As I mentioned on a previous post, we spent a day in Provincetown while on vacation in Cape Cod. P-Town is part beach resort, part gay mecca, and part open-air carnival. And I say that in the most Seinfeldian “Not that there is anything wrong with that” way possible. After all, I had a gay roommate for three years and even dated a pre-out lesbian for a while.
And what delighted me about the tip of the Cape was the openness. It seems like the straight couples were the only ones not holding hands. If you are not comfortable with same-sex displays of affection, you are not going to be comfortable here.
The attraction of the area as a family destination is a bit puzzling. The pervasive sexuality approaches the Tenderloin district in scope. One poster for a gay-themed play featured two guys in bed in a state of dress that makes Calvin Klein billboards seem demure.
Some parents were gripping the hands of their pre-teen kids in tow just a little too protectively, but most families were taking in all the sights in stride. Overall, kids seemed oblivious to the bent of their surroundings. A bunch of kids were amusing themselves in funhouse mirrors just below posters pitching drag show cabarets.
My high-school-graduate son who is no stranger to actual and potential members of his school’s Gay-Straight Alliance seemed a little curious about the overall culture and the general lack of dress in general. There was a general deficit of shirts even accounting for the proximity to the beach. He even missed the most flamboyant display of the day, a foursome of shirtless hunks in tightie-whiteys and speedos parading up the street at a pace that approached a skip.
This led to discussion of physical attractiveness and being proud of your body and the ends some people will go to in order to appear desirable. My wife had a hard time refuting my son’s conclusion that gay men are much pickier than straight women. For which I am eternally grateful.
Beyond gay-gawking, there is a lot to do and see in Provincetown. The main street shops are widely varied and endlessly interesting. I had to drag my family out of a huge store specializing in games and puzzles.
While my son was buying techno CDs from the music store, I got talking with the clerk about the autographed box set of John Waters movies. I mentioned that I was from Baltimore and had met Waters once at a museum gallery opening. She nodded and said that we each got John for half the year. Both Baltimore and Provincetown share a self-aware funkiness that is hard to identify and impossible to replicate.
Part of the appeal of P-town is the remoteness. In this hyper-connected world, physical isolation is not so critical, but I love knowing that places still exist where flags of all varieties, both freak and rainbow, can fly. DisneyWorld calls themselves the Happiest Place On Earth. I’ve been to Atlanta, San Francisco, Greenwich Village, and Key West and feel comfortable in declaring Provincetown the Gayest Place On Earth. And there is absolutely, positively, nothing wrong with that.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Are gay-friendly resort areas suitable for family vacations?