Fire Island in Transition: Trans Celebration Weekend

Parker Sargent and Kay Davis, organizers of Trans Celebration Weekend. Photo courtesy of CGDEI.

Transgender, transsexual, transition … 2023 has exploded with new terms and titles that are now part of our everyday language in conversation. We hear it on television, and in the communities in which we live. The world is changing.

We have new neighbors in the Grove and the Pines, where these two communities have opened the road for a safe haven for another generation of people that can live among friends and be free.

Parker Sargent and Kay Davis introduced a new and delicate subject earlier this summer at the Cherry Grove Diversity Equity and Inclusion project (CGDEI) salon gathering last June, discussing issues faced by the transgender population in Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines. Being gay is certainly not a new subject. We’ve had gay characters in movies, theatre and in real life forever.    

Cherry Grove started staging drag shows in 1948 and in the early 20th century there were venues featuring drag in major cities in the U.S. and Europe: Club 82 in New York City, Finocchio’s in San Francisco, and the Post Office in Provincetown just to name a few.  It also was well ingrained in American popular culture, remember Flip Wilson as Geraldine? That was considered wholesome family entertainment in the 1970s. As was Milton Berle and Bob Hope when they donned dresses on television.

However, drag and transgender are really not the same thing. One is performance art, even an alter ego if you will – the other is about identity in daily life – how we wake up in the morning, go to work, the grocery store, and go to sleep at night. All identity is central to human existence and deserves respect.

There are increments of progress on this front. Open non-binary actors Alex Newell and J. Harrison Ghee won Tony Awards last June. Recognition is a good place to start.

The dialogue continues on with Trans Celebration Weekend, which will be held in Cherry Grove Sept. 15-17. This collaborative undertaking between CGDEI, the Ice Palace, and PARSAR Productions offers an assortment of activities that will include a film forum with a panel of guest directors, a nature walk with Kelsey Sucena, a cabaret mixer, and a discussion on transgender inclusion in sports – followed by a volleyball game – and much more. Go to to learn more about the upcoming weekend taking place during the most glorious time of year to be on Fire Island.