Photos from Fire Island's Gayest Weekend

At the 18th annual Pines Party, gay men arrived to carouse among their own, shrouded from the world by woods and dunes.

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Jul 26 2016, 4:00am

On Fire Island, the largest of the barrier islands outside Long Island, you'll find the Fire Island Pines. The hamlet serves as a community, cruising ground, and capital of high gay society. Lush with its namesake scrub pine trees and bordered by sand dunes, it's overrun each summer with queer men of all stripes, who flock there to find brotherhood and embrace.

Among America's gay communities, from Palm Springs, California, to Provincetown, Massachusetts, the Pines and its neighbor Cherry Grove have fixed themselves as a hedonist's mecca nonpareil in our national queer imagination. "The Pines is to gay people what Israel is to Jews," a resident once told the New York Times.

Since long before Stonewall, it's where gay men have sought sex and shelter from the outside world. The singular landscape has stained the works of Edmund White and Andrew Holleran. Its reputation as an essential destination for high gay society is said to have begun when W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood arrived costumed as Dionysus and Ganymede, "carried aloft on a gilded litter by a group of singing followers."

This weekend marked the 18th iteration of the Pines Party, an all-day, all-night dance and fundraiser where the magic of the island blooms into a bacchanal carouse. Photographer Nathan Bajar hopped a ferry to capture portraits of the attendees, aglow in the sun and drunk with passion.

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