The Beginner’s Guide To Fire Island Pines


With the release of Tom Bianchi’s new photobook paying tribute to the beautiful male specimens of a lost era and the Pavilion making a comeback as highly anticipated among the gays as Cher’s new face and/or album, interest in Fire Island Pines has been, shall we say, reignited. With that, as well as a day at the beach, in mind, Queerty sent assistant editor Lester Brathwaite (this gay) to the Pines to see what all the hubub was about.

I’ve actually never been to Fire Island and like any virgin anticipating the first time, I was nervous, anxious, excited and wishing I was a little drunker. The extent of my knowledge of Fire Island comes from the seminal gay novel, Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran. It paints a romantic but ultimately heartbreaking (like every gay novel from the 70s or ever) portrait similar to Bianchi’s book of Polaroids. And of course I had heard of and seen pictures of the pumped and primped Chelsea gays tonguing each other like cats in heat, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

On a Saturday morning I rolled out of Brooklyn and met my gal-pal Leon at Penn Station to begin our mini-odyssey to the gay mecca.

Photo: Tom Bianchi

Click through to read Lester’s Fire Island Pines Diary…

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  • muscl954

    Lester Brathwaite, I love your writing!

  • MikeE

    kind of strange seeing that Quebec flag in the last picture.

  • knoxxy2008

    Cool pictures.

  • Joetx

    Hey Lester, as a BGM, how would you describe the level of racial diversity in Fire Island?

  • Lester Brathwaite

    @Joetx: Not gonna lie to ya, it’s not super diverse, but there was a nice (and surprising) mix of people over all.

  • bobbyo2

    Thank you for a wonderful guide. I am a 64 years young African-American male whose first visit to Fire Island was last Summer, at the invitation of a friend who, has a house there. The experience for me was exciting, anxious, and terrifying knowing I didn’t fit the stereotype of the average island goer.
    There is not much diversity there and I would not be able to hide there. I am an artist and the island is a tremendous source of inspiration along with peace and quiet. The fun starts on the ferry from Sayville.
    It’s certainly worth the trip, go, play, relax and enjoy.
    Have a great Summer!!!

  • Joetx

    @Lester Brathwaite: Thanks, Lester, as well as bobbyo2, for the input re: racial diversity (or rather, the lack thereof) in Fire Island. Although I was expecting that, it’s disappointing nevertheless.

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