I have an idea.
I’m a little worried about making myself vulnerable and setting myself up for the intense scrutiny we locals know Provincetown levels on you—even when you have the best intentions. Anyway, here it goes; please forgive me of any missteps. I’m writing this trying to be an ally to women, feminists, and lesbians.
In observance of International Women’s Day, I wanted to post something about how women and lesbians were the force of nature so desperately needed during the AIDS crisis in Provincetown. How they stepped up, when so many others didn’t, and dealt with fear of the unknown. How, as gay men, we desperately needed our lesbian sisters and the debt of gratitude we owe these women.
So I searched, and searched, and searched the Google machine, looking for that perfect article that talks about the subject. It came as a surprise that I could not find such an article.
I did find some great information and, in particular, a really good piece titled A Home at the End of the World: Provincetown and the AIDS Crisis by Lester Fabian Braithwaite. It touches on the role of women and lesbians, the dynamic Alice Foley, the beginnings of ASGCC, Ernest Martin’s storytelling in 2017, and the acceptance of Provincetown locals:
“But I don’t think it’s that the straight community here in the ’80s was just so accepting of gay people. I do think that it was the Portuguese community being really accepting of Tom because Tom’s your neighbor and Tom’s your buddy and Tom is sick and you love Tom and you don’t want to see Tom suffering. So you’re going to help Tom.”
I dug deeper with these pieces but didn’t find anything. I called my friend Michelle Axelson at Womencrafts—Michelle is my “go-to” when I’m worried that I’m being ignorant, insensitive, or just annoyed at something. I know she will listen, correct where appropriate, give me perspective, and not judge me for not understanding or knowing.
Nope. What I wanted to post—a big thank-you to the women and lesbians of Provincetown during the AIDS crisis—doesn’t seem to exist.
Michelle was the perfect person to help me with this. International Women’s Month is “choose to challenge” – Michelle challenged me to be vulnerable and do the project? So I am officially holding myself accountable to do it. To reach out to the folks I can find who were here, who lived it. Reach out to Ernest Martin to hear about his research and stories.
So here’s my request: please contact me if you have stories!
I’m for sure going to make some mistakes as I journey down my personal road on how to be a better ally to women. But let’s talk. After all, isn’t that how positive change starts? With an idea—and a conversation.