Vancouver
3 min

A day at the beach

A picnic in the gay section of Wreck Beach

Credit: Xtra West files

You know the expression, “a walk on the beach?” Ha! Whoever said that never went to a gay beach.



Sure, gay beaches enable us to avoid many obstacles: screaming children spraying sand and rootbeer all over us; large groups of heterosexual men aggressively claiming space and posturing in that gorilla-like way heterosexual women supposedly can’t resist (okay, okay we know some of the gay guys think they’re hot, too, but please, for our sake, don’t encourage them). And for us, thankfully, no lifeguards shooing the dog people off the sand and out of the water.



But a queer day at the beach requires work. Around here, it begins with finding a parking spot at UBC near the trailhead to Wreck Beach, a task that may take longer than you actually spend on the beach. If you actually choose a day with sun, you must apply your 45 sunscreen, since those pesky Americans have ruined our ozone layer. Bubba would have cycled, of course, but Ann, ever mindful of the myriad physical challenges associated with the beach says, “you’re out of your fucking mind” and spends her energy trying to keep everyone calm while searching for that elusive parking space.



As we make our way down the trail, the scent of the ocean, sunscreen and something else kind of fishy, fills our nostrils. We’re going downhill and we’re excited. The dogs run ahead without annoying anyone because we’ve trained them not to get in people’s way (ah, training, the alternative to species segregation, but we digress). And then, there, ahead! A sprawl of naked bodies on golden white sand with the ocean, drat it, miles away across the tidal flats. But the dogs don’t care so we quickly dump our stuff, strip our clothes off, and walk for miles out to the water.



We pass handsome boys wearing teasing aprons as they sashay around with trays of margaritas. A studly naked fellow with a backpack advertises “the coldest beer on the beach.” The naked men with erections ignore us, and we know we’ve arrived: we’re in the gay section of Wreck Beach! We step back into the shade to extend our beach time a little and see a parade of gorgeous boys wearing cockrings. Oh no! Ann’s dog Jack wants to “fetch the stick” but once again, good training pays off: “leave it” protects the body part in question. Though we are in our finest (or at least Ann is), the men on the beach have no interest in our bodies. We don’t mind, but we do sort of wish that somewhere, someone (someone female) would at least take a glance in our direction.



What the fuck? As far as we know, and by all means correct us immediately if we are wrong, there are no dyke beaches. We’re not talking about softball fields by bodies of water: we mean put down your towel, take off your clothes, buy a drink from a woman with multiple genital piercings, get a little too much sun, beaches. As far as we know, the only dyke space exists in the margin between the straight beaches and the gay-boy beaches.



Take the famed Herring Cove at gay mecca Provincetown in Massachusetts. The first time you go, you’ll probably be with your gay male friend, or else he will give you convoluted directions. To go the way the boys go, you navigate by cum-smell, tracing your way through the dunes in half an hour or so to the gay beach. You can tell you are getting close because the men are wearing fewer and fewer clothes and eventually, none at all. Ooops! Don’t worry, just head back up the beach (not deeper into erection land) and you soon find the narrow cordon to which we are directing you.



But you might find it easier to go from the official parking, where you will pass through throngs of families, more families, a few straight people without families, a few clusters of dykes with such a huge amount of beach gear that they couldn’t go any further, and finally, the dykes with towels and scowls keeping the unwary and unwanted from passing the Lesbian and Gay Nudity Frontier. They may well be dykes on bikes in other garb, but tits ablazing, they hold the fort, give or take a few arrests by the tit police who come on horseback or dune buggies to hand out fines to topless women. (Yes, we tried “we aren’t women, we’re lesbians” but that only created more problems.)



But alas, in Vancouver, there is no such army of topless lesbians. So, we eye the boy with the tray of margaritas and think to ourselves “one margarita won’t make the climb up the hill that toughÂ…” How quickly we forget. What the fuck!



In our next column we explore the world of queer personals.