For many years, I have heard about get-a-ways like Fire Island and Provincetown and the overwhelming sense of camaraderie that exists in these places, I have also been told of the banal risqué affairs that happen in the bushes or underneath the monumental white domes that host circuit parties. These behaviors can only be the spawn of the sinister and degenerative expression of the self. No matter how unforgiving those words read it is true and the circumstance lay in a well of self-justification and intangible ideals, devoid of motion and opposing forces that are stronger, in their void, than that which keeps you from evolving.
So too I thought of the nude sunbathers as such. Observing those who wish to use their nakedness, whether partially nude in public or entirely naked on a semi-private beach – it appeared to be a signal for wanted attention, especially on an Island where all eyes are gay. That is until, of course, I made the experience my own. I felt both ashamed and empowered when I was on the beach whether I was suited, or as it happened late morning the day of my departure, exposing all of my brown skin and my physical parts that to the eye defines me as man. I felt ashamed because I had allowed myself to be a speculator – assimilating gay, public nudity, and evil as one by acknowledging the attention seekers; groping themselves, demonstrating their rigidity, muscularity, and attempt of perfection – they were present.
Without an arduous assessment of my environment I cited the differences between them and myself, between all of us and the relatively few. It was then that I was able to begin the journey of experience on this latitudinous island. At that juncture my thoughts were able to filter through and see the beauty of the cultural magnificence of Fire Island, to see the comeliness that gay men possess naturally and without effort – save for being themselves. And confident without tricks to fool the inner-man and those that will perceive – the falsity’s of the diabolic. Separating myself from a history of religious figures who seem to know a good deal about bad behavior, so too, however, admittedly, has the author nefariously experienced the world. Perhaps, not in the Pine Bush or at a star packed party – but I know that I do not like it, the endless conquest spinning you round, never allowing you to move forward.
I felt empowered by my heightened sense of awareness and it cradled me into a certain state of comfort; I surrendered my final piece of armor. Only with a bit of hesitation, and then I followed the lead of two of the elders of my Fire Island Tribe. These friends showed me the way to freedom. I was free of my bathing suit, naked to the world, a newborn. I had exposed what western culture has taught us, and what Christianity has said of; that exposed, your manhood is capable of evil deeds or continuity of existence. In fact, the shame comes from certainty regarding the idea of creation, but more so from the question of: Am I capable of exposing myself to evil deeds.
“There’s an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body. … It’s reflected in these prohibitions and these taboos that we have.” George Carlin (AP)