I live in a city with a fairly substantially-sized gay village. Recently, the owner of the city's largest queer bookstore announced that the bookstore was being sold. At the moment, the bookstore, called l'Androgyne, is located in a hip part of the city that is a little bit of a trek from the gay village.
It's being sold to a company that already owns a storefront operation in the village, and said company is planning on moving l'Androgyne to the village. This seems natural, but at the same time, many queer individuals in the city fear that this only contributes to the ghetto-ization of gays in Montreal. If we're normal people from all walks of life, they say, why are so many queer-owned businesses and businesses which target queers located in that part of the city?
So, then, my question is this, are gay districts of cities positive? Do they foster a sense of community, and get more people involved, or do they separate queers from the rest of the population and ostracize them as a community?
[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 04-01-2001).]
I have to say I wish there was one in my city, even if it had a negative effect. Just knowing that I could go there and be free to be myself would be nice, even if it does ghetto-ize gay people.
Posts: 356 | From: Phoenix--name that plurally | Registered: Dec 2000
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I guess I think of gay villages in much the same way as other "ethnic" neighbourhoods. They can be wonderful, colourful places to visit. As long as outsiders are welcomed in that neighbourhood, it can be a cultural reserve that makes the city more interesting.
Of course I don't think ghettoization is a good thing, but I think it's possible to have the best of both worlds. Think of all the cities that have a Chinatown, or Little Italy. In those places there are lots of Chinese/Italian restaurants. But there are also Chinese/Italian restaurants other places in the city.
Given I now live in a city which has the second highest gay population of any city in the U.S., there actually AREN'T "districts," because the population is so large it just meshes.
Now in Chicago, there were, but what was interesting about Chicago is that that area was basically a mix of very tolerant people. The gay and the Swedish neighborhood were one and the same. It didn't seem to ostracize because it's "borders" weren't all that clear, and what also happened was that it really picked up that whole area economically as it developed.
Toronto is a city of immigrants so we have Itallian, Chinese, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Greek, you name it villages. However these villages are mostly populated by recent immigrants. The second generation usually moves out to the 'burbs. There is a large gay village.
I think people in a strange country tend to gather together. As the country becomes less strange, they branch out. There are many gay suburbanites for the same reason.
------------------ "A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular."
- Adlai Stevenson
[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 04-05-2001).]
That's a good point, Bobolink... these spaces help you form your identity, or help you get reaquainted with some aspect of it. However, it's probably not a good idea to limit yourself by associating with only your own kind.
Know what? I actually have to confess that despite being a very independent and worldly youth, given where I never even knew people were *really* racist or bigoted until at 16, I was in a school in which kids from the suburbs and other states came to. despite having a parent who worked for the Civil Rights Movement, it was all a bit abstract, because I had never seen it in my presence.
And I know that I *have* always made a point of living in cities and neighborhoods where I felt I could live without having to be exposed to that sort of thing a lot, because it is in those areas that I feel safest, and that I am able to feel free to really become part of my community.
More often than not, the exposure I get to, say, serious middle-america, is right here, online. While I've traveled a lot in my life, it is still often to places which I could just as easily call home as here, save perhaps some language barriers.
But it's a tough call -- I like to have a really integrated community, but if some of that integration meant me or my neighbors would be patently unsafe or unwelcome because of the color of our skin, our social strata or our orientation....then it just isn't somewhere I'd want to live or hang out.
Rizzo, I know what you mean about when it is that people flock together. When I was thirteen and first came out as queer, I spent soooooo much time at the youth program at the gay and lesbian center. Now I feel just as comfortable around straight people . . . it's just less of an issue.
Miz Scarlet already mentioned Chicago. Here, there is an area known as "Boystown" that's considered to be the "gay district". I actually like it a lot, and its only a short trek from where I usually hang out, the "goth district" if you will. Yet, Boystown isn't just specialty shops and what have you, there are normal restraunts, and like Scarlet said, it blends into the Swedish neighborhood.
As far as the original question goes, I think it's important that groups that may feel like "outcasts" have somewhere to go to find a community that they can relate to. At the same time, I think it's important that other areas of the given city aren't completely removed from the specialty community. That helps to foster a community but also doesn't further the "outcast" status of the people.
------------------ ...an angel who didn't so much fall as saunter vaguely downward...
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