By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Guy Trebay's article "Babes in Boyland: Pumping It Up in the Pines," which appeared in the August 24 Voice, prompted an unusually large reader response. Following are some of the letters received in reaction to it.
Out of this World
Very good piece on Fire Island Pines culture. My boyfriend and I have been going for two summers now, visiting a friend who has a permanent home there. We don't get involved in the party/drug scene, but are continually amazed at how out of control the gay men have gotten it's insane. They are like creatures of another planet, landed on FI! Thanks for an interesting and informative article that sheds light on some reasons why the gay culture in the Pines has lost its mind.
The author of "Babes in Boyland" seems alternately threatened and envious of men who care enough about their bodies to spend several hours a week at the gym. Considering that the average American watches eight hours of TV per day, going to the gym regularly is not all that self-indulgent. Trebay also exaggerates the muscularity of gay men at the Pines. Any Calvin Klein model has the same kind of musculature without incurring fear and loathing. When I see someone criticizing the gay muscle culture, he's usually either fat or very thin. Can you say "sour grapes," boys and girls?
Los Angeles, California
Pigs in the City
Re Guy Trebay's "Babes in Boyland": I couldn't agree more. Chelsea and Fire Island are perfect examples of how much contemporary gay culture sucks.
When I moved to New York at 18 and finally came out of the closet, I thought, wow I'm finally going to have a place to fit in. To kids like me in the suburbs, NYC and the Village had a mythic reputation for being a place where anything goes, where you could be who you wanted to be and be celebrated for it.
Little did I know that contemporary gay culture here would actually be less accepting and more intolerant of difference than the place from which I came. I'm proud to be gay; I'm ashamed of gay culture.
Pecs Bad Boy
It was with much amusement and annoyance that I read Guy Trebay's "Babes in Boyland." Chalk up another article to a bitter individual who must find fault with others to feel better about himself. What is wrong with wanting to be physically fit and look good? Should gay men be any different than straight men or women? Why is it that gym-toned bodies and wax jobs are expected, and celebrated, in articles about the Hamptons, but ridiculed in pieces about the Pines? I sense that Mr. Trebay has some not so subtle internal or external homophobia. The fact is, many HIV-positive men are living longer and healthier thanks to combination therapy, which often includes the use of steroids.
It also saddens me that people like Mr. Trebay continue to view the Pines as nothing more than a beautiful place filled with beautiful men. Yes, it is amazingly beautiful. Yes, there are a lot of beautiful men. But beauty, in addition to not being skin deep, is also not found in a Prada outfit and Gucci bag.
First and foremost, the Pines is a community. As such, it is a place where one can find all shapes, sizes, and types. If all Mr. Trebay notices are the stacked pecs and the tanned faces, shame on him.
Fire Island Pines
From deep in the plains, Guy Trebay's story on the Pines came across as written with that droll perspective which that scene deserves. How interesting that, now that we have become "mainstream" (but only in certain places), the best use of our new position seems to be the pursuit of incredible artifice and empty lives. If that's the mainstream, I prefer the view from here, thanks.
Guy Trebay does a great job of skimming, then slamming, the surface of the Pines. Maybe he was so distracted by the beautiful boys that he failed to see the rest of us: the hard-working, rest-seeking masses who also get off the ferry every weekend. Some of us are beautiful, too. Especially our 18-month-old son. We are devoted couples and growing families. Look for us the next time you're out there. We're not hard to find.
I loved this article. It's about your body in the clubs not personality. The phenomenon of the "action figure" queen is freaky. If you don't have big pecs and arms, you're "out." Personally, I believe this is just another way to push people out of the "scene" another type of segregation in the gay community. Here in SF if you're not white with muscles, forget about meeting anyone.
San Francisco, California
The article about the Pines seems to be full of internalized homophobia. Most people struggle to feel good about themselves, and this can be particularly hard for a repressed and disliked minority. I work out, and even here in West Hollywood have what some people call a "great body." I work part-time as an exotic dancer and go-go dancer. Yet I have a master's degree in psychology and have worked with abused children for almost 10 years. I probably look pretty superficial to people who don't know me.