I have a Controversial Confession to make on this dismal, rain-adorned Tuesday afternoon. I’m a lesbian. Who sucks.
At sports, that is.
I just didn’t inherit that blessed “lesbian athlete” gene every other queer girl I’ve ever dated seems to possess. I have zero hand-eye coordination. I don’t attain a semblance of balance. My greatest athletic achievement to date is that one time I walked six miles through Central Park amidst a mid-January blizzard in five-inch platform shoes (long story, don’t ask).
Anyhow, just because I happen to be a wildly un-athletic lez doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate sports as an art form, darling. I’ve been a hyper-dedicated spectator of women’s sports for years now, even if I don’t quite “get” the rules of the game.
My favorite sport to watch? Beach volleyball, baby! In particular, lesbian beach volleyball. What the French *might* call “lesbienne plage volley-ball.”
So one can imagine how excited I was to attend the seventh annual Lez Volley tournament this past weekend, taking place right on the beach in Fire Island’s Cherry Grove, hosted by the “Don of New York lesbians” Danielle Stanziale and the equally fierce DJ-extraordinaire Kristine Bungay.
Lez Volley encapsulates a few of my most favorite things in this cruel, cold world. It takes place on Fire Island (the low-key version of the Hamptons for Manhattan gays). It involves a beach—a wild East Coast beach, but a beach nonetheless, with seafoam-colored Long Island waves roaring in the background. It involves bathing suits. And as a life-long lover of slutty attire, bathing suits are my favorite outfit. I would wear them to the office if it were socially acceptable.
Most excitingly, Lez Volley involves a bevy of hot tri-state-area lezzies playing volleyball. They all subdivide into different teams (GO has its own swaggy team, FYI) and get all sexy and sweaty and competitive with each other, while the rest of us lazy lezzies slug back cocktails and watch it all unfold. It’s sort of what I dreamed adult lesbian-hood would be like, only better.
I’d been excited about Lez Volley 2017 since Memorial Day weekend. I’d even been training for it. NOT because I wanted to look hot in my bathing suit or anything superficial like that, but in solidarity with my friends who were participating, OK? Gosh, what do you think I am? Shallow? (Don’t answer.)
I arrived on Friday with one of my besties Stacy Lentz (“the Ellis Island of lesbians”), Erin (my new friend that I’m obsessed with) and my girlfriend, Meghan (who has legs so long they enter the room before she does). Our house, delightfully named “Roman Holiday,” was at the very end of Cherry Grove, close to The Pines (the gay boy territory), and a sweet little hop, skip, and jump away from the Meat Rack.
For those not well-versed in the Fire Island Gay Underworld, the Meat Rack is a mystical-looking hiking path through the dunes that connects the Pines to Cherry Grove. It’s also a legendary gay boy hook-up spot. My proverbial gay uncle has fabulous stories of having engaged in mind-blowing sexcapades in the Meat Rack in the 70s.
“We’re staying in Cherry Pines!” I yelped as I twirled into our house, “Roman Holiday.” I was already a little buzzed as I had been sipping on a trashy/chic, pink little can of champagne on the ferry ride over.
“What is Cherry Pines, Zara?”
I adjusted my electric blue clip-in hair extensions and gazed into the pale blue Fire Island sky. “Where Cherry Grove and The Pines lightly intersect. Duh.”
“Is that even a thing?”
“It is now, bitches!”
(For the record, I would like to deem Cherry Pines an official Fire Island “neighborhood.” Since its location is close to both Cherry Grove and The Pines, it’s a place where you can find gay men and lesbians co-existing in blissful harmony, which is a beautiful thing in this tempestuous day and age. I stand firm in my belief that gay men and lesbians make a powerful team and we need to put a stop to our bitchy/catty back-and-forth.)
The first night, my housemates and I partied at “Cherry’s By The Bay,” which was where the opening party for Lez Volley was being thrown. Cherry’s is one of my favorite bars on Fire Island—it’s like a gay Cheers bar. Because sometimes you just want to go where every gay knows your name, you know?
High on the ultra-queer beach-y energy, we all went HOG W-I-L-D.
Girls in white denim skinny jeans and black net tops slurred drunken “I love youss to each other.
Girls in short-shorts shared passionate embraces and swapped ciggies, finally reunited in their happy place of Fire Island.
Even some of the athletes were boozin’! But if anyone on the planet can survive playing beach volleyball in the sun on a hangover, it’s a lesbian athlete. Lesbian athletes are true warriors. They’re made of steel, not delicate flesh.
I cartwheeled home at a modest 1 a.m. (yes, cartwheeled) because I so desperately wanted to feel like a fresh, pretty mermaid at Lez Volley the next day. Because if you can’t participate in the game, babes, the least you can do is show up on time, hangover-free, prepped to hand out icy-cold water bottles to the sweaty, heat-exhausted athletes, dressed like a deranged lesbian mermaid on her way to a rave in Ibiza. It’s just the right thing to do.
The next morning, after herding the housemates out the door (thanks to Stacy Lentz, who, for the record, used to be the director of an affluent girls’ sleep-away camp, thus she is excellent at rounding up groups of hungover, high-maintenance ladies and getting us out the door), we finally made it to the beach.
It was akin to the Sapphic feature film I’ve been directing in my head since I was nine. The sky was chic-ly overcast (not super hot like last year, when fleets of dehydrated young lesbians dropped like flies on the red-hot sand). The volleyball players looked fierce and sexy in their branded muscle tanks. I dropped my oversized Prada tote bag—yes, I’m the kind of glam bitch who brings Prada to the beach—by the Stonewall Inn Lez Volley tent. Because I firmly believe one’s things are always safe next to anything with the Stonewall Inn logo; it is our holy symbol, after all. Now free from my (literal and proverbial) baggage, I hurdled down the beach at rapid-fire speed, excited to see everyone.
And, baby, I did see everyone. Every single lesbian/bi/queer girl from Jersey, Long Island, and all five boroughs of New York were in attendance. I’m not even exaggerating, honey, you know I WOULD NEVER dare to exaggerate. What do I think I am? A drama queen?
“This needs to become the Dinah Shore of lesbians,” I said to Danielle (co-owner of Lez Volley, the Don of The Lesbians, you know her by now, kittens), pouring myself a large cup of mermaid juice.
Side note of a side note: The Drink of the Weekend was “mermaid juice.” Created by me, your local lesbian mermaid. Ingredients are organic Agave Tequila, sparkling name-brand Smart Water, and a splash of coconut water for hydration and flavor. It’s so clean a trainer friend of mine said you could drink it on a cleanse. (This trainer friend of mine also happens to be a gay man who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day, but whatever. I still trust him!)
“I agree!” Meghan shouted behind me. “It needs to be a whole weekend.”
I dramatically stared into the blustering ocean. “Yes,” I murmured, envisioning the whole thing in my mind’s eye. “Lesbians from all over the country will flock here, like they do to Dinah Shore, to participate in Lez Volley.” I imagined seaplanes packed full of lesbians from all across the globe, landing on the epic Fire Island beaches, clutching volleyballs painted as the flags of their home countries. Maybe it was the mermaid juice, but I had a witch vibe my witch-vibe would come to fruition.
Danielle laughed as her gorgeous, sweet-as-hell wife Johanne sauntered over to us. “This event is amazing!” I said to her, slightly slurring from the mermaid juice. We hugged and she rushed over to participate in the game because she’s tall and leggy and talented, unlike yours truly.
“Hey, can we get some mermaid juice?” some very cool-looking lesbians with tangled, long beach hair and full sleeves of colorful tattoos I had never met asked. Somehow word had gotten around about my amazing alcoholic concoction. Being the dutiful mermaid that I am, I proudly nodded my head and twirled a lock of blue hair around my fingers. “I swam all the way here to make the lesbians fresh mermaid juice,” I answered.
Two thousand foam cups of mermaid juice and several hours later, the game was coming to an end. The Aceholes won! Quite a feat, as they beat the Cherry’s team, which has been undefeated up until this point. (By the way, are you a lesbian writer who gets sports? I’m currently looking for a lez sports writer who could further report on athletic prowess. Message me.)
My crew and I went back to “Roman Holiday” for a moment before the after-party at Cherry’s By The Bay.
After washing the sand out of my hair, I realized I couldn’t find my bra. And then I realized I didn’t pack a bra. Or a real top. (To be fair, I just started taking Zoloft and it’s turning my brain into oatmeal.) I paired my liquid silver, floor-length skirt with a green leopard print bikini top and skipped to the party. This is why I love Fire Island. You’re not judged for wearing a bikini top as an actual shirt, you’re praised for it. By drag queens. By queer babes. By gay men.
The rest of the night was blissful wilderness. I met the most amazing girls, girls I’ve never met in the city. I made friends. I exchanged numbers. I chatted up the volleyball players. I even befriended the one gay male hairdresser on the island who gave me his card and offered to give me a blowout the next time I’m in town (which will be this weekend for the Margaret Cho show at the Ice Palace). I fell asleep in all of my glittery, acne-stimulating makeup, because, well, it was that kind of night.
I didn’t even care about the smattering of pimples across my forehead the next morning. Lez Volley was worth every zit, baby! BIG thank you to the wonderful people who made Lez Volley happen, the generous sponsors, the fabulous lesbian athletes, and all my fellow party girls who didn’t play, but watched and cheered. You girls served as the glitter of the weekend, and all gay events—even gay sports events—need glitter, baby.
I did, for the record, spend all day and all night of the following Sunday in Fire Island, but we’ll leave the details of that ~Sinful Sunday~ on Fire Island, kittens. All I’ll say is this: it involved a 70s-themed circuit party on the beach of the Pines, buzzed boat rides, a wig party, lots of hot-tubbin’, too many open bars for our own good, feather boas, and the, uh, painting of, uh, body parts. Let’s just leave it at that (I have to leave some things for my memoir!).
Thank you to the fiercest of party girls who held out the whole weekend with me. Only real party girls can last a full three days in Fire Island. We are a rare breed worthy of our own float in the Pride parade.
*Big thanks to Nicole Alexeeva, Erin Pope, Lauren Perchitti, Meghan Dziuma and all the other fabulous women who helped with taking pictures, covering for social media and being amazing friends to GO Magazine. We love you.
Also, check out www.lezVolley.com for more info!