Metro station in Montreal's Gay Village district, the largest gay village in North America[citation needed]

A gay village (also known as a gay neighborhood or by the slang gayborhood) is an urban geographic location with generally recognized boundaries where a large number of lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual people live. Gay villages often contain a number of gay-oriented establishments, such as gay bars or pubs, nightclubs, bathhouses, restaurants, bookstores, and other businesses.

Such areas may represent a gay-friendly oasis in an otherwise hostile city, or may simply have a high concentration of gay residents and/or businesses. As with many urban "groups", gay and lesbian spaces or villages are a manifestation both of their necessity for a tolerant space as well as choice.[citation needed] Much as other urbanized groups, some gay men and women have managed to utilize their spaces as a way to reflect gay cultural value and serve the special needs of individuals in relation to society at large. In cities that have the necessary critical mass to support such a community, the gay "ghetto" provides a normalization of space that is essential to the culture's ability to be supported and practiced in a safe environment.[citation needed]

Typically these neighborhoods can be found in the upscale or trendy parts of town, chosen for aesthetic or historic value, and not resulting from the corralling of citizens bound together by mutual socioeconomic hardship.

However, these neighbourhoods are also often found in working-class parts of the city, or in the neglected fringe of a downtown area, communities which may have been upscale historically but became economically depressed and socially disorganized. In these cases, it is sometimes the establishment of a gay community in these areas that turn them eventually into desirable, eventually upscale neighbourhoods, a process known as gentrification, a phenomenon in which gays often play a pioneer role.[citation needed]

Today's manifestations of gay "ghettos" bear little resemblance to those of the 1970s.[1]

History of the gay village




Boystown in Chicago

The gentrification of once run-down inner-city areas, coupled with the staging of pride parades in these areas, has resulted in the increased visibility of gay communities. Parades such as Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras attract significant investment and create tourist revenue, and cities are beginning to realize, firstly, that the acceptance (or promotion) of lesbian and gay culture is fast becoming a sign of urban "sophistication", and secondly, that gay-oriented events, such as pride parades, the World Outgames and the Gay Games, are potentially lucrative events, attracting thousands of gay tourists and their dollars. The growing recognition of the economic value of the gay community is not only associated with their wealth but also with the role that lesbians and gay men have played (and continue to play) in urban revitalization.

Some cities have taken it upon themselves to artificially create gay villages to capitalize on gay dollars.[citation needed] In 2004, Oakland, California tried to create a village in a run-down portion of the city in an attempt to divert entertainment and shopping dollars from neighbouring San Francisco. The project has achieved mixed results as that city's gay community is spread out over a wide area. Moreover, some critics state that the level of social acceptance is higher in Oakland than in other cities, negating the need for a centralized gay village.

List of gay villages

Main article: List of gay villages

LGBT populations

Main article: Demographics

See also


  1. Hayasaki, Erika. "A new generation in the West Village". Los Angeles Times: May 18, 2007.


  • Cante, Richard C. (March 2008). Gay Men and the Forms of Contemporary US Culture. London: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0 7546 7230 1. 
  • Castells, Manuel 1983. The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-Cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  • D'Emilio, John 1992. Making Trouble: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and the University. New York, London: Routledge.
  • Escoffier, Jeffrey 1998. American Homo: Community and Perversity. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.
  • Florida, Richard 2002. The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. New York: Perseus Books Group.
  • Forest, Benjamin 1995. "West Hollywood as Symbol: The Significance of Place in the Construction of a Gay Identity" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 13: 133-157.
  • Kenney, Moira Rachel 1998. "Remember, Stonewall was a Riot: Understanding Gay and Lesbian Experience in the City" Chapter 5, pp. 120–132 in: Leoni Sandercock (ed) Making the Invisible Visible. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.
  • Lauria, Mickey and Lawrence Knopp 1985. "Toward an Analysis of the Role of Gay Communities in the Urban Renaissance" Urban Geography 6(2): 152-169.
  • Levine, Martin P. 1979. "Gay Ghetto" pp. 182–204 in: Martin Levine (ed) Gay Men: The Sociology of Male Homosexuality. New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London: Harper & Row.
  • Ray, Brian and Damaris Rose 2000. "Cities of the Everyday: Socio-Spatial Perspectives on Gender, Difference, and Diversity" pp. 507–512 in: Trudi Bunting and Pierre Filion (eds). Canadian Cities in Transition: The Twenty-First Century. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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