Fire Island is a small stretch of land just off the coast of Long Island, New York. It has a yearly fixed population of around 490 people, however, it sees an influx of visitors particularly in the spring and summer months. It is very popular with LGBT travelers coming from all over America, but mainly Manhattan and is referred to as ‘Chelsea with Sand’.
Much of the theater community in Manhattan moved to or frequented the island during the 1920s and many notable people have followed suit. The list of famous names include Tina Fey, Christopher Noth, John Lennon and Calvin Klein. Fire Island is referenced a lot in popular culture, for example the Fire Island TV series and a new gay Pride and Prejudice adaptation set on Fire Island. There are plenty of beaches, parties and other events to explore on the island. The options below should give you inspiration on where to start when you visit Fire Island.
Gay Bars and Clubs in Fire Island
There are plenty of gay bars and nightclubs in Fire Island to satisfy your curiosity. Many of them have been around for a while and are well known and attended. The gay scene is in two main areas, the hamlets of Cherry Grove and The Fire Island Pines.
Located in the Cherry Grove area sits Cherry’s. It is a waterfront gay bar, and plays host to a number of events. Cherry’s has regular drag shows, weekly happy hour and Sunday Brunch. There’s something for everyone! There are plenty of daily events which you can find out about here.
The Fire Island Pines are also rich with gay nightlife. Located here is the iconic gay bar The Blue Whale. A favorite among the locals, this bar caters to everyone’s tastes. It serves fresh seafood dishes and an extensive selection of cocktails, as well as weekly drag brunches and dance parties. The Sip N Twirl is a popular bar also located in the Fire Island Pines. The bar boasts a wide range of activities and events such as movie nights, drag shows, theme nights and tea dances. It also has a large dance floor and rotating DJs, to keep you grooving the night away.
Gay hotels in Fire Island
Fire Island’s popularity with the LGBTQ+ community as a destination means that, by extension all of the hotels are gay-friendly at the minimum. With the island being relatively small, most attractions are within walking distance or easily accessible by boat, seaplane and ferry. This makes it easier when choosing a hotel here, as you don’t have to worry too much about the location.
Many of the hotels in the area are gay-owned and run, providing a tailored stay by hosts that understand the needs of an LGBTQ+ traveler.
The Dune Point Guest House is a gay-owned hotel located in the party hot spot, Cherry Grove. This hotel is very welcoming and is known for hosting gorgeous beachfront weddings. The romantic hotel features amazing views of the scenery, as well as a roof deck to star gaze on. If you’re looking to be on the doorstep of the local nightlife, then this hotel is perfect for you as it is only a 2-minute walk away from Cherry’s – a Fire Island powerhouse.
The Madison can be found in the Fire Island Pines, where many of the best venues are. The hotel is a minute’s walk from the beach, much like many of the hotels in Fire Island. It is located in a great location for an explorer, as it is only a 5-minute walk away from the ferry, markets and restaurants. It is also within a 3-minute walking distance to the popular The Blue Whale bar, which is a Fire Island go-to.
The Belvedere Guest House for Men is a male-only hotel that is grand in style. The Venetian style, clothing-optional hotel is perfect if you’re looking for an exclusively gay stay. It is welcoming and encouraging of you fully taking advantage of their policies and making the most out of your stay on Fire Island.
Gay Pride in Fire Island
Fire Island is a very popular destination for LGBTQ+ people throughout the United States, so naturally Pride here is a big deal! There are many events that happen, both during Pride month and the summer generally.
The various events that occur include Women’s Pride party, where there’s an all-white dress code and an open wine and vodka bar, as well as a silent auction. You have the choice to attend the Fire Island Dance Festival, where you can watch a showcase of the various performances.
Another popular event is the Invasion of the Pines which happens every July 4th. This is where the Island’s drag queens come together to recreate the original Invasion of 1976, that happened as a response to a drag queen being refused entry to a restaurant. There is a red carpet to strut your stuff, whilst welcoming drag queens from the fleet of boats.
The Pines Party is a 3-day extravaganza. The event hosts rotating DJs and back to back sets. Every year has a different theme and is well worth the visit. This is an iconic moment that you need to experience.
Gay Rights in Fire Island
Many LGBTQ+ people in New York came to Fire Island in the 1930s via Manhattan, particularly the Cherry Grove area. This largely came out of the harassment that came with living in a large city. The move to the much smaller Fire Island allowed for a reclaiming of a space where you would feel comfortable as an open and out LGBTQ+ person.
This was done easily on Fire Island because of the lack of roads, which deterred families from both living and visiting here. This allowed for drag culture to really thrive and eventually this also extended to the showing of public displays of affection. Fire Island became a safe space for many and has remained so to this day.
Published: 19-Jul-2021 by Tricia Kwala | Last Updated: 24-May-2022
On: Gay Fire Island