What I Learned About Myself After a Summer in Provincetown

Zachary Zane

I was lucky to have the experience that many queer men in America dream of: I spent the summer in Provincetown. Provincetown (often called just "Ptown"), for those of who you don’t know, is a gaycation destination located on the tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The New York Times did a pretty interesting feature write up on Provincetown this summer (it’s definitely worth the read), discussing how it still is a quaint, artistic, friendly, and beautiful town. 

While I was there, I would write in the mornings, lie naked on the beach in the afternoons, and go-go dance in the evenings. For eight incredible weeks, I was surrounded by queer men. There were times, honestly, when I forgot that straight people existed. That’s how consumed I became in the Ptown culture. It was fabulous, and at the risk of sounding cliché, I’ll go as far to say life-changing. I learned things about myself that you can only learn when far removed from standard, heteronormative society. Here are the big three:

1. There’s something powerful about existing in a space as the majority

The main thing: safety. I wasn’t afraid to make out with guys in the street. I wasn’t self-conscious about dressing more effeminately or wearing my bright pink short-shorts. I didn’t once fear for my safety, and I didn’t worry about appearing a certain way. It’s a great feeling not having to worry about that. It’s a great feeling to know that you are surrounding by others like you, who will accept you for who you are.

2. You don't always have to have an emotional guard up

It’s interesting. I met a number of the same men in Ptown that I had met in Boston. In Boston, these men were closed off. They were quick to dismiss me as a friend or partner. Their impenetrable guard was up, and nothing I could say or do could break it down. But in Ptown, these same men were kind. They were open. They acted as if we were best friends, and not in the classic “pretending to be friendly even though I hate him,” Regina George-esque, catty way. They were genuinely excited to see me. This showed me that we, as queer men, have become so jaded. We so desperately want to connect, but have been hurt too many times before. So we have these gigantic walls that we’ve built up. While it keeps out all the fair-weather friends and selfish boyfriends, it keeps out the genuinely good guys too. Ptown revealed to me that we don’t need to have these huge guards up.

3. Confidence

It’s a cruisy city, especially a night. This is a good thing. Guys are checking you out constantly. They’re staring you down, they’re coming up to you, and they flirt with you—hard. My confidence skyrocketed in Ptown. It then becomes a positive feedback loop. I’m confident, so I’m more sociable, and because I’m more sociable, more people like me, and because of that, I get more confident. I’ve made sure to bring a little bit of this confidence back with me to Boston. Yes, the guys in Boston aren’t nearly as nice, and I get rejected a lot more in Boston than I did in Ptown, but I’ve managed to hold onto that confidence that I got from feeling desired in Ptown.

So if you have the opportunity to spend some time there, even if it’s just for a weekend, make the trip. I promise, you won’t regret it! 

ZACHARY ZANE is a writer focusing on (bi)sexuality, gender, dating, relationships, and identity politics. Subscribe to his YouTube channel to hear him discuss all things related to sex and dating.

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