Provincetown queer: paradoxes of 'identity, space, and place'

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Provincetown, MA, located at the tip of Cape Cod, has transitioned over the twentieth century from a predominantly Portuguese fishing village to a magnet for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and queers, both as tourists and year-rounders. Newcomers have fostered change – economically, socially, and culturally – to which the town's predominantly straight old-timers have responded with a libertarian, generally accepting stance. Accommodation to newcomers – both ‘good gays’ and ‘sexual rebels’ – with its attendant social and cultural challenges, has not been without conflict. Today, economic gentrification and an influx of workers of color test the community's resolve to maintain and promote a culture of diversity and acceptance, as members cope with ever-more challenging economic issues, including escalating housing, and living costs. Provincetowners also confront other troubling demographic changes, especially declining school enrolments caused by the so-called ‘straight flight’ and an ever-increasing number of households without children, reflecting the transition to a GLBTQ majority. Today Provincetowners retain an edgy, risqué lifestyle, where community decisions are negotiated through small-town democratic institutions, and where citizens intersect across social, economic, and cultural divides. This paper examines Provincetown as a laboratory to interrogate how citizens accommodate others, as they grapple with uncertainties inherent in a predominantly seasonal – and diverse – tourist economy.

Original Citation

Faiman-Silva, Sandra L. (2009). Provincetown queer: paradoxes of 'identity, space, and place'. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 7(3), 203-220. https://doi.org/10.1080/14766820903267363