Starry, Starry Night


Starry, Starry Night: Provincetown’s Response to the AIDS Epidemic

Jeanne Braham & Pamela Peterson

ISBN 1-57129-058-3 1998 paper $15.95

Provincetown’s geographic isolation has always prompted its inhabitants to devise their own survival strategies. The Pilgrims first settled there in 1620, missing their mark of Plymouth. They stayed only 34 days. Only the greatest risk takers and explorers, fleeing from religious and social persecution chose to remain. Risk and tolerance are forever wedded in Provincetown’s history. It has long been the domain of young homosexuals and lesbians looking for a place to belong: a place where, if you are gay, you are in the majority.

In this extraordinary work, the authors examine the microcosm of Provincetown, where virtually every member of the 3,300 person community has been directly and profoundly touched by AIDS. It is a place like no other, where grief is part of the landscape.  This book contains first person accounts from activists, community artists, doctors, and couples whose lives have been directly affected. This is not a scientific study: it is an account recorded by explorers, listeners, who were met with an astonishing degree of candidness and trust—a detailed account of one community that inhabits a finger-thin peninsula, detailing how they mobilized to help their community.

Jeanne Braham has been published in Belles Lettres, the Georgia Review, Pequod, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner and others. Pamela Peterson works as a psychologist.

“What distinguishes this social-psychological account of AIDS from others are the particular features of Provincetown: its small size (permanent population 3,300), large percentage of gay and lesbian residents, and stunning geography. The authors set the personal interviews with the HIV-positive and their caretakers against the backdrop of the town’s natural land and seascapes, which alternately alarm and calm the human spirit.” -Kirkus Reviews

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