Sunday, March 11, 2007
The Ghaytto Evaporates
I've lived in Dupont Circle for about 18 years now. I've seen the neighborhood's gentrification, which halted at 16th street when I first moved down here, expand to 14th and beyond as the years have gone by. So it was with particular interest that I read QueerSighted's post on "Death of the Gayborhood." Richard Rothstein mainly discusses the New York City scene, but the things he says about it are pretty much true for DC. Although on a smaller scale. Isn't that always the case?
Here in my neighborhood I see more and more young couples pushing baby strollers these days, although there are still six gay bars on 17th between P and R streets (if you count Annie's as a gay bar.) The 14th and P intersection is now packed with nightlife, offering a number of "mixed clientele" restaurants along with two bars. When I moved here, that area was just abandoned buildings and old old old neighborhood stores.
What do I think about the "death of the gayborhood?" A number of things...
Neighborhoods change all over - it doesn't matter who inhabits them. They change. They're gonna change.
The relative comfort I feel on the streets of Dupont with my friends may not be immediately transferrable to another locale - like, say Woodbridge, VA - for awhile.
It's terribly limiting, not to mention paradoxical, to live in an enclosed space of any kind in order to feel "free."
It still takes a special kind of non-gay person who feels comfortable in a gay bar or one catering to a "mixed" clientele.
There are still plenty of people out there who would make it hard for us to genuinely mix in some neighborhoods. Just look at how easy it is for us to get married in the USA.