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Is There Still Monkey Business on Fire Island in the Monkeypox Era?

Updated: Aug 30, 2022




The Insider:

Hi Charles! You’re on vacation now, right?

Charles:

Hi Andrea! Yes, I am

The Insider:

Where are you?

Charles:

On Fire Island in the Pines


The Insider:

Nice! How long have you been out there?

Charles:

Four days so far

The Insider:

Is that a vacation from work?

Charles:

Yes, a vacation from daily life

The Insider:

In Manhattan, you sure need that!


Charles:

There is great sense of sky. Being by the ocean, talking walks and just taking in the view. The light is amazing as the day changes from morning till evening. Sunset and the full moon are pretty amazing.

The Insider:

Last week, you talked a bit about being gay in NYC. Fire Island for decades has been a gay mecca. Is that part of your interest in being there?

Charles:

Yes, I do enjoy the gay presence here. Being at ease with the fact that it feels safe here to be oneself.


The Insider:

It sounds like a wonderful place to spend time! Is it crowded out there now?

Charles:

Yes, it’s high session. Everyone is taking as much summer as they can get.

The weekend is much busier than weekdays.

The Insider:

Are most of the people visiting there from NYC, or do people come from all over?

Charles:

It’s a big New York crowd but you do get people from all over.

The Insider:

As we talked about last week, I’m curious about how the gay community is being impacted by monkeypox and fear of it. Is that a big topic of conversation this year?

Charles:

Yes, everyone is talking about it. The conversation is about if you got the vaccine, how to get it and so on.

The Insider:

I read that monkeypox vaccines are now available on Fire Island. Have you seen that?

Charles:

Yes, I got one this weekend.

A photo by Charles of one of his favorite walkways on Fire Island
A photo by Charles of one of his favorite walkways on Fire Island

The Insider:

Wow! Tell me about that.

Charles:

Northwell Health is out here giving it.

The Insider:

Was it free?

Charles:

Yes. The mainland has made it a priority to bring the vaccine to Cherry Grove and The Pines

The Insider:

Where did you go to get the vaccine?

Charles:

They had a setup at the community center here on the island

The Insider:

Was it just like getting the Covid vaccine, or was it different in any way?

Charles:

The same. Everyone was very pleasant

The Insider:

That’s good! Were there long lines?

Charles:

There were about seven people in front of me. It went quickly. I think a lot of people out here have been diligent about getting the vaccine.

The Insider:

That’s interesting, of course, because there are millions of people who refuse to take a Covid vaccination. Do you know gay men who say they won’t take it?

Charles:

I don’t. Some people want to just be safe and get the vaccine

The Insider:

What have you heard about how well the vaccine is supposed to work?

Charles:

I heard an interview on NPR that there is not significant data. So, I guess we will see what happens in a month or so if cases keep rising.

The Insider:

Do you know anyone personally who has gotten monkeypox?

Charles:

A friend of mine has it and they are in isolation and it was not a pleasant experience

The Insider:

In what way not pleasant?

Charles:

It was painful

The Insider:

The lesions?

Charles:

From the discussions I’ve heard online, the lesions sound very painful

The Insider:

I’m sure many people out there well remember the AIDS crisis. Is this affecting the community in the same way?

Charles:

There is a comparison but you’re not going to die from it and there’s a vaccine now. The AIDS crisis was devastating to this community

The Insider:

Very true. Do you get a sense being on Fire Island that monkeypox is making gay men less sexually active? Have you heard people say that it’s not worth the risk?

Charles:

Yes, I have and I feel that way.

The Insider:

So this will affect your own lifestyle?

Charles:

I will wait to get the second dose and assess the situation. Right now, I’ll enjoy the view and the flirtation!

The Insider:

LOL. Is it two doses?

Charles:

Yes. Four weeks until the second dose

The Insider:

Have you also heard men say, “Life’s short! Monkeypox is not going to ruin my life!”

Charles:

Oh, yes--people are doing their thing!

Low Tea at the Blue Whale is the popular activity in the harbor from 6-8 p.m (photo credit: Charles)


The Insider:

Do tell!

Charles:

People are hooking up and having sex. They have the vaccine and feel safe

The Insider:

I guess some people even did that during the AIDS crisis.

Charles:

Yes, no one knew what was going on at the time. People thought you were getting it from the water on Fire Island. Urban legends.

The facts now are saying, you can get monkeypox from having anonymous sex.

The Insider:

That seems like a good reason to slow down!

Charles:

Yes. But the flesh is weak and there are lots of temptations all around! I think a few weeks ago people were in a panic but I think that eased up with the vaccine.

People like to party and enjoy good times here.

The Insider:

Where does most of the partying go on?

Charles:

In town, there are venues, bars and dance spaces. People gathering in groups, drinking, dancing, pool parties. There are also house parties. It’s part of the culture here.

The Insider:

Have you been to Fire Island many times?

Charles:

I’ve been coming for over 20 years

The Insider:

Really! Has it changed a lot?

Charles:

No, I think it’s the same. The people change but the same stuff happens. Real estate is more expensive

The Insider:

Great! I’m done being nosy!

Charles:

Haha

The Insider:

Of course, I’m not. I would love to know more, but I’m not going to be obnoxious!

Charles:

You’ll have to wait for my memoir. 🤣

The Insider:

LOL. I bet it will be fabulous!

Well, enjoy your time out on Fire Island! Thanks so much for talking with us. Much appreciated!

Charles:

You’re welcome. The sun finally came out and I’m heading to the beach!


A glorious beach day on Fire Island
A glorious beach day on Fire Island

Read Our First Interview with Charles here

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