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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween in the Castro canceled: Gay icon mourned

As some of our dear readers may know, the National Sexuality Resource Center and American Sexuality Magazine are based in San Francisco, California. For us, the news of the world-renowned Halloween Party in the Castro strikes particularly close to home. The NYTimes has a fantastic piece about how the canceling of this party indicates a national trend of declining "gayborhoods."

“The Castro, and to a lesser extent the West Village, was where you went to express yourself,” said Don F. Reuter, a New York author who is researching a book on the rise and fall of gay neighborhoods, or “gayborhoods.”

“Claiming physical territory was a powerful act,” Mr. Reuter said. “But the gay neighborhood is becoming a past-tense idea.”

I mourn the decline of the "gayborhood" like I mourn the decline of snail mail. I'm happy that there's a better way to organize GLBTQ life, like I'm happy I can send emails rather than letters.

I think gayborhoods are becoming less necessary as the country's urban areas became to acknowledge that gay people actually exist. This is a good thing. Though there is a unique gay culture in the gay ghetto, wouldn't it be better if GLBTQ communities didn't have to run to safe zones like the Castro? We have a long way to go before the entire country is GLBTQ safe, but having more urban centers than just San Francisco and Manhattan is a great first step.

Opinions aside, I loved this quote in the article from a Canadian tourist.

Amanda Rankin, a 40-year-old tourist from Hamilton, Ontario, was taking a “Cruisin’ the Castro” walking tour with three lesbian friends the other day.

“In America there still seems to be a lot of sexual repression left over from Puritanism and the pilgrims,” Ms. Rankin said. “Then there’s San Francisco.”



  • What are you smoking? Email is a fantastic replacement for snail mail in nearly every way. What, exactly, have we gotten to replace our "gayborhoods"?

    "Safe space" is not the same thing as "queer space" and frankly I don't pay Castro rent for anything less. I could live at home in Sacramento for free. Safe? You bet. Queer? Midtown's no Castro...

    By Blogger Josh A., at Sun Nov 04, 12:53:00 AM PDT  

  • Why do we need to replace them? To continue a ghettoizing of gay culture? Me thinks it's better for there to be safe spaces everywhere than a few gayborhoods somewhere.

    By Blogger Isaac, at Sun Nov 04, 03:29:00 AM PST  

  • The idea of a progressive replacement was implicit in your comparison to snail mail & email. The need for snail mail has been in many ways obviated by the need for email.

    My argument is that making non-queer spaces safe for queers in no way obviates the need for geographical queer cultural centers.

    And why the either/or thinking? Why can't every place be safe and gayborhoods still exist?

    Is it your (mistaken) notion that the only positive function gayborhoods serve is to create safety? Are you not seeing any other benefit?

    By Blogger Josh A., at Sun Nov 04, 09:33:00 AM PST  

  • I think that gayborhoods developed as a response to homophobia and within urban cultures that were more accepting (not entirely so, of course) than rural areas. It was a place to go to be queer, safe, and social.

    You're right that these neighborhoods didn't just develop for safety's sake, but for a social scene that was hard to find elsewhere. However, it is impossible to address the rise, and now the fall, of gayborhoods without considering the safety angle.

    Just so it's clear, I'm not advocating the end of gayborhoods. I am happy, though, that the safety function that gayborhoods have served is becoming less relevant.

    By Blogger Isaac, at Sun Nov 04, 11:08:00 AM PST  

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