July 30, 2015
To the Editor:
The last bastion has fallen. The two-pronged crackdown on Fire Island — banning nudity on the beach between Cherry Grove and The Pines and ticketing men engaged in sexual activity in the Meat Rack — marks the end of an era.
As it is, clothing-optional beaches are an increasing rarity in the US. It’s hard to see how a few nudists could spoil anyone’s fun, but we must never forget that this is a Puritan country.
And the Meat Rack? “The value of the real estate!” some will protest. To which I reply that the Meat Rack added to the charm of the island in the first place. In the second, if you don’t like it, don’t go.
So much of the emphasis of gay life in America, and increasingly on Fire Island, is on making everything family-friendly, wholesome, respectable. The achievement of marriage equality is something we can all celebrate. But true equality should include much more than that, such as an acceptance of gay sexuality, including the seamier side of gay life.
What’s lost now is the carefree, live-and-let-live attitude — dare I say, a worldly attitude — that made Fire Island a gay paradise. Currently, it’s all about the real estate market and what will appeal to the greatest number of tourists, increasingly, straight tourists.
This conservative climate doesn’t bother the gay revelers who flock to those Pines bars and clubs who end up supporting gay-hating Christian rightists thanks to the lavish campaign donations of their Republican owners. So, who cares about a few nudists when the fun continues indoors, where it is penned in — and so, ostensibly, more easily subject to police raids.
Fire Island is rapidly becoming an expensive theme park. So much of what was unique has disappeared.