Connections » Profiles

A Summer Crowded With Incident

by Bruce-Michael Gelbert
Thursday Sep 22, 2011

In Act Four of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," Lady Augusta Bracknell comments on "a life crowded with incident" and this summer has turned out to be nothing if not "crowded with incident," both personal and general.

I started the summer by reaching a new decade, one at which one is supposed to have achieved some measure of maturity, gravitas, or what have you. Before long, I received notification that I had won the Pantheon of Leather Northeast Regional Community Service Award, so early in August, my partner Joe Saporito and I found ourselves on our way to Los Angeles-a first time tearing ourselves away from the Grove during season to go elsewhere, and a first time, for both of us, visiting Southern California-to attend the Pantheon of Leather awards ceremony and the International Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather contest, as well as spending afternoons in gay West Hollywood and in the seaside city of Manhattan Beach, getting our feet wet in the Pacific instead of the Atlantic. While attending the leather weekend, we proposed to each other and exchanged rings and, when we returned, got our marriage license at the Brookhaven Town Clerk's office and will tie the knot on the beach in the Grove on Sept. 17, with our fellow Mr. Fire Island Leather Peter B. officiating, two weeks after the ninth anniversary of our meeting outside Top of the Bay!

The weekend before we left for Los Angeles, the Arts Project of Cherry Grove, in conjunction with the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association, held its "Into the Woods" Casino, at Whyte Hall, as part of the storybook-themed "Once Upon a Pines Party," and we came costumed as figures out of tales like "Robin Hood's Adventures" and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," as well as satyrs and other woodland creatures, imaginary and real.

As the weekend after our return began, we were shaken by the news of the death of our dear friend and neighbor, Michael Guerette, graceful singer, landscaper, and proprietor of Garden Grove, while hiking in Maine. Initial reports were that he had fallen and hit his head, but a subsequent report from the Maine Medical Examiner's office said that there had been no trauma.

This happened on the eve of the ninth annual Fire Island Black Out weekend, featuring colorful tents on the beach, put up by individuals, vendors, and organizations, with AIDS awareness prominent among the concerns reflected, and in addition, performances by disco diva Evelyn "Champagne" King ("Betcha She Don't Love You," "Love Come Down," "I'm in Love," "Shame,") Tyra Sanchez ("RuPaul Drag Race," "What about Tyra?"), and gay rappers Bryn't and Kaoz. To coincide with FIBO, the APCG presented comic actress and singer, teacher and, in a good way, preacher Robynne Demyse Kaamil, making piquant points about race, sex, and social issues in her show, both entertaining and educational, "Raw & Real: Life from One Woman's Perspective."

The name of the second rapper mentioned above was pronounced 'chaos' and chaos certainly reigned during the last week in August, which began with an earthquake, which some felt and some didn't, and Hurricane Irene, which necessitated the evacuation of Fire Island, so, unusually, I write these words from Brooklyn, instead of Cherry Grove, as is my custom. I sincerely hope we find the Grove in reasonable repair when we return and that the coming weeks are considerably better than this last-hey, we've got shows and weddings and things to go to!

Copyright Fire Island News. For more articles from Fire Island's paper of record, visit


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