Gay men marching down Provincetown streets wearing minimal clothing

Provincetown is an LGBTQ+ resort town in Massachusetts sculpted by artists and made profitable by the gays. A century of speedo-filled summers decorates its history.  

But there’s so much more to this rainbow civilization than meets the eye. So let’s visit P-town’s ghosts of queerness past, shall we?

Provincetown is more than a gay destination

Tourists visiting Provincetown during high school.

Despite the day on the calendar, P-town’s nearly 3,000 year-round residents make it a bubble of queerness at the tip of Cape Cod. However, the seaside town becomes a glowing landing strip for LGBTQ+ tourism when spring arrives. 

The resort town’s population peaks at as high as 60,000 people during the summer. You’ll find gorgeous days of sandy leisure, pool parties, and Hot Girl Fashion. 

A close-up shot of a man's torso who is laughing.

Many gay men honor history by ditching the apps and finding hookups at historically cruisy docks and piers. Others embrace more wholesome activities, like sunbathing at the nude-friendly “The Gay Beach” near Herring Cove Beach. 

Regarding Provincetown’s bars and dining, Commercial Street is the center of gay socializing and entertainment. The sidewalks fill with shirtless crowds and to-go cups during special events or extra warm days. 

The Origins of the Gayest Small-town in America 

A landscape shot of a beach in P-Town.

P-town’s artistic roots can be traced to 1899 when Charles Hawthorn opened the Cape Cod School of Art, propelling an influx of New York artists, many of them LGBTQ+ activists. 

The demographic’s liberal foundation means there was never an equal rights revolution. The gays simply joined the party and gradually became the majority, purchasing property and investing in spaces that welcomed them. 

However, P-town’s existence permeates the arts and reaches pivotal moments in U.S. history, such as the colony where the Pilgrims first settled in 1620 and signed the Mayflower Compact. But we’re confident the best aspects of history also repeat themselves, and men who like men could be found there, too, if you knew where to look. 

The gays came for their rights but stayed for liberation

Two men in a hot tub smiling at each other and holding the rainbow flag.

After P-town’s artistic metamorphosis, it’s not hard to imagine why so many queer visitors moved here. This era might’ve been the height of homophobia for America, but it was the peak of homosexuality in the burgeoning New England hub.  

Provincetown’s energy can be best summarized by the nude photo of Tennessee Williams strolling at the gay nudist beach hanging at A-House, which he would frequent with other historical creative icons like Ernest Hemingway. The gay bar still thrives today and is the only year-round dance club. 

You’ll find ten gay bars in the area, which sounds like a small number until taking into account that the town only spans 3 miles.

When to experience P-town’s full glory

Three shirtless men in a khaki tutus on the street in Provincetown.

The June to August high season is on the calendar of LGBTQ travelers globally. You won’t find a shortage of reasons to visit, but Pride, 4th of July weekend, Carnival, Bear Week, and Halloween are all assured to be good times.

Procrastinators beware: this is not a vacation you can book last minute. Provincetown is always ready for the influx of high season, but space is limited. The gays keep the small town and its residents seasonally booked and busy.

Gay celebrities know the most fun is found in their community

When it comes to summer fun, gay celebrities know they need not look further than queer culture.

Billy Eichner tries his best to blend in during Provincetown’s Bear Week

Blueberry lovebirds Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti celebrate “Labor Gay”

Tina Burner and Tammie Brown discover it’s a small town after all

Be a part of history by helping spread queer joy in P-town

Provincetown ranks among the best American LGBTQ+ destinations, alongside Fire Island and Palm Springs. However, the charming resort town comes to fruition somewhere between a large city and a seasonal island.

Still, the sense of freedom that comes with a town comprised of mostly queer people is not an experience that can be justified with words. For this reason, it has remained an integral part of queer tourism and history for many generations.

During the colder months, P-town might lose its buzz, but the town always retains the essence that keeps visitors returning.

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