John-Paul Bianchi, a founding member of PPRTA.
“Here, I could breathe."
John-Paul met his partner Michael in 1972, and they’ve been together ever since. John-Paul says he had no life before Michael. The two have been coming to Provincetown almost every year since1975. They first heard about its reputation and were curious. At that time, John-Paul was a schoolteacher. He recalls that if the parents or school kids had known he was gay, he would have lost his job. But, he says, “Here, I could breathe.”
When not here, the couple lives in Queens. Born in NYC, John-Paul spent five years living in Rome, returning to NY at age 10. During the Vietnam era, John-Paul became a NYC schoolteacher in the Bronx, and taught 5th grade for 16 years. He learned to love the kids and felt he could make an impact in their lives. Later he became Director of Social Studies for District 8 and then District 2 , determined to get that subject back into the classroom. After 42 years with the Board of Education, he retired in 2007 but continued to work part time until 2011.
Eventually John-Paul and Michael started looking to buy here in Provincetown, but couldn’t find anything affordable. John-Paul remembers looking at an Ice House condo asking $100K, but they couldn’t afford it. They finally bought their Provincetown home in 2008, and rented it out for a few years. But by 2011, the two decided “We want to be here.”
John-Paul and Michael are usually in Provincetown from June through October, and used to come up more regularly during the off-season, especially to spend New Years Eve by their fireplace. When they are here, they enjoy the shows, the film festival, Tennessee Williams Festival, the concerts at Herring Cove, and walks. In the off-season, they’ve enjoyed themed pot lucks organized by some gay couples, both full and part-timers, and shared in one another’s homes.
Both John-Paul and Michael are founding members of PPRTA. John-Paul envisioned part-timers participating in town committees, and became active in the town charter review committee working towards that goal, but unfortunately, that committee was disbanded. “In my humble opinion, on the surface the town is great,” he says. But John-Paul questions the town’s commitment to having part-timers involved beyond spending our money here, and paying property taxes. Once a candidate for NY State Assemblyman, John-Paul notes that here in Provincetown we have to ask for permission to speak at town meetings. He hopes PPRTA will continue to fight for a voice.
His question to year-rounders is "Why? Why can’t you see that having us involved here could only benefit the town?"The couple had wanted to move here permanently, but instead they’ve recently bought a property in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, whose state tax laws provide more incentive to relocate than MA tax laws.
John-Paul thinks Provincetown is not the gay mecca it once was, since “now we can go anywhere.” But it hasn’t lost it’s allure “I’m not leaving Provincetown”, he says. “I’m just going to ignore the politics.”