Bruce-Michael Gelbert 1951-2023

A major presence in Cherry Grove, Bruce-Michael Gelbert passed away on March 4, 2023, after a long battle against pancreatic cancer. He spent the last 30 summers in Cherry Grove and   attended most every event.  

Photo by Mike Fisher.

Bruce held the title of Mr.  Leather and has the distinction of being the first Mr. Leather of Cherry Grove when the contest began in 2001. A classically trained musician, he also loved to sing and would appear at many functions in the Grove regularly, performing at the piano bars, Arts Project shows, Broadway Night at the Ice Palace and many private parties as long as there was a pianist to accompany him. He also served as a cantor during High Holy Day services at the B’Nai Olam in Fire Island Pines for the last 15 years.

Bruce was a strong supporter of Stonewall and other LGBTQ+ organizations. He joined the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) in 1991 and continued his passion and involvement with anything related to the LGBTQ+ community. Shortly after joining GAA, he became its vice-chair of community relations.

A talented writer, Bruce-Michael also wrote theatre reviews for Q News, Q On Stage.Com, The New York Native as well as this publication. An avid photographer, his lively images graced the pages of Fire Island News as well as other Fire Island publications. 

In his spare time, he performed as a non-singing extra with the Metropolitan Opera.

He is survived by his husband Joe Saporito.