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Trip Report Having a Gay Old Time in Provincetown

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I apologize for the uncreative title heading. There may be a few of you old-timer Fodorites who remember that I took a trip with a friend to Boston with a day trip to Provincetown (P-Town) 4 years ago with a friend (who set his mind that he *must* go back one day to spend more time in P-Town, so much did he love it and hoping to find himself an American husband!). So, when I suggested we stay in a B&B for 5 days of R&R in Provincetown this year, he jumped at the opportunity (we, without too much coaxing, convinced another equally overworked friend to join us)!

I think for many Gay & Lesbian visitors, the town feels like one has entered some sort of fantasy-like festive seaside playground fraught with possibility and eye-candy where one can live affectionately not only without fear of reprisal, but also not even feeling like a minority. I felt especially happy that the Lesbian contingent was equally sizeable as the Gay male, as I know how some of my Lesbian friends bemoan the relative lack of opportunities to congregate with other women in the urban centers. Perhaps though for someone seeking a life partner from afar, P-town despite being such a haven may not be quite the right place as there’s a continual coming & going of visitors, changing the population landscape daily and giving the town a certain transient here-today-gone-tomorrow feel. At our 11 room B&B for example, only 1 of the 11 rooms had guests who overlapped 4 out of 5 days with us.

Provincetown certainly has many reasons to draw folks of the open-minded heterosexual variety as well. First of all, the walk-able town has handsome Cape Cod-style homes (sometimes gaily painted) and gardens tucked in sometimes surprising side streets, nooks and charming almost-secret-seeming passageways behind buildings. Seafood fans will also be in heaven, salivating and whittling away their hard-earned cash on the delectable selection of fish, lobsters, oysters and clams prevalent throughout. For those who appreciate American history, there’s a fascinating Portuguese nuance and apparently P-Town is the spot where the Mayflower Pilgrims first landed prior to setting off for Plymouth Rock, including one of my ancestors, an indentured servant by the name of John Howland who apparently fell overboard during the journey across, holding onto the halyards for dear life before being rescued. And that’s how close I came to not existing in order to climb the 250-foot tall Pilgrim Monument built in the time of Presidents Teddy Roosevelt & W.H. Taft which commemorates this momentous historic landing and offers some terrific panoramic views of the tip of the cape. I couldn’t help but think that if the Pilgrims landed some 400 years later that they would have turned around quick as can be (or who knows, maybe some would have thrown caution to the wind and joined in the fun?)!

Cycling is a real treat in Provincetown also, with miles of bike path going to Race Point Beach and Herring Cove Beach. I highly recommend trying the Race Point path as the views of dunes, low-lying pines, rosehip bushes and ocean from a higher vantage point make for a truly spectacular backdrop. The beaches themselves brought me back to happy childhood memories of Ocean Beach, Fire Island, NY, jumping the waves to avoid getting clobbered. The friendly discourse between myself, one of my friends & two unknown 40-somethings in the water: “watch out for that wave”, “get your shoulders in the water, it’ll help you adjust to the cold”, “let’s dive under this one!” “I like your swim goggles!” reminded me of the playful 10-year-old banter between my cousin Jenny, brother, myself & random Fire Island kids (with sometimes my aunt Cassandra on her raft/boogie board riding the waves, getting occasionally clobbered, much to her and our amusement… then sometimes laughingly going out for some more almost seemingly hoping to get clobbered again!). My other friend sitting in the shade of the umbrella with shirt reading his book and worrying about sun exposure reminded me of my grandmother :).

The Canadian friend who had wanted to return 4 years ago, our last night, under the influence of the strong drinks served at the Tea Dance at the Boat Slip combined with the seduction of sociable Americans, sloppily declared that he wanted to immigrate & become an American, “the guys here are *hunks*” “so (insert drunkenly slurred verb)ing hot” “I’m going to marry one of these American boys”. He didn’t seem to like it or even believe me when I told him that I didn’t think he could become American that way. I felt almost guilty saying “I’m leaving now” at the After-Tea Dance, which to my own surprise had the effect of pulling him away from the 30-something to 50-something Yankee guys he was so enamoured with conversing with us, but alas, I had to pack and kind of wanted to have supper.

Leaving on the Provincetown to Boston fast ferry, a humpback whale came within perhaps 30 feet of the boat with a glorious glimpse from the side of flipper, several bouts of expelling air from the spout and a small amount of dark body visible. The whale also somehow seemed like most of the passengers, a transient visitor to Cape Cod and its surrounding waters, for whom serendipity gave us a chance to meet and interact… but yet somehow the whale visual like Provincetown was only a flitting, incomplete image leaving you wanting more.

Happy travels, Daniel

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