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Gentrifying The Gayborhood

The NYT reported yesterday that with the acceptance and assimilation of gays into American life, the distinctiveness of gay neighborhoods is going away too. [1] Excerpts:

The artist John Criscitello of Seattle first became angry a few years ago about the changes in his beloved neighborhood, Capitol Hill, historically the city’s enclave for gay men and lesbians. The area had become decidedly more straight and, in his view, infuriatingly obnoxious.

“On Friday and Saturday nights, it’s like Mardi Gras,” Mr. Criscitello said. He called the area “a puke-and-leave drinking destination” for the city’s young heterosexuals, who seemingly have little regard for, and some hostility toward, the gay people who have lived there since the 1960s.

So Mr. Criscitello responded with art, creating a series of provocative and sometimes vulgar street murals excoriated the invading masses as homophobic and insensitive.

“I wanted to poke a stick at the beehive of what was going on,” he said.

More:

In Providence, R.I., a section of the city’s downtown is strewed with rainbow banners on utility poles, advertising its gayborhood of bars and cafes. Plans are also in the works for an L.G.B.T.Q. community center.

“There’s a very large craving to have a space where you can meet like-minded people,” said Davide Gnoato, board president of Rhode Island Pride.

Mr. Ghaziani referred to these new efforts as “cultural archipelagos.” He warned that gay men and lesbians still face discrimination. But, he said, “Plurality is the name of the new game,” as shown by newly emerging gayborhoods.

Still, some worry that much could be lost as the old famed gayborhoods become watered-down versions of their former selves. Political clout, services and opportunities could be diminished.

“This is not about nostalgia,” Mr. Jones said.

He bemoaned a lack of thoughtful conversation about the issue. “The gayborhoods are going away,” he said. “Where do we go now? The old ways of organizing and defending ourselves are being changed. What are the new strategies?”

Read the whole thing.  [1]

You can see where they’re coming from. It’s normal for people not to want their neighborhood to change. It’s a perfectly human response. This story — sympathetic to those who feel the sense of loss, but also balanced — could have been written about gentrification of black neighborhoods, of Hispanic neighborhoods, and so on. And has been (e.g., this piece on the gentrification of Harlem [2]).

But it could not have been written about white European neighborhoods. Had it been, it would have told the story of racist whites lamenting the loss of their enclaves. Imagine a John Criscitello figure in such a story posting vulgar murals insulting the newcomers, and characterizing them as anti-white and insensitive. In the gayborhood story, he comes off as a crank, but one for whom one might rightly feel some sensitivity. In the white-neighborhood version, he would have been History’s Greatest Monster.

Almost 20 years ago, when I lived in Brooklyn, the nearby Carroll Gardens neighborhood had a reputation for being defiantly Italian. One of the attractions of the neighborhood was its close-knit feel, and all the Italian stores around it. The rumor was that the people of the neighborhood had formed some kind of association, probably illegal, to govern home sales within the enclave, to make sure the neighborhood stayed Italian. At the time, I had two thoughts about this:

1) That’s unfair to people like me, who should have the right to live here if we want to and can afford it; and

2) they’ve got a good thing here, and I don’t blame them for wanting to keep it

The story about gentrifying gayborhoods is a complex one, because it shines a light on one price paid for joining the mainstream: a loss of communal feeling, and a physical loss of a distinct community. When mainstream society no longer looks down on you and sees you as a threat, you should not be surprised when people who used to be outsiders want to live among you. What’s the alternative?

I think liberalism (by which I mean our governing philosophy, not only the politics of the Democratic Party) doesn’t know how to handle things like this, because it complicates the Narrative. If there is one standard for all, as there must be under liberalism, then people like John Criscitello, who resort to name-calling and other efforts to insult and intimidate outsiders moving into his enclave, must be villains. Do you have any doubt that The New York Times would have portrayed his ethnic white counterpart as such?

If gay residents undertook any initiatives to preserve the gay character of their neighborhoods, my guess is that media would present them sympathetically, in a way that it certainly would never do with ethnic whites doing the same thing. It would present the efforts as beleaguered victims of gentrification doing their best to hold on to something good. In the latter hypothetical, it would present the efforts as bigoted reactionaries resisting the arc of history.

How do you tell when it’s one and not the other? Is it a who, whom? thing? That is, does the subjective qualities of the residents and the newcomers determine whether or not we should sympathize with them? If so, then how is that liberalism? How is that neutral?

If you don’t feel some sympathy for the John Criscitellos — be they gay, black, Hispanic, Asian, whatever — then I suggest that you are missing something important about what it means to be human. We like to be around our own kind. Community is not simply the sum total of who is living in a particular geographical space at a given moment. There’s usually more to it than that, at least in normal cultures. Whether those communities were created by oppression, or through some other means, there is often within them a sense of solidarity, belonging, and mutual help. These are goods that are harder to come by in more diverse communities, because of the relative lack of social trust. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam has documented this [3], though as a political and cultural liberal, the findings made him very uncomfortable. It’s not a matter of hating the Other as much as it’s a matter of not knowing who you can trust.

But if you don’t also feel some sympathy for those spited by the John Criscitellos, then I suggest that you are missing something important about what it means to live in a just society. Few of us would believe that there should be laws preventing people from buying housing in certain neighborhoods, based on religion, ethnicity, sexual identity, or anything else. So how do you keep the neighborhood “our thing”? One way to do it is by policing the boundaries in ugly ways, like John Criscitello is doing. If you condemn it when Archie Bunker does it, you have to condemn it when John Criscitello does it. If not, you are a hypocrite.

How to preserve particularity within liberalism without being unjust? The way not to do it is to resort to who, whom? (e.g., it’s okay when John Criscitello does it, but not when Archie Bunker does it). But that’s the only way progressives know how to do it. It’s not about justice, but power. Then again, can it be done at all? I doubt it. If my neighborhood association had the legal right to exclude Jews, gays, blacks, et al., I would strongly object to any attempt to exercise that right, and fight it. It would be a matter of moral justice, even if there were no legal problem with this.

That being the case, how can anybody under liberalism protect communal particularity without breaking the moral law? Is it the case that liberalism inevitably destroys traditional communities? Progressives aren’t the only ones caught in a bind here. Conservatives (like me) who believe that things like restrictive covenants, formal or informal, are immoral are without the means to protect what we consider to be a common good.

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89 Comments To "Gentrifying The Gayborhood"

#1 Comment By OMM 0910 On June 26, 2017 @ 5:42 pm

If my neighborhood association had the legal right to exclude Jews, gays, blacks, et al., I would strongly object to any attempt to exercise that right, and fight it.


Does et al. cover Gypsies too?

#2 Comment By Sam M On June 26, 2017 @ 5:50 pm

But it’s not always like this:

“If my neighborhood association had the legal right to exclude Jews, gays, blacks, et al., I would strongly object to any attempt to exercise that right, and fight it.”

It’s one thing for the neighborhood association to FORBID you from selling to certain people. But what about individual decisions? Let’s say I live on my family homestead. I need to sell it. An anonymous buyer bid some $500,000. My sister bids $499,999. Should it be OK for me to sell to my sister? What if instead of $1 less, her bid is $100,000 less. Still ok for me to sell it to my sister?

On the other hand what if it’s not an anonymous bidder, but a black or gay one. And they are bidding against a straight or white bidder. I’m a bigot. Can I sell to the white guy to protect my neighborhood from the brown horde I fear?

If I am a black guy living in a historic Harlem brownstone is it ok for me to take less from a black family than a white family is offering?

One thing to prevent a community from forcing such decisions. But should a PERSON be allowed?

Keep in mind, the die heads say anything on the market needs to be governed by the market. No fair charging more for the gay wedding cake. So…

#3 Comment By Autreck On June 26, 2017 @ 6:32 pm

We like to be around our own kind

No-one has ever satisfactorily explained to me why diversity should be placed above this basic need.

In fact, no-one’s ever explained what diversity actually is, except that white heteronormative people are the exact opposite of what is good.

#4 Comment By Native New Yorker On June 26, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

Expanding on the points John made above – one of the things missing from this discussion of the gayborhood is the change of generations. While it is not exactly the same as what happened to the older white ethnic urban enclaves, its also not completely different. “Kids” in the old Italian section moved out – often to the suburbs – because they were more assimilated and usually more economically successful – they no longer wanted (or needed) what the old neighborhood provided.

Younger gays grow up less stigmatized – generally – so feel less of a need to live somewhere “safe,” and can often share an apartment with a straight friend or two in a less expensive part of town. As mentioned above “gayborhood” is often a stage in the gentrification cycle, so they do tend to be pricier.
They can also be out and open in the wider culture, so they don’t need the solidarity of the old tribal neighborhood as much.

The other need the gayborhood no longer has a lock on for younger people is – to put it politely – socialization. There had been much discussion in the gay press for the past several years about the death of the gay bar – business is down, many of them are closing. Location based apps make meeting and hooking up something you do on your phone, not in the establishment on the corner.

#5 Comment By pepi On June 26, 2017 @ 7:46 pm

Joey says: June 26, 2017 at 11:40 am
I get the feeling that your average Frenchman still has a sense of French culture, Brits have a sense of British culture, but for Americans, our “culture” is only what sets us apart from everyone else. I guess it’s some odd combination of our melting-pot history and, unlike the above European examples, being a large nation not surrounded by competing cultures on all sides.

Here in the US “white” and “Western European” are used interchangeably when discussing this idea of “white culture”. But, as you just showed, the French are distinct from the British, etc. “European” is a group of cultures, not a single culture and that is what “white” is in the US. We have regional cultures because the US is a big country and because of the way that the country developed. “White” culture as such is racist the huge majority of the time because it is not to protect an actual culture but to exclude certain groups.

#6 Comment By pepi On June 26, 2017 @ 7:47 pm

John says: June 26, 2017 at 12:47 pm
I just wanted to point out this unique aspect to the sexual minority’ s quest for a community.

Yes, it certainly is unique and you explained it very well. Thank you.

#7 Comment By Zeno On June 26, 2017 @ 7:48 pm

Identity politics and cultural organizations are being forced to carry more than their max load in these discussions. Cities, American cities especially, have proven to be completely incapable of dealing with developer lobbies and predatory rent. Incapable/unwilling. In NY they are every bit as unfailably big as the banks, and for the same reasons.

The insanely multiplying cost of housing is at the root of these issues. Until we are allowed to address that, there will be an element of hollowness, of preciosity, of futility always present in the arguments that we can permit ourselves to have.

Re:’American cities especially’. Vancouver recently passed a law levying a %35 surcharge on property sales to non-Canadian citizens. This has of course only increased the Chinese billionaire presence in the Seattle real estate market, where no one expects legislation of that sort to be forthcoming.

#8 Comment By Liam On June 26, 2017 @ 8:43 pm

“Traditionalist, out one side of the mouth: we are about to be purged from workplaces and social life due to corporate embrace of gay agenda.
Traditionalist, out of the other side of the mouth: let’s abolish all anti-discrimination statutes.
Something tells me the former concern might be overstated.”

Bingo.

* * *

In Boston, the passing of the gay ghetto goes back over 20 years. (Rich empty nesters from the suburbs, followed by rich couples of child-rearing age who could afford private schools, so now the more common complaint would be the clueless parents with their three-wide strollers locked up to Victorian railings at the bottom of staircases and taking up too much of the very narrow brick sidewalks….) Not too much whining, and a fair bit of remembering who the gay folk had replaced.

And the press has certainly covered the gentrification of white “ethic” working class neighborhoods with more sympathy to the displaced than to the newcomers. Some folks might not notice because they assume that’s the way it *ought* to be covered. (People tend to notice more what irritates them.)

#9 Comment By TR On June 26, 2017 @ 9:04 pm

You’ve been called out often enough on the no-one-would-have-sympathy-for-whites overstatement.

But

I wonder why no one sees the irony of “everyone wants to be with his own kind” trope. I grew up in the South, but God help me if I ever have to live again like a Roman Catholic part-ethnic in the land of the Southern Baptists.

Or to put it more generally, small towns are empty not just because of economic considerations but because a lot of people want out. And don’t want to come back, even if locals do make great gumbo (which Southern Baptists don’t.)

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 26, 2017 @ 9:27 pm

“White” culture as such is racist the huge majority of the time because it is not to protect an actual culture but to exclude certain groups.

True, but “white” is such an artificial concept, people just need to stop thinking of themselves as “white.” Nobody can make you “white” without your consent.

If I am a black guy living in a historic Harlem brownstone is it ok for me to take less from a black family than a white family is offering?

One thing to prevent a community from forcing such decisions. But should a PERSON be allowed?

There aren’t many who would — racial solidarity is greatly over-rated, and most black homeowners want the biggest price they can get, from whomever.

It would be better to leave individual decisions to individuals. But, our legal system and our culture have histories or either making individuals knuckle under to racially exclusive policies, or using “individual choice” to smother other individual choices. Preferring a blood relative in the sale of a family home is, I think, well within the parameters of current law, no matter the identity of the person who might feel miffed over it.

Sandra, I suggest you read a few books on the history of racial covenants in the US. They were pretty egregious. There’s a reason that the Supreme Court struck them down.

Take note that the Supreme Court’s slow evolution on this matter went something like this:

A suit challenged the existence of racial covenants, the court ruled that is a private matter, not state action, therefore the courts cannot over-rule such covenants.

Somewhat later, a willing seller sought to sell to a willing buyer in violation of such a covenant. The neighbors sued to enforce the covenant. The court ruled that enforcing the covenant would be state action, and the courts could not do such a thing. Net result: you don’t have to sell, you can invoke a covenant, but the neighbors can’t force you to abide by one.

Not until congress passed the Fair Housing Law in 1968 did it become illegal to refuse to sell on the basis of race… which is about as it should be. Some things are constitutional in scope, some are up to the legislature. The jurisdiction of the courts is NOT defined by “If I find something sufficiently morally reprehensible, then of course the courts simply must suppress it.”

These oppressors may get overthrown, but you are going to hate the kind of rightists who do it

And you’re going to hate the kind of leftists who might well do it… but Hector and I will make sure your Orthodox church is safe.

there is plenty of sympathy to ITalian/Polish people as members of ethnic communities being pushed out by gentrification. There is much less sympathy for them as white people being driven out by minorities. Is this totally coherent?

It makes a whole lot of sense, and is quite coherent. Real preferences, vs. unreal delusions. Italian culture, Polish culture, real things. “White people,” unreal and insubstantial delusion.

Martha, Martha, Martha… freedom of association and segregation are two different things. One has been fully sustained and protected by the constitution since the Bill of Rights was ratified. The other was formally prohibited circa 1865-1868, and the prohibition was taken seriously starting circa 1964-1965. One is people freely associating for a common purpose. The other is keeping designated second class citizens out of the best neighborhoods and clubs.

Now discrimination based on income… that’s yet another kettle of fish. I would not agree to exclude from membership in private country clubs those with incomes over $25,000 a year. That would be discrimination. But taxing people more because they have more income than is needed for a decent existence… that’s simply fairness. Its not liberal, its socialist, and those of us keeping the red flag flying don’t trust liberals to get anything right. Too much of a patronizing sense of noblesse oblige.

#11 Comment By Rich Forrester On June 26, 2017 @ 9:30 pm

This site seems to have civil comments. I like that from fellow Americans. Perhaps civil discourse helps us discover a way forward to improve life. May we choose that path.

#12 Comment By Ain’t Benedict On June 26, 2017 @ 10:53 pm

My future home is being built in a condo a couple blocks east of Carroll Gardens. My wife and I found ourselves priced out of the East Village – where she’s been renting since it was scuzzy and dangerous – so now we’re gonna help price some people out of Gowanus. This is the circle of life in NYC since the Dutch planted a flag, as the Lenape can verify.

Those old Italians in Carroll Gardens? Their parents – Mafia and all – pushed out the Irish in the 1920’s and kept the black folks down in Red Hook. I understand the gentrification process started, along with the whole Park Slope brownstone area, in the 1960’s. Young Manhattan WASP professionals rehabbed beaten-down but solid old townhouses they bought for peanuts instead of heading for the burbs. It wasn’t too long before they rehabbed (and then landmarked) the entirety of Park Slope. The gentrification, by now, has wrapped all the way around Prospect Park and is squeezing the Gowanus Canal as close as anybody dares. And now I’m part of that continual evolution.

Given that this is a fairly inevitable process, given our legal and economic system, I try to look at the positive side. Most importantly, I’d rather my few beloved places evolve than wither up and die.

#13 Comment By John On June 26, 2017 @ 11:00 pm

Thrice a Viking,

I share some of your concerns. Whenever I hear someone speaking in a foreign language in public I get offended. I bite my lip because there is no need for a confrontation but really. We are in America so every effort should be made to speak in English whenever possible.

I can understand why first-generation immigrants might have a slower learning g curve but they should still try to take courses and insist that their children learn English.

But I have no problem with them holding onto their ethnic traditions within the home or, for that matter or as a part of group-related activities. If an Italian–American, Mexican-American, or Jamaican-American group wants to get together and hold a private party celebrating their national heritage I see no reason why they shouldn’t. Assimilation need not include repudiation.

#14 Comment By Tom Desmond On June 26, 2017 @ 11:10 pm

“On the other hand what if it’s not an anonymous bidder, but a black or gay one. And they are bidding against a straight or white bidder. I’m a bigot. Can I sell to the white guy to protect my neighborhood from the brown horde I fear?”

The legal answer to this question is that if you’re selling the house on your own, you can sell to whoever you wish for whatever reason you wish. And, yes, that means that you — as an individual — can choose to discriminate in that sale against a protected class.

However, once you decide to use a real estate agent and list on MLS, that changes. That real estate agent most definitely may not discriminate. And I believe that if the agent brings you a valid offer that you refuse to accept because of prejudice, that agent can technically sue you and force you to pay their commission on the lost sale.

And, overall, I believe that this is as the law should be. Sell it yourself, and you can do what you want. But that real estate agent should be required to comply with non-discrimination laws, so if you as a seller don’t want to follow that set of rules, you’d better plan to do an FSBO (“For sale by owner”).

#15 Comment By G Harvey On June 26, 2017 @ 11:24 pm

“Almost 20 years ago, when I lived in Brooklyn, the nearby Carroll Gardens neighborhood had a reputation for being defiantly Italian. One of the attractions of the neighborhood was its close-knit feel, and all the Italian stores around it. The rumor was that the people of the neighborhood had formed some kind of association, probably illegal, to govern home sales within the enclave, to make sure the neighborhood stayed Italian. At the time, I had two thoughts about this:

1) That’s unfair to people like me, who should have the right to live here if we want to and can afford it; and

2) they’ve got a good thing here, and I don’t blame them for wanting to keep it.”

If your #2 is not legally normative, then the society is at least starting its creep into totalitarianism based on ‘being fair’ and forcing ‘equality.’

If individuals are not allowed to discriminate, then Big Government does all the discriminating.

#16 Comment By Jen On June 26, 2017 @ 11:39 pm

It’s worth noting that Capitol Hill in Seattle has been slowly changing demographics for several years. It’s only been the past couple of years since the affluent Amazombies moved in that the gays are suddenly upset about it. Probably because Capitol Hill is becoming corporate and generic, just like the rest of the city with the influx of tech money.

#17 Comment By Brian On June 27, 2017 @ 1:07 am

I think most people are generally sympathetic to the effect of a neighborhood changing on people that liked it as is, but at the same time as others pointed out for every buyer there was a seller. So the guy that wants to prevent the change is also saying he gets to overrule to the wishes of the people in the community he supposedly values.

The issue that’s specific to unique communities like ethnic neighborhoods or gay is that they’re unique – there’s likely only one of them even in a major city. There’s no ‘white’ neighborhood equivalent to that so people see it differently.

#18 Comment By Thomas On June 27, 2017 @ 1:56 am

This is somewhat inevitable, in that gay men have long been the “advance guard” of gentrifying edgy or risky neighborhoods a lot of places. (All-male households can be established in places where it isn’t safe for women to walk at night.)

The solution of rich people in California who don’t want their neighborhoods or cities taken away has been to use zoning and environmental regulations to slow the rate of building down to a crawl. It’s more effective than yelling at the newcomers, and it virtue signals much better (you’re protecting the environment, not trying to keep out undesirable elements).

#19 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 27, 2017 @ 2:55 am

“If you don’t feel some sympathy for the John Criscitellos — be they gay, black, Hispanic, Asian, whatever — then I suggest that you are missing something important about what it means to be human.”

Empathy, sympathy, sure. But about “there goes the gayborhood?” I wouldn’t waste it on that. The Castros aren’t all they hold out to be:

[4]

#20 Comment By JonF On June 27, 2017 @ 6:13 am

Re: On the other hand what if it’s not an anonymous bidder, but a black or gay one. And they are bidding against a straight or white bidder. I’m a bigot.

I don’t think you;d be considered a bigot for preferring to sell to a family member or close friend. But if it were a choice between two total strangers…

#21 Comment By JonF On June 27, 2017 @ 1:11 pm

Re: This site seems to have civil comments.

You can thank Rod and the other bloggers. They’ll allow some furious back-and-forthing, but outright trollery is not tolerated hereabouts.

#22 Comment By Aaron Gross On June 27, 2017 @ 2:05 pm

Some commenters are saying, whites aren’t an ethnie, unlike Italian-Americans; there’s no white culture, unlike Italian culture.

Well, so what? First of all, there is a neighborhood community, whether or not it has some distinct culture. But more importantly, whatever culture or mixture of cultures exists in the neighborhood, that’s different from the culture(s) of the migrants. That’s plenty to justify a defense of the neighborhood community, whether or not it has some distinct culture.

Finally, kudos to a nice liberal like Rod for acknowledging that it’s a real problem for both sides, even if he opposes solutions like covenants.

#23 Comment By Moone Boy On June 27, 2017 @ 2:49 pm

TR: small towns are empty not just because of economic considerations but because a lot of people want out

That’s bang on target. Ethnic neighbourhoods or job networks have a purpose; they are a lousy purpose in themselves. They form a protective cocoon for nurturing prospects of extended families and friends in a hostile or devil-take-the-hindmost society – or just new territory full of unknowns. But people move up and out – and it’s right and good to mourn the loss, because it is a kind of death; but the death of something passing because it fulfilled its purpose. And it’s one thing to sustain a heritage in the face of many others; that simply is not the same as demanding a status quo blanket everything – with all the legion of incumbent little gatekeepers locking out interlopers, especially if they are as much a native as anyone else.

#24 Comment By Lee On June 27, 2017 @ 3:14 pm

Perhaps, one of the most thoughtful, balanced and realistic writings on the topic I have come across. I suggest however these aren’t moral issues; they are rooted in natural law and central to acceptance and authentic comprehension of the human condition.

It is rather amusing the LGBT community is discovering, what it is to be White, encountering the unnatural and destructive ends of Liberal thinking, whose misguided means only serves to destroy what it pretends to embrace. Liberalism is inherently anti-diversity, and from my own perception arose as an outgrowth of the Abrahamic religions which all express themselves by attempting to create a greater hegemony through a process of destructive assimilation.

#25 Comment By Publius Veritas On June 27, 2017 @ 3:25 pm

“That being the case, how can anybody under liberalism protect communal particularity without breaking the moral law?”

You can’t, not in our country anyway.

#26 Comment By Isidore The Farmer On June 27, 2017 @ 4:07 pm

I see a lot of people mentioning Gaffigan himself.

The larger point is that it seems highly likely that, at maximum, only about 2 of those 5 kids will be orthodox Catholics into adulthood. It’s possible the number will be zero. The dissonance between their rainbow flags and their catechism will simply be too much, and it is always easier to simply follow the trends of the world.

PS
He had a show on TVLand, which his wife co-wrote and co-produced, and on the show his wife’s best friend is a gay man. So, it seems unlikely that his wife is more orthodox than him on this issue, as some have speculated in the thread. She may be the lead flag waiver. We just don’t know.

#27 Comment By John On June 27, 2017 @ 6:25 pm

Richard Forrester,

Quite true. I once thought that Dreher’s good quality writing attracts good quality writing. While that still holds true, Rod had in the past said he keeps a close eye on the comments and refuses to publish the garbage one would find on other blogs.

Either way, Rod deserves the credit. I may not always agree with the writers, and I rarely agree with Rod, but he writes well and those who choose to comment do as well.

#28 Comment By Brian in Brooklyn On June 27, 2017 @ 11:10 pm

I would ask Mr. Criscitello what community gay men displaced as they settled Capitol Hill (unless it was undeveloped farmland).

The transformation of gayborhoods is inevitable. As the second and third waves of queers move to a city, they are usually too young to be able to afford the increased rents which resulted from the influx of the first wave of queers. As the originals move to other parts of a city (or out of the city altogether) for whatever reasons, the properties they leave behind rent/sell at a much higher price than newer queers can afford. I have seen this phenomenon in New York City as the West Village begat the East Village, then Chelsea, then Hell’s Kitchen and Williamsburg. When I got my first apartment more than thirty years ago, the gayborhoods of the West Village and the Upper West Side were economically out-of-reach. And during the subsequent thirty years, I have watched as gay life in both neighborhoods shrank.

As for the liberal project and traditional communities: liberalism promotes the development of strong communities as a bulwark against government while at the same time promoting the rights of individuals not to be discriminated against by individuals/communities who perceive them as different or other. This inherent tension needs to be re-negotiated on a continual basis. As some level, communities are both encouraged to be strong and challenged to be inclusive. Income inequality exacerbates this tension.

#29 Comment By Surly On June 28, 2017 @ 9:38 am

Zeno mentioned the Seattle real estate market being lit up by the migration of buyers from China who are shifting south due to the new taxes on non-Canadian buyers. It’s time for the state of Washington to impose a similar tax.

My husband and I are seeing the influx of these buyers in our neighborhood. In fact, one of the houses just sold and at the going away party for the family leaving (they are cashing out and leaving Seattle and moving out of state to where housing costs are lower) they confessed that they sold to a Chinese buyer who offered all cash, 20% over their listing price, and waived all inspections and contingencies.

Interestingly we both had a visceral reaction of anger to our departing neighbors for letting “them” into our neighborhood! We promised to each other when we sold, we’d only sell to a “real family” who would want to be here in order to be part of the neighborhood.

I was horrified when Trump got elected, but I understand many of the reasons people like us voted for him–I really do. But I’m sure that in Trump’s view, Chinese billionaires should be welcomed with open arms because they are rich.

#30 Comment By Dave On June 28, 2017 @ 11:12 pm

Much ado about nothing. I think its perfectly reasonable for someone to want to preserve their neighborhood character within what is allowed by law. Is he (Mr. Criscitello) a bigot? I seriously doubt it. If you had lived somewhere 30 years and wished to remain in your home and keep property value from dropping significantly, you too would try to keep disruptive influences from moving in next door.

“So Mr. Criscitello responded with art, creating a series of provocative and sometimes vulgar street murals excoriated the invading masses as homophobic and insensitive.”

Is his intent to make them go away? Or to capitalize on the change in the cultural climate?

#31 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 29, 2017 @ 10:37 am

If you had lived somewhere 30 years and wished to remain in your home and keep property value from dropping significantly

I, for one, wish to remain in my home and keep property values from RISING significantly. By the next time my home is sold, I hope to be safely dead, so rising values mean nothing to me except rising property taxes.

The transformation of gayborhoods is inevitable. As the second and third waves of queers move to a city, they are usually too young to be able to afford the increased rents which resulted from the influx of the first wave of queers.

A notable lack of solidarity and commitment to the cause there. Not a surprise — few humans of any description will pass up on a profitable price for their home just to aid the less fortunate of their own demographic.

Whenever I hear someone speaking in a foreign language in public I get offended.

I remember overhearing two women outside a supermarket in Long Island, NY, speaking in accented English, then switching to Polish. I don’t recall being offended, merely amused.

#32 Comment By grumpy realist On June 29, 2017 @ 12:45 pm

John:

“Whenever I hear someone speaking in a foreign language in public I get offended. I bite my lip because there is no need for a confrontation but really. We are in America so every effort should be made to speak in English whenever possible.”

Have you thought of the possibility that they might be tourists? Or first-generation immigrants talking to other members of their families?

Heck, if I were surrounded by people speaking another language, I’d use it as a chance to learn it myself–not yell at them for not speaking English.

#33 Comment By JonF On June 29, 2017 @ 1:52 pm

Re: Well, so what? First of all, there is a neighborhood community, whether or not it has some distinct culture.

Then they have nothing particular in common and nothing uniting them except the accident of where they happen to live.

#34 Comment By Brian in Brooklyn On June 29, 2017 @ 4:26 pm

Siarlys writes: “A notable lack of solidarity and commitment to the cause there.”

If residents of the gayborhood set their own rents, I would agree with you. But the landlords who own the buildings we live in are merely taking advantage of an increase in a neighborhood’s desirability to make greater profit.

#35 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 29, 2017 @ 7:57 pm

As the second and third waves of queers move to a city, they are usually too young to be able to afford the increased rents which resulted from the influx of the first wave of queers. As the originals move to other parts of a city (or out of the city altogether) for whatever reasons, the properties they leave behind rent/sell at a much higher price than newer queers can afford.

This is from Brian’s earlier comment, to clarify my response to his latest comment.

Brian did mention “sell” as well as “rent.” It has been my observation that a fair portion of gay couples moving into a neighborhood do buy, although certainly not all. And then, there is the whole question of why gay couples moving into a neighborhood causes rents to rise, and why there are not gays equally able to afford those rents to move in as the earlier residents move out. Also, why the earlier residents don’t remain out of solidarity to preserve the character of the neighborhood?

But I agree that we need to sharply reduce the profit motive here, there, and everywhere.

#36 Comment By JonF On June 30, 2017 @ 6:25 am

Re: And then, there is the whole question of why gay couples moving into a neighborhood causes rents to rise, and why there are not gays equally able to afford those rents to move in as the earlier residents move out.

As I mentioned above crime goes down and the property is improved. Hence the neighborhood becomes more desirable (for everyone) and rents rise. And as that happens there are fewer and fewer people who can afford them, and you tend to get snobbish types (gay and straight) who do not want common rif-raf living in their neighborhood.

#37 Comment By JonF On June 30, 2017 @ 6:29 am

Re: “Whenever I hear someone speaking in a foreign language in public I get offended.

This may come across as rude, but unless you think you have some God-given right to eavesdrop on the conversations of strangers you have no reason whatsoever to get offended. It is very literally none of your business what other people are saying when you are not in the conversation and that includes what language they are using.

#38 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 30, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

JonF, I was debating with Brian, not with you. I think you have made my point admirably. When snobbish gays can afford the neighborhood and riff-raff cannot, there is a notable, and probably inevitable, lack of solidarity.

I’m not even saying there should be solidarity along such lines of non-class origin. And I’m conversant with how diverse the working class itself is, and therefore how limited the scope of class consciousness really is.

All this merely highlights that rhetorical notions of “the gay community” and “the black community” and “the Latino community” are tenuous at best. It is true that people with a common language other than English will tend to maintain some degree of contact, and guys looking for guys need a bar to go do where the guys are not all looking for girls. But that’s a very limited notion of “community.”

#39 Comment By Brian in Brooklyn On July 1, 2017 @ 3:07 pm

Unfortunately, in New York City back in the day, it was very difficult for same-sex couples to get mortgages, so the vast majority of queers were renters. Even today with same-sex marriage it can be difficult. There also was/is the issue of wage disparity between queers and non-queers.

Also, if you wanted more space you had to move out of the neighborhood (unless you could afford the increased rents) and start creating a a new gayborhood.

It is true that wealthier gays do forget about community when it comes to property values, but I have found them still very supportive in other ways.