Epilogue
~rst
newspap« stories in '98. about a strange new illness
which seemed to be singling out young gay white men ushered in a
decade of decline and trauma for the Grove. Both the AIDS epi-
demic and the health problems of the Grove's aging residents forced
a modification of the convention that, as narrator Paul Jablonski put
it, every public event must be a "stitch, campy, or a bitch."
Cherry Grove's very success seemed to combine with local and na-
tional economic trends to rob the resort of the new people who had
invigorated it in each decade. Longtime residents were staying on,
even well into retirement, while the Nlitional Seashore's expansion
freeze and the impossibility of much more subdivision kept demand
and prices high just as middle-class discretionary income continued
to decline. Owners were hit with rising property taxes and squeezed
their renters to make up the difference.
It
was becoming cheaper for
young people to rent in the Pines, whose multi-bedroom houses were
more easily cut up into fractional summer shares accommodating
twenty to thirty people per weekend.!
The Grove had gotten a reputation as a gay backwater, resistant to
post-gay liberation politics and to fashion trends, its men well past
the age
of thirty when, according to tradition, youthful desirability
waned. Fear was widespread that the fun and excitement that had
distinguished the Grove were ebbing away. Thorn Panzi Hansen
wondered if the Invasion would fall apart ifhe didn't organize it each
year. The only other large noncommercial public event-proof of
how well the Ad Hoc Committee's campaign to get police protection
had succeeded-was the annual, hotly contested volleyball match
between the "Grovettes" and the "Copettes," a team fielded by the
Suffolk County Police Marine Division. This project was also orga-
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