Christopher Street, New York City
Once upon a time in America. Black professionals lived in the same neighborhoods as non professionals. Chemists lived next door to custodians. Many businesses surrounding these neighborhoods thrived.
There were limits to where Blacks and other people of color could live. The issue wasn’t affordability. the issue were laws. Rules or Covenants written in residential developments preventing homeowners from selling homes to Blacks, Jews and other groups.
In 1968 , the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. The law prohibited discrimination in housing. It prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, and national origin.
By the mid seventies, many of the Black professionals left the old neighborhood. They were followed by the middle class who slowly left the inner cities for the suburbs. What remained , were people with fewer dollars to spend. This was disastrous for the business community adjacent to the neighborhoods. Leaving many to believe Integration was not good for black entrepreneurs.
Welcome Gay’s,Little Rock Loves you
Like many neighborhoods, Gay neighborhoods where created out of necessity. The foundation of these neighborhoods where the Baby Boomers who opened business and created resorts on both coasts for Gay People. Many of these communities thrived from 70’s to the 1990’s.
With more options, traditional gay resorts began to see a drop in business in the late 80’s. Today, Gay Destinations like New York’s Fire Island and San Francisco’s Russian River area are redefining themselves and attempting to appeal to an broader audience.
Slowly, American cities recognized the power of the gay dollar and rolled out the red carpet. (Few groups can match the disposable income of two gay professionals) From Philadelphia, to Disney, “welcome gay people”.
76 million people siting this one out
The average age of the Baby Boomer is 59. The generation with the most disposable income in America , the generation responsible for PC’s, disco’s, Star Wars, Star Trek and Studio 54 the foundation of the gay neighborhood. Are making fewer trips to the hood. Once a weekend staple the boomers are spending more time at home or spending their dollars outside of the hood. . The generation who once made fun of Lawrence Welk and his fan base, could now disappear in his audience.
The Incredibly Shrinking Gay Neighborhood
Steve Weinstein of the Village Voice (Where is Everybody?) wrote: As gay men move online, nightlife suffers. It’s hard to believe that a mere 10 years ago, up to 2,000 men were dancing into Sunday morning at the Roxy; in the ’80s, 3,000 members were packing the Saint for 18-hour marathons. Today, the city’s only dedicated gay dance club, XL, has an official capacity of 750.
The reasons for what everyone agrees is a noticeable contraction in club life go way beyond the digital revolution into even more fundamental changes. Younger gay men might be more concerned about meeting Mr. Right to marry and start families than the perpetual search for Mr.Right Now. Even the ones still on the prowl have less expendable income after paying for a rabbit warren of a room in a shared apartment
Gay men don’t define themselves by the clubs they frequent anymore. Nor do they have to. In the years after Stonewall, clubs like the Firehouse and 12 West represented safe spaces in a hostile world where we could flirt, make out, and hook up (usually on site). With gay men coming out earlier and being comfortable hanging out with straight friends.
Gay Acceptance and its effect on the Gay Ghetto
Madison Moore of Splice Today ( The Gay Club is Nearing Extinction) writes: A marginalized population flocks to an area because it’s what they can afford, they make it cool and amazing, then prices go up and suddenly only really rich people can afford to be there. In an age of social media apps and the speedy the decline of the gay bar and club, gayborhoods may no longer be necessary.
The generation who grew up watching Ricki Lake, Jerry Springer, Will and Grace is more tolerant than the generations before them. Unlike the previous generations, its not uncommon, for young men and women under 30 to continue to socialize together after high school. Many young gay men and women prefer straight bars, places where they and hang out with all their friends. Nirvana it isn’t, while young gay men and women often hang out with their friends in straight bars, few of their straight friends will venture into gay bars.
Outside of a gay neighborhood, the business owner often has many options to increase their business. Inside, the gay neighborhood the owner choices are limited, appealing to more lesbians, bears, younger, older, straights can kill a business.
Ten years ago the Lonestar in San Francisco was a destination bar. For many it was where the bear movement began.
What is a bear? Wiki says: In male bisexual and gay culture, a bear is a large, hairy man who projects an image of rugged masculinity. Some bears place importance on presenting a hyper masculine image and may shun interaction with, and even disdain, men who exhibit effeminacy
A few years ago, the bar changed ownership. Younger gay men and some women were added to its base of bears and older gay men. This seem to kill the bar overnight. On a typical weekend ,there were lines on Harrison Street waiting to get into the bar. Today the bar rarely full.
Mixed bars in gay neighborhoods is rare. Sacramento’s, Faces Bar is one of those rare exceptions. its a gay bar that has a large straight following.
While there are many black owned business in America, most operate outside of the traditional black neighborhood. In ten years from now, will there be a gay neighborhood?