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Love On The Quiet & The Gay And Lesbian Atlas
July 18, 2004 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Love on the Quiet. One breezy evening a few months ago, 19-year-old Joseph Briggs did something he had never before dared to do growing up gay in New York: he held hands with and kissed his boyfriend in his own neighborhood... While New York is legendary as a place where gays and lesbians can live openly and free from prejudice, Mr. Briggs's story reveals a great deal about what might be called the other gay New York. Life in this New York unfolds far from the chiseled Chelsea boys, funky Village bars and relatively gay-friendly neighborhoods like the Upper West Side and Park Slope, Brooklyn, that represent the public image of gay life in the city. In the farther reaches of the boroughs outside Manhattan, gay life is often harder and nearly always more complicated. In these neighborhoods, the national debate over gay marriage can be much less important than the search for a doctor who does not squirm when talking about homosexual sex.    And here is your NYC Gay And Lesbian Population Distribution--a handy, color-coded map in pdf format, which comes from The Gay And Lesbian Atlas to provide more snapshots of life as lived, block by block, butterfly wing by butterfly wing, hometown and homeboy, in a time of more cultural evolution than, say, revolution.
posted by y2karl (22 comments total)

 
Some more Facts and Findings from The Gay and Lesbian Atlas

Facts, findings, Map and Atlas come via the bookmark worthy Urban Institute--an interesting site in its own right.
posted by y2karl at 6:36 AM on July 18, 2004


That map is a pretty neat use of census data ... I didn't know you could get census data right down to zip-code-level specificity.

The Urban Institute looks cool ... definitely going in my menu. The mention of marketing value in the Gay and Lesbian Atlas makes me cringe, though, and on the UI "about" page they mention "stakeholders in the private sector" as one of their target audiences. But I guess that's par for the course for a private think tank, and UI seems to do cooler stuff than most.
posted by louigi at 8:51 AM on July 18, 2004


As always, fantastic post y2k.
posted by Quartermass at 11:02 AM on July 18, 2004


I liked the part where he pasted half the article into the title tag and the other half all over the front page.
posted by reklaw at 12:00 PM on July 18, 2004


dead horse, meet reklaw.
posted by quonsar at 12:15 PM on July 18, 2004


Life in this New York unfolds far from the chiseled Chelsea boys, funky Village bars and relatively gay-friendly neighborhoods like the Upper West Side and Park Slope, Brooklyn, that represent the public image of gay life in the city. In the farther reaches of the boroughs outside Manhattan, gay life is often harder and nearly always more complicated.

Well, I think that we're starting to reach the saturation point in NYC. That even in the most provincial areas of the city, gayness is more or less taken for granted. Sure, there are still some homophobes, but you could say that about anywhere.

Or gay folk may simply not want to live on Staten Island, which reflects well on the gays. ( I kid because I love).

Actually, if I may engage in a little hometown boosterism. In Astoria, I've seen plenty of gay couples around, and they've more or less part of the neighborhood fabric, meaning that an area can be gay-freindly without turning into Chelsea Gay Disneyland. As homosexuality becomes less shocking and titillating, I predict that the "gay ghettos" will disappear, which of course has upsides and downsides just like the disappearance of any unique area. But I think it bodes well for society at large.
posted by jonmc at 12:25 PM on July 18, 2004


Not that way in Houston, sorry to say. Many homosexuals fear acting openly here outside the ghetto. I've been chided by more than one queer resident for "looking" gay, just because I wore some loud sweats one day. I was advised to change, quickly ... and it was said with such fear that I complied.

Recently, at a swanky straight bar, I was flirting with one of the obviously flaming bartenders. He removed his nametag and switched positions with another bartender.

I miss California.

Yo, Tlogmer! Perhaps this atlas dealybopper can help you out.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:27 PM on July 18, 2004


I immediately thought of this in context to the other divisions in NYC, such as ethnic neighborhoods, and how they look at "outsiders".
But that gives rise to the question: does the ethnic "melting pot" idea give rise to acceptance of homosexuality, or just acceptance of the *concept* of homosexuality, "somewhere else."
posted by kablam at 1:51 PM on July 18, 2004


I didn't know you could get census data right down to zip-code-level specificity.

Data goes to the census block level, in most cases. A census block is typically a city block, roughly equivalent to a ZIP+4 code.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:54 PM on July 18, 2004


I didn't know you could get census data right down to zip-code-level specificity.

It can also be a bit misleading. Boston's 02118 is listed as the ZIP with the 9th-most same sex couples, but it's described as Roxbury. It's a fine point (but very funny if you've lived in Boston), but 02118 emcompasses two neighborhoods: the gay-friendly, gentrified South End and the rougher Roxbury, which is as gay-friendly as the outer negihborhoods described in the article. So don't read that and go to Roxbury asking where the gay neighborhood is.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:00 PM on July 18, 2004


My first thought on looking at their map of NYC was to notice how strongly my notion of a cool, interesting, comfortable neighborhood correlates with the number of gay people living there. I wonder which is cause and which is effect? Is it that I am attracted to a culture that tends to make gay people feel comfortable, or does the presence of homosexual couples by itself somehow make the neighborhood cool?

I'll bet that if you cut out the South and all the landlocked states, and then cut out anywhere the gay population was lower than "high concentration", you'd be left with a map of all the places in America that I might ever want to live.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:18 PM on July 18, 2004


aye , chelsea's full of big laddies wi wee dugs.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:33 PM on July 18, 2004


Is it that I am attracted to a culture that tends to make gay people feel comfortable, or does the presence of homosexual couples by itself somehow make the neighborhood cool?

I'd venture it's the former, dude. The latter sounds like a variation on "That must be a cool place, all tthe black people go there."

The first option merely means a neighborhood, where tolerance of difference and a "do-your-own-thing" attitude prevails which will attract all kinds of interesting people, gays included. Although I imagine there's plenty of gay people who dig strip malls and suburban living too. It's not like sexuality dictates taste. I actually spent a while talking to a dude in a bar whom in every way seemed the epitome of the outer-borough streetcorner guy, down to the toothpick in his mouth, but during our conversation he reffered to his "partner." Gays are like the rest of us, they come in all styles. Or to put it another way, sexuality is a part of identity not the whole enchilada.

Places like Chelsea are a whole other ball of wax. Chelsea is a very expensive area, more like a theme park of gay stereotypes than an actual community. I'd be willing to bet that a lot of the Chelsea Boys don't actually live there due to the expense. After they're done cruising 9th ave they hop the train back to Carroll Gardons & Jackson Heights like the rest of the friday night revellers.
posted by jonmc at 4:33 PM on July 18, 2004


It's not like sexuality dictates taste.

Blasphemer! Infidel! Philistine!

*points at jonmc and screeches like Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers*
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:51 PM on July 18, 2004


^This coming from a gay guy who admits to listenening to Pink Floyd & Led Zeppelin yet.

Hell, back in the day, one of my favorite record store clerks-a devotee of hard-boiled stuff like the MC5 and the Stooges, was queer as a three dollar bill. And I once got asked out on a date by a gay guy who looked like an extra from Rivers Edge who hung around in a leather MC and Soundgarden t-shirt and Jim Morrison hair. (Don't worry, I let him down easy).

But these days, there are some self styled hipsters who use gay people as a prop of how cool they are, like some folks did to black people back in the sixties (and today, even. I can imagine that might get annoying.
posted by jonmc at 4:58 PM on July 18, 2004


^This coming from a gay guy who admits to listenening to Pink Floyd & Led Zeppelin yet.

Yeah, well, I cut my shoulder-length hair and shaved the beard down to a goatee. See how corrupting just one episode of Queer Eye is? I'm damned, I tell you, damned!

... one of my favorite record store clerks ...
... who hung around in a leather MC and Soundgarden t-shirt and Jim Morrison hair.


Musicians and many people who devote a good portion of their lives to appreciation of same, have always been noticably, um, fluid, in their sexuality. Uh ... not saying anything about you jon, just sayin' I've laid more musicians and record-store employees than interior decorators. Must have been the hair and the beard. Or California. What was the topic again?
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:24 PM on July 18, 2004


(Don't worry, I let him down easy).

You told him you lived in Astoria?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:43 PM on July 18, 2004


I lived in Bridgeport at the time, but I'll keep that in mind.
posted by jonmc at 7:19 PM on July 18, 2004


Wow... a dead-on article and a fascinating map. I grew up in the Bronx, 10462; my old neighborhood is densely populated my minorities, predominantly Latino (i.e., yours truly) and African-American. Being gay there is still quite frowned upon. My partner and I tend to be very inconspicuous when we visit my family out there. (We keep the public displays of affection at bay.)

If we take a hop on the 6 train down to Manhattan, though, it's an entirely different world when we get out. We can walk down the street hand in hand and no one (aside from the occasional tourist, perhaps) bats an eye. It's sometimes hard to tell if it's acceptance or indifference.

I'm interested to see if 10462's GLBTQ concentration grows in the next census.

Thanks y2karl.
posted by fredosan at 7:59 PM on July 18, 2004


Interesting. I imagine a lot of American cities look similar. While Dallas isn't as gay friendly as say, NYC - our map would also have the gay population centered around downtown, with gay friendly "satellite" neighborhoods a couple miles further out, and practically vanishing as you get out into the suburbs. (I know the outer boroughs are not actually suburbs of Manhattan, but same idea,)
posted by sixdifferentways at 10:03 PM on July 18, 2004


Places like Chelsea are a whole other ball of wax. Chelsea is a very expensive area, more like a theme park of gay stereotypes than an actual community.

Every morning I don my buff suit, memorize some new witticisms and trudge down to the Big Cup coffee shop singing "Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work we go..."

[/straight resident of Chelsea]
posted by liam at 6:22 AM on July 19, 2004


I want to thank all of you for the kind words about the site. Thank you! :)
posted by terrapin at 9:26 AM on August 6, 2004


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