The Pilgrims first landed in Provincetown, the narrow strip
of land at the tip of Cape Cod, Mass., before sailing to Plymouth Rock. This
quaint enclave of gay men, lesbians, artists, writers, Portuguese fishermen,
tourists, and old-money New Englanders is now bracing for an entirely different
kind of pilgrimage brought on by theMassachusetts supreme judicial court's ruling
that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
"Businesses are gearing up for May 17, which
is the first date someone could hold a [same-sex] marriage ceremony in Massachusetts,"
Provincetown Tourism Director Patricia Fitzpatrick told The Out Traveler.
"Catering companies are advertising. Local restaurants and bars are putting
signs in their windows saying HAVE YOUR RECEPTION HERE." According to Fitzpatrick,
over 100 civil unions are already registered in Provincetown annually, so the
recent ruling is expected to have wide-ranging impact. The Provincetown Banner
reported that on the day of the court's ruling, town clerk Greta Holman fielded
dozens of calls from gay and lesbian couples wondering if they might apply for
a marriage license.
While the state legislature has until May to decide how
to handle the ruling, seasonal visitors will tell you that now is the time to
start planning for your summer escape to this unique destination. P-town, as
it's familiarly known, has a history of embracing the outsider; it's a town
with an overwhelmingly lesbian and gay year-round populace, and its history
is steeped in offbeat culture and Americana. What better place to propose to
your partner or take your vows?
Two equally exciting ways to arrive in Provincetown are
by sea and by air. Bay State Cruises and Boston Harbor Cruises offer high-speed
ferry service from Boston and depart from terminals just a short cab ride from
Logan International Airport. En route to the cape, you may even spot a breaching
humpback whale. The other, more expensive option is to take a 25-minute flight
aboard one of Cape Air's nine-seat Cessna planes.
Many people rent homes in Provincetown, but there are also
dozens of excellent hotels and B&Bs. The recently renovated Anchor Inn,
with its spacious front porch and ocean views, is steps from the center of town.
Crowne Pointe is a converted sea captain's mansion built at the turn of the
19th century. Two other excellent choices are the Brass Key Guesthouse, a cozy
spot in the center of town, and Land's End Inn, an artsy tree house-like fortress
perched atop a hill at the far west end with spectacular, nearly 360-degree
views. Lesbians may opt for the girl-owned Gabriel's and its two hot tubs.
A perfect day might start with brunch at the Caf? Edwige,
followed by a morning bike ride (bikes can be rented at Ptown Bikes) on trails
winding through the sand dunes. The Cape Cod National Seashore remains raw,
rugged, and stunning. Ride to Race Point Beach with a blanket and scrumptious
picnic lunch from Relish, a great deli at the west end of town. During the off-season
you may have the beach to yourself.
Back in town for some shopping, you'll most certainly pass
the enormous white Unitarian Universalist church, where many gays and lesbians
choose to have their commitment ceremonies. You might also visit the Pilgrim
Monument and Provincetown Museum--according to Fitzpatrick, the grounds are by
far the favorite locale for couples tying the knot.
If you're inclined to have a late-afternoon cocktail and
high-energy moment, check out the tea dance at the Boatslip, or head to the
West End Salon for a massage. Those wishing to take advantage of the gorgeous
sunsets at Herring Cove Beach (one of the few places on the East Coast where
you can watch the sun set over the water) can discreetly smuggle a bottle of
champagne in a backpack and share a romantic moment (or even "pop" the question).
Friday evenings in summer, art galleries along Commercial
Street's east end have regular openings. For an intimate supper, there are two
obvious choices: Front Street, a cozy, literally underground bistro with an
ever-changing menu; or The Red Inn, an elegant west-end eatery with views of
the silvery tides. If dancing is on the agenda, hit the Atlantic House (A-House).
It's a nightclub that's been around for years (and looks it). The real party
boys go to Summer Camp at the Crown & Anchor in high season, but the A-House
is a year-round treat.
The Bay State has plenty of alternative gay-friendly destinations.
Northampton (or Noho, as many people call it) is known for its tree-lined streets
and intellectual community. Newsweek dubbed Northampton "Lesbianville,
U.S.A." because of its huge girl contingent, as well as being the home of all-female
Seven Sister holdout Smith College. Near Boston, liberal Cambridge and Somerville
are eager to have gay-marriage laws enacted. And Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket
have always welcomed gay travelers. If P-town has its way, however, Fitzpatrick
believes the community will become "the same-sex wedding capital" of Massachusetts.
Massachusetts might just be the most gay-friendly state in
the nation now. Enjoy these activities and welcoming businesses.
The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. We suggest that you confirm all details directly with the establishments mentioned before making travel plans. Please feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any new information.