Gay and lesbian spaces in cities are diversifying and spreading out rather than disappearing, according to a new study at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
It is commonly believed that major urban cities have just one gay neighborhood — or “gayborhood” — where all gay people live, and the rest are straight spaces. However, only 12 percent of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) adults in the U.S. currently live in a gayborhood, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. The survey also found that 72 percent of LGBTQ Americans have never lived in a gayborhood.
The study, published as part of a special selection of essays in the journal City & Community, shows that LGBTQ people are increasingly living in “cultural archipelagos” beyond the gayborhood.
“LGBTQ Americans are an incredibly diverse group of people. Why wouldn’t we expect that diversity to express itself in the places they live and call home as well?” said Dr. Amin Ghaziani, associate professor in UBC’s department of sociology.
The study pulled data from the 2010 U.S. census to determine location patterns of lesbians, transgender people, same-sex couples with children, and LGBTQ people of color. While members of these subgroups don’t always feel welcome in the nation’s gayborhoods, the data shows that they do have their own places.
In many cities, clusters of same-sex couples with children have sprung up in areas well outside of gayborhoods, the study found. In Chicago and the outer boroughs of New York, queer communities of color have emerged. Places like “Chocolate Chelsea” and “Hell’s Cocina” in New York provide alternatives to the predominant whiteness of traditional gayborhoods.
African-Americans in same-sex partnerships are more likely to live in communities where there are higher populations of other African-Americans, rather than other LGBTQ people.
In addition, rural areas draw more same-sex female couples than male couples, and female couples tend to live where the median housing price per square foot is lower; perhaps a reflection of the gender pay gap. Researcher found the top zip codes for lesbian couples include Provincetown, Massachusetts; Northampton, Massachusetts; and the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. Gay men, however, are more likely to live in the Castro district in San Francisco or West Hollywood.
Overall, the findings reveal that the emergence of “mini-enclaves” and “little planets,” as one of Ghaziani’s interviewees dubbed them, could be a more significant development than the so-called decline of gayborhoods.
“We talk so much about the decline of the gayborhood,” said Ghaziani. “These areas are undoubtedly changing, but if we over-emphasize loss then we will not see the dynamic new developments that are taking place. We need to broaden our view beyond the gayborhood.”
Source: University of British Columbia