Gay Enclaves Passé
The NYT today laments the the demise of gay neighborhoods.
There has been a notable shift of gravity from the Castro, with young gay men and lesbians fanning out into less-expensive neighborhoods like Mission Dolores and the Outer Sunset, and farther away to Marin and Alameda Counties, “mirroring national trends where you are seeing same-sex couples becoming less urban, even as the population become slightly more urban,” said Gary J. Gates, a demographer and senior research fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles.
At the same time, cities not widely considered gay meccas have seen a sharp increase in same-sex couples. Among them: Fort Worth; El Paso; Albuquerque; Louisville, Ky.; and Virginia Beach, according to census figures and extrapolations by Dr. Gates for The New York Times. “Twenty years ago, if you were gay and lived in rural Kansas, you went to San Francisco or New York,” he said. “Now you can just go to Kansas City.”
In the Castro, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society held public meetings earlier this year to grapple with such questions as “Are Gay Neighborhoods Worth Saving?”
Unless one’s goal is continued ostracization and segregation of homosexuals, the answer would seem a rather obvious one. The reason gays were clustered in a handful of major cities was, presumably, not because they enjoyed annual parades and costume parties but because these were the only places they felt safe. That this can now be said of Louisville and Fort Worth, one would think, is therefore a positive sign, indeed.
Andrew Sullivan dubs this “the post-gay reality” and seems heartened by the normalization of homosexuality. Matt Yglesias, while “glad to see gay and lesbian Americans taking their rightful place as equal citizens,” laments the homogenization of culture it represents.
Matt’s right that any change, no matter how positive, comes at some price. Still, the loss of “gayborhoods” in favor of better neighborhoods strikes me as an incredibly valuable trade-off.