Fire Island 1976 the Gay Playground

The Fire Island Pines, called “The Pines” and Cherry Grove, called “The Grove” are areas of the town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, , located on Fire island a barrier island on the south side of Long Island in New York state. Originally the site of a Coast Guard station built in 1876. The area was developed into a resort starting in 1924 but Fire Island would not come of age until after , there was no electricity or amenities until 1960 when a co-op complex was built.

It’s impossible to speak of Fire Island as a unity for there are many different Fire Islands as there are types of people in New York. Fire Island is many things to many people and each year thousands visit Fire Island to frolic on the playground of the suntan set to see if all the things they’ve heard are really true. And they are. The forest between The Pines and The Grove has been nicknamed the “Meat Rack” because of the sexual liaisons occuring at all hours in it.

The 1970’s was a time in Fire Island where the LGBT commumity could escape the craziness of and retreat to a quiet island off Long Island, but by the 1980’s things were changing as AIDS had it’s icy grip on the community and many of the people abandonded the resort or succumbed to the disease. Some famous people who have lived on Fire island include:

  • Calvin Klein
  • David Geffen
  • Robin Byrd
  • Tommy Tune

Cherry Grove on Fire Island 1976, Courtesy of 5ninthavenueproject. Thank you

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