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Mind the Gap

The Generations Project Links LGBT People of All Ages

by Steve Desroches
Photo: Emil Cohen

When Wes Enos was a student at San Francisco State University, he waited tables in the city’s Castro District, one of the first gay neighborhoods in America. Newly out himself he was just beginning to explore San Francisco’s LGBT life and his place in it. He thinks back to how hard it was to learn about LGBT history. At the time, he didn’t think to research it himself as it never really occurred to him that LGBT people had a history. One day, while waiting tables, he learned the lesson of a lifetime, one he took to heart. Motioning to a customer sitting down at a table, he flippantly said to an older co-worker that he didn’t want to be one of those gay men who eats breakfast alone. His fellow waiter looked at Wes and said that man used to be just like you. He used to have friends, a big group of friends, many of whom died of AIDS. He’s the only one left.

The regret Enos felt for saying what he said was instantaneous. And that moment, when he heard a stranger’s story, it began a quest to learn as much as he could about LGBT history on a person-to-person level. Enos says that moment taught him to honor his elders for paving the way for him. He began talking to people, asking them to tell him their stories so he could learn and also so he would remember those that have gone before. Now, at age 31, Enos’ curiosity has grown into something even he still can’t believe, as he is the executive director of the Generations Project, a not-for-profit that creates community by encouraging intergenerational LGBT conversations and documenting those stories. This Monday, the Generations Project returns to Provincetown for its second night event with The Why Ptown Show, featuring an evening of storytelling by Provincetown residents Beata Cooke, Dan Mullin, Marian Roth, Jay Critchley, and Byllye Avery.

Photo: Emil Cohen

Having moved to New York, Enos founded the Generations Project after a conversation he and a friend had about the generation gap that was apparent to them. And it wasn’t just that people of different ages weren’t talking, it was also that LGBT history isn’t taught in many high schools, colleges, or universities. And then there is the hole the size of a broken heart in the story of LGBT people, with all those lost to AIDS. As he picked up several shifts waiting tables to make ends meet in Brooklyn Heights, he learned that there had once been a thriving gay community in the neighborhood. As older gay and lesbian couples came in, he questioned them about how they met. Soon those couples, and others, began to come in specifically on the nights Enos worked to sit in his section so they could tell him their stories and about gay life before he was born.

“I’d hear about Stonewall, but didn’t know what it meant,” says Enos. “I didn’t really understand what it meant until I sat down with someone who was at Stonewall. I have learned so much. I’m so blessed and grateful.”

Since 2015, the Generations Project has held and recorded storytelling events in New York and San Francisco, coming to Provincetown last year for the first time. In addition, the project also records oral histories with private one-on-one interviews to create a story archive. With all those lost to AIDS in Provincetown, and with the transient nature of the town, so many stories have been lost. As such, the Generations Project filled a much-needed role here in Provincetown, documenting the stories of the town’s LGBT residents as well as building a bridge between generations.

Very quickly after the Generations Project’s founding the older participants expressed an interest in hearing from younger generations to learn their perspectives, viewpoints, and experiences in life thus far. Now many events feature participants of all ages. Still very much a grassroots organization, says Enos, the Generations Project relies on donors and volunteers as well as funding from Broadway Cares and a partnership with SAGE, an advocacy organization for LGBT senior citizens, where regular storytelling workshops are held in their New York headquarters.

Plans for the future include expanding programming and pursuing different projects like time capsules, with one planned for Provincetown. But at its core, the Generations Project is about building community and making sure that LGBT people and their history are not erased and that they are no longer silenced. The hour leading up to the 8 p.m. start time for The Why Ptown Show will feature an interactive historical timeline that’s become a hallmark of the storytelling nights, where audience members get to add their own LGBT moments in history to share and learn about others. The more the LGBT community learns about itself, the stronger it can be going into the future.

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is really about the transgender community and understanding their struggle,” says Enos. “It’s been very, very rewarding to speak to people of all ages, but especially the older generation to hear how they paved the way.”

The Generations Project presents The Why Ptown Show on Monday, July 30 at 8 p.m. at the Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial St., Provincetown. For tickets ($25 general/$50 VIP) and information, go to the box office, call 508.487.1430, or visit For more information on the Generations Project, visit

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Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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