Fire Island Pines: One Of America’s First LGBTQ Coastal Towns


Fire Island Pines, often referred to simply as “The Pines” is a beautiful hamlet on Fire Island, which is one of the barrier islands on the southern side of Long Island. You must take a ferry to get to this beautiful coastal town where bicycles are the primary mode of transportation.  Fire Island Pines and the neighboring Cherry Grove comprise the diverse and welcoming gay community on Fire Island. In fact, some say that the island was America’s “first gay and lesbian town,” and indeed, since the 1920s and 30s, it is served as a refuge for those seeking diversity, acceptance, and the more liberal attitude that prevails on the island.

A Little Fire Island History

Although it was initially inhabited by various Native American tribes, colonists discovered Fire Island as long ago as 1653, when a whaling station was constructed on the island, making it an important whaling center during the 18th and 19th centuries. The first large home in Fire Island was constructed in Cherry Grove in 1795. Its next important development came in 1825 when the federal government constructed the Fire Island Lighthouse at the western tip of the island, which still stands as both a landmark and a museum. Beginning in the 1950s, Fire Island emerged as a premier summer retreat, and remains a retreat destination for many today, with its beautiful beaches, resorts, shopping, fine dining, and activities for all interests.

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Fun Facts About Fire Island

  • Fire Island is 32 miles long, and about a mile wide.
  • There are no roadways on Fire Island, so the only cars allowed on the Island are emergency vehicles.
  • Many beautiful white-tailed deer inhabit Fire Island and have come to be known as the Island’s mascot

Read more fun facts about Fire Island here.

The LGBTQ Community in Fire Island

Fire Island Pines has one of the most active, diverse, and celebrated LGBTQ communities in the country. Although the entire Pines area is a thriving LGBTQ community, one of the community centers that helps to encourage that growth and foster that diversity, particularly among youth includes:

The Ali Forney Center

The mission of the Ali Forney Center is to protect LGBTQ youth from the harms of homelessness, and empower them with the tools that they need to thrive and live independently.

How’s the Weather?

July is usually the hottest month on Fire Island, with an average high temperature of 82.3°, ranking it as one of the warmer places in New York. In the summer, temperatures typically range form 70-85°, with plenty of refreshing coastal breezes. Winters are typically cold, with temperatures averaging around 30° or below in January. Fire Island gets some kind of precipitation, on average, 116 days per year, and averages 26 inches of snow and 46 inches of rain per year.

Must-Try LGBTQ Events

Invasion of the Pines

The Invasion of the Pines has been an Independence Day tradition on Fire Island Pines since 1976.  A fantastic seaside soiree, those who attend are invited to “strut their stuff” on the red carpet, enjoy premiere drag shows, and plenty of dancing and party-going fun.

Women’s Pride in the Pines

One of the most popular events in The Pines each year is Women’s Pride – a wonderful and festive event to celebrate LGBTQ individuality and diversity that benefits the Ali Forney Center – a center whose mission is to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of homelessness, and empower them with the tools they need to live independently.

Bear Weekend

Bear Weekend typically takes place in the summer. Popular events that are part of the weekend include the Bears Beach Day, the Bears and Beards dance party, the T Dance and the Pool Party at the Belvedere Hotel.


Fire Island LGTBQ Neighborhoods

While anywhere in Fire Island is a beautiful place to live, the two thriving gay communities on Fire Island are Fire Island Pines, and Cherry Grove.

  • Fire Island Pines: The Pines has the most expensive real estate on Fire Island, with approximately 700 houses in total on its one square mile of location. Despite being located on only one square mile of the total space on the island, The Pines have nearly two-thirds of the island’s swimming pools. Homes are certainly not inexpensive on the island, with the median sale price in 2019 being approximately $750,000.
  • Cherry Grove: One of the oldest communities on Fire Island, Cherry Grove is widely known as being the first community in America where gays and lesbians could be open and free in expressing their sexuality, even long before the modern gay rights movement began. To this day, it remains a place where LGBTQ individuals can feel free to be and celebrate all that they are, and enjoy a community that does the same. Like The Pines, homes in Cherry Grove tend toward the more expensive, with the average sale price in recent years hovering right around $630,000.

Arts and Entertainment

Cherry Grove Community House and Theater

The Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, recognized as National Historic Landmark, played an important part in the development of the LGBTQ community in Cherry Grove and The Pines on Fire Island. It is the oldest continually operating gay summer theater in the United States. You’ll want to be sure to check out the performances!

Parks and Recreation

Fire Island Lighthouse

Initially constructed in 1858, the lighthouse is an iconic landmark on the island. Those who climb to the stop of the lighthouse are rewarded with stunning views of the island from all vantage points. Even if you’re not up to making the climb, the area surrounding the lighthouse offers many beautiful nature trails with stunning scenery for visitors to enjoy.

Sunken Forest – Fire Island National Seashore

While all of Fire Island offers coastal beauty, for true tranquility and stunning views of nature at its finest, visit Fire Island’s Sunken Forest and National Seashore. The Sunken Forest is a rare ecological community, and according to the New York Natural Heritage Program, was ranked as “globally rare,” meaning there are few remaining occurrences of this type of forest in the world.

Fire Island Fun – A Look at the Night Life

Sip n Twirl

Situated by the harbor and offering great drinks, music, and a crowded dance floor, Sip n Twirl is a favorite Fire Island night spot.

The Blue Whale

Another neighborhood favorite, The Blue Whale reflects the casual beach environment of the island while offering delicious seasonal fare and a variety of seafood dishes throughout the day. At night, dining gives way to dancing and a festive atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

Contact a Fire Island Pines Realtor Today

Fire Island Pines is a unique community, truly unlike any other. Coastal beauty, diversity, and a pace of life geared toward slowing down and appreciating all that life here has to offer. It is a place where you’ll love living, and will certainly feel at home. If you’re interested in a free no-obligation consultation to find your next new home in Fire Island Pines, contact a Fire Island Pines gay realtor today!

Original article was reproduced with authorization and appeared here:




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