Logo Wants to Bring the Private Gay Fire Island Pines Experience to the Masses—But at What Cost?
A unique LGBT safe space is at risk of being trashed by a new reality TV show. Fire Island, slated to be released in 2017, was picked up by Logo, a TV channel owned by Viacom and targeted at an LGBT audience. The reality TV show follows the lives of a group of gay New Yorkers that escape the city to the gay sanctuary of Fire Island. The show was filmed this past summer and is produced by couple Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos.
“During the filming this summer, members of the [Fire Island] crew were barging into the Blue Whale and Sip n Twirl abruptly and telling patrons to move so they could film their fake characters amidst our community, and we were not having it!
Fire Island Pines (FIP), for the uninitiated, is a secluded private gay bubble that exists on a thin barrier island off Long Island, New York. The island is accessible via a 20-minute ferry ride, which serves as a buffer zone between the real world and the magic place that is FIP. An intimate, private and vibrant community, FIP is comprised of only 600 houses and a 100 unit condominium complex. A quaint commercial area with a small grocery store, a couple of boutique shops, and two bars hugs the FIP harbor and serves as the central area of activity. The community is predominately made up of members of the LGBT community with a majority concentration of gay men of all ages. There is only one official hotel on the island, and it’s tiny.
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“Fire Island Pines is one of the last LGBT-only spaces we have, and that’s partially due to the fact that it’s two-hours and three modes of transportation outside the city,” notes Andrew Der, a marketing professional and member of the Fire Island community. ” To put Fire Island on display via a reality TV show format not only creates caricatures of its community, but also invites masses to descend on it for their own (typically bachelorette party-esque) amusement.”
Fire Island Is a Gay Sanctuary, Not the Set of a Reality TV Show
This past summer camera crews were conspicuously filming the main characters of the reality TV show—ruining the vibe and destroying the fragile FIP atmosphere. They could be seen doing multiple takes in the gay bars in the harbor, on the charming boardwalks and in the middle of the dance floor. It was unavoidable to be seen unless you chose to stay home. This is hardly behavior that respects a safe space that promotes personal expression and the sensitivities that go along with the gay experience. “During the filming this summer, members of the [Fire Island] crew were barging into the Blue Whale and Sip n Twirl abruptly and telling patrons to move so they could film their fake characters amidst our community, and we were not having it!” noted Josh Pushkin from New York and a member of the FIP community.
Logo thinks that the LGBT community will want to see shows like this. “Fire Island is an exciting new addition to Logo’s slate and perfectly complements the stories our audience craves,” said Pamela Post, SVP of Original Programing for Logo. “We’re thrilled to give it a home alongside yet another incredible season of intense competition on RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
But others don’t think that Fire Island will respect the gay community and portray FIP in a positive light. “This ‘reality’ show is completely fake, does not represent our experience on Fire Island and directly infringes on our Pines community as a safe space to express ourselves freely,” said Pushkin.
What Pamela Post fails to understand is that RuPaul’s Drag Race (which we love!) is made up of contestants who want to win a competition and be famous—all within a closed studio. The show doesn’t trespass into any safe spaces or unintentionally out anyone who may be standing in the background of a bar. Fire Island is a special place where gays come to forge long lasting friendships and find love— in private—without the fear of having it filmed and be put on a for-profit TV show. RuPaul’s Drag Race did wonders to promote gay culture and acceptance of non-heteronormative gays; Fire Island is invasive and disrespectful.
“The concept of [Fire Island] represents the intersection of two disturbing trends for the LGBT community—first, the ongoing narrative of a homosexual as an accessory of a straight person, for profit; and second, the erosion of predominantly LGBT spaces,” continued Andrew Der. “Fire Island has a very unique culture and community, which should be preserved, not put on display like a commercial for a new exhibit of animals at the zoo.”
OutBuzz has reached out twice to Logo for a statement, but as of publishing this article, the network has not responded.