Decades before the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, lesbians and gay men were living freely and openly in a place called Cherry Grove.
The seaside resort on Fire Island, about 60 miles east of Manhattan, was known as far back as the late 1940s as a sanctuary where gay writers, actors and businesspeople from the city and beyond escaped to relax, hold hands and show affection in public.
"It's probably one of the earliest examples of don't ask, don't tell," Carl Luss said after learning in June that the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, opened in 1948, added to the National Register of Historic Places. The theater was cited for being the oldest continuously operating gay and lesbian theater in the United States.
"The message is, we have arrived, finally," said Diane Romano, president of the Cherry Grove Community Association.