What if you spent every day looking for One Beautiful Thing?

Safe Haven


Cherry Grove Archive

The New York Historical Society just opened a new exhibit all about my favorite place on earth, Cherry Grove, Fire Island. Featuring a collection of photos and other memorabilia collected by the Cherry Grove Archive, the show, Safe/Haven: Gay Life in 1950s Cherry Grove, is a free, outdoor exhibition that takes place in their rear courtyard. The exhibit explores one of the first gay beach communities in the United States. Alongside Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan, Cherry Grove truly provided a safe haven for people who had to spend most of their time pretending to be something they weren’t. I can imagine what a relief that must have been!

““It was an escape for everyone to be able to come out here on the weekend and be yourself. It was a safe haven. I could say to someone, ‘I’m Audrey Hartmann … and I’m gay.’”

I so vividly remember my first trip to Cherry Grove when I was newly out. It seemed like a miracle. It’s still a magical place for me and our friends. I am acutely aware how privileged Beloved and I are to be able to live openly, and I know there are still many, many people who don’t have that luxury.

You can check out the Safe/Haven: Gay Life in 1950s Cherry Grove exhibit on the New York Historical Society website. And if you’d like to learn more about Cherry Grove, I also recommend you read Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town by Esther Newton.

Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

6 thoughts on “Safe Haven

  1. Happy to know this was around. There was a ‘club’ in St. Louis at the time that was sort of meeting place. Hal

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the photographs and I am glad that they are forming part of an archive of the life and history of this important community. I cannot pretend to imagine what it is like to feel unsafe being your out and authentic self but I can just about imagine how liberating it must have been for all of these individuals to just be able to freely express who they were. I am glad some progress has been made but how awful it is that in so many places around the world and in so many families people still have to safeguard themselves by repressing their identities. No wonder these photos are so vibrant and full of people smiling, laughing, and simply relaxing. Everyone should have access to that.

    PS The coastal nature of these photos and the depiction of real people enjoying everyday life makes me think of the British photographer Martin Parr and his studies of beach life in particular.

    Liked by 1 person

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