Opinion: Gayborhoods Are Not Passé

This is a guest post from Amin Ghaziani, author of There Goes the Gayborhood? Amin will read and sign books at Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago next Friday, August 29, at 7:00 PM.

Photo by Gerald Farinas of the landmark rainbow pylons along North Halsted Avenue in Chicago, Illinois Boystown gay village in Lake View East,

Photo by Gerald Farinas of the landmark rainbow pylons along North Halsted Avenue in Chicago, Illinois Boystown gay village in Lake View East.

In a nationally unprecedented move, the city of Chicago installed tax-funded, rainbow-colored pylons along North Halsted Street in 1997 as a way to celebrate the area’s sexual diversity. The $3.2 million dollar streetscape made “Boystown” the first officially designated gay neighborhood in the United States.

“This has been a labor of love,” Mayor Richard Daley announced to the cheering crowd on the day of its unveiling. “I knew from the beginning it was about fairness—fairness to this community. I am thanking you for what you (the GLBT community) have done for North Halsted Street for many, many years.”

Some of us might question the investment of millions in highlighting an area like Boystown—especially with mounting evidence that the neighborhood’s demographics are shifting toward increasing numbers of heterosexual households. Is it possible, as the New York Times once so damningly put it, that “gay enclaves face prospect of being passé?”

About half of Illinois’s estimated 25,710 same-sex partner households live in Cook County, which includes Chicago and several suburbs to the north, south, and west. Forty percent of these households reside in the four northernmost neighborhoods along Lake Michigan. Lakeview, which houses Boystown, has the largest concentration. It is home to 1,106 same-sex households, or 12 percent of the city’s total, followed by Edgewater (951 households, or 10.3 percent), Rogers Park (736, 8 percent), and Uptown (635, 6.9 percent). Lakeview’s rate of self-reported same-sex households (2.1 percent) is above the city’s average (0.9 percent), but its sexual portfolio lately boasts many more straight people.

Demographers confirm that zip codes associated with traditional gay neighborhoods in the 100 most populous regions of the country are, in fact, “de-concentrating” and becoming less “segregated,” to borrow their words. Fewer same-sex households lived in them in 2010 than they did in 2000.

The RedEye, a free daily paper in Chicago,ran a cover story that lamented these changes. “Boystown, a haven for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community since the ‘70s, is losing gay residents,” the journalist announced, “while more heterosexuals are moving in.”

Why is this happening?


“The gay neighborhood? It’s pretty much all of Chicagoland.”


As I was writing my book on the alleged demise of gayborhoods across the country, I discovered two main reasons why these urban districts are de-gaying (GLBT people are moving out) and straightening (straights are moving in).

First, the ongoing integration of sexual minorities into the mainstream is reversing an earlier propensity for many of them to live in the same area of the city. Alderman Tom Tunney of the Forty-Fourth Ward, which includes Boystown, told me: “It’s not just one neighborhood. Gay is okay in major cities. Period. It’s just not as ghettoized. It’s not this pocket and this pocket. It’s everywhere.”

A gay man said in the same vein, “The argument can be made that the entire North Side is homosexual.” Another added, “The gay neighborhood? It’s pretty much all of Chicagoland.”

No longer limited to one small pocket, GLBT city dwellers are expanding their residential portfolios to include the entire city as a safe, livable place.


It’s a mistake to assume that GLBT people must surrender what makes us culturally unique in order to participate in the most foundational institutions of American society.


Second, many GLBT Chicagoans today feel culturally similar to their straight neighbors. “We’re just like them,” one lesbian told me. “We love the same way, we want to have the same sorts of fulfillment in our lives.”

Another explained how this affects her decisions about where to live: “We can live anywhere. You could live with us. And at the end of the day, that’s the happiest ending.”

Some people worry that this residential dispersion signals the dilution of our community. But I think it’s a mistake to assume that GLBT people must surrender what makes us culturally unique in order to participate in the most foundational institutions of American society. Full equality does not demand that we renounce our colorful queer citizenship.

History instructs. As a community, we have moved steadily northward in Chicago since the late nineteenth century and revived the gayborhood along the way: from Towertown to Old Town to New Town to Boystown—and now to Andersonville and Rogers Park.

This long-standing sequence demonstrates what sociologists call “homophily.” The idea is simple: birds of a feather flock together. As we leave an area in which we once clustered, we have used our creative energies to resurrect a new gayborhood somewhere else. We see this pattern in many major cities, including Chicago, of course, but also in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Furthermore, these cities, and many others, prominently feature a variety of commemorative markers, such as the rainbow pylons and the Legacy Walk in Chicago; permanent rainbow colored crosswalks in West Hollywood and San Francisco; rainbow flags under street signs in Philadelphia’s gayborhood; the designation of Frank Kameny Way in DC; and the dedication of Harvey Milk Street in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego. Such municipal markers preserve these culturally sacred spaces without naively denying the realities of residential change.

Gayborhoods may not have that je ne sais quoi, center-of-the-universe feeling that they once had, but this does not mean that they are passé.

 


Amin Ghaziani, an associate professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia, is the author of There Goes the Gayborhood?

Emily Apter, Jacques Lezra, and Michael Wood discuss the Dictionary of Untranslatables [VIDEO]

Earlier this week, close to one hundred humanities lovers gathered for a discussion around the Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon with editors Emily Apter, Jacques Lezra, and Michael Wood, due out this month from Princeton University Press.

Please enjoy this video of the entire event, the first in this season’s Great New Books in the Humanities series co-sponsored by the Humanities Initiative and by the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University:

 

Obscura Society is Holding a William Helmreich Event #WhereInNYC

The Obscura Society seeks out secret histories, unusual access, and opportunities to explore strange and overlooked places hidden all around us. Having a description like that, it only makes sense that they asked someone like William Helmreich, author of The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City, to speak at the ACME Studio in New York City on December 2nd. His salon-style lecture will go from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM and books will also be for sale at this event. To learn more, click here.


Helmreich_NewYorkIn a quest to truly know and understand the vast city that he had spent his entire life in, William Helmreich took on an epic undertaking: to walk every single block of New York City.

Over the course of four years Helmreich walked over 6,000 miles of city streets, thoroughly exploring all five boroughs and accumulating a wealth of stories about the people he met and places he found along the way.  Helmreich will be joining the Obscura Society December 2 at Acme Studio to share a truly intimate portrait of the heart and soul of New York, from its most overlooked and hidden corners to the diversity and determination of the people who have made this city home.

William B. Helmreich is the author of the recently published book The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City.  He is a professor of sociology at the City University Graduate Center (CUNY) and the City College of New York as well as a life-long New Yorker.  He’s been an avid explorer of the hidden outskirts of the city since he was a young child, when his father invented a game called “Last Stop” in which the two would take a subway to the very end of the line and spend the day exploring the surrounding area on foot.


Want more Helmreich? Check out our Tumblr page where we post photos and quotes from Helmreich himself all about the Big Apple.
Or check out our Facebook page where we post about reviews and events involving The New York Nobody Knows.


Free #UPWeek event “Innovation in Scholarly Publishing”

upweekAs part of the celebration of University Press Week, Association of American University Presses is hosting a free online program “Innovation in Scholarly Publishing”, November 15 at 2:30 PM: http://shindig.com/event/innovation

Join speakers *William Germano*, Dean of Cooper Union, author, and former Editor in Chief of Columbia University Press, *Kathleen Fitzpatrick*, Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association, and *Gita Manaktala*, Editorial Director at The MIT Press and moderator *Carlin Romano*, Critic-at-Large of/The Chronicle of Higher Education/, former President of the National Book Critics Circle, and a Guggenheim Fellow, for a discussion of the implications of recent technological and cultural shifts for the work of AAUP members and their authors.

More information and RSVP: http://shindig.com/event/innovation

Don’t forget that the University Press Week Blog Tour starts on Monday, November 11! Complete schedule is available here. Princeton University Press will contribute to the tour on Friday.

Birding Festivals All Year Long

With theWeb_Banner Cape May Birding Festival a little over a week away (October 25-27), you might be packing up your birding binoculars for the trip and practicing your bird calls, or you might be lamenting the fact that for some reason, you won’t be able to make it this year. Fear not! With the help of The Warbler Guide website, we’ve put together a list of awesome birding festivals throughout the year so that you never have to go too long without your feathery fix. Whether you live on the east coast or the west, this massive birding community has got your back all year long.

Rio Grande Birding Festival - November 6-10, 2013 – Harlingen, TX

Biggest Week of American Birding - May 6-15th – Black Swamp Bird Observatory, OH

Cape May Autumn Birding Festival - October 25-27, 2013 – Cape May, NJ (Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, authors of The Warbler Guide, will be in attendance!)

Space Coast Birding Festival - January 22-27, 2014 – Titusville, FL

San Diego Bird Festival – February 27-March 2, 2014 – San Diego, CA

Midwest Bird Symposium – September 19-22, 2013 – Lakeside, OH

Martin Gardner’s Birthday Bash Celebration

Undiluted Hocus PocusMartin Gardner, an acclaimed popular mathematics and science writer and author of Undiluted Hocus-Pocus: The Autobiography of Martin Gardner, would have had his 99th birthday this month. In honor of this special occasion, the mathematical community is putting together a number of birthday celebrations.

MoMath joins the fun on October 26th from 10:00 – 5:00 with a Celebration of the Mind.

At this family-friendly event, math fans of all ages will enjoy some close-up magic tricks, explore favorite Gardner puzzles, and make their own hexaflexagon to take home (how many people can say they have their own hexaflexagon?!). As an added challenge, try to spot the two exhibits that Gardner asked Museum directors to include in MoMath.

Later that evening, MoMath will welcome Martin Gardner’s son James Gardner and a panel of experts for a discussion:

Event: Who is Martin Gardner? A Conversation with Friends, Colleagues, and Family
Date and Time: Saturday, October 26, 6:30 pm
What is it? A panel of people who knew Martin Gardner well will share their favorite stories about him and reveal just how important his contributions have been to mathematics and to math lovers around the world. Ask questions, talk with the presenters, and share your own memories and stories.
Who is participating? James Gardner (University of Oklahoma, Martin Gardner’s son)
John Conway (Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University)
Mark Setteducati (President, Gathering 4 Gardner)
Neil Sloane (The OEIS Foundation and Rutgers University)
Colm Mulcahy (Spelman College and Author of Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects)
Location: National Museum of Mathematics
11 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010
Contact: (212) 542-0566 | info@momath.org

Space will fill up for this event, so please pre-register here: http://momath.org/about/upcoming-events/)


There are many Celebration of Mind events taking place around the world. Check out the map (http://celebrationofmind.org/) to find events close to you.

Come and celebrate the joy of math!

President Emeritus William G. Bowen To Speak At Princeton University

William BowenPresident Emeritus William G. Bowen will give a talk “Academia Online: Musings” at 8 p.m. Monday Oct. 14, in McCosh Hall, Room 50, as part of the Princeton University Public Lectures Series. Bowen’s most recent book, Higher Education in the Digital Age (Princeton University Press, 2013), which examines two of the most visible and important trends in higher education today: exploding costs and the expansion of online learning, will be a topic of discussion. Bowen believes that technology has the potential to help rein in costs without negatively affecting student learning.


This event is free and open to the public. For more information, click here.

Join John Sides and Lynn Vavreck for a free online discussion and Q&A on The Gamble [Change in Date!]

Event logoJoin Shindig.com and political scientists John Sides (GWU, The Monkey Cage blog) and Lynn Vavreck (UCLA) for a free online talk about The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election followed by an audience Q&A session.

Date: Friday, October 7, 2013 [Change in date!! this was originally scheduled for September 27, but is postponed to October 7]

Time: 3:00 PM EST

Place: Your computer — all that’s needed is a fast internet connection and access to an internet browser

Sides and Vavreck will reveal their Moneyball approach to campaign analysis and discuss the writing process for The Gamble, a book praised by Nate Silver as “the definitive account of what really happened and what really mattered in the campaign.” Sides and Vavreck specialize in bringing hard data to bear and casting doubt on a lot of commentary and conventional wisdom. As a result they inject a dose of much-needed reality into a discourse too often dominated by speculation and folklore.

You can learn more about Sides, Vavreck, and The Gamble at the book’s dedicated web site: http://thegamble2012.com.

Check out the event page at Shindig: http://shindig.com/event/the-gamble. Let us know if you’ll be there by RSVP’ing below, though this is not really necessary — you can just show up if you want.


The Alzheimer Enigma in an Ageing World

Margaret LockA lecture by Professor Margaret Lock , author of The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Dementia and Aging and a Marjorie Bronfman Professor in Social Studies of Medicine, Emerita, Dept. of Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University, will be taking place on October 24th.

This lecture has been convened by Dr Sahra Gibbon to form part of UCL’s Festival of Ageing and is supported by UCL Science Medicine and Society Network and UCL Anthropology.

The event is free (you can register here) and will be taking place from 6:00-7:30 PM in Gordon Square, London. For more details about the event itself, click here or email human-wellbeing@ucl.ac.uk.

lock_alzheimer11111Alzheimer’s disease is increasingly described today as an epidemic, with estimates of 115 million cases worldwide by 2050. Less visible are the ongoing epistemological arguments in the medical world about the observed entanglements of AD type dementia with “normal” aging, and the repeated efforts to delineate what exactly constitutes this elusive yet devastating condition. In early 2011 official statements appeared in relevant medical journals about a so-called paradigm shift involving a move towards a preventative approach to AD in which the detection of biomarkers indicative of prodromal Alzheimer’s disease is central. In this talk I will discuss the significance of risk predictions associated with such biomarkers, and the irresolvable uncertainties such information raises for involved individuals and families.

 

T.J. Clark to Speak in London Kings Place

picassoAt the Kings Place (90 York Way, London, N1 9AG) on October 5th at 3:30 PM, internationally acclaimed art historian T.J. Clark will be explaining how his new book Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica establishes Picasso as the artist of the 20th century, stripping away the gossip and the hero-worship. He takes us through the logic of his paintings as an account of modernity.

How did an art rooted in feeling for the human world react to an epoch of mass violence and social disintegration? Was Picasso’s imagery of horror an act of desperation, or a solution to an artistic and ethical impasse?

In what sense did the new extremism of Picasso’s art around 1930 lead on to the tragic vision of Guernica?

To learn more about the event at their website, click here.


T.J. Clark is an internationally acclaimed art historian, who has taught at UCLA, Leeds, Harvard and Berkeley.

He is the author of several books on the social character and formal dynamics of modern art, including the highly influential volume, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers, Farewell to an Idea, Episodes from a History of Modernism and The Sight of Death, An Experiment in Art Writing.

The NYU Humanities Initiative Event

At a recent event for the Humanities Initiative at New York University, authors John T. Hamilton and Emily Apter spoke about their new books and their views on comparative literature.

John HamiltonJohn T. Hamilton is professor of comparative literature at Harvard University. He is the author of Music, Madness, and the Unworking of Language and Soliciting Darkness: Pindar, Obscurity, and the Classical Tradition. His most recent book, Security: Politics, Humanity, and the Philology of Care, addresses how “security” has become one of the most overused words in culture and politics today. In this original and timely book, John Hamilton examines the discursive versatility and semantic vagueness of security both in current and historical usage.

His discussion can be found here.

Emily ApterEmily Apter is professor of comparative literature and French at New York University. Her book, The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature, argues that the field of translation studies, habitually confined to a framework of linguistic fidelity to an original, is ripe for expansion as the basis for a new comparative literature. Her newest project, Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon, is an encyclopedic dictionary of close to 400 important philosophical, literary, and political terms and concepts that defy easy–or any–translation from one language and culture to another.

Her discussion can be found here.