Massachusetts – The Gay Berkshires

Published Date Author: , January 14th, 2013

Matthew WexlerI am abandoning it all–the work, the dog, and the heavy air of city life and heading for the Berkshires. This land of dance and drama, art and architecture, is like nowhere else in the United States. Bucolic hills give way to villages dotted with boutiques and cafes, and sequestered amid the lush fields and restored mansions I am about to discover a gay culture that manages to seamlessly blend into the fabric of everyday life.

For this New Yorker, getting to the Berkshires is a vacation in and of itself. It’s just Edith (the name I have given to my GPS, christened after turn-of-the-century novelist and local resident Edith Wharton), me, and the highway. First settled by the English after the French and Indian War in the mid-18th century, the Berkshires later blossomed as a respite for the elite during the Gilded Age. Summer cottages like Ventfort Hall (if you consider 28 rooms and 17 fireplaces a cottage) and The Mount were constructed as summer homes. It was an era of lavish recluse, but also of industrial turmoil–one that has echoed through the decades. Meanwhile, the arts established a regional identity that keeps second homeowners and tourists coming back regardless of the political or economic climate.

Edith calls it Route 20, but she really means Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway, the winding rural road that leads to the nation’s premier dance festival and my first stop, Jacob’s Pillow. A visit to “The Pillow,” as it’s commonly referred, offers performances from an international array of companies in a breathtaking natural setting. Director of Preservation, Norton Owen says, “From the 1930s until today, the Pillow has been reaching out to individuals. Shawn would talk about his dance, then move into the realm of a lecture or demonstration without the formality–there was a spirit of welcoming people in and we want to keep this alive. It’s the secret to what people respond to.”

Authored By Matthew Wexler – See the Full Story at Passport Magazine

Click here for gay travel resources in Massachusetts.

 

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