Saturday, March 29, 2008

Summer is almost here ...

It has been absolutely gorgeous down here in sunny Florida (which it is most of the year) and I hear people all happy that the summer season is upon them and already starting to make their seasonal plans.

One of the highlight events of each summer the infamous Invasion Of The Pines each July 4th at Fire Island in New York. It's a LOT of fun. It attracts thousands of people to Fire Island each year. Gay, straight, young, old, married, single, etc. all enjoy this traditional festivity.

The story goes ....
Drag queens have always been an integral part of the bohemian Cherry Grove bar & club scene, but frowned upon and practically forbidden in the more affluent and conservative Fire Island Pines of the 70s. According to legend, in 1976 a Cherry Grove man in drag (Teri Warren) was denied service at the Botel, a Pines restaurant & bar owned by John B. Whyte (who died at 75 on March 22, 2004). Upon hearing about this blatant discrimination against one of her sisters, the newly crowned Homecoming Queen of the Arts Project Cherry Grove, PANZI (Thom Hansen) took it upon herself to lead a small group of 9 brave Cherry Grove girls in a water taxi into the Pines harbor one hot afternoon for what they expected to be a confrontational welcoming by the Pines men. On the contrary, the Pines men were so surprised and entertained by this “Drag Queen Invasion” in the middle of the day that they welcomed them all to drinks at the Blue Whale bar for what now is a yearly celebration and tradition.

Now the Invasion starts out every 4th of July at Noon in downtown Cherry Grove as a parade of hundreds of drag queens and drag kings boarding a big chartered ferry boat and disembarking in the Fire Island Pines harbor to the welcoming music and cheers of thousands of gay men, women, and straight admirers. As each drag queen leaves the ferry and marches onto the dock, she is announced by Panzi, the original 1976 invasion leader, now mistress of ceremonies. The Invasion is an example of the power of transformation and freedom that gays and lesbians possess to unite our communities in celebrating our own diversity.

Jon Morrow, a film maker (and gynecologist) from New York, a/k/a Tampona L'Amour, has made a short film on the annual celebrations - see below:

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