“I remember sitting down with a friend on the beach,” he recalls. “He said, ‘My three best friends are dying right now. I can’t take it.’ ” Bianchi erupts into sobs. “He didn’t make it either. The sun was shining, and you’d walk by a house where all six people had died the previous winter. I kept a prayer list, but when I got to 200 I had to stop.”
Yet when he looks at the images now, they don’t sadden him but elate him. “I can’t help but be captivated by the sense of joy that’s so evident,” he says. “That’s what Fire Island was then — a fabulous party that nurtured us and sent us back out into the world as happier men. It’s very important for me to tell this story.”
[Out.com: “Once On This Island”.
Exposure Gallery: Tom Bianchi, lawyer and photographer.
To elate: make (someone) ecstatically happy.