Gay Long Island: Suburban delights

Long Island is as varied and diverse as most states, crammed into 1400 square miles. Though Queens and Brooklyn are technically on Long Island, the term "Long Island" really refers to Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Easily accessible from NYC by the Long Island Railroad(LIRR), Long Island encapsulates mellow suburbs, busy cities and quiet rural areas.

The most popular vacation destinations in Long Island are the North Fork, with its picturesque wineries, and of course the Hamptons for its privileged beach homes. Other areas to know about are the North Shore, once so famous as home to the rich that Fitzgerald set his novel The Great Gatsby there, and the South Shore, which tends to be more diverse and popular for its beaches. Of course, just off the South Shore is the hedonistic Fire Island, which can be accessed by ferry from Sayville or Bay Shore.

The west side of the Island is more populated, with the numbers starting to dwindle the further east you go. And you should definitely head east to experience North Fork. In the past few years, North Fork wineries have come into their own and LI wines are carried in some of NYC's finest restaurants. Long Beach, on the South Shore is also worth a visit, as it becomes recreated as a hip area of hotels and shops.

Long Island is the sort of place that families live for generations. Its close proximity to NYC allow people to maintain comfortable suburban or rural life while still commuting to the Big Apple for work, shopping and culture. The Long Island gay community tends to be well-established and socialize beyond just the bar scene, though it can feel a bit fractured as it will in any suburban area. Though the nightlife scene isn't too exciting (you'd have to head to the city for that), there are any number of resources and events created by the LGBT community. The strongest pockets of gays are probably in Sayville, East Hampton and Glen Cove. Of course, there's gay community all over LI, and plenty of places that are subtly gay friendly. Come see a bit of what Long Island has to offer.

Restaurants to check out