Program 39: Cherry Grove Stories
Directed by Michael Fisher
Fire Island, now famous for being a gay mecca each summer, used to be a quiet unheralded vacation spot. But in the 1950s, a cluster of gay and lesbian owned cottages popped up in the island’s tiny hamlet of Cherry Grove. Soon Cherry Grove would develop into our country’s first gay haven: a place where LGBT people could escape the oppression of day-to-day life and simply be themselves. In Cherry Grove Stories, long-time residents and vacationers tell the tales of one of our very first safe spaces.
Hear powerful stories of people feeling free for the first time and finding love that they never thought was possible. When police raided Cherry Grove’s cruising ground, the Meat Rack, marvel at stories of people hiding in streams, spending the night under docks, and even meeting their life partners during their harrowing escape. Drag shows in Cherry Grove pre-date electricity on Fire Island, when shows were powered by generators and queens had to hide their clothes and wigs under floor boards. Fans of drag will be enthralled by stories of these early drag queens and shows. Listen to stories of lavish parties and celebrity quests like Tennessee Williams and Liza Minnelli. And as AIDS decimated the gay community and turned Fire Island into a “leper colony,” hear remarkable stories of people finding comfort and leaving a legacy in Cherry Grove.
Cherry Grove Stories is just that: stories. It doesn’t get bogged down in dates and historical minutia. Instead it’s a series of extraordinary stories set against a backdrop of vintage photos and videos. Cherry Grove Stories is at times funny and at other times sad, but always fascinating and ultimately uplifting. There’s a story for everyone in Cherry Grove Stories.
— Stephen K. Weisenreder
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – GAZE Dublin LGBT Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – OUTshine Miami LGBT Film Festival