Gay Men Honor History Of Fire Island By Spreading New Pandemic

It’s a Thursday evening and Tory Paige, a 25-year-old Associate Project Manager, is sitting eagerly on the Sayville Ferry to Fire Island Pines, the debaucherous gay resort an hour east of New York City. The bacchanalia in The Pines has everything, strong drinks, sun kissed areolas, and this summer’s hot new pandemic: COVID-19.

“There’s so much life and death and tension. Just like in the 80s. It’s a bit exciting, isn’t it?” Tory says, his loins tingling with anticipation and his forehead warm from the summer sun or possible early symptoms.

As the sun shimmers off of the water, Tory struts down the pier toward his friends Mark and Jeremy. They affectionately hug cheek to cheek for a selfie in their designer face masks. In the Instagram post, Mark crops out the essential workers behind them stocking the island’s grocery store for the week. Jeremy makes eye contact with one of the waiters along the pier in a mask and face shield, quietly acknowledging their sacrifice and letting them know he thinks they’re a #hero.

The island’s landlords and business owners have opted to keep the Pines open for the summer to minimize revenue loss. With few economic options in the outside world, the island’s service workers are along for the high stakes ride.

As the group walks to the first house party of the evening, Tory wonders if he should stay in as a precaution since his roommate was just hospitalized for COVID. Mark quickly admonishes him saying, “Fire Island used to be the only place gays could live openly and not be harassed by the police. It’s disrespectful to their legacy if you don’t at least go to one party tonight.”

In a moment of radical defiance Mark rips off his facemask and proclaims, “There are no rules in the Pines!” before being quickly shushed by Jeremy reminding them they are crossing private property and subject to the noise regulations of real estate holding companies.

Later that evening while piled into a hot tub with half a dozen new friends, the group takes a moment of silence to honor the gay men lost to the AIDS crisis. Afterwards Jeremy expresses his gratitude, “I’m so glad AIDS got wiped out thanks to Gilead. I bet they’ll have something for this pandemic too.” The group nods in agreement. “Larry Kramer wrote about AIDS on Fire Island,” waxes Mark. “There are going to be so many new and compelling stories when this new disease goes around the island.”

Between the second and third pool parties, Tory pops an extra Truvada just in case. “I heard it’s good for COVID,” he says reassuring the others. The three men strut toward the sounds of disco and inebriated men, their alabaster skin illuminated in the moonlight. Tory lets out a cough and the three men share a knowing look before erupting into laughter. They rush into the crowd of socially intimate men, comforted by the knowledge that money and privilege will always be the best medicine.

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