Posts Tagged ‘fire island’
Guy Trebay New York Times article making the case for the importance of the Long Island resort community of Fire Island for gay communities makes interesting arguments. I’m not sure Fire Island it has the broad contemporary importance to all gay people (men mainly, it seems) that it has been made out as having (I’ve read about it, yes, but I think I’m relatively rare among my peer group in Canada having read about it) but it certainly has historical relevance, inasmuch as New York City is where the gay rights movement and gay culture got kickstarted.
“My line to people is that the Pines is to gay people what Israel is to Jews,” Andrew Kirtzman, a longtime Pines resident and real estate developer, said recently. “It’s the spiritual homeland. There’s just a sense of history in the air, almost tangible but not quite. You just feel like you’re part of some kind of grand creation meant solely for gays.”
History is on people’s minds this season, as the Pines marks the 60th anniversary of its founding: two newly published books examine a period many here see as a golden one; homeowners are returning to restore and rebuild houses inundated by Hurricane Sandy; and the Pavilion, the harborside dance hall that long served as an anchor of social life in the community, is reopening as a boldly reimagined version of an unloved structure that in 2011 was destroyed by fire.
Regeneration is a word not often associated with summer towns — ephemeral by definition and seldom more so than on an island whose geography is entirely at the command of a mercurial ocean. Yet it’s in those forces, the ocean’s tidal surges and ebbs, the wind-carved dunes, that clues can be seen to the particular powers this landscape has exerted on those who inhabit it, said Christopher Rawlins, the author of “Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction,” an overdue monograph about a little-known architect to be released this week.
“It’s an inherently erotic landscape,” said Mr. Rawlins, who found in Mr. Gifford’s work motives and inspirations of a kind that were once considered joyous, until a plague came along and cloaked them with a shroud.
“The Stonewall generation invented what I call this architecture of seduction,” Mr. Rawlins said, referring to a style marked by spare interiors engineered to foster outdoor living; by spare but theatrical geometries; and by stage effects like mirrored ceilings and expanses of window wall.