A stroll down Provincetown’s Commercial Street can often feel like stepping back in time. Historic building facades line the street in various states of repair with quintessential seaside taffy and ice cream shops below. Walking and biking are still the preferred mode of transportation while fishermen returning from the deep proudly display their daily haul at the marina just as generations of brave seafaring souls did before. You may even cross paths with the town crier belting out the daily news and welcoming all to Provincetown’s shores.
Juxtaposed against this traditional narrative is a vibrant gay community that has its roots in Provincetown’s famed early experimental theater companies created more than a century ago. Following in the footsteps of noted playwrights and actors, other creative types flocked to Provincetown drawn by its famed light, abundant natural beauty, and free-spirited culture. These early artists’ colonies helped create a blossoming tourist economy allowing restaurant, clubs, bars, shops, and accommodations to flourish. By the 1970’s Provincetown boasted a significant gay community that would grow during the busy summer season and continue until present day when Provincetown was listed as having the highest rate of same sex couples in the country according to the 2010 census.
Today, the gay community’s presence and influence is felt all over town and all throughout the year www.ptown.org . Gay visitors are able to be themselves and express themselves freely thanks to the generations of brave men and women that paved the way to acceptance. In Provincetown there is something for every aspect of our rainbow community. Themed events dot the calendar all year long from weekend events to weeklong celebrations of pride and inclusion. From large events like Bear Week www.ptownbears.com , Carnival Week, and Women’s Week to more targeted ones such as Women of Color Weekend and Fantasia Fair www.fantasiafair.org (a celebration transgender identity held in Provincetown every year since 1975), the fun never ends.
Speaking of fun, Provincetown knows how to let the good times roll and there is no shortage of activities in town. Drag queens have become the gay community’s global ambassadors, but they have always had a high visibility factor in Provincetown with drag shows going on as early as the 1940’s. Today, these talented performers play to sold out houses in various venues all over town. Along with these lovely ladies, gay themed theater and productions of varying types are found all through the extended summer season, including the ever popular and long running Monday night event- Show Girls – where you never know who or what will be coming up on the stage.
If it’s more traditional gay good time you are after, you can grab a cocktail at any number of bars, restaurants, and clubs all eager to serve the community. After cruising the dunes at the ever popular “Boy Beach” at Herring Cove or lounging by the hotel pool, the gay day usually starts off with the famous T-Dance at the Boatslip Resort www.boatslipresort.com everyday in the summer season from 4 to 7pm. Here visitors can enjoy the great gay tradition of high tea while sipping cocktails and dancing to various beats, all while enjoying the beautiful views of Provincetown harbor. A quick outfit change and nice meal at any of town’s fine dining establishments and you are ready to hit the town to see what the night has in store. No evening is complete without a stop at the Shipwreck Lounge www.ptownlounge.com for a creative cocktail from one of their master mixologists. Located at the swanky Brass Key Guesthouse www.brasskey.com , the Shipwreck Lounge with its outdoor patio and fire pit is the perfect place to meet up with old friends or make new ones. Feel like taking your dancing shoes out for a test drive? Hit up one of the many gay dance clubs in town. Whether you end up at Purgatory for one their famed weekly underwear nights or leather parties or dancing the night away at the A-House www.ahouse.com , commonly known as the oldest gay bar in the United States, you are sure to have an unforgettable and uniquely Provincetown experience.