart on Fire Island? ›

An easier way to get to the island's best bits is to walk, though it can be fun to take the water taxi too. These call at most of the Fire Island towns about once hourly on weekends for much of the year, switching to a daily service between June and September. Golf cart rentals are available in larger communities.

Does Fire Island allow cars? ›

Is it true that there are no cars allowed on the island? There are no paved roads on Fire Island, and only service and emergency vehicles are allowed on the island. Free of cars, traffic, pollution, and noise, Fire Island offers a peaceful getaway, unlike any other vacation destination.

The car-free oasis off the southern coast of Long Island was the site of infamous police raids and a landmark gay rights victory a year before Stonewall

Maybe it’s the cumulative effect of the various modes of transportation I have to take to reach the (mostly) car-free island, including three subway stops, two different Long Island Railroad trains, one shuttle bus, and finally, a ferry.. | Photo: Alexandra CharitanSince at least the 1940s, two Fire Island hamlets—Cherry Grove and The Pines—have been known as safe havens for the LGBTQ community.. Fire Island is a barrier island, both physically and metaphorically.. Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan “Things You Sit On” is an installation by Martin Michael Fitzgerald III.. | Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan. In New York City I rely on public transportation, but I never realized how intrusive and isolating car traffic can be until I set foot on the car-free island (the western tip, including Robert Moses State Park, is the only part of the island accessible to cars by a bridge).. Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Fire Island is home to a rare primeval holly forest.. | Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan. It wasn’t until 1981 that consensual gay sex was decriminalized in New York state—and it remained illegal in some states until 2003—but the Fire Island cases were landmark victories in the gay rights movement almost a full year before the famous Stonewall Inn riots .. | Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan Photo: Alexandra Charitan A house entrance in The Pines.. Photo: Alexandra CharitanI came to stay with a handful of friends, but by the time I leave four days later I feel as if I could walk into most of the houses within the 41 acres of Cherry Grove and be welcomed with open arms (and most likely offered a drink).. There are several ferries that connect Long Island with Fire Island.

Roadtrippers Magazine

Sunday, August 25 th , 2019. Deer, dunes, and drag: Fire Island has been a summer safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s. The car-free oasis off the southern coast of Long Island was the site of infamous police raids and a landmark gay rights victory a year before Stonewall. Fire Island is only about 60 miles away from New York City, but it feels much, much farther.. Since at least the 1940s, two Fire Island hamlets—Cherry Grove and The Pines—have been known as safe havens for the LGBTQ community.. The island is also home to New York state’s only federally-managed stretch of wilderness, which includes protected beaches, dunes, and maritime forests.. Even in New York City—home to the Stonewall National Monument and host of this year’s World Pride Celebration—identifying as part of the LGBTQ community comes with real risk.. It wasn’t until 1981 that consensual gay sex was decriminalized in New York state—and it remained illegal in some states until 2003—but the Fire Island cases were landmark victories in the gay rights movement almost a full year before the famous Stonewall Inn riots .. There are several ferries that connect Long Island with Fire Island.. Ferries from Sayville, New York go directly to Cherry Grove or The Pines and run most frequently in the summer and on weekends.

From the welcoming shores of Fire Island to San Diego's 30-foot Pride flag, these 14 sites were instrumental in the fight for equality.

During Pride Month and beyond, you can play a game of drag bingo on Fire Island, get kinky at the Leather Archives and S&M Museum in Chicago, or pay your respects to the more than 105,000 individuals memorialized in the 54-ton AIDS Memorial Quilt.. Photo: Alexandra Charitan Since at least the 1940s, two Fire Island hamlets—Cherry Grove and The Pines—have been known as safe havens for the LGBTQ community.. For 53 years, Austen was in a committed relationship with Gertrude Tate, and the two of them lived together in what is now the Alice Austen House Museum for 30 of those years.. He’s so iconic that the Andy Warhol Museum is the largest museum in the U.S. dedicated to a single artist.. The museum, one of four Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, also hosts performances by LGBTQ artists throughout the year.. The museum is located across the Andy Warhol Bridge and down the street from Randyland , gay artist Randy Gilson’s colorful house-turned-museum.. The Legacy Walk is a dynamic outdoor LGBTQ history exhibit in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, which is known nationally and internationally as “Boystown.” Along the half mile of the North Halsted Street Corridor, between Belmont Avenue and Grace Street, 10 pairs of 25-foot-tall decorative steel Rainbow Pylons define the nexus of Chicago’s LGBTQ community.. Home to one of the largest gay archives and libraries in the U.S., the Stonewall Gallery National Museum & Archives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, honors the LGBTQ movement sparked by the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, but has no direct link to the historic bar.

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