Monday, July 28, 2008

Nothing Wrong With That In P-Town

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.

IMG_0536And 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.

IMG_0474Beyond 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.

IMG_0472Part 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?


Elizabeth said...

It wouldn't matter to me if it was a gay resort or not, I guess I'm more concerend of the age of people going there. If it's attracting young twenty-somethings, gay or straight, that want to party and drink and walk around in tiny bikinis or speedos all day, well that might not be a place to take kids.

yellojkt said...

You have a very good point. There was definitely a "no shirt, no problem" policy about everywhere.

I asked the question because we took our eighteen-year-old, but another family decided not to go because of their thirteen-year-old and I respect that choice.

There were a lot of kids there that were a lot younger. And while there were few overt PDAs beyond hand holding, my guess is that things heat up once the sun goes down. We didn't stick around long enough to find out.

I kept pressing for a Dads-only karaoke expedition, but nobody else wanted to join in. They've heard me sing.

Anonymous said...

On the whole, I don't think it's a problem. There are some gay-friendly areas I certainly wouldn't take a family, places that are like a 24/7 Christopher St. Day parade. But places like that are few and far between.

When I was 10 or 11, my family booked a weekend in Palm Springs for me and my mother, using the travel office where my father worked. Turned out that the motel had changed somewhat since it had last been used by anyone from my father's office and it was now a gay motel. This was 1973 and no one freaked out or anything. There were no problems and I spent most of my time in the pool.

courtney said...

Sure, P-town is a great place, and Race Point Beach is possible one of hte most beautiful places on Earth.

yellojkt said...

Palm Springs on Dinah Shore Weekend is my dream vacation.

I'm impressed you recognized Race Point Beach from my itty bitty picture.