It was like a plot straight out of a TV show: After getting divorced, Erin Atwood moved from Pepperell back to Cape Cod (he’d spent his childhood in Eastham). He settled in Provincetown with his young son and bought an inn with his mother.
That was 13 years ago; his son is now 17, he’s since sold the inn, and P-town turned out to be just as charming as any fictional setting.
Today, you can find Atwood planning Carnival, a weeklong festival to encourage GLBT tourism, and marketing Provincetown to that community as part of his job as the executive director of the Provincetown Business Guild and GLBT tourism director for the town. Those posts involve his favorite things about Provincetown: the openness and diversity.
“Same-sex couples [are] holding hands, kissing, and showing how much they love the person they are with in public without fear,” he says. “Although GLBT couples are now accepted in most places, this is still a place where you don’t have to worry about being looked at awkwardly or made fun of.”
Provincetown has long been a GLBT vacation spot.
“In the summer, you have a nonstop party atmosphere” and a wide range of outdoor activities, he says. “If you want to join in, have at it. In the winter, you get to hang out with your friends that you don’t see much during the summer, since we are all so busy working.”
Beaches and friends are easy to find, but big stores are not.
“If you want anything from the big-box stores, the closest ones are in Hyannis,” Atwood says. “God forbid you need anything in the summer. That one-hour drive just turned into at least two, depending on the day and time of the week.”
However, the magic of Provincetown makes it worth the effort.
“I firmly believe that there is still no place like Provincetown where you can be your true self,” Atwood says.
By the numbers
Height of the Pilgrim Monument. The granite tower commemorates the Mayflower’s anchoring at Provincetown Harbor, where the Pilgrims drafted and signed the Mayflower Compact, then sailed on to Plymouth.
The number of entries in the annual Carnival parade
The year-round population of Provincetown, according to the town’s website. During the summer, the population reaches 60,000.
The number of artists and writers in residence October through May at Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work Center. There are more than 50 art galleries in town.
Pros & cons
Provincetown is known as the Best Gay Resort Community, and has been for years. The GLBT community became prominent during the 1920s and 1930s, and now Provincetown is said to have one of the highest proportions of same-sex couples in the United States — 163 per 1,000 households, according to a 2011 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School.
Pro & Con
Chain stores (“formula businesses”) looking to move into town must seek a special permit because of zoning regulations designed to preserve Provincetown’s history and small businesses. A quick run to Target? Out of the question.