Gay and Lesbian History of Provincetown: Tolerance, Harmony, and Open Spirit
It is no coincidence that for more than 50 years, the gay and lesbian community returns every summer to Provincetown. The recent development/tourism development of Provincetown owes much to this community here where one can find a place to feel at home.
The Choice of Culture
The town started to promote itself as a tourist destination to aid the economy after the storm of 1898, which adversely affected the fishing community. Artists, with their bohemian style, were some of the first visitors of Provincetown. Residents and visitors alike are attracted by the incredible natural beauty and the particular light or “aura”. Little by little this has become an eclectic population who are the more and more numerous to visit this community.
The 1920’s and ‘30’s were when the presence of gays and lesbians increased over that of artists, writers, dramatists, poets, romantics, and journalists. These new arrivers found inspiration in the beauty of this town with its avant-garde freedom. They played a role in the development of the artistic colony here, and they participated in the development of modern American theater. The ability to experiment with various art forms without fear of judgment begot an artistic environment, prosperous, after a city that saw the birth of the first school of American art and modern American theater. Several artists had gay friends. It was a feeling of acceptance in this booming art colony that attracted more and more tourists curious to visit this unconventional town at the tip of Cape Cod. It was not a long time before Provincetown became an ideal space to pass the months of summer for gays and lesbians, completely seduced by the feeling of acceptance and artistic energy. Gradually the habitants become “year-rounders”, investing in buying Inns and “Bed and Breakfasts”, creating local businesses and now being an integral part of the local economic fabric.
The 1970’s were a catalyst in making Provincetown even more of a mecca for gay and lesbian festivals and tourism than ever. Here, everyone can be his or herself without fear of being disapproved by others.
Since same-sex marriage has been legalized in Massachusetts in 2004, Provincetown has become an ideal place for marriage with more than 3,446 marriage certificates issued up until today.