This is a town where every store is a unique, independent collection of quirky items. The coffee beans are all organic. Art Galleries are sprinkled throughout. Little courtyards of shared outdoor space are hidden away between houses and down alleys. Houses are clad in rustic cedar shakes, instead of that hideous vinyl siding. Every car has a dog. Every cafe has a water bowl.
More importantly, the P-town zip code has the highest concentration of same-sex households in America. The reading I've been doing attributes this to P-town's early reputation as an ideal summer retreat for artists and the establishment of several art schools and a theatre group. As the town became known for a place where eccentric people were accepted, it became a destination for gay people looking for a place where they could also feel accepted.
Now it is a place with a rainbow flag on every corner. If gay people are not a majority, they are at the very least normal here. Normal. Not worth remarking upon. Perfectly commonplace.
Even in the liberal environment of New England, I sometimes feel like an abnormality, like I need to make delicate use of pronouns, like there will always be this moment of awkward hesitation after telling someone new that my fiance is a woman, not a man. Like I'm satisfying the butch dyke stereotype by identifying certain male qualities.
Here I'm just another tourist, and it's not unusual that I'm holding hands with a woman, and I exist somewhere on a spectrum of gender expression. And there's a corgi in the cafe - INSIDE THE CAFE - that doesn't seem to know how unusual her particular experience is.
I don't think people realize, even I don't often realize, what it's like to be constantly aware of different-ness. To have in the back of my mind that most of the people I meet are are alike to one another in a way that they are different than me, and their sheer numbers mean that my life, my freedom, are essentially in their hands. I am able to live openly as an out lesbian because the straight people permit it. Even should the laws protect me, they do not force social acceptance. In the world of the straights, I exist thanks to the generosity of those around me.
What if there was a place where that wasn't the case? Is P-town a glimpse of what that would be like?