The award-winning Cherry Grove, Fire Island tells the story of the extraordinary gay and lesbian resort community near New York City. First published in 1993, this 2014 paperback edition includes a new preface by author Ester (Mother Camp) Newton.
After spending five summers in Cherry Grove, lesbian anthropologist Newton wrote a soundly researched cultural history of this unique homosexual summer retreat in N.Y. where, as a demographic majority, gays "achieved American ideals of independence and citizenship." Based on interviews with 46 former and current residents, the author chronicles the colony's development from an isolated few cabins to a thriving, commercial, publicized community with Mafia-run discos and occasional police raids. The island's theater, drag balls, athletic and campy events entertain residents and visiting celebrities alike. However, the gay liberation movement of the '70s and '80s temporarily caused friction among owners, landlords and businesses; the era was marked by an influx of lesbian couples and hordes of day-trippers, many of them black or Hispanic. Although many aspects of gay culture have changed since the '80s, the Grove remains a place where gays and lesbians still go "to be part of something unique." Newton shows us why.
Safe/Haven: Gay Life in 1950s Cherry Grove at New-York Historical Society features a outdoor exhibition that explores the lesbian and gay community that flourished during the 1950s in Cherry Grove through some 70 enlarged photographs and additional ephemera from the unique holdings of the Cherry Grove Archives Collection. On view May 14 through Oct 11, 2021.