NEW YORK - So many people have fallen in love with the fire island Island hamlet of Cherry Grove and its natural beauty and it's gay-friendly identity.
Michael Fisher first went in 1985. He's so enamored, he is one of only a handful of year-round residents now. And he's made the new documentary "Cherry Grove Stories".
"You can be in New York City and be gay and feel free but it's not the same because out in fire Island you're in the majority in cherry Grove the majority is gay. So there is that magic and freedom that people fall in love with," Fisher said. "Back then it was very important because we didn't have a place and we didn't feel if we fit in anywhere. You could come and be gay hold hands with your boyfriend- I think in that it helped to create a community that didn't necessarily exist in the city for instance."
Despite its reputation as a gay Shangri La, Cherry Grove was not a total haven. There were raids and arrests. Fisher's documentary showcases the creative ways the community skirted the rules.
"Cherry Grove actually is where line dancing started, I'm told, because it was illegal to dance with the person of the same sex but if you had a line of men with one woman then it was legal so there's a lot of that adversity but they rose above it just to have fun," Fisher said. "In the 1960s it was amazing because you would get people coming to Cherry Grove from all over the world."
Stephanie Simon: This year being 50 years since the Stonewall riots obviously so many important things going on with the LGBTQ community in the city; exhibitions, performances, your film is being released. What do you think this film adds to that overall conversation?
Michael Fisher: I think it adds the fact that there's a history that things didn't just all the sudden become okay. In the face of people being arrested in the face of aids and everything that happened in the gay community. I think it's important to have this gay history told and recorded.
Fisher starts filming his next documentary this summer. It will explore the history of drag in Cherry Grove. Once again his focus is celebrating life in the face of adversity.
For more go to cherrygrovestories.com.