FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: Let’s Go To The Beach, Beach

Hello, July! Hello, beach season! AMIRITE? Last weekend was World Pride in NYC and it was a whole lot on my Instagram feed. By that I mean, a lot of gorgeous queers and trans folx snapping selfies at the queer liberation march, the trans day of action, the dyke march, and the pics that inspired FOMO the most for me, the big ol’ un-sponsored, non-World Pride-organized queer beach party at Riis Beach.

Jacob Riis Park (via Shutterstock)

If you’re not from New York, maybe you haven’t hear of the Jacob Riis Beach, a topless and year-round queer beach spot lovingly referred to as the People’s Beach or the Community Beach or just as Riis. A spot at Riis Park has been a cruising and queer meet-up spot since the 1940’s, at least, for cis white gay men and then lesbians in the 1950’s and, since the 1960’s for QTPOC.

Riis and the beautiful, sweaty queer and trans folks avoiding the sponsored rainbow ticker tape parades, lounging on beach blankets in a little corner of this beach in Queens, inspired my question for you this week. If you were free and on the beach, our queer and trans beach, what would you be doing? If you knew that your body would be celebrated, your romantic and sexual proclivities would be respected, your gender would be held sacred, where would you be on the beach? What would be your perfect beach day?

Maybe you’d be the one organizing an impromptu game of beach volleyball. Maybe you’d be sunbathing topless on a big, fluffy beach towel. Maybe you’d be making sandcastles with a moat and delicate seashell trim. Maybe you’d be drinking wine in a kaftan and a glorious floppy sunhat. Maybe you’d be throwing back some beers with your best queers. Maybe you’d be canoodling with a cutie or two under a shade umbrella. Maybe you’d be bopping on the waves daring the sun to shine brighter than you.

Me, well, first of all, I’d be in my bikini, which I just finally bought this year. As much as I preach fat positivity and loving my fat self, I haven’t owned a bikini, a real bikini (not a tankini) since, uh, high school. In high school, I would only wear it at home for sunbathing, never out in public. I’m still a little self-conscious when I wear a bikini in public, as much as I try to trick my brain into exuding confidence, but I wouldn’t feel any of that anxiety at our queer beach.

I’d be rocking my bikini, only the bottoms, letting my 36-year-old 42DD tits swing in the breeze. I’d allow my body to fully relax. I’d walk up to my neck into the waves to cool off and then dry luxuriously on a big beach towel. I’d keep my hair wet so I could run my fingers through it like some queer femme adonis. I’d bring a little cooler with sparkling waters in my favorite flavors and fresh strawberries and tiny cucumber sandwiches. I’d bring a sweatshirt so I could stay until the sun sets over the water and the night sky cools the sand so you can sink your feet below it deliciously.

What about you? What would you do at the queer and trans beach on your perfect beach day?

What else is going on with you this week? Did you go to World Pride in NYC? Did you do some BBQing? Did you celebrate major or minor life events? Did you not leave your house for days on end (like me)? Want to share some pics of your plant babies? Tell me anything! I’m here, on the queer beach in our minds, all day!


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KaeLyn is a 37-year-old (femme)nist activist, word nerd, and queer mama. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, over-caffeinating herself, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. You can buy her debut book, Girls Resist! A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution if you want to, if you feel like it, if that's a thing that interests you or whatever.

KaeLyn has written 218 articles for us.

39 Comments

  1. This makes me miss the pool at A-Camp – cute queers in every direction, basking in California sun. Luckily I’m going on a 3 hour roadtrip to a fellow Blackhearts’ house to swim in her pool this weekend!

  2. First of all, shout out to the QTPOC pool party at A-Camp and really any space that involves water and exclusively QTPOC folx. I have not felt as free in that space since I was a prepubescent child when nobody cared what you did (or didn’t) wear in the pool/at the beach/running around the yard/house.

    If we had a Riis beach in Oklahoma (lol), I would love to go with my queer friends. I sadly do not have one, but it would be awesome to rock one of TomboyX’s bathing suits/swim trunks. I have never gone topless anywhere, but it sounds very freeing, and maybe I would feel comfortable doing it at the queer beach. I’d spend way too much time in the water, too little time putting on sunscreen, and I’d stretch the day into the evening with a little fire pit or something. Reading by the fire or even throwing it back to sing camp songs sounds great. Finish the night by stargazing.

    • First of all, love your avatar pic. That beach dream sounds just perfect. I would join you around the beach firepit and we could make smores and someone would play guitar to the sound of the waves lapping the shore as the tide came in. OMG I want to go there!

  3. This has nothing to do with the beach (sorry KaeLyn!), but I’m in London right now and will avoid the corporate thing happening tomorrow. I’m going to go the the Queer Picnic at Burgess Park instead. Any of you Straddlers going to be there, or are you all going to be watching England take on Sweden? I’ll be the butch lady with the gray undercut, possibly hidden under a hat, maybe looking a little lost. So, if I see some Straddle merch on you, I might just venture over and say “hello.”

  4. It wouldn’t be bright or my eyes would be better. It would be socially acceptable for me to go topless in an unsexual way either because I had a body without breasts or because my breasts wouldn’t be sexualised (not sure which). I’d wear baggy trunks. I’d learn sand sculpture, which isn’t just making a sandcastle. I’d go boating and read my books and draw and swim in the sea. We’d play beach football. I’d be brave enough to go out on a lilo. I’d go on a peddle boat or a banana boat or well a boat. It would somehow be as warm as Greece but as dull as Britain OR my eyes would be better.

    I miss my old summers as a kid when I got to go on the beach in the Canaries cos my eyes were better and didn’t have as much light sensitivity as they do now.

    I also miss how before that I always thought my own home town’s beach was warm and I used to go paddling and swimming in rock pools.

    Oh yeah it would also be socially acceptable for adults to swim in rock pools and eat candyfloss. There would be a fairground next to it and nobody would be shamed for preferring the dark rides and the merry go rounds. But nobody would win goldfish in bags or ride overworked donkeys. Instead, we’d have AI versions of the donkeys or something? And of course fluffy toys to win instead of goldfish.

    I would have an appetite so I could have fish and chips, milkshake, ice cream, crab sticks, candyfloss AND donuts without being sick or feeling full.

    (sorry I rambled, I got a bit too into this)

      • I hope so.

        I 1 have a buzz cut now and 2 am in charge of my own hair and 3 don’t touch my hair when I’m eating candyfloss.

        So I’m probably in the perfect place for it. I wasn’t allowed it as a little kid in case I touched my hair and my mother had to wash it out.

        It’s just so bad for me. I’ve been slowly learning about healthy eating outside of diet culture (which I never believed in but health is different) so I’m eating a lot of nuts and stuff lately. Candyfloss is basically just dyed sugar right?

  5. I’d be wearing board shorts (that I do not own yet) and my black bikini top (that I bought years ago and wore for the first time last week) and I would look and feel like a tomboy femme goddess.

    I’d build sandcastles – digging a hole to water and then dripping the wet sand to make little towers that look like something designed by Gaudi.

    And then I’d sit in the shade with my book and read and occasionally look up and smile with joy at being at outside on a beautiful day amongst my people.

    There’s an unofficial gay beach in Chicago (maybe more than one but I just know about Hollywood beach). I went for the first time last year for a bi beach meetup. I managed to choose the entrance farthest from my group and had to walk the length of the beach in my maxi dress looking for any groups with women and nb folxs and getting a lot of “are you in the right place, honey?” stares. And then I saw a giant bi pride flag covered in and I found my people.

    • OMG the goopy, wet, abtract sand towers. That brought back some serious beach memories for me!

      I’m so glad you found your bi beach babes. When we inherit the earth, every day will be unofficial gay beach day!

  6. I would slap on a couple of gallons of sunscreen, nap under a sun shelter, and play in the water.

    Next week I’m going to the beach. The first couple of days I will be camping on Cape Lookout island. Take the ferry over, set up camp, build a fire, and enjoy the stars. Next day, get up and watch the sunrise, kayak around the island, play in the water, nap under a sun shelter, and enjoy the campfire. All this with three of my friends. Next day, back across to the Outerbanks, and to my friends’ beach house. I will be joined by six other fabulous women. We will cook and eat together, kayak, work out on the beach, play in the water, and play games at night. So basically, I will be living my dream day at the beach for over a week.

  7. As someone who hosted a few lgbtq beach day, I can tell there would be a lot of shade, easier way of getting to the beach, and lots of bbq/food options. I have always had the events at a beach that has a fire pit so we can bbq snacks and keep warm. Problem is having enough wood for the afternoon/night. My last beach event had a few queer grandma’s of color who brought pounds of food and the fun! I think the only change I would make add another LGBTQ colored lifeguard tower, but on a beach with a fire pit. I’d also make it topless for those who want to be topless, but LA county removed all the topless beaches(I forget why).

    How is everyone’s week going? It was nice having a Thursday off but also feels weird to have a day off in the middle of a work week that isn’t Thanksgiving. I spent yesterday at the same national park I spent my Sunday, but on a different trail. Beach was a bit too packed to go into the water yesterday, despite how nice it looked. I did that Sunday when the beach was less packed. Sunday I plan to take it easy by going to Cuties.

    I had an awkward moment the other day during my lunch break, as a relative cane in my store asked me who I am on a video call with. It was with my bff who was topless due to the humidity where she was in her home town. The relative wanted to see who I was talking too, and my friend just moved the phone closer to her face, though she doesn’t care because cis men do it all the time. I am sure I am not the only one here who’s been in that situation.

    View from yesterday as the other trail went east & away from the ocean view.

    Thank you for viewing and reading my post. Have a positive weekend!

  8. Dig a hole. It’s my favourite beach activity, although it seems to be a mostly British beach activity? I just love spending a few hours with some repetitive, pointless manual labour. And then standing in it to see how deep you got, perfect.

  9. I actually had a perfect queer beach day yesterday!!! I went with my best friends to Riis for my birthday (which is actually on Monday) and it was so so so fun and beautiful. It was crazy crowded and the sand burned your feet in the middle of the day, so in my perfect world I’d change that, but we ate watermelon and drank frose and swam to a SANDBAR in the ocean which was pretty warm for the Atlantic!!!! also in my perfect world there would obvs be no cops on the beach. But I felt so so lucky to be surrounded by my favorite people at my favorite place and I wish you got that too!!

    In my perfect world I’d have a beach house we could walk to at the end of the night to eat burgers and more watermelon and hydrate and pass out by like ten pm. And then back the next day!

  10. Look, I have a lot of feelings about this, because my birthday is smack, wham, right in the middle of August and I‘ve been dreaming about throwing this epic beach party for forever.
    There‘d be a lot of very loud and very good music, dancing and a barbecue.
    Just like in this super corny, old German hip hop music video. Whenever I watch it, I dream of my birthday beach party.

  11. Well I’m going to Hawaii to visit family at the end of July (a best friend who is basically my sister), and they keep saying how accepting Hawaii is for trans folks, so what I want to do (and at Autostraddle perfect beach) is swim, relax, tan, bring a beach read/drink a little. Not feel awkward about my body and just feel seen as myself at the beach.

    Also safe from the rays of the sun too. I burn like white bread in the toast if I’m not properly sun blocked up.

  12. Australian here in the depths of winter…but I did just get back from Hawaii so I have had my beach fix.
    First, I would be wearing enough sunscreen to not burn. I think I’d still be wearing my same modest swimsuit but doing that because that’s what makes me feel comfortable, not others. I’d be diving through the waves like a kid, feeling carefree and obnoxious with lots of other queers to mess about with. We’d have a boat and I’d be able to drive everyone out further to snorkel or waterski or whatever was people’s thing. Then I could go back to the beach and drink endless cocktails while reading my book, and no one would mind that I needed to disconnect/recharge for awhile.
    We’d be able to stay till night, and have a bbq (with plenty of vegan food too) as the sun sets. Then, we’d make a fire and talk and share stories under the stars (with s’mores of course). We’d be able to carve out a safe space for all of us, even just for a few hours.

  13. I love this idea of this beach. “If you knew that your body would be celebrated…your gender would be held sacred.” I’m going to an amusement park/water park tomorrow with my shaved/buzzed head and unshaved everything else and wearing shorts in public for the first time in decades. And while this feels genuine and this feels like me, sometimes my confidence fizzles a bit out in the world and I panicked for a sec today, after being misgendered a couple times and just generally feeling awkward and realizing I didn’t bring other clothes I could hide in. I hope to wake up with an “I don’t give a f**k, this is me” attitude like I often have. And if I feel awkward and like I stick out and like the only person like me, I hope to remember that I’m going to be my own visible representation of this way to be. And maybe I will be for someone else.

    I was feeling like maybe it was silly to express this here until I realized that this is maybe the one place in my life someone would understand or at least listen without judgement. So thanks.

    I like how I am and I like the choices I’m making in how I present and I like this journey of figuring out my gender and what that looks like for me. And what a joy to be discovering and accepting all these different aspects of my queerness when I went for so many, many years thinking I was one thing(s) and always feeling like a square peg in a round hole.

    And clearly I’m too tired to reach for my journal to write this and instead put it on the internet, of all things, which I hope not to regret in the morning as I am so introverted I’m almost inside out. 😳

  14. My body would likely remain just as covered, but I could likely be tempted into doing more than directing sandcastle construction from the shade before 5pm and might flirt with people or attempt to anyway.

    I’m too poorly melanated to freely cavort in the summer sun in flat area with little cover without catching a burn somewhere no matter how lathered or covered my dermis is.

    The only time I have not caught a burn at the beach was when I arrived at 6am and left around 10am.

    My BYOB drink of choice for beaches is those frozen margaritas in those capri-sun lookin pouches, but if there’s a real bar cuba libre and if it’s a fancy bar a mojito.

    After the sun goes down I would give volleyball a try perhaps, or if the moon is full get topless so I can look like mermaid witch. Ideally there should be music for dancing and maybe a fire pit or something.

    But daylight just pretend I’m Marceline the Vampire Queen, which won’t be hard considering the tomboy swimwear paired with broad floppy hat.

    So uh what I been doing lately is writing down a lot of stuff into this graduated white to blue notebook that REALLY called to me and was on clearance so that I have quick ref hard copies my phone CAN’T eat or file cannot be corrupted of lost by an aging laptop.

    Short recipes(mostly spice mixes), notes on various topics, an old ritual, and a variety of quotes I starting writing on the 4th of July which was inspired by Carmen’s 12 Quotes because there were 3 I knew but could never remember the wording of so I kinda went a lil hogwild hunting down a variety of half remembered quotes and copying them down.

    Harper Lee, Jewish scholars, a thing I wrote about the nature of Eros once, a variety of politically involved figures, a scathing parody of Star Spangled banner from a canceled tv show, the last 2 sentences from the 1st paragraph of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, an excerpt from one of the two only poem that have ever given me strong feels.

    My hand got tired.

  15. Here in FL, the beach is just unbearablly HOT in the summer, so I’d wait until, say, November through March. Any of those days would probably be alright, especially in the early morning or early evening. I’d bring a hemmock, my sketch pad, some picnic foods and plenty of sun screen. After splashing and swimming, I’d settle in to read, draw and relax, and maybe even snuggle with a hot chick in the hemmock! :).
    I’ve finally decided that I’m ready to wear a 2-piece bathing suit, so I bought one with mermaid shells for the top!! OMG, I really want a tail someday too!! I’d love to learn the art of swimming like a mermaid! I also really miss the pool at camp; everybody just celebrating who they are and each other, nobody feeling self conscious, pumping up the old 90s jamz dancing to boy bands and Brittney Spears before doing cannon balls off the diving bboard or rocketting down that tall water slide. Somebody said that water slide was like traveling through the cosmic birth canal, getting reborrn into the world! It takes this crowd to come up with that, right??

  16. I am not a beach person, but in the last weeks i digged deep about everything connected to the World Cup. I found a Video of Ashlyn Harris at a Press Conference post-match 4/22/18. https://youtu.be/nQX4MDNHhjI
    She has her nephew on her lap and answering questions, which is probably the coolest, most chill thing I ever saw a athlete do
    and than she says:

    “every day I show up to be me,
    my team needs me
    and I dont waste energy wondering […]
    I don’t care
    that is the least of my concern
    and I will not waste a second wondering about it
    my focus is on my teammates
    I’m a conductor out there in an orchestra,
    my job is to be connected, committed, give good communication
    and hopefully just sit my ass back there.
    I don’t worry about the things I can’t controll,
    whether I’m starting in the national team,
    whether I’m not […]
    my focus is here […]
    and that is all
    because it is enough energy for me at this point
    and I can’t waste it on outside factors that are out of my controll.”

    I realised that this is not just about soccer
    this is about life and I might have found a new role model.
    So on the beach i would try to make new friends and have honest conversation (focus on the team) while chilling and not get sunburned.

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