For Bois, Butches and Women of Color, Provincetown Is Calling

by Kelsy Chauvin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday April 28, 2022
Originally published on April 22, 2022

For Bois, Butches and Women of Color, Provincetown Is Calling

The best part is being able to let loose. That's the magnetism of Provincetown. The little historic town at the tip of Cape Cod has served as one of the all-time great LGBTQ destinations since even before the 1970s.

That legendary, queer-welcoming spirit is everything to visitors who don't just look forward to a Ptown trip, they need it. Ptown means community, and freedom, and fun. For the spectrum of LGBTQ visitors, the town puts on theme weeks and weekends that dive even deeper into common interests and identities, from Transgender Week and CabaretFest; to Carnival, Girl Splash, Single Women's Weekend, and more.

But one of the biggest, boldest annual events arrives over Memorial Day weekend, happening this year May 26-30, after a two-year, pandemic-related hiatus. Once nicknamed "baby dyke weekend," MEMDAY Ptown is a favorite for queer women and allies to shake off everyday hang-ups and dive into the freedom of Ptown.

For some queer cis- or trans-women, it's a chance to openly embrace and embody their masculine sides. It's a time and place to express themselves as butch- or boi-presenting, with a sense of comfort and security that's perhaps uncommon in everyday life. Better still for some, MEMDAY Ptown is a fabulous event to celebrate female masculinity to the fullest.

"You can go there and be you, and be comfortable, and no one's going to judge you," says Beth McGurr, founder of Lesbian Nightlife, which co-produces MEMDAY Ptown with Lynette Molnar and Provincetown for Women. "It's just a great place to be gay.

"Look, I live in Boston, and like a lot of big cities, Boston's pretty gay-friendly," says McGurr. "But there are people who come from other cities that don't have that same [gay-friendly] experience. And then when they come to Ptown — this is a whole other world for them. People come from all over, and this might be their big trip they do every year. They come to Ptown because this is where they feel like they can be themselves."

Womxn of Color Weekend

MEMDAY Ptown kicks off the Cape's summer season, and launches into Womxn of Color Weekend, taking place this year June 2-5. Founded in 2007, the four-day event is "designed to elevate, strengthen, educate and celebrate LGBTQIA women of color (WOC), non-binary and genderfluid people of color (POC), and our accomplices," reads its website.

Jha D Amazi, executive director and producer of Womxn of Color Weekend since 2017, says that while the name changed from "Women of Color" to "Womxn of Color" four years ago, the event's mission remains largely the same.

"We're still focused on providing meaningful workshops, entertaining parties/events, and delicious shared meals," says Amazi. "What has changed is how we welcome the broader community and intentionally make space for those who identify outside of the binary. In 2018, we changed the name of the event and included more descriptive language in the mission, in response to several questions we were receiving about whether or not someone's trans, masc or non-binary partner/friends were welcome.

"We've also diversified our collaborators — those who perform, DJ, facilitate workshops, and otherwise contribute to the success of WoCW — to include more than cis-gender, women-identified folx," says Amazi.

Over Womxn of Color Weekend, a "Feelin' Fabulous" general-admission pass brings access to daily and nightly group cookouts and dinners, cocktail and beach parties, workshops, a yoga and meditation session, and celebratory soirees. (Upgrade to the VIP "Feelin' Fancy" pass for extra perks.)

The party-boi vibes of MEMDAY Ptown bring nightly dance parties, plus the annual Crown & Anchor pool party and Freedom Boat Cruise, all available for single tickets or via an all-weekend pass.

The two summer-kickoff weekends also have the common tie of inclusivity for all queer women. But when it comes to the topic of more masculine-presenting visitors, Amazi notes a distinction in her own perspective. "Personally, I've understood 'butch' to refer to an older generation of masculine-of-center-presenting, non-POC lesbians. Whereas 'boi' for me always brings up images of millennial and younger black and brown nonbinary-presenting folx." 

Amazi also has observed that more recently, "Ptown is changing. There's a deliberate effort being made to welcome diverse communities — race, age, gender expression, sexual identity, partner preference, etc. — to Ptown outside of the theme weekends. Last year's Juneteenth Commemoration and Parade marked an important shift in Ptown's inclusion of the BIPOC community." (This year's Juneteenth Independence Day celebration is June 19th.)

Of course, the thing about Ptown is that there's something special happening virtually every day all summer and into the fall. Womxn of Color Weekend overlaps with Provincetown Pride (June 3-5), sure to deliver layers of rainbow fun. The July 20-23 Girl Splash event brings beach outings, sailing, comedy shows, and many more midsummer frolics.

The big-momma annual event is always Women's Week, arriving October 10-16 with activities like wine tastings, readings, sports, tours, live shows, screenings, speed dating, sails, DJ'ed parties, and more.

"Each weekend kind of has its own personality," says McGurr. "But even if you just showed up in Ptown and weren't expecting anything, you could go to any event and feel welcome. Ptown in general is pretty much the gayest place on earth, so you can go there, be yourself, and always have a good time."

Kelsy Chauvin is a writer, photographer and marketing consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in travel, feature journalism, art, theater, architecture, construction and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @kelsycc.