During the summer, Fire Island Pines, a scrubby Atlantic-facing dunescape off the southern shore of Long Island, is entirely colonised by gay men from Manhattan. Little dogs, swelling pectorals, postcards of Prince William and other clichés abound. The only way to get there is by ferry. There are no roads, just paths, jetties and boardwalks. This alone makes it worth the trip. Yet Fire Island has a distinctly ‘science fiction’ aspect, as if a cruisy gay nightclub in outer space for curious aliens and time-travellers. Here, glamorous youth and leathery, wobbling-tummied capital are exquisitely interdependent. From about four o’clock in the afternoon until six or seven, at the quayside tea dance, hundreds of shirtless men writhe to ‘Let the Sunshine in’ and other camp classics. All shapes and sizes. You can’t help thinking of those nature documentaries where colourful water birds peck grubs and insects from behind the ear of some lumbering wildebeest. I am not sure where I fit into this eco-system. It does not seem particularly fragile.