Fifty miles east of New York City and reached by ferry or water taxi navigating the Great South Bay, Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines, two of 17 seasonal communities located on the 32-mile long sand dune called Fire Island, have, for generations of gay people and others throughout the US and indeed the world, represented a sort of summer seaside Bizarro World, a comic-book fantasy become real.
Here, over rippling grey boardwalks and sun-bleached sand, under blue skies and beside blue-grey waters, this long-condemned minority, criminalized for its sexual preference, persecuted and exploited by goons and corrupt officialdom alike, ridiculed in both public and private, ever wary of danger and always careful to conceal a part of its very essence, this community could – for once – stop nervously looking over its collective shoulder, take a breath of fine sea air, and experience, even if only for a few blessed hours, the intoxicating freedom of just being ‘ordinary’.
I have been privileged to be a part of these two communities since 2006. I never tried to systematically document these places, at least not in a conscious way; neither have I tried to create a photographic diary of my time spent there. However, throughout the years, I realized that my photographs had become some kind of document that I believe tells a story.
My hope it that, one day, this becomes a book, my personal vision of Fire Island. By looking at these photos, I want to give people the illusion that, once there, you never have to go back to work, you never have to come down from the high, you get to stay where you belong, at least until Sunday night, when you have to go back to– the other reality.