LGBT Community in the City

In reading “Building Gay Neighborhood Enclaves: The Village and Harlem” by George Chauncey, I immediately began to think and question why the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered communities generally flock to the larger cities. Growing up and living in Alabama for my full twenty-one years of life, the obvious is that the LGBT community was not very prominent where I am from. Two of my closest family members are gay so it draws my attention to ponder why they enjoy the larger city life. Chaucer explains that the communities of the LGBT began to emerge in the early 1920s around Harlem in New York City. In small towns there is a general sense of people with closed minds, not open to people and things that are different than them. Although that particular mindset is not that of every person from a small town and I for one am the exception. It could be assumed that similar to many people that are trying to “branch out” and break out of their shells that staying in and around small towns if they are from there would not typically be ideal for the LGBT community. In large cities, such as New York, there is such a diverse group of people. As we discussed in class, it is easy to see that one could in a sense lose themselves if they wanted to. People can come and start a new life and leave old ones behind. There are many organizations in New York for example such as the “The Center”, that hold information of events, advocacy, health, family life, youth, and other sorts of things that the LGBT community can come and use as a source of events around the city. Because of the prominent size of the LGBT community in large cities such as New York, laws for gay marriage are more likely to come about. The more people you have that support the cause, the bigger chance laws will be passed. It is hard for me to imagine why people in small towns discriminate so harshly against those that are not like them. It is the people that to do that drive those that are ‘different’ out and give the negative attitude about the south and small cities from people living in larger cities.

On NYC Pride , anyone can access events, figure out how to volunteer, see photos from past events, among other things. The picture below shows an example of one of the many wonderful events called Pride Fest.


Another wonderful event that happens each year is the Heritage Pride festival that celebrates the community as well as has many events and speakers.


Through the websites discussed, I have come to found an appreciation for larger cities and the multitude and support for the LGBT community. Not that small towns do not have groups, support groups, and events for the LGBT community, they vast amount of variety within the different parts of a city to be a good place to live.


Chauncey, George. “Building Gay Neighborhood Enclaves.” Blackwell City Reader. Ed. Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson. Second ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2010. 243-51.



Filed under City Cultures

3 responses to “LGBT Community in the City

  1. tinyopinions

    I definitely think you have a point with what you’re saying about big cities drawing in the LGBT community. I think the city can be an inviting place for people who belong to a group that is outcast from society in smaller towns. There’s a sense of belonging and camaraderie that the city offers because there is this whole community of people saying “Hey! We’re just like you and we accept you!”, and I think that openness attracts even more people to the city and the group. Another reason for flocking to a city is because of the existence of businesses that cater to that community. What comes to mind for me is the example of gay bars, which are numerous in the city and almost nonexistent in small towns. Not only does the city offer the promise of a community, but it also tells the individual that they are valued and thought of as the ideal customer for the very thing that led them to leave a small town.
    On the other hand, I think it is also true that LGBT people do exist in and stay in small towns… the difference being that they are not open about their sexuality and so the community does not have a chance to form in small towns where that kind of openness is not accepted and even seen as sinful and wrong.

  2. This raises some interesting questions for me. Do you think the kind of community organizations for LGBT people in cities try to mimic the support system that you would get in a small town? I wonder how they talk about the kind of involvement they create on their websites and in their literature. And how do these ideas fit in with Chanuncey’s ideas about the creation of gay neighborhoods?

  3. bkl0002

    I think it’s also interesting that there is such a fine line between “city” and “suburb,” yet that line is very distinct for the gay community. Although not technically an LGBT organization, I worked with Birmingham AIDS Outreach, which worked hand-in-hand with LGBT organizations around the city and took part in most of the city awareness projects. Birmingham is, more or less, a very accepting Southern city. There are definitely notable “gay friendly” neighborhoods all throughout the city, as well as fairly popular gay bars, events, etc. However, that fades drastically as you leave city limits. The closest suburbs are gradually less inviting, as they tend to be more traditional than residents of the inner city, and this just increases with distance. I live about twenty minutes outside of Birmingham and my small southern town is very stereotypically closed-minded. I just think this is interesting, considering the suburbs and city itself are so close proximately, yet the difference in ideals and beliefs are substantially different.

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